SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
1. EPA Hosts Clean Power Plan Hearings in Atlanta
Stand up for clean air in the Southeast
On November 19-20, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold two public hearings in Atlanta, GA on several components of the Clean Power Plan. The hearings in Atlanta are the final of four hearing sessions the EPA is hosting throughout the country.
The Clean Power Plan, released in August and officially published in October, is EPA’s historic effort to finally curb carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fuel fired power plants. The Plan sets emission reduction goals that each state must meet by 2030, based on that state’s historic generation and unique energy portfolio. States can achieve the reductions through wide range of compliance options.
Specifically, EPA is seeking comments on several key parts of the Clean Power Plan – the Proposed Federal Rule and Model Training Rules and the Clean Energy Incentive Program. Written comments to EPA will also be accepted until January, 21, 2016.
The Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) is the voluntary early action opportunity that states can participate in to achieve either emission allowances or emission reduction credits (ERCs) before the official Clean Power Plan compliance timeline begins in 2022. The CEIP rewards early investments in renewable energy generation or in demand-side energy efficiency measures that reduce end-use energy demand for low-income communities in 2020 or 2021. For more information on the specifics of the CEIP that EPA is taking input on, click here.
In its effort to make compliance with the Clean Power Plan as straight-forward as possible for states, EPA has released a Proposed Federal Plan that serves as the model for a potential federal plan that EPA would implement if any state failed to submit an approvable state plan of its own.
We will continue to keep you informed on Clean Power Plan developments, but for more specifics on the upcoming hearings or to register, click here.
Workplace giving campaign season is here and workplaces across our region are in the midst of another year of creating positive change by improving their communities and the environment through workplace giving.
Whether you work for a large corporation or a small office, donating through your place of employment gives you the opportunity to play an active role in improving quality of life in your community and throughout our region. When you pledge even a small amount from each paycheck to SACE you will be making a great impact on how we produce and consume energy in the Southeast.
SACE is currently a proud member of the following workplace giving campaigns: EarthShare of Georgia, EarthShare of North Carolina, EarthShare of Florida and Community Shares of Tennessee. Each of these federations has been connecting environmental and community organizations to participating businesses for over twenty years.
Click on the logos above to see if your workplace offers giving opportunities to SACE and other environmental organizations in your area. If your workplace is not yet involved, we would love to help you start a campaign. To find out more information about workplace giving and ways you can get involved, please contact Katy Townsend, Development & Research Associate at email@example.com, 828-254-6776.
3. The Home of Blues Gets a Little Greener
Solar and Energy Efficiency Projects Bring Benefits to Memphis
SACE has been working to highlight clean energy projects from job development to solar installations in Memphis, Tennessee’s largest city, and illustrate how these projects can serve as economic development opportunities. Below, we outline a few of the recent projects we’ve been tracking.
The groundbreaking of the “new” Universal Life Insurance Building in Memphis celebrated the project’s award of $2 million in Qualified Energy Conservation (QEC) bonds from the Green Communities Program, managed by the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability and the Housing and Community Development department.
Self + Tucker Architects are the force behind the project that is expected to provide more than 200 construction jobs and become a poster child for energy efficiency. The project will include a 50-kilowatt (kW) solar array, which will also be part of a green collar job training program. The $2 million in QEC bonds will be used to fund a “greenroof,” tankless water heaters, solar parking lot lighting and LED light fixtures – qualifying the building for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Ultimately, the new Universal Life Building will serve as a hub for minority business services.
Additionally, the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability received an $80,000 Clean Energy Grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) to install solar panels and an educational display at the Lichterman Nature Center. This solar array will be the city’s first solar installation on a government owned building and will save $7,200 a year in energy costs, generate 65,700 kilowatt-hours of electricity and help reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 68 tons annually.
On the job creation front, the Memphis Bioworks Foundation just finished celebrating the graduation of its first participants in the Memphis Clean and Green Job Training Program. Participants received free training and certification through an Environmental Protection Agency funded program aimed at addressing job needs in the city and increasing energy efficiency savings.
The program trains participants for five specific occupations: environmental technician, energy response technician, energy auditor, construction and abatement specialist. Over a period of three years, EPA funding will allow Bioworks to train 75 unemployed or underemployed Memphians for environmental positions throughout the city.
SACE will continue to track the success of these projects and work with community leaders to continue to promote clean energy solutions for Memphis and the rest of our Southeastern region.
Nearly forty years later than originally expected, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) finally issued its decision to license a second nuclear reactor at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear plant on the Tennessee River, about fifty miles northeast of Chattanooga. TVA started construction on the two-reactor nuclear plant in the early 1970s at a total estimated cost of $825 million and then mothballed Unit 2 in the mid-1980s for several decades. Together, the Watts Bar reactors experienced a cost overrun exceeding well over $10 billion and Unit 2 has the distinction of having the longest construction history of any nuclear reactor in the world. SACE’s Sara Barczak co-authored an October article for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that outlined the long, troubled history of Watts Bar.
SACE has scrutinized this project literally since our founding days when we were known as the Tennessee Valley Energy Coalition and many of our staff were not even born! Most recently we’ve reminded the public and media that contrary to what TVA and the industry would like you to believe, Watts Bar 2 is really the last old reactor of the 20th Century. This reactor was supposed to be generating electricity in 1977 and TVA failed to bring it online on time and on budget.
Despite the recent construction completion, Watts Bar does not have the safety features of a modern reactor. It relies on the antiquated “ice condenser” containment design that has not been used for reactor construction in decades. Nor has the reactor been re-designed to anticipate the earthquake and flooding risks revealed by TVA’s post-Fukushima investigations. Shockingly, the NRC has postponed any decisions about whether to require design changes until after the reactor begins operation.
SACE challenged the licensing before the NRC, arguing that Watts Bar Unit 2 was not adequately designed to withstand earthquakes and floods in light of the post-Fukushima analysis and that the NRC should have made it a top priority to ensure that safety equipment is protected in the event of reasonably foreseeable severe earthquakes before the reactor becomes operational, not afterwards outside public scrutiny. The Commission rejected our concerns issued the operating license late last month.
We have continuously stated that the Watts Bar Unit 2 project, plagued with management and construction problems since construction resumed in 2007, serves as the poster child for all that was and is still wrong with the nuclear power industry and the utilities that continue to ask ratepayers to support this extremely risky, expensive technology. This sentiment was echoed recently in an LA Times column by Michael Hiltzik, who referenced our aforementioned Bulletin of Atomic Scientists article. The headline sums it up perfectly, “America’s newest nuke plant shows why nuclear power is dying in the U.S.” Indeed.
For more information on Watts Bar, visit our website.