1. Climate bill marks a strong starting point
A few weeks ago, leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA). Chairmen Henry Waxman and Edward Markey released this proposal, which includes several important policies. ACESA marks a strong starting point that sets our nation on the right track and accelerates our transition to a clean energy economy. First, this proposal includes a renewable electricity standard that requires utilities to provide 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2025. According to the Department of Energy, this goal could save Americans nearly $100 billion in electricity costs. Developing our renewable energy resources will also create local jobs and new economic opportunities. See our report about how the Southeast can help meet this standard. The proposed bill also helps us take advantage of the tremendous opportunity we have to capture energy efficiency. An energy efficiency resource standard requires energy providers to reduce electricity 15 percent and gas 10 percent by 2020. An energy efficiency goal could save families in the Southeast more than $38 billion in energy bills. Capturing energy efficiency would also create more than 50,000 jobs in our region.Chairmen Waxman and Markey have responded to President Obama’s call for a plan to move forward with comprehensive clean energy and climate legislation with a plan that will reduce our global warming pollution more than 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. While the bill isn’t perfect, it’s a pretty good start. Contact your legislators today and ask them to support goals for renewable energy and energy efficiency in addition to capping our global warming pollution. These policies working together can create new jobs, put our economy on the path to recovery and move us toward a clean energy economy.
2. TVA caucus forum on renewable electricity
Senators and Representatives that make up the TVA Congressional Caucus held a forum to continue dialogue on the role of renewable electricity in the future of the Tennessee Valley. Instead, the “TVA and Renewable Electricity Forum,” held April 16 at the Knoxville City County Building failed to open a constructive dialogue about developing our region’s strong renewable energy potential. The Caucus, which consists of more than 30 U.S. Senators and Representatives from the seven states that TVA serves, is chaired by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Rep. Heath Shuler (D-NC), and helps oversee the public utility. Tennessee is already beginning to experience the benefits of clean energy resources like efficiency and renewable energy. Two large solar manufacturers have just announced billion-dollar investments, and the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development reports that Tennessee could gain 45,000 green jobs from renewable energy investments. Yet, in doubting the clean energy future that could provide jobs and enhance economic security for the region, Sen. Alexander stated that TVA could only possibly meet 10 percent renewable electricity production by 2010. But SACE’s report, “Yes We Can: Southern Solutions for a National Renewable Energy Standard,” shows that the Southeast could meet a renewable electricity standard of at least 15 percent by 2015, 20 percent by 2020, and 25 percent by 2025 with today’s technology. Tennessee can meet this renewable energy goal with our bioenergy, solar and land-based wind resources. Both Senator Alexander and Senator Corker from Tennessee have important roles to play in supporting clean, renewable energy in Congress, and the Tennessee Valley Authority could be a living laboratory that supports innovation and technology development. One of the best ways to kick-start this development is to support a national renewable electricity standard that requires utilities to supply 25% of their electricity from renewable sources. To learn more, read a blog by SACE Executive Director Stephen Smith detailing the missed opportunities at the TVA Caucus forum.
3. SACE studies wind potential at elementary school
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy successfully raised a 135’ tower at Camp Creek Elementary School in Greeneville, Tenn. in order to measure the wind energy potential for the school. The site at Camp Creek Elementary School will be tested through end of July, and then the tower will be moved just down the road to continue testing the area. This is the fourth location that SACE has chosen to test the wind energy viability in the state of Tennessee. “We prefer to keep our equipment up for at least one year, however, the tower is installed in the middle of a football field, and we don’t want to delay the start of football season,” said Brandon Blevins, Wind Program Coordinator at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “We selected the Camp Creek location in spite of our time constraints because we want to see if we can correlate measurements from an onsite National Weather Service anemometer,” says Blevins. The National Weather Service anemometer sits atop a 30’ tower. SACE hopes to correlate readings from the 30’ tower with readings from the 135’ tower in order to sustain long-term measurements for the Camp Creek location. The program, known as the anemometer loan program, is an initiative funded by the state of Tennessee known as the Tennessee Wind Working Group. SACE manages and facilitates the state’s wind working group, which is a member of a national network of state wind working groups under the Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America Initiative. The group is also planning to install monitoring equipment at a Greeneville, Tenn. sawmill and atop a cell phone tower on Buffalo Mountain in Johnson City, Tenn.
4. Preventing nuclear expansion in Georgia
March was a busy month for SACE and our partners in Georgia working hard to prevent two more nuclear reactors from being built at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle near Augusta. The Georgia Legislature, Georgia Public Service Commission (GA PSC), and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) were all addressing Vogtle and unfortunately some bad decisions were made. With Georgia Power lobbyists descending upon Atlanta in record numbers, the Georgia Legislature passed a controversial bill (SB 31—“Georgia Nuclear Financing Act”) that puts Georgia ratepayers at great risk by allowing construction work in progress. Essentially, this allows for electric bills to increase starting in 2011 to pay in advance for costly new reactors before they ever produce any electricity, if they’re ever even built! It’s a bad deal for most ratepayers and very sweet deal for Georgia Power. Next, the GA PSC reviewed Georgia Power’s application to build two new nuclear reactors at Vogtle. SACE intervened, urging the PSC to deny certification. The luck of the Irish was not on our side when the PSC approved the project with a 4-1 vote on St. Patrick’s Day. Commissioner Bobby Baker was the lone dissenter pressing for a ratepayer protection provision.At the same time, the three-judge NRC panel, known as the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, that is overseeing our legal challenge to the early site permit for Vogtle held important hearings in Augusta. Our excellent legal team led by Larry Sanders and Mindy Goldstein at Emory University School of Law’s Turner Environmental Law Clinic along with our technical experts, put on a compelling case highlighting the serious impacts more reactors could cause to the Savannah River. Law students at the clinic provided invaluable assistance: Stephen Johnson, Terri Porter, Erica Tritt, Elizabeth Hogg, Shiju Kadree, Russell Ross, Jimmy Terpening and Devon Winkles. The judges are expected to make a decision in mid-June so please submit written public comments. Please visit our website to learn more about how to submit public written comment, or contact Sara Barczak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 912.201.0354 for details. Remember; in spite of these bumps in the road we can still redirect these ill-advised proposals in order to champion the clean energy choices that will truly offer safe, affordable global warming solutions!
5. Upcoming events
May 19: Green Cities Florida 2009. Orlando, Fla.
Green Cities Florida is a conference designed to give businesses, community organizations, municipalities and public agencies the tools and resources they need to shift their policies, operations, and materials in ways that save money, generate jobs, and protect the environment. The conference will be held at the Orange County Convention Center South Concourse Building located at 9899 International Drive in Orlando. The event begins at 5 p.m. on Tues. May 19 and will continue through 6 p.m. on Thurs. May 21. For more information, contact Nick Algee.May 20: How to get started on wind energy projects. Midway, Ga.
SACE invites you to learn how to get started on wind energy projects in your home, business, or school. The event will be held from 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 noon at Coastal EMC, 1265 S. Coastal Highway in Midway, Ga. and will feature presenter Glenn Mauney of Wind Energy Consulting & Contracting. For details, go to http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Event-Details.html?item_id=45May 20: How to get started on wind energy projects. Savannah, Ga.
SACE invites you to learn how to get started on wind energy projects in your home, business, or school. The event will be held from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. at Oatland Island Wildlife Center, 711 Sandtown Road in Savannah, Ga. and will feature presenter Glenn Mauney of Wind Energy Consulting & Contracting. For details go to http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Event-Details.html?item_id=45May 22: How to get started on wind and solar energy projects. Meridian, Ga.
SACE invites you to learn how to get started on wind and solar energy projects in your home, business, or school. The event will be held from 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. at the Sapelo Island Visitors Center, 1766 Landing Rd, SE in Darien, Ga and will feature presenter Roger Cone or Soenso Energy. For details, go to http://www.cleanenergy.org/index.php?/Event-Details.html?item_id=45May 22 – 24; May 29 – 31: NABCEP Entry Level PV Course. Boone, N.C.
This two-weekend workshop will introduce participants to the basic concepts, tools, techniques and materials needed to design and construct both battery charging and direct grid tie photovoltaic systems. The North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) offers the Entry Level PV installer certification in order to provide a set of national standards by which PV installers with skills and experience can distinguish themselves from their competition. More information is available from http://www.wind.appstate.edu/workshops/workshops.php#pv2June 5: Photovoltaics with Sharp Solar. Boone, N.C.
This one-day workshop will provide a thorough overview of PV technology by one of the leading manufacturers of PV modules in the world. It will be held on the Campus of Appalachian State University at Kerr Scott/Harper Hall in Room 178. Registration/breakfast begins at 8:30 a.m. and the workshop will last from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The cost is $150 ($75 for students). To learn more, visit http://www.wind.appstate.edu/workshops/workshops.php#sharpsolar.