SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
1. Marching Forward on Climate
SACE joins thousands in D.C. calling for climate action
On Sunday, February 17th, 2013, over 40,000 Americans from across the country, including SACE staff and their families from three different states, participated in the Forward on Climate Rally outside the White House. It was the largest climate rally in American history and its organizers, the Sierra Club, 350.org and the Hip Hop Caucus, with dozens of partners including SACE, support President Obama’s call to move America forward with decisive action to reduce carbon pollution from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas. Thousands of solidarity rallies were held across the country, and more than one million online activists joined in virtually with those gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., to send a strong message to President Obama that we need action to address climate change now. Leaders from all across the climate movement stood at the base of the Washington Monument and spoke at the rally, inspiring the thousands of attendees with impassioned speeches. 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben said it best from the stage in D.C.: "All I’ve ever wanted to see is a mass movement stop climate change, and now I’ve seen it." SACE staffers John Wilson and Tom Larson (pictured left) joined the mass of supporters on the National Mall who listened to so many phenomenal speeches that they are impossible to recount individually; 350.org, however, has put together a brief 4-minute video that highlights several unforgettable moments from the rally. The rally comes at a time when popular support for climate action is high and the need for leadership is more apparent each month. 2012 was the hottest year on record for the contiguous United States and among the hottest years for global temperatures, a designation which seems to be all too common lately. 2012 was also plagued by extreme weather, exacerbated by global warming – the mid-Atlantic derecho storm, seemingly incessant wildfires, crippling drought, and a highly-active hurricane season including Superstorm Sandy. The writing is on the wall. Unchecked carbon pollution and the resulting change in climate is making the world a worse place. We owe it to our children and our children’s children to do what we can to make sure they have a healthy, prosperous and livable world. Though the rally has ended, the fight for climate action is only just beginning. We need to reach President Obama and convince him to address this massive issue that faces not only the US but the world, our generation and our children’s children—and all the species on the earth. The Sierra Club has launched an Obama Climate and Clean Energy Legacy Campaign, comprising 100 days of action from the Inauguration to Earth Day. You can learn more and get involved at www.StandWithThePlanet.com.
2. Florida’s Nuclear Future Fizzles
Moving away from high risk energy, one reactor at a timeMuch to the dismay of nuclear power proponents, Florida’s nuclear future continues to fizzle. Most recently, Duke Energy, which merged with Progress Energy in 2011, made a monumental announcement – the utility decided not to continue efforts to fix the beleaguered Crystal River 3 reactor, which we dubbed the “Humpty Dumpty” reactor. An effort that began years ago to increase the generation capacity at Crystal River, known as an “uprate,” was dealt several serious technical and engineering setbacks that were compounded by what we, and others, argued were poor decisions by the utility. Consequently the reactor has been offline since 2009 and Progress Energy of Florida (PEF) customers were stuck footing the bill due in part to the anti-consumer state legislation passed back in 2006. The “nuclear tax” allows utilities to charge their customers in advance for costs associated with new nuclear generation, including uprates. Further, the Crystal River debacle arguably led to a major change of course for the merger of Duke and Progress. But back to Florida’s nuclear follies. After years of utility customers being charged in advance for billions of dollars now spent on the cancelled Crystal River uprate and for new reactors in Levy Co. and at Turkey Point that are severely over budget, very behind schedule and unlikely to ever be built, consumer outrage has skyrocketed. Finally, state lawmakers are paying attention.House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-38), along with others legislators, including some who originally voted for the legislation, are discussing nuclear cost recovery and ways to get rid of it or to possibly “fix it.” Once again, Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda (D-9) has introduced a repeal bill that would certainly protect consumers, HB4003, and has garnered bi-partisan support. And several Republican state senators just announced plans to amend the legislation. Notably, Florida AARP has recently announced that opposing nuclear cost recovery will be one of their top legislative priorities during the 2013 session. They also released results of a survey of their members, which showed clear opposition to nuclear cost recovery regardless of political party affiliation. An excerpt states:When asked to consider the supporting and opposing reasons they heard regarding the Advance Nuclear Cost Recovery Law, most Floridians age 50 and older oppose it, with 44 percent saying they strongly oppose it. Less than one in five say they neither support nor oppose, and a similar proportion indicate support for the law with just 5 percent indicating strong support for the law.And SACE’s challenge of the cost recovery statute before the Florida Supreme Court, which garnered support from a bi-partisan group of lawmakers, the Village of Pinecrest and FL AARP, awaits a decision. It appears that now is the time for Florida’s lawmakers and consumers, and perhaps even the Court, to commit to making a change that will benefit Florida’s energy future and ultimately the health of the state’s economy. Turning towards safe, affordable energy options and away from risky energy choices and anti-consumer state legislation will make all the difference.
3. Embracing U.S. Demographic Shifts
Continuing to integrate diversity into the energy movementFebruary, officially recognized as Black History Month, is a time to remember the important people and events in the history of the African diaspora in the United States. And this year, SACE launched Black History Month by partnering with the Atlanta Black Nurses Association (ABNA) and the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance to hold a forward-looking event that examined the public health disparities that pollution brings to low income and communities of color. This inaugural symposium, Social Justice, Environmental Justice and the Impact on Minority Health, brought health care professionals, environmental advocates and community leaders together around this important issue for the first time. As shown in the picture below, presentations spanned a wide range of topics including air pollution impacts to young minority children, water equity issues in Georgia, clean construction methods in hospital sustainability plans, and how sustainable development in urban neighborhoods can improve the overall health and wellness of a community.This symposium is just one example of how SACE is actively integrating diversity and inclusion into our organization and work. We believe the future success of any climate and energy movement will be determined by how broad and diverse the base of citizens are who call for energy reform and climate action. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the percentage of people of color will more than double within the US population by 2050, increasing to 220 million. In fact, most of America’s net population growth in the coming decades will be among its minorities, which currently comprise 30 percent of the U.S. population. Estimates suggest that people of color will make up more than 50 percent of our population before 2050. With this understanding, SACE began actively building our organizational knowledge and capacity around diversity and inclusion beginning in 2008. Since then, we have expanded our diversity efforts from a narrow, near-term federal climate focus to a broader, long-term initiative that cuts across all SACE programs and project areas. As we enter 2013, SACE has begun implementing our formal diversity strategy by embedding diversity into our organizational culture and overall strategic plan; becoming more aware of how we interact as an ally and coalition partner among diverse partners and stakeholders; and participating in facilitated diversity and inclusion workshops. We are also developing a case study to document our journey to use as a tool to communicate the imperative for building a diverse and inclusive movement. At SACE, we are committed to cultivating new, diverse leaders who will build a broad climate and energy movement that is inclusive of all individuals who are impacted by how we produce and consume energy in our country.
4. Southeast Sails Closer to Offshore Wind
BOEM looks to generate more east coast offshore wind energy
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is working with states along the East Coast to investigate areas along the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) that might be well suited for offshore wind energy development. SACE is excited to see BOEM working diligently in Georgia and North Carolina to begin this process and has submitted supportive comments and encouraged supporters and allies to do the same. In December 2012, BOEM announced it will prepare an environmental assessment (EA) for a potential meteorological data collection facility offshore from Tybee Island, Georgia. The EA is the next step in advancing Southern Company’s potential plans for building a meteorological tower and/or meteorological buoy to gather data to help determine the feasibility of an offshore wind farm in this location. The EA will focus on addressing impacts associated with site characterization, installation, deployment, and decommissioning of the meteorological tower and/or meteorological buoy planned by Southern Company. BOEM opened a public comment period so stakeholders could give input on environmental issues they think should be considered in deciding whether to grant the lease. After reviewing the public comments, BOEM will prepare the environmental assessment, which will also be open for public comment. This is a great step forward for Southern Company to continue studying Georgia’s abundant offshore wind resource, and the assessment advances the possibility of building the Peachtree State’s first offshore wind farm.In North Carolina, developments are even further along. In December 2012, BOEM issued a Call for Information and Nominations for commercial wind development, as well as a Notice of Intent (NOI) to develop an EA for three potential wind energy areas off North Carolina. These three sections represent approximately 1,441 square miles of potentially developable area, effectively doubling the amount of area that may be suitable for offshore wind development in the United States. As part of the process, BOEM held public information sessions and visual simulation open houses in North Carolina and SACE staffer Chris Carnevale attended both to observe and comment and wrote an in-depth blog post about the events. BOEM’s EA for North Carolina will consider the environmental effects associated with the initial stages of site assessment and research leading up to wind farm development, for example geological and geophysical surveys and biological surveys. BOEM is seeking public input regarding the environmental or socioeconomic issues to be analyzed. If a lease was issued to a commercial developer after the completion of this EA, an additional round of environmental analysis and public input would need to be completed before any construction of a wind farm could commence. The public has until March 7th to submit comments to BOEM via Regulations.gov or through SACE’s website. SACE will continue to follow BOEM’s offshore wind activities and update you on exciting new developments. We encourage you to take part in the public comment periods and public information sessions as these opportunities arise, so that we can work to ensure the safe and environmentally responsible development of offshore wind energy here in the Southeast.