1. House passes clean energy act
In a vote held Friday June 26, the United States House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACES) by a vote of 219 to 212. The bill includes provisions to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy.
SACE applauds the leadership of those southeastern members who supported this first step toward a clean energy economy, with the House’s first-ever vote to cap global warming pollution. Click here to find out how your representative voted.
While there are parts that need to be strengthened, the passage of this comprehensive climate bill is a key victory on the road to solving the climate crisis.
- According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, energy efficiency provisions in the bill will save approximately $1,050 per household by 2020 and $4,400 per household by 2030.
- Natural Resources Defense Council reports that ACES will create an average of 53,700 new jobs per state in our Southeastern region (Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida).
- Congressional Budget Office calculates that households with the highest income would see a net cost of only $245 per year by 2020, while households with the lowest income would see a net benefit of $40 in savings per year by 2020.
This important piece of legislation was passed in the House, however it must clear other hurdles before becoming law and now proceeds to the Senate. During this process, SACE will take every opportunity to advocate for much-needed improvements that will strengthen the bill.
We need to strengthen the targets set in ACES for utilities to meet on renewables and energy efficiency in the Renewable Electricity Standard so that more green jobs are delivered and clean energy potential is maximized. We will also work to ensure that ACES holds polluters accountable by preserving the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate carbon emissions form power plants. SACE will work to strengthen the ACES cap-and-trade program by increasing the auctioned credits so to support the clean energy industry and protect our environment from the impacts of climate change.
Thank you for the thousands of phone calls and emails you made to your representatives and for crafting letters to the editor in support of the climate bill. As the Senate considers this legislation, we will continue to work together to strengthen the bill and take advantage of this unparalleled opportunity to move toward a clean energy future.
2. Strong energy efficiency program for the Carolinas
SACE reached an agreement with Duke Energy Carolinas on an important energy efficiency program that would help customers use less electricity. On June 12, SACE announced the improved Save-A-Watt proposal would reduce electricity demand by almost three times the amount Duke originally proposed to achieve with the program.
For more than two years, SACE reviewed and analyzed proposals for Duke Energy’s energy efficiency program in order to ensure that it would offer significant reduction in energy use at a cost that is fair to the ratepayer. SACE assembled a broad coalition of organizations working to identify deficiencies in the Save-A-Watt proposal and offer recommendations for addressing those shortages.
We filed testimony and technical advice before utility commissions in both North Carolina and South Carolina that we believe were fundamental to the dramatic increase in energy efficiency offered by the improved proposal. If the targets set in the Save-A-Watt proposal are met, the energy savings by 2020 will be more than the annual output of an 800 MW power plant – the size of the unnecessary coal-fired Cliffside power plant Duke is still trying to build in North Carolina.
Obviating the need to generate electricity from a power plant will result in the creation of thousands of green jobs in home weatherization and energy conservation to reduce energy usage. It will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, reduce our dependency on foreign oil, and free up billions of dollars that would have been spent on the high cost of electricity from coal and nuclear generation.
Please visit our recent blog posts, “Efficiency the size of a power plant,” and “Carolina’s moving forward on energy efficiency” to learn more about what governments and utilities are doing to reduce electricity demand. You can also get more information by visiting our webpage, Learn about Energy Efficiency.
3. U.S. government confirms the need for aggressive action on climate
Earlier this month, the Obama administration released a new report, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” which offers a detailed and comprehensive assessment of the U.S.’s vulnerability to climate change. The study’s significance is not only a valuable tool for policymakers, but for all Americans who will be affected by these global warming trends. The report confirms widely recognized evidence that human activity is responsible for dramatic changes in global temperatures and is the first of its kind in almost a decade to break out the impacts of global warming by U.S. region and economic sector. It compiles years of scientific data produced under the leadership of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by experts from 13 U.S. government science agencies and several major universities and research institutes. An executive summary of the report offers a breakdown of its ten key findings:
- Global warming is unequivocal and primarily human-induced.
- Climate changes are underway in the United States and are projected to grow.
- Widespread climate-related impacts are occurring now and are expected to increase.
- Climate change will stress water resources.
- Crop and livestock production will be increasingly challenged.
- Coastal areas are at increasing risk from sea-level rise and storm surge.
- Risks to human health will increase.
- Climate change will interact with many social and environmental stresses.
- Thresholds will be crossed, leading to large changes in climate and ecosystems.
- Future climate change and its impacts depend on choices made today.
SACE will be discussing the report’s findings and specific challenges facing the Southeast during our monthly webinar series, which will be held July 23 at 12:00 p.m. Click here to register.
4. SACE analysis of newly released energy efficiency data
With the exception of Florida, and perhaps North Carolina, the Southeast is behind on energy savings compared to the rest of the nation. Leading states throughout the U.S. are saving as much as 100 times more energy than most states in the Southeast, according to a new report SACE released earlier this month.
Analyzing nationwide data for 2007 that was recently made available, SACE Research Director John Wilson led the analysis and production of the report entitled, “Energy Efficiency Program Impacts and Policies in the Southeast.”
“The Southeast drastically lags the nation in energy efficiency program impacts,” said John D. Wilson, director of research for SACE. “The fundamental reason is the lack of an energy policy that puts a priority on saving energy. Many aspects of energy policy in the Southeast continue to encourage energy waste.”
Although none of the largest utilities in the Southeast are among the leaders in saving energy, the report does celebrate some smaller utilities that have achieved national leadership: Gainesville Regional Utilities and Reedy Creek Improvement District, the utility that serves Walt Disney World.
5. Measuring wind energy potential in Tennessee
This summer, SACE’s wind program is working with communities and businesses to help them understand the feasibility of using wind energy to supply their electrical needs. In the month of June, SACE installed equipment at two locations to assess wind potential.
First, we installed a 100 ft. meteorological tower at Lynda Hughes Dawson Lumber in Fall Branch, Tenn. (see photo). The company operates a sawmill’s, a traditional East Tennessee business and facility that typically use a significant amount of energy during its operation. Lynda Hughes Dawson, the sawmill’s owner, approached SACE in January looking for assistance in offsetting her electricity production.
After the initial site visits, we determined that the sawmill had good potential and would also be eligible for financial assistance available to rural small businesses from the state of Tennessee and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Measurements and data provided by the anemometer installed at the sawmill will help the site qualify for financial incentives and lead to the installation of a wind turbine that would save this rural small business money and send green electricity onto the local utility grid.
Our second installation deployed wind-monitoring equipment atop a cell phone tower on Buffalo Mountain in Johnson City, Tenn. SACE partnered with the city of Johnson City, and a Knoxville-based certified tower climbing company, Integration Technologies, LLC, to install the equipment at 3,250 ft. on the city-owned cell tower. SACE will monitor wind at this location for the next 18 months and data collected at the site will allow the Johnson City leaders to make decisions about expanding their green initiatives.
“When a community or business is looking into the possibility of installing a renewable energy system, they almost always want to know ‘what is my bottom line’? With this program, we are able to give them the data to make an educated and informed decision about a wind system’s cost and savings,” said SACE Wind Program Coordinator Brandon Blevins.
Click here to watch a video of Blevins discussing wind energy development in East Tennessee during the Buffalo Mountain installation. You can also listen to a podcast of Blevins on WJCW Talk Radio AM910 on the facts about wind energy production for homeowners and municipalities.
Both of these projects were made possible by SACE’s anemometer loan program in cooperation with the Tennessee Wind Working Group. The Working Group (managed by SACE) is an initiative funded by the state and is a member of a national network of state wind working groups under the Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America Initiative.
6. SACE featured in PBS special
A new educational video broadcast on PBS’s The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer featured SACE Executive Director. The video, “Georgia: Coal and Carbon,” is an objective resource for citizens interested in learning more about the challenge of climate change and how greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants are contributing to the crisis.
The video delves into the problems associated with a dependence on burning coal in the Southeast including mountain top removal in Appalachia and the recent coal ash spill in Harriman, Tennessee. It also explores the clean coal technology debate and emphasizes the importance of solutions already at our fingertips — energy efficiency.
The video, originally aired on PBS May 19, 2009, was produced by Climate Central, a new nonprofit science and media organization created to provide clear and objective information about climate change and its potential solutions.
7. Upcoming events
July 9: Future of Ag and Food Security in a Warmer World.
The Southeast Coastal Climate Network is pleased to announce the upcoming webinar opportunity, "The Future of Agriculture and Food Security in a Warmer World." Guest speaker Ann Shahid, the Important Bird Areas Coordinator and the Climate and Energy Outreach Coordinator for Audubon SC, will share how avian populations in the southeastern U.S. have been impacted by global warming. She will describe what scientists are predicting for their future and provide insight on how we can help mitigate these impacts. Click here to register.July 14: Summer Meeting of the Georgia Water Coalition (GWC).
Annual meeting for GWC partners. 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. at the Georgia Wildlife Federation’s Alcovy Conservation Center in Covington, Ga. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP to Shirl Parsons at GWF – email@example.com or 770.787.7887
August 21 – 23: Southern Energy and Environment Expo.
The annual S.E.E. Expo provides the general public an opportunity to see and learn about the practical and presently available options for utilizing clean, renewable sources of energy, protecting our natural environment and working towards a sustainable economy for the region. By working together, businesses, conservation organizations and government agencies have already made the S.E.E. Expo the largest event of its kind in the Southeast. The event will begin on Friday, August 21 at the WNC Agricultural Center at 12 noon and conclude on Sunday August 23 at 5:00 p.m. Daily admission: $10 adults, ages 13-21 $5, 12 and under free. Contact Ned Ryan Doyle at 828-696-3877 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
August 22: Solar Thermal/Solar Hot Water Heating.
Participants will learn how to design and construct solar water heating systems for domestic hot water needs. Now is the time for solar energy with excellent NC State and Federal Tax credits. For registration and more information, please visit: http://www.wind.appstate.edu/workshops/workshops.php. August 26: PV and the National Electric Code.
John Wiles of the Southwest Technology Development Institute will offer a thorough knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC), which is required to install any electrical power system, including PV systems, in the United States. Participants will learn how to install a Code-compliant PV system and receive critical information on the latest installation techniques that are being used by the top installers and systems integrators throughout the country. For registration and more information, please visit: http://www.wind.appstate.edu/workshops/workshops.php.