1. Georgia expands solar in voluntary utility program
The Georgia Public Service Commission voted in August to expand Georgia Power Company’s “green energy” program to allow more solar energy. In a 5-0 vote, Georgia Power was directed to purchase up to 1.5 megawatts of solar energy where it had previously only purchased up to 500 kilowatts. The price that Georgia Power’s green energy subscribers currently pay stays the same: $4.50 for a block of 100 kilowatt hours each month that includes solar and $3.50 for those who want to buy a cheaper block that is not guaranteed to include solar. One hundred kilowatt hours is about one tenth of a typical home’s monthly consumption.
To learn more about the program and to sign up for the solar-guaranteed option, go to the company’s web site at http://www.georgiapower.com/green/home.asp. Although much of the fuel from Georgia Power’s green power program still comes from methane gas produced at landfills, the more customers buy into the solar-guaranteed option, the more solar-expansive the program can become. The program is “Green-e” certified by a nationally respected, independent third-party, which Southern Alliance for Clean Energy endorses.
Also, Georgia state law requires Georgia Power to buy a certain percentage of solar power from any customers who generate more than they need. Based on the recent Commission vote, a seller now gets a higher buy-back rate from the company of 18.31 cents per kilowatt hour. We applaud the Commission for taking this small step to expand solar energy in Georgia and ask that they also support current federal legislation for a clean energy standard that will advance the solar industry in the region even more.
2. Science-based climate targets for global warming
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the main greenhouse gas released as a result of human activities that causes global warming and climate change. Climate scientists track levels of atmospheric CO2 to monitor the latest trends and measure how much time we have to stabilize CO2 and other greenhouse gases. This data can also be used as an indicator of our success in attempting to solve global warming problems.
In May 2009, the planet crossed a milestone when the Earth’s atmosphere reached 390.18 parts per million (ppm) CO2. In its benchmark 2007 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said that the key for preventing dangerous global warming was to keep CO2 concentrations below 450 ppm, although many scientists now consider 350 ppm the upper safety limit for atmospheric CO2 concentrations, a level our planet has exceeded since early 1988.
At the start of atmospheric CO2 measurements at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii in 1958, the rate of increase has accelerated from decade to decade and the latest data is consistent with a continuation of this trend. Atmospheric CO2 levels are extremely significant when it comes to preserving the Earth’s climate stability. As our nation’s leaders consider climate policy, legislation should include strong science-based climate goals for reductions in emissions of greenhouse gases, aimed at safe levels of atmospheric CO2. Shifting electricity production to clean energy methods will halt the acceleration of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Then, in order to reach a safe limit for atmospheric CO2, we must shift to a clean energy economy that incentivizes infrastructure to support our post carbon future. To learn more about SACE’s efforts, click here to view a joint letter from environmental groups to President Obama calling for science-based reduction goals.
3. Planning for clean energy in the Tennessee Valley
Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is the nation’s largest federal power authority, serving seven southeastern states and providing power to approximately nine million people. With more than 107 million tons of carbon dioxide emitted annually, TVA’s power plants are responsible for a significant share of the United States’ global warming pollution.
As the only organization that advocates at both regional and federal levels for energy efficiency and clean energy programs at TVA, SACE also pushed TVA to engage in an updated “resource planning process,” which it had not undertaken since 1995. Today’s rapidly changing regulatory and technological environments necessitates an up-to-date assessment of the available resources that would ensure safe, clean, reliable power supply for the residents of the Tennessee Valley.
In June 2009, TVA announced it would develop an integrated resource plan that will consider a long-range set of options for supplying electric power to customers in the Tennessee Valley. Stephen Smith, SACE’s executive director, has accepted the invitation to take part in a stakeholder advisory group that will provide input into the planning process, set priorities, and give recommendations to TVA on how best to meet future energy demand.
SACE submitted official comments on August 14, 2009 regarding the scope of the planning process and to recommend specific issues TVA must address to achieve a true evaluation of resource options for meeting the energy demand. In addition, SACE’s comments urged for an open and transparent process to produce a responsible plan that also has the support of the general public. Click here to review SACE’s comments or visit TVA’s website to learn more about the planning process.
4. Environmentally sensitive wind in WNC
In the heat of this summer, during the North Carolina legislative session, a challenge arose during the state’s attempt to develop a statewide wind permitting bill. The bill started out to regulate installation of wind turbines off the coast, along the shore, and in the mountains. But Senators from western North Carolina soon inserted language that would limit wind turbine heights to 100 feet on the privately owned lands where wind projects could be considered. This limitation would essentially eliminate two-thirds of North Carolina’s onshore wind energy resources and would eliminate the vast majority of the most cost-effective renewable energy options for the state.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy worked hand in hand with our members, citizens, and ally organizations across the state to voice strong opposition to this ban and build support for responsible wind energy development in the mountains of North Carolina. Fortunately, the virtual ban on wind energy in the mountains stopped short of being passed through the state House, but it did pass through the Senate, setting a dangerous precedent against wind development in our region. So the struggle for smart wind in WNC is not won or lost, it is merely delayed until May of 2010 when the NC General Assembly reconvenes.
Between now and next May we will need your support to ensure that language is adopted in the North Carolina House that will implement a fair, balanced, and responsible statewide permitting. A solid wind permitting policy should adequately provide oversight and protection of precious resources such as the unique ecology and biology that exist across the state.
Wind development must avoid treasured places such as public lands and high use recreational areas such as the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian trail from having wind turbines placed in these sensitive lands, and their nearby viewsheds. Each wind turbine project should require a state level review of the projects overall impacts. To learn more about what you can do to support responsible wind development in western North Carolina, visit our website and review SACE’s related blog entries.
5. SEE Expo report: SACE presentations
The annual Southern Energy and Environment Expo (SEE Expo) offers southeastern citizens the opportunity to learn about clean energy and sustainable technologies that help address the impacts of climate change. At the 9th annual SEE Expo held August 21 – 23 in Fletcher, N.C., SACE staff gave presentations to support clean energy advocacy efforts in our region. Jennifer Rennicks, SACE’s federal policy director, spoke with attendees about the lay of the land for federal energy and climate policy. She outlined numerous opportunities for participants to learn more and become involved in our community’s collective efforts to build support for a national climate bill. Please visit our website to learn more about climate policy. SACE’s Regional Program Director, Ulla Reeves, presented during a training session on "How to Deliver Effective Public Testimony." She walked attendees through the rules of the road for delivering short, effective public comments to the N.C. Utilities Commission, particularly to prepare for upcoming Duke Energy Rate Hike Hearings. Participants learned about the relationship between the rate hike and Duke’s proposed Cliffside coal plant, which does not justify an 18 percent rate hike.
6. Upcoming events
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 http://www.greenbusinessworksexpo.net/. September 3: Southern Solar Summit. Atlanta, Ga.
The Georgia Solar Energy Association (GSEA) is proud to present the First Annual Southern Solar Summit at the GreenBusiness Works EXPO in Atlanta. Those who register for GreenBusiness Works EXPO at the Cobb Galleria Centre will have the opportunity to attend the Summit. There is no extra fee. Those who wish to attend the Summit only may do so through conference registration options. Click here to learn more about the Southern Solar Summit. For more information, contact Mary Carr, SACE’s renewable energy coordinator, by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.September 13: Renewable Energy Markets 2009 Conference. Atlanta, Ga.
The Center for Resource Solutions and their co-sponsors at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy invite you to attend this year’s Renewable Energy Markets 2009 conference, September 13th through 16th at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. The event will be themed: ‘Leading the New Energy Economy’ in recognition that renewable energy can and should provide a spark to ignite new jobs, new business ventures and new investment needed for advancing a green and sustainable economy. SACE Executive Director, Dr. Stephen A. Smith, is a panelist on the panel discussion “State of the Markets”. Dr. Smith’s presentation will provide an overview of state and federal policies that are effecting renewable energy development in the Southeast region. Visit www.renewableenergymarkets.com for registration and agenda details.October 2: Summit for Campus Sustainability. Murfreesboro, Tenn.
SACE, Tennessee Alumni and Students for Sustainable Campuses, and the Middle Tennessee State University Sustainable Campus Fund, invite you to participate in the 1st annual Summit for Campus Sustainability conference on Friday, October 2 at Middle Tennessee State University. The conference will focus on the mechanisms available for funding campus sustainability initiatives such as: energy efficiency projects, energy conservation programs, onsite generation of renewable energy, green power purchases. For more information, contact Reggie Miller by emailing email@example.com.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. SACE is an official organizer of the Knoxville Solar Home tour, which will feature a solar home demonstration and tour at the residence of Dr. Stephen and Libby Smith.