SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
1. Victory at nuclear facility in Alabama!
TVA abandons Bellefonte nuclear site
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) made a huge announcement last month when they wisely and definitively abandoned their plans to pursue building any new nuclear reactors at their Bellefonte site near Hollywood, Alabama. TVA had proposed having up to four reactors on the site: completing the long-idled, antiquated reactor designs at Units 1 & 2 (which many referred to as the “zombie reactors”) and building two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, Units 3 & 4. But that all ended with successive announcements of cancellations by the utility, dealing yet another blow to the never-realized, so-called “nuclear renaissance.”
Many years ago SACE’s high risk energy choices program director, Sara Barczak, toured the abandoned site with several allies as they prepared for a legal intervention before the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, challenging the licensing of the AP1000 reactors. She snapped a series of pictures, one featured here, that we used as inspiration. To realize that
northeastern Alabama now has a chance at a future not plagued by the threats posed by an operational nuclear plant is highly rewarding. No highly radioactive nuclear waste to worry about, no water-guzzling power plant threatening local water resources, no long and cumbersome decommissioning to deal with, no skyrocketing utility bills and no more concerns about what happens to the community if a serious accident were to occur.
SACE and our partners have worked for years to stop this expensive, ill-advised venture. We could not have accomplished this goal without your support.
In celebration of TVA’s smart decision to save billions of dollars by halting their pursuit of nuclear power at Bellefonte and instead considering the possible sale of the site to outside parties, we developed a poll to see what people felt should be done with the site. Options include whimsical choices like an amusement park, as well as practical choices like a solar farm.
SACE will continue to play close attention to any developments related to the possible sale of the site and strongly oppose any efforts have this site used to host any polluting energy technologies. We encourage you to submit comments on TVA’s proposal to the utility by March 18 – find more details here.
It’s time to get breezy in the Big Easy. This May, the biggest wind energy conference of the year is headed to New Orleans! The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) WINDPOWER conference will be hosted May 23-26 at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in downtown New Orleans, just steps away from the Mississippi River, the French Quarter, Café du Monde and other locations to represent the full New Orleans experience. This event will draw thousands of attendees and hundreds of exhibitors all looking to advance the industry. A major component of the WINDPOWER conference is its trade show and expo, which is the largest annual wind power trade show in the world.
In support of the gathering, SACE will be collaborating with the Southern Wind Energy Association for a blog series called ‘Windy Wednesdays’ each week leading up to the conference. The first blog entry features how wind power is breaking records by providing high levels of electricity to numerous states across the country. At roughly 11PM on February 18th, wind power generated nearly 40% of all the electricity in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) region – which includes part of Arkansas and Louisiana – more than coal, natural gas or nuclear power. And hundreds of megawatts of wind power from the SPP region are already purchased by and flowing to major southern utility companies.
Utilities across the Southeast are beginning to recognize the benefit of incorporating more wind power into their portfolios. The Southwestern Electric Power Company (a subsidiary of AEP, and utility operator in the northwestern part of Louisiana), is already purchasing 469 megawatts of clean, cheap wind power. When SWEPCO made its wind power purchase agreement announcement, the company stated that the purchase would actually reduce ratepayer costs. And now, SWEPCO has identified another 1,200 megawatts of wind power purchases it would like to complete over the next 20 years. Wind power can provide substantial quantities of low-cost, clean, renewable energy to Louisiana while providing a hedge against rising natural gas prices.
With advanced turbine technology and lower costs, the Southeast is also a new frontier for the wind industry. So, it is only fitting that the biggest wind energy conference of the year will be in the Southeast! If you get the envie (desire) to experience the “joie de vivre” (joy of life) in New Orleans, mark your calendar for May 23-26, 2016 and register today. See you there!
Over 600 professionals all over the country gathered at 17 different locations on Tuesday, February 23 for #nationWISE, a series of roundtable discussions focused on the development of the solar industry. Here is a quick recap from two events in the Southeast where SACE participated: Atlanta, Georgia, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
SACE staffers, Anne Blair and Allie Brown, attended the WISE event in Atlanta held at 5 Seasons Brewery. The turnout was a huge success, with over 75 women and men in attendance. Jamie Barber, with the Georgia Public Service Commission, discussed her role working with the Commissioners and Georgia Power to secure more renewables in the utilities’ portfolio. Jennette Gayer with Environment Georgia, shared her experience advocating for solar power in Georgia and highlighted that last year the U.S. brought more solar power online than fossil fuels. Gayer also stressed the need for more women serving in the Georgia legislature and highlighted the total absence of women serving on the Georgia Public Service Commission. The other panelists were Mary Britton with Hannah Solar and Brooke Starr Haman with Georgia Power, who shared their interests and paths into the field and advice on working in this male-dominated sector.
That same evening, about 40 attendees met in Fort Lauderdale and were joined by some special guests – National Geographic, filming segments for their documentary series The Years of Living Dangerously, and Cecily Strong, known from Saturday Night Live and currently working as a correspondent with National Geographic. The Florida event was sponsored and organized by Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Women4Solar, with co-hosts Alissa Schafer (SACE) and Raina Russo (Women4Solar).
The panel was moderated by Alissa and featured three unique solar perspectives: Katie Ullman, Director of Global Marketing and Communications for Conergy; Debbie Dooley, founder of Conservatives for Energy Freedom; and Kathe Thompson, Board Director of Natural Resources for League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County. The panel presentations and group discussion covered local and regional challenges and opportunities in the solar market, and it was inspiring to see these conversations included women, men, children, and even celebrities!
Given that the Southeast continues to be a battleground for solar, it is more important than ever that we all continue to work together on the issues that really matter. SACE was honored to be able to participate in both the Atlanta, Georgia and Fort Lauderdale, Florida events, and looks forward to continuing these discussions moving forward.
With the expected release later this month of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) proposed 5-Year Program for offshore oil and gas activities, the Southeast coast may be at the greatest risk it has ever faced from impacts of offshore drilling.
Last year, the Obama administration released an early draft of this 5-Year Program, which proposed selling leases off the shores of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Along with partners, SACE organized strong opposition to this plan but it’s likely we will need to fight even harder this year to guarantee the safety of the Atlantic coast.
In recent months, SACE has worked with partners to facilitate a strong showing of local business opposition to offshore drilling. In December, we helped more than 400 businesses in South Carolina deliver a request to S.C. Governor Nikki Haley to protect our currently booming coastal economy, rather than risk it with offshore drilling. Theses businesses are among the 1,000+ businesses along the East Coast calling to cease plans to drill offshore the Atlantic.
In late January, SACE staffer Chris Carnevale served as a Southeast delegate to the Coastal Voices Summit, hosted by Oceana, and met with South Carolina Congressional offices to bring the message of opposition from the states up to Washington, DC.
Then in February, SACE began rolling out its Did-You-Know offshore drilling video series, highlighting facts and perspectives in brief videos which have already generated more than 1,000 views on social media.
Looking forward, we have three big offshore drilling-related activities on our radar:
1) BOEM will take comments on its proposed 5-Year Program for 90 days from the date of its release. We need to flood the agency with comments from citizens in written form and at yet-to-be-scheduled public hearings BOEM will host.
2) We are collaborating with Working Films and other partner groups to host and promote screenings of the Shore Stories: a collection of short films on offshore drilling in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia to help promote public education and galvanize citizen participation in BOEM’s comment period.
3) We are, once again, helping promote and host Hands Across the Sand events along the Southeast coast. Save the date for the morning of Saturday, May 21 to participate in your local Hands event. If you would like to sign up to host an event, please click here. It’s relatively straightforward and we have lots of resources to make it as easy and effective as possible for you.
Together we can protect the Atlantic coast, our economy and quality of life, but it will take all of us! Please stay tuned to our Facebook and Twitter pages and blog for more updates and action opportunities.