1. Congressional tours connect the dots on green jobs
In February, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) helped coordinate two Congressional tours at clean energy manufacturing facilities in the Southeast to demonstrate the link between strong clean energy policies and the green jobs that can result.
On Tuesday, February 16, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) joined a SACE-ally, American Wind Energy Association, for a tour of Shelby, NC-based PPG Industries’ plant. On the tour, the Senator saw how fiberglass sheets are produced for wind turbine rotor blades and was able to speak directly with a few of the plant’s 500 employees. Hagan has the opportunity to support upcoming clean energy policies that could create green jobs, promote economic recovery, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The plant manager pointed out that a modest 20% by 2020 renewable energy standard (RES) would enable PPG to add about 250 workers due to increased demand for their products. To build support for our business allies, SACE shared dozens of reports with Hagan’s staff, as well as staff in other offices on Capitol Hill, about how our region has the ability to comply with a renewable energy standard and to demonstrate the job creation implications that clean energy production can have for the South. Then, on Thursday, February 18, Seandra Rawls, SACE’s Diversity and Community Outreach Coordinator, joined Congressman Hank Johnson (GA-04) for a tour of Suniva, a silicon photovoltaic (PV) cell manufacturer based in Norcross, GA. (See photograph to the left.) Suniva just received $5.7 million in tax credits through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and announced they plan to add 50 new jobs to the 150-strong workforce at the Norcross facility. Touring the solar manufacturing facility provided the Congressman with a first-hand look at how good leadership, effective policy, and innovative businesses can help create more green jobs in our country and in our region, leading us to a cleaner, energy-independent future.
2. Hands Across the Sand events
Thousands of Floridians from all walks of life joined hands on Saturday, February 13 to form a metaphorical and physical “line in the sand” to speak out against the impacts of offshore oil drilling. SACE and 1SkyFL (a project of SACE) joined a coalition of dozens of Florida non-profit and civic organizations to bring hundreds of people to more than 80 different “Hands Across the Sand” events. Click here to view a sample of the media clips generated on the event. Organizers and attendees alike were motivated to brave cool temperatures and sandy winds to ensure that elected officials in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. understand there is widespread opposition to drilling for oil off the Florida coastline. Proposed legislation in both the Florida State Legislature and in the U.S. Senate could allow oil exploration as close as 3-10 miles from Florida’s world-class beaches. The impacts of offshore oil drilling are numerous and well known, and drilling for more fossil fuels instead of promoting energy efficiency and renewable resources actually moves us further away from global warming solutions.
3. Air quality workshop at University of Georgia
On Monday, February 22, SACE partnered with Mothers & Others for Clean Air (MOCA) and the University of Georgia (UGA) to co-host a workshop and air quality demonstration at the University of Georgia. The workshop convened fleet managers, city and county officials, and community groups from across the state to learn about ways to reduce diesel emissions in Georgia.
The event was held as part of a $1.7 million stimulus grant from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Athens-Clarke County (ACC), University of Georgia (UGA), and Washington County to install pollution control devices (retrofits) on diesel transit buses and municipal vehicles. SACE is coordinating the project’s education and outreach efforts with our campaign partners at MOCA. As part of the workshop’s events, a press conference was held by the EPA to recognize the grant recipients and SACE Executive Director Stephen Smith spoke on a panel at the event. Other speakers for the event included representatives from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which runs the state’s diesel emissions reduction program, EPA’s Southeast Diesel Collaborative staff, the Diesel Technology Forum, and the Clean Air Task Force. Part of the workshop included a demonstration from Bruce Hill of the Clean Air Task Force (see photograph to the right) to illustrate the effectiveness of retrofits for reducing harmful black carbon soot emissions. The demonstration included tests of tailpipe pollution before and after retrofitting a UGA garbage truck with a flow thru filter. The garbage truck that was tested was the first installation of its kind in UGA’s fleet and the air quality tests performed by Clean Air Task Force are the first field tests ever conducted on this technology. Check out SACE’s recent blog post on the event to learn more.
4. Georgia biomass conversion delayed
Just one year after Georgia Power announced it would seek approval to convert its coal-fired Plant Mitchell to utilize 100 % renewable wood biomass, plans have been delayed. Georgia Power formally requested that the Public Service Commission delay their coal to biomass conversion of Plant Mitchell, a facility located in Albany, Ga. Georgia Power stated that the delay is due to uncertainty with air quality regulations that have yet to be finalized, specifically the Industrial Boiler Maximum Achievable Control Technology (IB MACT) rule.SACE is concerned about the delay because we strongly support efforts of utilities such as Georgia Power to quickly begin implementing renewable energy projects. Georgia Power had originally planned to begin retrofit construction at Plant Mitchell in April 2011 with the unit becoming operational in June 2012. A new project schedule has yet to be determined. Without strong policies that support the use of renewable energy, such as a national renewable energy standard, implementation of clean energy alternatives will continue to face obstacles. SACE is eager to support the development of renewable energy projects and take advantage of the benefits this large biomass project would deliver. If converted, the plant would produce electricity by consuming 100 percent biomass, making it one of the largest plants of its kind in the country. In addition, Plant Mitchell would have lower emissions and lower fuel and operating costs when compared to continued operation using coal, thereby making the plant more cost-effective for customers. To learn more, email Anne Blair at email@example.com.
5. Call-in day to oppose nuclear loan guarantees
Clean energy advocates participated in a national call-in day on February 25 to oppose new nuclear loan guarantees announced by President Obama earlier this month. Participants called their U.S. Senators and Representatives in Congress to demand that they look out for taxpayer and citizen interests, not the big power companies, by opposing any loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors.
SACE sent an Action Alert to our members to organize participants and ensure hundreds of calls to Congress in opposition of nuclear loan guarantees. The campaign also urged participants to write to their decision makers and successfully generated more than 3,500 letters to the House and about 3,000 to the Senate during the last week of February. Click here to learn more about the controversial nuclear loan guarantee program. In addition, Friends of the Earth launched two television ads in conjunction with the call-in day in opposition to the $55 billion in loan guarantees proposed for construction of the first new nuclear reactors in the United States in thirty years. To learn more about the campaign, coordinated in conjunction with SACE, visit our blog.
6. Upcoming events
March 10: Power Up 2010 Energy Conference. Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
The Gulf Coast Energy Network’s Power Up 2010 Energy Conference & Expo provides an unmatched opportunity to connect with other energy industry experts, influential business leaders, policy makers, conservationists, and green building enthusiasts. Attendees will hear presentations and panel discussions across all energy sectors including wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, ocean, and bioenergy. Click here and here for more information.March 15: Public Hearing for Integrated Resource Planning. Raleigh, N.C.
The North Carolina Utilities Commission will be considering Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) for all utilities in the state on March 15th. SACE will testify in the evidentiary portion of this hearing on the 16th, but the public is welcome on Monday to share thoughts. SACE staff will be developing talking points to help you shape your comments. For more information, contact Ulla Reeves at firstname.lastname@example.org. March 16: East Tennessee Environmental Conference. Kingsport, Tenn.
The 9th annual East Tennessee Environmental Conference will be held in Kingsport at the Meadowview Conference Resort and Convention Center. The mission of this growing conference is to improve the environment and public health through smart choices and it will feature presentations from several experts and speakers. Click here for more information. March 22 – 23: Citizen Action Day. Tallahassee, Fla.
Please join SACE for a Tallahassee Citizen Action Day to deliver a message to state legislative leaders that it’s time to act to promote a sustainable energy future. The upcoming legislative sessions will decide Florida’s clean energy future. Will our elected officials choose to unleash innovation and investment in a clean energy economy in our state, or will they fail to act? Click here for more information and here to register. Your participation is important! If you have any questions please contact Toni Reale at email@example.com or 843.641.0600. If you need financial assistance with your overnight stay, please let Toni know. March 22 – 23: Developing a Strategy for Clean Energy Conference.
The Southeast Clean Energy Application Center invites you to participate in our kick-off conference, “Developing a Strategy for Clean Energy.” We are seeking active involvement from clean energy stakeholders in the Southeast region to focus our activities on overcoming obstacles to CHP, Waste Heat Recovery, and District Energy deployment. The conference will be held at the Orlando World Center Marriott Resort and Convention Center. Click here for more information. March 26: SACE Monthly Webinar Series.
SACE’s March webinar will feature a discussion on the cost of energy and its price in a clean energy future. Through this free webinar service, SACE members are directly engaging with staff and discussing the climate and energy issues that SACE works on everyday. Please join us online at 12 p.m. Registration begins March 10. For more information, email john Bonitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.March 29 – 31: Solar Hot Water Installation Training for Installers.
The City of Knoxville Solar America Cities program, along with Pellissippi State Technical Community College is excited offer this low cost training as part of the City of Knoxville’s Solar Knoxville Program. The workshop will hold a maximum of 25 people – only those with a background in plumbing and solar hot water installation will qualify to take the course. Click here for more information.