This post is the first in a series of blogs that will follow the efforts of Western North Carolina’s Energy Innovation Task Force to reduce peak load in the region through demand response, energy efficiency and clean energy solutions. SACE participates in the Task Force’s Peak Reduction and Programs working groups.
Asheville, North Carolina is no stranger to sustainability. Nestled in the rolling hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the City was one of the first in North Carolina to adopt a Sustainability Management Plan in 2009, which established a municipal carbon reduction goal of 4 percent each year. In 2013, the City implemented an LED streetlight replacement program, replacing over 9,000 aging streetlights with a more efficient LED version, and has experienced a 28.6% reduction in its municipal carbon footprint since 2008.
Georgia has a number of tax exemptions that could potentially apply to solar and other electric power generation projects. One that can really impact project economics is Georgia’s tangible personal property tax exemption for manufacturers. Whether or not that exemption applies to power projects, including solar and wind projects, is a tricky question – there is no clear line for power project eligibility. As of about a year ago, Georgia stopped giving advance approval (or denial) of eligibility for the exemption. And Georgia does not give written opinions regarding eligibility.
Florida Power & Light (FPL) professes to be a solar leader. According to FPL, “Florida’s clean energy landscape is bright.” FPL touts that it’s tripling the amount of solar it’s generating for customers this year as if that’s a huge accomplishment to be celebrated. In fact, the utility goes so far as to claim that [...]
Southeastern states may soon have an added incentive for developing energy efficiency and renewable energy resources that directly benefit low-income communities and utility customers. These potential new incentives come in the form of draft federal regulatory language, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is working to finalize as part of the entire rulemaking process for the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
This program, known as the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), is an early-action, voluntary piece of the larger CPP aimed at ensuring communities who suffered the negative effects of fossil-fuel energy generation and economically disadvantaged communities see real benefits from increased clean energy development. Although utilities, state agencies, industry, and the general public have all weighed in on pieces of the CEIP in previous CPP related comment period, the current EPA document open for comment will become the official design details for the CEIP. Comments can be sent directly to EPA (info on how to do that here) and are due by 11:59pm, Monday, August 29th.
Our followers on social media think the answer should be “as much as possible,” but in our brief SACE argues in favor of a cap of 2,500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, likely to be mainly solar and wind. Georgia Power has proposed only 525 MW, and other parties have signaled interest in 1,200 MW or 2,000 MW. What’s remarkable about this “debate” is that everyone involved agrees that whatever the number, Georgia Power customers will end up saving money as these projects will cost less than the projected cost of generating power. This approach to developing renewable energy has been led by Commissioner Bubba McDonald.
Even utilities in our notoriously coal-dependent Southeast are getting in on the action. Duke Energy, one of the two biggest utilities in our region, in late April announced plans to increase its renewable energy capacity to 8,000 megawatts by 2020, up by one-third over previous targets. “We’re finding that it’s competitive” on a cost basis, Duke Energy company spokesman Randy Wheeless has said of renewables. “It makes good business sense.” The Atlanta-based Southern Company, parent company of Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power, intends to exceed its previously announced renewables totals for 2017 and 2018 and just bought a North Carolina company, PowerSecure, that focuses on distributed generation—smaller-scale local power often provided by renewable sources—along with energy efficiency. NextEra Energy, based in Juno, Florida and the parent of that state’s largest utility, Florida Power & Light (FPL), is a national leader in wind power development. “We continue to believe that the fundamentals for the North American renewables business have never been stronger,” NextEra Executive Vice President of Finance and CFO John Ketchum said on an April 28th earnings call.
This year may be the biggest year for wind energy in the South. A number of factors are working together to create a massive market for wind energy all across the country. Some of the important factors include: technology has significantly improved, utilities are becoming more familiar with integrating wind energy, key federal tax incentives have been renewed and utilities are beginning to hedge against risks associated with fossil fuels.
2016 is the year to act on wind power in a big way and the clock is ticking. At the end of 2015, Congress passed a long-term phaseout of the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy – a key federal incentive for the industry that continues to drive down the cost of wind energy.
When it comes to keeping kids safe and healthy, SACE member Dr. Yolanda Whyte knows that it takes more than a visit to the pediatrician. She is devoted to raising the alarm about the source of many health problems, especially for children of color and those who live in low-income areas: environmental toxics in our air and water. She graciously agreed to be interviewed for SACE’s Black History Month series.
The renewable energy industry had a powerful ally in the last few years, and 2015 in particular: the corporation. As prices in wind and solar have fallen, support for these technologies in the commercial & industrial (C&I) sector has swelled. In 2015, C&I buyers invested in more than 3 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity. Google alone purchased nearly a gigawatt of new wind and solar projects in 2015, making them the largest institutional buyer of renewable energy in the world.