SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
TVA’s current Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) fails to take advantage of renewable energy from local sources like solar, bioenergy and wind that are so readily available in the Valley. Although TVA has made some positive progress during this planning process by increasing plans to invest in energy efficiency and committing to transition away from coal dependence, they have sadly underestimated the potential to meet future energy demand by developing renewable energy sources available right in the Tennessee Valley.
The current draft IRP explores three options for TVA’s future, and evaluates each based on cost and risk. The Energy Efficiency and Demand Response (EEDR) and Renewables Focused Strategy would set TVA’s target at 3,500 megawatts of renewable energy by 2020 – about 6.4 percent of the forecasted demand that year. A portion of this would be produced within the Valley, but the strategy calls for a disproportionate amount of wind energy to be imported from other regions to satisfy the requirement.
SACE sits on the Stakeholder Review Group for the IRP, and has been a consistent voice calling for an aggressive renewable energy target with more solar, wind and sustainable bioenergy produced in the Valley. The Southeast has sufficient renewable energy resources to meet 20 percent of our energy needs by 2020. We cannot allow TVA to bypass this unique opportunity to set goals that will reduce the Southeast’s dependence on dirty, high risk energy sources and our contribution to global warming pollution while creating much-needed jobs and strengthening local economies.
Despite SACE’s calls for TVA to reconsider their assessment of local renewable resources, the utility continues to undervalue these clean options available so close to home. Luckily, the comment period for TVA’s IRP continues through Monday November 15, providing an opportunity for clean energy advocates to call for renewable energy for the Tennessee Valley. If you miss this deadline, fret not: there will be additional opportunities to be involved in the coming months. TVA holds quarterly public updates on the IRP process. Keep an eye out for future opportunities to have your voice heard as TVA finalizes the IRP between now and April 2011. SACE’s website has several fact sheets that have updated information on this ongoing process. You can also view the archive from our October 26 webinar: Integrated Resource Planning: a TVA Case Study. For additional information, visit our blog.
The American Wind Energy Association held its first North American Offshore Wind Conference & Exhibition in Atlantic City, N.J., during the first week of October. SACE Renewable Energy Manager Simon Mahan was one of the over 1,600 wind advocates that attended the conference. Visit SACE’s blog to read about Simon’s experiences while at the conference.
Simon was pleasantly surprised at the teamwork he witnessed among would-be competitors in the wind energy industry. “Even though many of the people, companies and even states are in competition with each other to develop the biggest turbine, the longest blade, build the quickest ship or provide the best tax breaks for businesses, there was a surprising amount of collaboration and cooperation throughout the conference,” he noted. Positive working relationships were especially apparent among the ‘alphabet soup’ of government agencies and departments working to develop the offshore wind industry and infrastructure. The Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Interior (DOI), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Defense (DOD), Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), and the newly formed National Ocean Council (NOC) were all present and are all taking strides that will encourage Americans to embrace offshore wind.One of the most compelling of Simon’s observations is the fact that the ocean does not necessarily respect our man-made city and state borders.
Entire regions share the same ocean communities, cultures and habitats, and it is therefore prudent for us to approach offshore wind energy at the regional scale. “Our oceans are likely to be better protected and developed with offshore wind farms quicker if entire regions that share mutual values and situations join together to help build the U.S. offshore wind industry,” says Simon. This is very valuable insight going forward, and provides a platform from which SACE and our allies will work to promote offshore wind development between now and the second AWEA Conference & Exhibit next year in Baltimore, Md.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held its final public hearing on proposed coal ash regulations on Wednesday, October 27, in Knoxville. SACE is pleased that EPA has finally recognized the citizens of east Tennessee during this important process. Our staff led efforts to organize high turnout, generate press coverage, and host a film screening and a rally surrounding the daylong event at the Knoxville Marriot.
Throughout the summer EPA conducted seven public hearings, but not one was in a location convenient for the citizens of east Tennessee who were victims of the Kingston coal ash disaster in 2008. After SACE sponsored a "People’s Hearing” in Roane County, Tenn., and in response to pressure from Sen. Lamar Alexander, EPA announced an additional hearing in Knoxville. The day before the Knoxville hearing, SACE released a new report detailing the downfalls of Tennessee’s current coal ash regulations (or lack thereof). The report notes that despite the 2008 Kingston disaster, Tennessee has neglected to adopt protections for residents living in the danger zones for future spills. If lawmakers in Tennessee, where the dangers of coal ash disposal have been experienced first-hand, are not inspired to regulate coal ash voluntarily, those in other states certainly will not choose to enforce strong regulations either.
Under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), this dangerous byproduct of coal-fired power plant production can be regulated in one of two ways: Subtitle C, the more restrictive of the two options, provides for federal oversight of coal ash. Subtitle D, the more lenient option, puts the responsibility on states, allowing them to regulate coal ash as they see fit, and leaving them to enforce their own rules. The eight hearings held throughout the country were meant to allow citizens to weigh in so that EPA can make an informed choice between these two options.
The Knoxville hearing began when SACE Executive Director Dr. Stephen A. Smith submitted our new report directly to EPA and gave the audience an overview. SACE staffer Josh Galeperin then described some of the report details, including the fact that impoundments like the one at Kingston are almost completely unregulated in Tennessee. Morning testimony was followed by a very well attended press conference and a screening of the film "Perry County," which details the plight of the town upon which TVA dumps the ash waste from its Kingston facility. In the early evening, SACE and a student environmental group from the University of Tennessee organized a "Coal Ash is Scary" rally. Nearly 100 students dressed in scary Halloween costumes and proceeded from the rally to the hearing to present their powerful testimony. The perspective of these young people is especially important considering that it is they who will cope with the future implications of EPA’s decision. Unofficial EPA estimates suggest that nearly 300 people attended the Knoxville hearing. Around 200 of those voiced support for Subtitle C, which would classify coal ash as hazardous waste and impose the strongest and most comprehensive federally enforceable regulations. SACE agrees that this is the right choice. It may take up to two years for EPA to sort through the over 1,000 public comments and over 200,000 written comments received during the hearing process. Citizens nationwide have clearly voiced their belief that coal ash poses a threat to human health and the environment, and that they support stricter regulation under Subtitle C of RCRA. We hope EPA will listen.
Knoxville’s 2010 annual Solar Tour took place October 1 and 2. The weekend-long event built on the success Knoxville has already experienced in recent years on the solar energy front. Knoxville was recently named a Solar America City, reflecting the fact that the city’s solar capacity has grown dramatically. In 2007, Knoxville had around 15 kilowatts of installed solar capacity. As we approached the 2010 Solar Tour, the city could boast over 1,400 kilowatts, almost a 100 fold increase in just three years!
The Solar Tour kickoff on Friday, October 1, coincided with the excitement that traditionally surrounds First Fridays in downtown Knoxville. The kickoff included a Solar Fair in Krutch Park and a reception at the S&W Grand Restaurant. Homes and businesses officially opened their doors to the public on Saturday, October 2. The day began with a solar workshop at Ijams Nature Center, during which SACE’s Solar Energy Coordinator Lauren Steiner gave a “Solar 101” basic presentation. The self-guided tour that followed involved 23 homes and businesses, including SACE Executive Director Stephen Smith’s home. The number of stops on the tour has more than doubled since 2007. Participating sites showcased various installations, from residential systems of a few kilowatts to Energy Efficient Tennessee’s new 1 megawatt solar farm, just off Andrew Johnson Highway. SACE was instrumental in installing this farm, which is now the largest in the Tennessee Valley, in August 2010. The weekend was a great success, and served as a proclamation of Knoxville’s growing commitment to developing solar energy sources.
5. 10.10.10 Global Workday in Review
350.org’s Global Work Party day on October 10, 2010, was a huge success. 7,347 events took place in 188 countries. The events were organized by community members seeking solutions to global warming and the climate crisis. Participants worked on local community gardens, installed solar panels, planted trees, and joined their neighbors in community-improving and energy-conserving efforts. The message these workers sent to their leaders was simple: “If we can get to work on climate issues, so can you!” 350.org is the brainchild of author and activist Bill McKibben. The movement seeks to educate citizens worldwide on the dangerous level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
The individual and community events that took place on 10.10.10 around the world were meant to serve as a mass civil society action to encourage governments to move more aggressively on climate policy.
SACE staff and members participated in projects throughout the Southeast, including the construction of a straw bale and plaster home in Nashville, Tenn., pictured above.
To read about other SACE members’ experiences at 10.10.10 work parties throughout the Southeast, read the article on our blog. You can also check out 350.org’s photo stream to see pictures of some exciting and fun events that took place worldwide.
Does your energy bill typically rise as the temperatures drop? Here are some very simple ways to combat this phenomenon quickly and inexpensively:
For more ideas and tips for energy efficiency in your home and in your daily life, check out the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy page; EPA and Energy Star’s Winter Energy Efficiency Tips; or the Daily Green’s 19 Easy Home Winterization Projects, which has a user-friendly slideshow with other good ideas for keeping your energy bill down without sacrificing your comfort.
November 17: Economic Development Forum on Renewable Energy.
Join us on November 17 to see how Kentucky can attract investments and create green jobs by developing comprehensive energy and funding strategies. The Forum will explore economic drivers for renewable energy; opportunities to develop Kentucky’s workforce to meet the industry’s current and future employment needs; funding and investment opportunities that a clean energy economy might provide; and challenges for businesses, utilities and energy consumers. Presenters will include Kentucky’s Department for Energy Development and Independence, the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, the USDA Rural Development Division, and speakers from renewable energy businesses and Kentucky utility companies. The Forum will take place in the Activities Room at Berea College’s Alumni Building. Cost is $15, and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Sign-in and breakfast begin at 8:30 a.m.; the Forum begins at 9:00 a.m.
November 15-19: Quit Coal Week in Georgia.
Around the country, utilities are scrapping their plans to build new coal plants due to public pressure in favor of clean energy alternatives and the high cost of coal on our wallets and our health – 536 deaths each year are attributable to coal plant air pollution in Georgia alone. However, utilities in Georgia seem to have missed the memo – they’re still planning to build THREE NEW COAL-FIRED PLANTS! Georgia is already home to some of the nation’s most polluting coal plants. We need more clean energy, not more coal. Please come show your support for clean energy by coming out for one or more events during Quit Coal Week, Nov. 15-19, 2010! See SACE’s Action Alert for more details.
November 19: Comment Period for EPA’s Coal Ash Rulemaking Procedure Closes.
Concerned citizens have the opportunity to submit comments between now and November 19 encouraging the EPA to regulate dangerous coal ash as a hazardous waste. You can quickly submit an e-mail comment through Sierra Club’s website, or visit SACE’s Take Action Page to learn more about this issue and download instructions for submitting written comments.
November 19: Turkey Point Hearing.
Join us as we challenge the licensing of the two new nuclear reactors Florida Power and Light (FPL) wishes to build. The hearing is from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please visit our website for more information.
December 10: Dollar Donation Day.
SACE will be offering $1 memberships all day. Join us and be part of the solution! Visit our Donate Page for more information.