SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
1. Georgia’s Electric Vehicle Leadership Under Attack
EVs provide benefits to Georgia’s drivers, economy, and environment
As you may know, Georgia has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing markets for electric vehicles (EVs). We have the second-most registered EVs in the country. We are gaining national recognition for this growth. However, despite our growth, EVs still make up just a small fraction of the cars on our roads, comprising just 2 percent or less of sales in the first half of 2014. We still have a long way to go and it will take time for EVs to become a large share of the new vehicle market.
Strong state policy support, specifically Georgia’s Zero Emissions Vehicle tax credit, has been the key factor in this success. Unfortunately, this tax credit is under attack on multiple fronts — via HB 122, introduced by Rep. Chuck Martin (Alpharetta), as well as in the large transportation-funding bill being debated. These attacks are bad news for Georgia.
The truth is, electric vehicles are providing economic benefits to Georgia. As outlined in new analysis that SACE and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released in February, electric vehicle drivers in Georgia saved $10 million on gasoline in 2013. The money that EV drivers do spend on fuel goes to our power companies that are employing Georgians, paying local taxes, and have a stake in the state economy. A majority of the money drivers spend to fill up conventional vehicles, in contrast, pays for crude oil, which is extracted and refined outside Georgia. EVs also save drivers money through lower fuel and maintenance costs. In Georgia, driving 100 miles in a new gasoline vehicle cost $13.57 in 2014 – but driving those same 100 miles in an electric vehicle could cost $3.50 or less and as little as $0.40, if EV owners charged their vehicles with electricity at the lowest nighttime cost.
Fortunately, SACE staff are working with a diverse coalition to support a new approach that would phase out the credit over the next five years instead of eliminating it altogether this year. The approach, HB 220, also expands availability of the credit to all plug-in electric vehicles, which would now include vehicles like the Chevrolet Volt, which was previously ineligible. We think this approach strikes a good balance– addressing budget concerns, but continuing to support the nascent EV market.
Eliminating this important driver for a new industry would put the breaks on the benefits the EVs are providing in our state. We encourage you to take action in support of electric vehicles in Georgia by voicing support for the language in HB 220 and opposition to the language in HB 122 and the transportation funding bill, which would eliminate the tax credit for electric vehicles.
To support our growing commitment to increasing use of clean fuel technologies, SACE, UCS and Plug-In America are hosting an Electric Vehicle Luncheon and Ride and Drive near the Capitol on March 25 for our members and special guests. Please email Anne Blair for an invitation at email@example.com.
The Plains and Eastern Clean Line, a high voltage direct current transmission project, would connect more than 3,500 megawatts of high quality, low cost wind power from western Oklahoma and Texas deep into Arkansas and Tennessee. The 720 mile long power line is presently undergoing a federal environmental impact statement review by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Weighing in at 3,700 pages, the hulking review document exhaustively covers just about any impact the project may have.
Conservatively, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would support tens of thousands of high quality jobs over the life of the project. Supporting the Plains and Eastern Clean Line high voltage direct current transmission project would provide job benefits to the southeast, and potentially beyond.
By using wind power instead of dirtier forms of power generation, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project is anticipated to reduce air pollution. Specifically, the Department of Energy calculated the project could displace up to 11,100 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx), and 33,000 tons of sulfur oxides (SOx) per year. NOx and SOx emissions can cause asthma and other respiratory diseases, as well as premature death. NOx can also create smog, acid rain and nitrogen-polluted waterways. The project would also reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by up to 14,000,000 tons per year. That’s about as much carbon dioxide released by 1.9 million homes’ electricity use for one year, or about four coal-fired power plants. CO2 is a primary greenhouse gas, as well as contributor to ocean acidification.
There are some environmental impacts associated with the project. Perhaps the biggest negative impact the project would have is associated with its terrestrial impacts; however, these impacts are relatively small compared to the project benefits and other sources of power. In the Department of Energy’s terms, “There would be no irreversible or irretrievable commitment of agricultural resources,” indicating many of the “used” acres could be eventually returned to production. The EIS is thorough enough to evaluate potential impacts to cattle, student to teacher ratios, grass mowing and even water consumption by work crews, with few to no serious environmental impacts.
The Plains and Eastern Clean Line project would inject substantial amounts of low cost, high quality wind energy resources deep into the south. By doing so, the region could become less dependent on fossil fuels, all while reducing electric bills for ratepayers. The Department of Energy is taking public comment on the project until April 20, 2015. If you would like to submit a comment of support, please click here.
All five nuclear reactors under construction in the U.S. are … delayed and over budget. Every one. And this is happening worldwide as the ongoing Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster in Japan marks its fourth anniversary.
TVA’s antiquated Watts Bar 2 in Tennessee, Southern Company’s two AP1000 reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia (co-owned by their subsidiary Georgia Power and utility partners Oglethorpe Power, MEAG and Dalton Utilities) and SCE&G’s (subsidiary of SCANA) and Santee Cooper’s two AP1000 V.C. Summer reactors in South Carolina, are all significantly behind schedule and over budget.
Watts Bar 2 is especially behind schedule given that TVA started construction in the early 1970s. And though TVA and the industry are misleadingly touting this as the first new nuclear generation in the 21st Century, we know that it is really the last old reactor of the 20th Century.
Sadly, there are essentially no consumer protections when it comes to these projects. One after the other the same story plays out – at first a low cost estimate with extreme confidence that things will be different this time around, ignoring the nuclear power industry’s terrible track record (and TVA ignoring it’s own record with the same project)
Typically these projects are showered with “incentives.” In Georgia, South Carolina and Florida state lawmakers passed anti-consumer legislation that allows the big power companies to charge customers in advance for certain costs associated with the proposed new reactors, with no refund if the projects go belly up or protections if they veer off schedule. The Federal government (after Congress authorized a lot of money) offered up a sweetheart-deal for over $8 billion in U.S. taxpayer-backed federal nuclear loan guarantees to the Vogtle utility partners just to ensure that taxpayers are now on the hook too instead of Wall Street investors (all while keeping the public in the dark as to what exactly is going on).
As problems begin to occur, the utilities and their regulators turn a blind eye leaving consumers holding the bag. Vogtle for instance is now 39 months delayed with the original $14.1 billion estimate now more likely around $18 billion. FPL and Duke Energy Florida (formerly Progress Energy Florida) customers really know what a sham this has been. Billions of their hard-earned dollars have been wasted on nuclear aspirations and not a kilowatt hour of electricity has been produced.
SACE has and will continue to argue that cost overruns for these ill-advised nuclear construction projects should not only be borne by utility customers. SCANA and Southern Company’s shareholders for instance, who stand to profit significantly from the long-term rate of return guaranteed on these multibillion-dollar investments, should pick up much of these cost overruns. Ratepayers are basically carrying all the risk, while shareholders are getting all the profit. Utility customers can’t afford any more examples in order to confirm what their wallets have already learned — that building reactors is a very, very bad decision.
We are excited to announce the release of our Members-Only Web Portal– a password-protected section of our website where active SACE members will have access to additional tools and resources keeping them up to date on the latest in clean energy developments throughout our region.
The Members-Only Web Portal will give you access to Dr. Stephen Smith’s reading list, behind the scenes video updates and listings of Members-Only events such as our quarterly Brown Bag Lunch Discussions with Dr. Smith.
Please click on the image below to learn more about how you can access this exclusive SACE Members-Only Benefit.