1. New biofuel production facility
CleanEnergy Biofuels, an initiative managed by SACE, celebrated the grand opening of a new biodiesel production facility during a ribbon cutting ceremony held earlier this month at the University of Tennessee’s agricultural campus. Biodiesel is a clean-burning, biodegradable alternative fuel made from renewable resources, including vegetable oil, animal fat and used cooking oil. The production facility will convert waste fryer oil from Knoxville area restaurants into useable fuel and will serve as a research center for other agricultural fuels like soybean oil and oilseed crops. Participating restaurants including Café 4, Crown N Goose, La Costa, Moe’s, and others that will store used grease in special bins for SACE to collect with a 1,500-gallon vacuum truck. SACE had several goals in mind when building the facility, which can produce up to 380,000 gallons of biodiesel annually and will supply UT and local businesses. We aim to reduce the harmful environmental effects of vehicle emissions, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, develop a fuel source that is both renewable and locally produced, and help the local economy. Our hope is that the project will spark interest from the public in biofuels and encourage entrepreneurs to get involved. The UT facility was built with an Alternative Fuels Innovations Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conversation and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
2. Calling on the Senate
After the U.S House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES), all eyes shifted to the Senate, which last year voted against moving forward with legislation to address climate change. Now some Senate leaders have pointed to ACES as their starting place, and a handful of Senate committees are lining up to consider a new bill. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has set a deadline of September 28 for all committees to complete their work and tentatively expects a vote in October.It couldn’t be more evident that this is our best chance to establish a legal limit on global warming pollution and lay the foundation for a clean energy economy that will improve our national security, create new high-quality jobs and protect our natural heritage. But it won’t happen without you. Over the past few months, we have witnessed the tactics that opponents are using to stall needed action, spread false rumors and pressure Congress to vote against our future. SACE maintains resolve and is optimistic about the potential to pass meaningful legislation this year. Join us in calling on the Senate to improve ACES and pass legislation that reduces pollution, protects consumers, and helps us achieve President Obama’s vision for a clean energy economy. As the President recently noted, “The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy.”
SACE firmly believes that the United States can be that nation, and the Southeast can play an important role in providing the solutions that will cut pollution while spurring economic revitalization. Stay up to date on our website, and help us show the Senate that the Southeast is ready to tackle our nation’s greatest challenge.
3. Clean Energy Future Act for Tennessee
On July 8, Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, surrounded by lawmakers and members of the business and environmental community, signed into law the Tennessee Clean Energy Future Act. At the same time, he unveiled several million dollars in additional energy efficiency grants for cities and counties. This legislation and corresponding grant program will be the cornerstone for energy policy in the state moving forward.
SACE applauds the leadership of Governor Bredesen, who brought together business, environmental, and political leaders from across the state to form the Governor’s Task Force on Energy Policy in 2008. This Task Force provided the final recommendations that shaped the different elements of the legislation. Because of the collaboration of these various interests, the new law has broad support from a wide range of business and environmental groups. It is this wide-ranging support, along with the tireless work of the Governor’s staff that got this legislation past several hurdles in the state legislature and to the Governor for signature.
The Legislation has several components that will advance clean energy in the state of Tennessee:
- A five-year accelerated program to improve energy efficiency in state buildings;
- Requiring Energy Star equipment and appliances in state agencies;
- Mandating more energy-efficient and alternative fuel cars in the state’s passenger vehicle fleet;
- Designating the clean-energy technology sector as eligible for Tennessee’s emerging industry tax credit;
- Establishing state-wide residential building codes;
- Streamlining the distribution process for federal funding of the state’s low-income weatherization program.
Unfortunately, a compromise was necessary that will allow cities and counties to opt out of the residential building codes with a two-thirds vote of the local commission. However, to encourage these jurisdictions to accept the new building codes, the Governor announced a $9.3 million grant program for those cities and counties that do not opt-out. This funding would be available for energy efficiency and renewable energy retrofits on public buildings.
This legislation is an enormous step forward for Tennessee. However, there is still much to be done in both energy efficiency and renewable energy to ensure a clean energy future for ourselves and our children. SACE will continue to advocate for responsible energy legislation in all sectors to ensure a strong economy and clean environment for Tennessee.
4. Encouraging energy efficiency in Florida
In early July, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed joint testimony in the Florida energy efficiency goal setting hearings. Our objective is to ensure that the development of conservation and efficiency goals for Florida’s electric utilities are strong enough in a way that constitutes national leadership on energy efficiency. Our legal strategy team has been working together to coordinate and organize our intervention in the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) proceedings. The fundamental basis from which the PSC will derive its state goals for energy efficiency will be provided by a collaborative study, the Florida Energy Efficiency Potential Study, which SACE helped to produce. We are now working to ensure the state designs plans for implementing cost-effective programs and appropriate goals. Energy efficiency and conservation are an important resource in Florida and play a key role in meeting the state’s growing electricity needs. To learn more about our work on energy efficiency in Florida, please contact Tom Larson, SACE’s Florida Energy Policy Manager by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
5. Nuclear update on Watts Barr
Federal legislators are finally acknowledging the realities of climate change and legislation is taking shape. Unfortunately, many are suffering from “nuclear enthusiasm.” Some have proposed to build one hundred new reactors despite the higher risks than pursuing a combination of efficiency and renewables. SACE is working hard to curb the enthusiasm. On July 14, SACE along with Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, Sierra Club, Tennessee Environmental Council and We The People, Inc. took action to prevent another risky nuclear reactor from being built in Tennessee at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear plant by filing a petition to intervene with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. A new reactor would be financially risky, a threat to human health and safety, and further degrade the Tennessee River. Back in Georgia, where “nuclear enthusiasm” swept through the State Legislature earlier this year with the passage of a prepayment scheme to build new reactors at Plant Vogtle, SACE is fighting back. We filed suit against the Georgia Public Service Commission (GPSC) and Gov. Sonny Perdue to prevent Georgians from having to pay in advance for the construction of the new reactors before they go online, if they ever even do. We are asking the Court to review the constitutionality of the Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act (SB 31) and the legality of the GPSC’s approval to certify additional reactors at Plant Vogtle. The debate surrounding SB31 continues to question the role of the government in an unjustified push for a risky nuclear renaissance. A July 20 editorial in the “Times Free Press” said it best:
“Government should protect consumers, not serve as an accomplice in
taking money from their pockets. Indeed doing the bidding of Georgia
Power and its parent company, the Public Service Commission,
legislators and the governor could have a played a more useful role by challenging the company’s rationale for building the nuclear reactors.”
Contact Sara Barczak, SACE’s program director for our High Risk Energy Choices Program to find out how you can get involved, email@example.com.
6. Upcoming events
August 21 – 23: Southern Energy and Environment Expo. Fletcher, N.C.
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. Boone, N.C.
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. Boone, N.C.
PV and the National Electric Code with John Wiles of the Southwest Technology Development Institute. A thorough knowledge of the National Electrical Code (NEC) is required to competently 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. Come learn about the new NEC code. Cost: $150 ($75 students). For registration and more information, please visit: http://www.wind.appstate.edu/workshops/workshops.php. The event is held on the Campus of Appalachian State, 287 Rivers St.September 2 – 3: GreenBusiness Works EXPO. Atlanta, Ga.
GreenBusiness Works EXPO 2009 is dedicated to supporting companies and organizations saving money in these critical economic times. EXPO 2009 will focus on saving green and going green. This year the Expo has teamed up with Atlanta-based Verus Carbon Neutral to offset emissions related to the expo. Verus Carbon Neutral recently gained national recognition from coverage of the Carbon Neutral Zone they created in Atlanta-a first for the country. To learn more about the event, which will take place at the Cobb Galleria, click here. October 2: Southern Electric Vehicle Expo. Asheville, N.C.
Join us for the largest display of Electric Vehicles (EV’s), conversions, and plug-ins (PHEV’s) east of the Rocky Mountains. We’ll have exhibits of the latest electric vehicles, test drives, sales, and seminars on the newest technologies. For more information, visit http://sevexpo.org/news.php. SACE is an official sponsor of this event held at the WNC Agricultural Center, 1301 Fanning Bridge Rd on Friday October 2 at 12 p.m. through Sunday October 4 at 5 p.m.October 3: National Solar Tour
The 14th ASES National Solar Tour is the largest grassroots solar event in history. The tour will introduce local residents to solar technologies they can use to drastically reduce monthly energy bills, reduce harmful carbon emissions, and take advantage of tax credits and cash incentives. To find a tour in your area, visit www.NationalSolarTour.org.