SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Sometimes in the clean energy policy world, years of work from all different angles, from public education, to coalition building, from grassroots campaigns to working with elected officials, can all lead up to a few crucial events. One of those events will take place in Florida on the August 30th Primary Election.
On August 30, Florida residents will have the opportunity to vote to remove one of the barriers to solar power development in the Sunshine State – taxes. First, they’ll have the opportunity exempt renewable energy devices, including solar, from the tangible personal property tax by supporting Amendment 4. This onerous tax increases the cost of many solar installations in the Sunshine State – mostly leased residential systems and commercial solar systems. Additionally, Florida residents will have the chance to exempt the assessed value solar systems on commercial property. Currently, the solar system increases the assessed value of the property leading to higher taxes.
The proposal on the August 30 primary ballot will remove both of these tax burdens. This election is an important opportunity for voters to say YES to a proposal that’s good for the solar industry, good for the environment, and good for Florida economics, and it is a bi-partisan issue that SACE has been working on for a long time. The next step is up to Florida voters – Remember YES on Amendment 4 on August 30, 2016!
Here is the full text of the proposal as it will read on the ballot: Solar Devices or Renewable Energy Source Devices; Exemption from Certain Taxation and Assessment – Proposing an amendment to the State Constitution to authorize the Legislature, by general law, to exempt from ad valorem taxation the assessed value of solar or renewable energy source devices subject to tangible personal property tax, and to authorize the legislature, by general law, to prohibit consideration of such devices in assessing the value of real property for ad valorem taxation purposes. This amendment takes effect January 1, 2018, and expires on December 31, 2037.
SACE received major welcome news last month when the Obama Administration chose to side with the interests of citizens, small businesses, and coastal communities over the influence of Big Oil by announcing the cancellation of plans to offer leases for offshore oil and gas drilling in the Atlantic. This is a victory that has been years in the making and you, as members and supporters of SACE have played a critical role in achieving this milestone.
The March 15 announcement coincided with the release of the Administration’s Proposed Five Year Program for offshore oil and gas, which determines the areas for which lease sales will be held. Last year, the Administration initially proposed opening a huge area off the coast of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia in its draft proposed program released in January 2015.
Yet as the reality of potential offshore drilling loomed ever closer, a bi-partisan movement emerged to protect our coast from the impacts of offshore drilling. Over the past two years, more than 100 local governments, 100 members of Congress, 1,000 small businesses, and hundreds of thousands of residents have voiced a bi-partisan call to protect our coast from the impacts of offshore drilling. Together we have stood up for the quality of life we enjoy on the Southeast coast and the booming tourism economy, which are dependent upon clean and healthy beaches and marshes.
The White House listened sincerely, and coastal voices won out over the influence of Big Oil.
The two immediate implications for this announcement are that firstly we need to make sure seismic testing for oil and gas in the Atlantic is not ultimately permitted. Secondly, our focus should now be on developing responsible offshore energy solutions compatible with our coastal resources, such as offshore wind energy.
To this end we encourage you to keep up your participation in the movement with two simple actions. First, please take a moment to say “THANK YOU” to President Obama for standing with citizens and protecting the coast by signing the petition here. Secondly, please mark your calendars for the 7th annual Hands Across the Sand events on May 21, when we will stand hand-in-hand to say “no” to offshore drilling and “yes” to clean energy.
The Department of Energy has finalized its review of the Plains and Eastern Clean Line transmission project, which will connect substantial quantities of the highest-quality, low-cost wind energy resources right into the southeast. The Clean Line project will connect up to 4,000 megawatts of high quality wind energy resources from Oklahoma’s western panhandle to two electrical converter stations, one near northern Arkansas and another near Memphis, Tennessee.
The review process took several years and evaluated the technical and financial feasibility and whether the project is in the public interest. The Department of Energy’s approval concludes its Section 1222 application and statutory requirements and allows the wind power transmission line to continue the development process.
In December of last year, the Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the project was released and the DOE “did not identify widespread significant impacts as a result of construction or operations and maintenance of the Project.” The analysis “also revealed potential positive impacts to long-term air quality from a displacement of fossil-fuel use for electricity generation and increases in regional jobs and tax revenues as a result of the Project.” Building the wind energy power line will save natural resources, create tens of thousands of jobs, and provide health benefits.
High voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission technology is not new; however, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line’s use of HVDC technology is unique in that it is designated for wind energy resources. HVDC technology can move more power over longer distances with less electrical loss than alternating current (AC) transmission routes; by doing so, HVDC transmission preserves land resources and maximizes clean energy availability.
SACE has diligently evaluated the Plains and Eastern Clean Line since 2011 by conducting educational webinars, performing technical analyses, and providing comments on the federal environmental review. We agree with the Department of Energy’s record of decision that this is an environmentally friendly and beneficial project.
By providing low-cost wind power into the heavily coal-dependent southeast, the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project represents significant environmental benefits. SACE extends sincere congratulations and welcomes the clean energy jobs and investments into the Southeast! Congrats Clean Line! We are pleased to endorse the Plains and Eastern Clean Line project. You can check our supportive video here and press statement here.
Florida Power and Light’s (FPL) Turkey Point facility is a sprawling complex with two operating nuclear reactors and five total power-generating units, not all of which are operating today, about 25 miles south of Miami. It is the only nuclear power plant in the country near two national parks, the Everglades and Biscayne, and that uses vast amounts of water in an extremely inefficient, antiquated cooling canal system.
Turkey Point is already one of Florida’s biggest daily water users and its cooling canal system is loading at least 600,000 pounds of salt daily and up to as high as 3 million pounds per day, along with other contaminants such as ammonia, heavy metals and tritium (a radioactive form of hydrogen) directly into the Biscayne Aquifer, the main source of drinking water upon which three million people in South Florida rely. This contamination is exacerbating saltwater intrusion towards Miami-Dade County’s drinking water wells.
The pollution has been documented for years by regulators and a recent Miami Dade County Report and an ongoing University of Miami study found elevated levels of tritium, a radioactive isotope that comes from nuclear power production, in groundwater miles to the west and east of the facility – showing that Turkey Point’s wastewater is migrating many miles offsite in all directions. Tritium acts as a fingerprint – tracking the pollution back to the cooling canal system.
This new data shows a direct connection between the groundwater plume from the cooling canal system and the surface waters of Biscayne National Park. Following an extensive review of the growing body of evidence documenting leaks of radioactive elements and other pollutants into Florida surface and ground water, SACE and the Tropical Audubon Society in mid-March issued a 60-day notice of intent to file a citizen lawsuit against Florida Power & Light (FPL) under the Clean Water Act (CWA).