http://www.cleanenergy.org/2017/07/10/july-2017/

SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

July 2017

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  1. New Study: EVs provide jobs & economic benefits for Georgia
  2. Uncertainty looms over South Carolina’s new nuclear power expansion
  3. Solar Tax Reduction is now Florida Law


1. New study: EVs provide jobs & economic benefits for Georgia

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Two years ago, Georgia was second in the nation for the number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road. But in 2015, Georgia repealed the state’s existing tax credit for Zero Emissions Vehicles (ZEV), which had been on the books since the early 2000s. Later that year, the number of new EVs sales began to plummet from 1,000 new EVs registered each month to fewer than 100 new EVs registered each month today. And that means that Georgia is losing out on significant benefits to the state’s economy.

Recently, in partnership with Plug-in America, EV Club of the South and local groups in Georgia, SACE commissioned a study on the economic benefits of EVs in the state. This new analysis, conducted by The Greenlink Group, shows the economic benefits of adopting a new $2500 tax credit and reduced user fee for EVs in Georgia.

The results show that implementing these polices would result in $54 million dollars in increased income to the state, 951 full time jobs and $100.4 million in gains to Georgia GDP. Further, it demonstrates no negative impacts. For every public dollar that supports these policies, between $2.25 and $7.59 private dollars are invested back into Georgia and our local economies. You can download the analysis here.

In addition to these positive economic benefits, consumers also benefit from fuel and maintenance savings, improvements in grid reliability, reduced air emissions and subsequently reduce healthcare costs. EV-friendly policies also reduce dependence on foreign oil. These savings put money back into the local economies.

Currently, less than three percent of Georgia’s registered vehicles are electric and Georgia is being passed up by other EV investments, such as from additional funding from the Volkswagen (VW) Settlement’s Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Investment Plan funding because of the state’s current ‘unfriendliness’ to EVs. Policymakers in Georgia need to take note – an investment today can reap seven times the economic benefits. Supportive policies are needed in Georgia to advance the EV market. The future of transportation is widely seen to be electric and Georgia CAN and SHOULD be a leader in EV technology again.

For more information, check out Electrify the South, a new campaign to build support and momentum for growing electric vehicle awareness in the Southeast: www.electrifythesouth.org

 

2. Uncertainty looms over South Carolina’s new nuclear power expansion

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On March 29, 2017, Westinghouse Electric Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the massive cost overruns at SCANA’s (subsidiary SCE&G) and Santee Cooper’s V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina, about twenty miles northwest of Columbia, and at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia. Westinghouse is a subsidiary of Japanese tech giant Toshiba and the designer and builder of the four under-construction AP1000 nuclear reactors at the two sites. The reactor design has yet to be operational anywhere in the world. Complicating matters, Toshiba has reported that their losses, which are in excess of $6 billion because of the failed nuclear projects, have created “substantial uncertainty” over its ability to continue operations.

What’s going on in South Carolina?

V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 were originally scheduled to be operational by now with cost estimates of $9.8 billion. Now eight years in, construction is only about one-third complete. Last year, an agreement was reached to increase costs to $13.9 billion but now, shockingly, there is no estimated cost to complete or completion schedule. SCANA recently extended their interim agreement with Westinghouse again, now until August 10, 2017, and is working to figure out how much this derailed project will cost and whether to continue. This agreement keeps Westinghouse on the job but requires SCE&G and Santee Cooper to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in construction costs directly.

The anti-consumer Base Load Review Act, passed by the South Carolina state legislature in 2007, allows utilities to charge customers for the financing costs for new nuclear power plants as they are being built. Consequently, over $1.3 billion has been collected and the average residential SCE&G customer has seen more than 18% of their electric bill go towards the unfinished reactors with further increases expected. Santee Cooper customers have also seen rate increases. Between these two utilities, a combined fourteen rate increases have occurred. And because of the delays, customers are paying more money over a longer time period – currently with no end in sight.

What’s next?

The bankruptcy court dealing with the Westinghouse mess will dictate much of what happens next and things appear to be moving rather slowly. Work is underway to determine what the project may eventually cost and when it might be complete in order for the SC utilities to determine whether to continue moving forward with the project. Separately, Santee Cooper’s board recently proposed further rate hikes – with more than half the funds going towards the nuclear expansion project. Public comments will be taken and hearings will be held on these proposed rate increases. SACE staff attended Santee Cooper’s recent board meeting and developed comments. In addition, a petition was recently filed before the South Carolina Public Service Commission that may put some pressure on SCE&G and we will closely watch those developments in the new proceeding.

What can you do?

SACE has consistently expressed concern about the risks inherent in building new nuclear reactors, but utilities and regulators ignored these warnings that are now playing out in real time. The time is NOW to tell your utility, regulators and state lawmakers that enough is enough. Customers should not be on the hook for utilities’ multi-billion dollar mistakes!

 

3. Solar Tax Reduction is now Florida Law

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On Friday, June 16, 2017, Florida Governor Rick Scott officially signed pro-solar Amendment 4 (SB 90) into law, a victorious moment for all Floridians!

Thanks to the support of hundreds of businesses, thousands of volunteers and solar advocates, and the leadership of state Senator Jeff Brandes and state Representative Ray Rodrigues, Floridians will enjoy lower energy costs as burdensome taxes on solar energy systems will be reduced beginning January 1, 2018.

Back in 2016, Amendment 4 was unanimously placed on Florida’s ballot by the Legislature and then overwhelmingly supported by 73% of Florida’s voters in the August 2016 primary election. During the 2017 legislative session, the implementation bill was again unanimously approved before heading to the Governor’s desk for a signature. The signing of this bill marks an end point in our multi-year campaign to promote and encourage good solar policy in the Sunshine State. You can read more details about what Amendment 4’s passage means for Florida’s solar outlook here.

Here’s what a few of Florida’s solar advocates and business leaders said as Amendment 4 became law:

“Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has been in the fight for good solar policy in Florida alongside many strong partners for many years,” said Susan Glickman, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s Florida Director. “Broad support from conservatives, the business community, the solar industry, and environmental organizations brought together volunteers, an array of elected officials and everyone in between, in a truly non partisan effort to bring pro solar Amendment 4 into law.”

“This is a victory for Florida, solar customers, and non solar customers alike,” said Patrick Altier, President of Florida Solar Energy Industries Association (FlaSEIA). “Better tax policy means more local jobs, lowered energy costs, and more clean, affordable, solar energy in the Sunshine State.”

“The implementation of Amendment 4 is a resounding victory for voters across the Sunshine State,” said Pamela Goodman, President of the League of Women Voters of Florida. “It is clear that the people of Florida demand good solar policy – the voters have spoken, as has the Legislature, and now finally the Governor.”

“Reducing taxes is smart energy policy, and I’m proud to see Governor Scott sign this important legislation into law,” said Tory Perfetti, Chair of Floridians for Solar Choice and Florida Director of Conservatives for Energy Freedom. “This effort has been supported by a historic coalition and unanimous legislative support, along with a resounding public vote. The Sunshine State has spoken, and they said: We want the freedom to choose solar.”