SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
April 3, 2013
1. SACE Solar Array Shines in Its First Year
Knoxville solar installation marks its 1-year anniversary
Just over a year ago we installed and activated our own 9.6 kW solar photovoltaic array at our Knoxville, TN office. As part of a series of energy efficiency improvements, we knew that installing the solar system was the ideal way to raise awareness of solar power, and save money on our electric bills, all while making use of the clean, abundant energy provided by the sun. Now that a year has passed, we decided to look back at how the system has performed. From a visibility standpoint, we’ve been happy with the interest the community has shown. From visits by local students to Solar Tour stops, the system has served as an educational tool for our neighbors wanting to see solar power in action. The location near a busy roadway also provides daily visibility to passersby, who sometimes stop into the office to learn about SACE or about resources for solar power in our community. We’re thrilled with the impact that the solar array has had on our utility bill. SACE participated in the Generation Partners expanded pilot program, in which TVA, through our local utility KUB, not only gave us a $1,000 credit to offset the cost of our system’s installation but also purchases the power produced by our system at a rate of 12 cents per kilowatt-hour above the retail rate. Though the system’s output varies by season, the net energy production has exceeded our energy consumption, meaning KUB owes us money for the power we provide to the grid. After twelve consecutive months with a credit on our account, KUB will issue us a check. In addition to seeing our bills go down, we’re happy knowing that our system is feeding clean and safe solar energy to the grid. We checked in with Green Earth Solar, who installed our system, for their opinion on the system’s performance. Michael “Chip” Mincey, President, had this to say: "The SACE system has been up 100% of the time since installation and has produced 11,520 kWh over the last 12 months, which represents a 12.5% increase over original projections."Our page at Sunny Portal supports Chip’s observations: the system has exceeded expectations for nearly every month since installation, and a slight under-performance in the winter is balanced by over-performance in the summer to produce an overall 12.5% increase above the original estimate.
With solar power forecast to become increasingly prevalent as the cost of systems declines and the availability of funding options grows, we hope that more individuals and businesses seize the opportunity to transition to this sustainable, carbon-free energy source. We’ve certainly been happy so far.
2.Three SE Utilities Step Up On Efficiency
2012 Efficiency Savings Goals Met by TVA, Georgia Power & Duke EnergyThe Southeast utilities are starting to step up their game in energy efficiency. We are pleased to report that three of the major utilities here in the Southeast not only met their 2012 energy efficiency goals, they exceeded them by 2-22%! The idea of energy efficiency goals in the South was just a glimmer in the eye of policymakers about five years ago, so we are making progress. As SACE reported about seven months ago, we are accumulating concrete data on energy efficiency program implementation, successes and lessons learned from the Southeast. We have data from three of our major utilities, the Tennessee Valley Authority, Georgia Power, and Duke Energy, that shows that they all surpassed their 2011 and 2012 energy efficiency goals! This is great news for a few reasons: it shows that the utilities are putting resources and efforts into acquiring energy efficiency. Also, it shows efficiency is being used as a viable resource by the utilities in the Southeast.Table 1. Duke Energy, Georgia Power and TVA Energy Efficiency Goals and Reported Savings, 2011-2012 (GWh).
As in the past, the majority of the energy efficiency savings came from lighting programs, and we anticipate seeing a shift away from that in upcoming years given the federal lighting standard phase in. Duke Energy introduced some new programs in 2012, including a residential low income program, an appliance recycling program, and a residential behavioral program. TVA and Georgia Power did not roll out any new programs in 2012, but we hope to see some new efficiency offerings come out of their Integrated Resource Plans beginning this year. As the cost-recovery filings for the other utilities becomes available, we will create a 2012 energy efficiency ranking, as we did last year. Congratulations to Duke Energy, Georgia Power and TVA for achieving their efficiency goals once again!
3. SACE Hosts First-Ever Wind Energy Day at Georgia Capitol
Advocates and elected officials promote this clean energy resourceIn March, SACE hosted the first ever Wind Energy Day at the Georgia State Capitol with the support of event sponsor, state senator Lester Jackson (D-Savannah). In addition to speaking about the benefits of wind energy from the Senate floor and formally recognizing SACE and the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL) for our efforts to coordinate this inaugural event, Senator Jackson also introduced a state resolution lauding the benefits of wind energy. Wind energy proponents including Senator Jackson, Tybee Island City Councilman Paul Wolff, Jeff Mauk of NCEL and SACE staffers Anna Cayce Smit and Anne Blair met with Governor Nathan Deal to discuss the benefits of wind energy and the positive economic impacts that wind energy manufacturing means for the state and region. With over 8,000 components in a wind turbine, there is good reason for Georgia to corner the market on wind manufacturing jobs. Wind Energy Day concluded with a reception and series of presentations that focused on Georgia’s wind potential (both offshore and land-based), manufacturing opportunities for wind components, and a look at another renewable resource: solar energy. Our panelists included Jeff Mauk, Project Manager for NCEL; Dr. Sam Shelton, Director of Research Programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Strategic Energy Institute; Mary Hallisey Hunt, Director of Special Programs at the Georgia Institute of Technology’s Strategic Energy Institute; Teresa Eldredge, President and Co-founder of TJ Schell, LLC; Nikki Dodd, Production Assistant at Hailo, LLC; and Jessica Moore, Executive Director and Founder of America’s Energy Future. All who attended or presented at Wind Energy Day agreed that support from elected officials and business leaders is essential to harness the economic benefits and well-paying jobs that can result from developing this abundant, clean energy source.
4. Two Years After Fukushima: A Complicated Reality
Nuclear challenges facing Japan the worldThe so-called "nuclear renaissance" was seemingly ground to a halt by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, which triggered the partial meltdown of three nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Two years later, Japan is still dealing with the challenges of trying to clean up radiation, a dangerous and invisible mess affecting communities near and far from Fukushima. Tens of thousands of residents who lived near the damaged nuclear complex are banned from likely ever going home and over 300,000 evacuees impacted by the natural disaster are still living in “temporary” housing. Those brave individuals that have and continue to risk their health to work at the heavily damaged Fukushima site are exhausted and face criticism for their association with Tepco, the utility who owned and operated the nuclear complex. The road ahead is long, with decommissioning predicted to take 30-40 years and costs of potentially $100 billion — a newly revised ‘roadmap’ is due out this June. But remarkably, the recently elected conservative government is seeking to reverse Japan’s previous commitment to phasing out nuclear energy by 2040. Read more about the status of affairs in Japan in our December blog. In the United States, the sputtering "renaissance" was already experiencing major setbacks when the Fukushima nuclear disaster started two years ago last month. Building new nuclear reactors is a very risky investment and, despite anti-consumer legislation and federal subsidies that put ratepayers and taxpayers on the hook for future reactors, the nuclear industry is still beleaguered by problems. These complicated, expensive projects take over a decade, perhaps more, to build. Of the 29 reactors proposed in 2009, five have been cancelled and another six suspended, while only four have gained federal license approval from the U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Of those approved, the two proposed Vogtle reactors in Georgia are finally getting some political push-back (V.C. Summer in South Carolina represent the other two currently licensed proposed reactors). Costs at Vogtle are almost $1 billion over budget, or more, as outlined in this analysis by former Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bobby Baker, and the project has been delayed at least 18 months; leaving utility customers on the hook while Southern Company profits from their mistakes. Unfortunately, legislation to fix this obvious unfairness failed to pass in the Georgia state legislature this session. Nevertheless, Vogtle is now firmly in the spotlight, which is an indication that the tide is turning and ratepayers and some policy makers are getting more and more frustrated. Newly proposed reactors in Florida were supposed to be next in the pipeline for licensing by the NRC, but schedules for these beleaguered projects continue to be pushed further and further into the future. Recent estimates suggest these proposed plants could be almost a decade delayed — now in the early to mid 2020’s. Plagued by staggering cost overruns and mounting public and political opposition to a state law that allows utilities to charge a ‘nuclear tax’ up front for distant projects, these reactors are unlikely to ever be completed. However, the anti-consumer legislation passed in 2006 means that ratepayers have already shelled out about $1.3 billion for four proposed reactors that are estimated to cost over $40 billion. Ratepayer outrage has grown over the years as these projects have gotten more mired in problems. Consequently, there is legislation proposed to repeal this law in the Florida State House and in the Senate that aims to amend the bill to prevent the utilities from profiting if the projects are cancelled. It seems that, if nothing else, the issue will finally be discussed in Tallahassee.The two-year anniversary did bring one cautiously encouraging surprise to the U.S., however: A landmark decision occurred that squelches the so-called nuclear renaissance even further. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Commissioners upheld last summer’s licensing board denial of a construction/operating license for the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 nuclear reactor in Maryland. The decision marks the first time in history that the NRC Commissioners have upheld the denial of a license for a commercial nuclear reactor. But it will take all of us to remain committed to continually remind each other and our elected officials that we cannot allow another Fukushima to happen or another Chernobyl or another Three Mile Island. In order to ensure the health of not only our families but of everyone’s families, now and in the future, we must remain committed to securing a clean, safe affordable energy future. Please help Southern Alliance for Clean Energy do just this — become a member today.
5. Giving Made Simple
How to make a difference through your workplaceDid you know that SACE participates in several workplace giving campaigns throughout the Southeast? Well, we do! Workplace giving is one of the easiest ways to support organizations doing important work. Whether you work for a large corporation or a small office, donating through your place of employment gives you, your coworkers and employer an opportunity to play an active role in SACE’s efforts to improve the quality of life throughout our region. By pledging even a small amount from each paycheck you can make a great impact by strengthening the demand for clean, safe and healthy communities throughout the Southeast.SACE is currently a proud member of EarthShare of Georgia, EarthShare of North Carolina, EarthShare of Florida, and Community Shares of Tennessee. Each of these federations has been connecting participating businesses to important environmental and community organizations like SACE for over twenty years. Check out the links above to see if your workplace is already connected with these campaigns. If not, we would love to help you start a campaign at your workplace. To find out more about workplace giving and ways you can get involved, please contact Erin Cameron, Development & Outreach Coordinator at email@example.com, 828-254-6776, or ask your human resource personnel.