How are the White House’s transportation initiatives measuring up?

Three years ago, the Obama Administration outlined their goals for “Building a 21st – Century Transportation Sector” in their Climate Action Plan. The goal of the plan included increasing fuel economy standards and expanding advanced transportation technologies. We’ve come a long way in those few short years. The Administration has dramatically increased fuel economy standards for our cars, which aims to achieve a 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) fleetwide average by 2025. Through this initiative alone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) over the lifetimes of the vehicles sold (MY 2012-2025) will be cut, save families more than $1.7 trillion in fuel costs, and further reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Just last week, new rules to dramatically improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and buses and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions were also finalized.

Seriously, utilities, buy wind NOW (yes, this year)

Really, it is time to buy wind energy. This is very simple. Wind costs less than running natural gas power plants. Keep the power plants. Use them, we’re not saying they aren’t needed. But it is cheaper to buy power from wind projects than to run your power plant full-out. Look at this amazing forecast [...]

Green Light for New Nuclear Power Continues in Georgia

On the heels of giving Georgia Power the go-ahead to explore building possibly two nuclear reactors at an undeveloped site in Stewart County along the Chattahoochee River near Columbus, today the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) unanimously approved an additional $160 million in expenditures for the at least 39-month delayed nuclear expansion of Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro along the Savannah River. It’s important to note that Commissioner McDonald was the sole dissenting vote on the Stewart Co. decision, responsibly mentioning concerns not only about harm to utility customers but also about negative impacts to the Chattahoochee, which is at the center of the decades long Tri-State Water War among Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

How much solar and wind will Georgia utility regulators allow?

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.

As Utilities Embrace Clean Energy, Southeast Needs Smart Policies to Promote Local Renewables Growth

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.

America’s Most Endangered River is in the Southeast – the ACF: a target for more power plants?

Last week American Rivers announced their America’s Most Endangered Rivers 2016 list. The Apalachicola-Flint-Chattahoochee (ACF) river system, which is shared among three states, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, and is the focus of the decades-long Tri-State Water Wars, received the dubious honor as the #1 selection. Below is a guest blog from American Rivers’ Chris Williams [...]

Big Errors in Measuring Carbon Emissions from Power Plants

What’s the single largest source of CO2 emissions in the Southeast? A 10 million ton data discrepancy! What? Huh? Why is a data discrepancy a blog? (UPDATE: Please see responses to reader suggestions at at the end, as well as in the comments.) President Obama’s Clean Power Plan will eventually regulate the emission of carbon [...]

Southeast Energy Savings Pacesetter: Entergy Arkansas Breaks the 1% Barrier

This is the first entry in a new blog series entitled Energy Savings in the Southeast. We will dive into the recent performance of Southeastern utilities’ energy efficiency programs, and highlight how the region can achieve more money-saving and carbon-reducing energy savings. Future posts in this series can be found here. Entergy Arkansas has forced a paradigm shift in the [...]

What will it cost to build Southern Co.’s new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle?

So, what is the current cost estimate for building two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle near Waynesboro, Georgia along the Savannah River? It seems like it should be a simple question but it clearly is not. And the answer depends on when you ask, who you ask, what your question [...]

2015 Southeast Coal Roundup – Southern Company

In the 2015 Southeast Coal Roundup blog series, we are happy to report that the transition away from coal in the Southeast continues – cleaning up our air, water and atmosphere and leaving room for development of more renewable energy generation resources and more robust implementation of energy efficiency measures. Retiring and removing these old, dirty coal units from service will help to improve Southerners’ way of life by improving the overall public health and saving ratepayers from bearing the burden of expensive coal plant retrofit investments. Our first blog in the series covered the Tennessee Valley Authority’s movement away from coal. Now gather around the campfire to learn about Southern Company’s coal fleet.