SACE | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

September 2017




As summer comes to a close and temperatures begin to cool off, SACE staff are busy putting the finishing touches on our Fall Membership Campaign. This year our theme is Power to the People, because we know that our work is not possible without broad support from people just like you. Joining our organization helps us continue to push for clean energy and climate solutions throughout the Southeast, which is especially vulnerable to a changing climate. With known climate change deniers in the White House and in many leadership positions in DC, we need your support now more than ever.


  1. National Drive Electric Week kicks off this Saturday!
  2. As Nuclear “Renaissance” Crumbles, Nuclear Insanity Continues in Georgia
  3. Eclipse is Gone, Solar is Back On


1. National Drive Electric Week kicks off this Saturday!

NDEW-map-2017-finalSaturday, September 9 kicks off National Drive Electric Week, a week-long celebration of electric vehicles around the country. Since 2011, electric vehicle enthusiasts have hosted these annual events all around the globe, celebrating the benefits of electric vehicles. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is excited to once again partner with local organizations, dealerships and volunteers across the Southeast for inspiring and educational events.

Below are the details for events we are hosting and we hope to see you! To find an event near you, go here.

Alpharetta, Georgia

The 2017 metro Atlanta National Drive Electric Week returns to Avalon in Alpharetta, GA. The event will be held on Saturday September 9, 2017, 11AM-4PM. The Electric Vehicle display will take place on Avalon Boulevard between the Valet Circle and the Tesla store. Be among the first to see second generation 2018 Nissan LEAF – this is the only event in the Southeast to feature this car.

The event is organized by CleanCities Georgia, EV Club of the South and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and sponsored by Georgia Power, United BMW, ChargePoint and Hannah Solar. A Ride & Drive will also be held. Let us know you are coming or share the event with your friends here.

Asheville, North Carolina

In celebration of National Drive Electric Week, come to Asheville Outlets on September 10th, 12PM-4PM to see the latest all-electric & plug-in hybrid vehicles! This event is free and family-friendly.

  • Owners & Dealer cars on display will include Tesla, BMW, Mercedes, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota and Kia
  • Electric and solar vehicle charging station demonstrations
  • EV owners and clean energy businesses on-site to answer questions
  • Meet members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club
  • Discover insights about the 2018 models
  • To volunteer, go here.
  • To RSVP and share on Facebook, go here.

Dunedin, Florida – Due to potential impacts from Hurricane Irma, this event is postponed. We will advertise the new time and date when that is confirmed.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is hosting an electric vehicle tailgate at the Dunedin Public Library in conjunction with the Florida League of Women Voters’ “Hot Topics” event with FL SUN, an initiative working to organize community solar installations. The event will be an opportunity for members of the public to check out some of the latest electric vehicles available and discuss opportunities to expand EVs and charging in the state. The EV Tailgate will be held outside in the parking lot near the charging station. Let us know you are coming or share with your friends here.


2. As Nuclear “Renaissance” Crumbles, Nuclear Insanity Continues in Georgia

domino-sqThe Dog Days of Summer have not been kind to the so-called “nuclear renaissance.” In the wake of the bankruptcy of Toshiba’s Westinghouse, the designer and builder of the AP1000 reactor, six reactors in South Carolina and Florida were cancelled and two more in Florida are in some sort of “suspended animation” within a span of a few weeks.

South Carolina’s Meltdown

Most shocking was the demise of the under-construction SCE&G and Santee Cooper nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer plant after more than $9 billion was spent. State-owned Santee Cooper as 45% owner rightly pulled the plug once they received an analysis of what it would take to complete the project: billions of dollars more resulting in a projected 41% rate increase for their customers. The next day, partner SCE&G also cancelled the project and provided more information in a tense briefing before the South Carolina Public Service Commission.

The South Carolina state legislature, which years ago easily and quickly passed the anti-consumer Base Load Review Act that provided the foundation for the subsequent rip-off of ratepayers, formed investigative committees and held their first set of House and Senate hearings with more planned in mid-September. View agendas for these upcoming hearings here and here. The headlines that ensued captured the astonished and appalled mood, such as: “‘What The Hell Were You Guys Smoking’ House Rep. At V.C. Summer Meeting.”

Duke’s About Face

Duke Energy officially cancelled the two Levy County reactors in Florida, which already received their federal combined operating license. The utility said they would not even maintain the license so the project is officially dead, but customers were on the hook for over $800 million in costs for nothing. Thankfully, instead of pursuing more nuclear generation Duke will make important investments in solar, energy storage and electric vehicles, among other forward-thinking measures.

Duke also officially put on the brakes for the two proposed Lee reactors near Gaffney, South Carolina. Although the project is officially ‘done’ the utility still wants to maintain its federal license and attempt to recoup over $500 million in already-spent costs through some upcoming proceedings in North and South Carolina.

FPL Cautious but Greedy

Florida Power & Light continues to pollute and loot in Florida when it comes to their existing Turkey Point nuclear reactors and their two proposed reactors. But they have admitted to a serious “pause” for the new reactors, which are never going to be built. Meanwhile, FPL wants to make sure that eventually customers will pay for all the utilities’ action and has a proposal before the PSC to do just that. You can voice your concerns through our action here.

Nuclear Insanity in Georgia

Bucking the trend of rational decisions, Southern Company’s Georgia Power and its utility partners, Oglethorpe Power, MEAG and Dalton Utilities, reported at the end of August that they would continue pursuing the two reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia along the Savannah River. This decision was made despite a doubling of the capital costs and projected completion dates more than five years behind the original operational dates of April 2016 and April 2017. Apparently, putting their customers on the hook for billions more is not their top concern. Voice your concerns by signing our petition and stay tuned for how to get involved in the upcoming proceeding before the Georgia Public Service Commission and feel free to let the Commissioners know your thoughts on this mess.

What’s the common denominator in all of this? Monopoly utilities throughout our region have taken advantage of captive customers while regulators continually fail to protect consumers – all while state legislators devised laws to protect this racket. With your help, SACE will continue to shine a light on these predatory practices and demand accountability and transparency.


3. Eclipse is Gone, Solar is Back On

Eclipse-totality-1As many of us waited excitedly for the moon’s shadow to cross the Southeast in August during the Great American Eclipse, few thought about how the thousands of rooftop systems and utility-scale solar power plants across the country were fairing. At about 2:30 p.m. ET on Monday, August 21, 2017 the only thing most of us paid any attention to was the quickly-dimming golden ball above our heads.

Eclipses are still a bit magical even though scientists and their modeling predicted this year’s celestial show down to the minute. In fact, it’s because eclipses are exceptionally predictable that utilities and electric consumers can better prepare for reduced solar output during eclipses than they can on an ‘average’ day with intermittent cloud cover or storms.

When I got back home a few hours later, curiosity got the better of me so I went online to view the energy generation for SACE’s Asheville Office solar panels that day. Sure enough, there was a dip in production that lined up perfectly with the eclipse as Asheville was in the zone of 99% totality:

But I also found it interesting that if you viewed energy output for that entire week, the solar eclipse event didn’t really stand out in terms of overall production and reliability:

And here’s another thing that occurred to me during eclipse fervor: few people were talking about the other side of the eclipse’s energy equation, which was notably reduced energy demand. Thousands – maybe millions – took the day off work and school to spend time outside (away from their electricity-powered devices) to enjoy the celestial show. Meanwhile as the sun dimmed, temperatures dropped – in some places by 10-15 degrees. With lower temperatures, air conditioners ran a little less, which lowered overall electricity demand – conveniently right at the same time and pace that solar panels begin producing less power. At least in some cases, the same phenomenon that reduces solar power generation also reduces the need for power generation.

And you may ask: what happened when solar energy generation briefly plummeted while the moon’s shadow covered part of the country? Other power sources took over and the grid was ‘untroubled’ by the eclipse despite the sudden reduction in solar output. In fact, Florida derives so little of its electricity from solar energy (despite claiming the nickname the Sunshine State) that it was ‘just another day at the office‘ for its largest utility, Florida Power and Light. During future eclipses, wind power, battery systems, hydro power, geothermal and bioenergy resources will all be able to provide flexible power response during unusual phenomenon due to technological advances and geographic diversification which improves grid reliability.

As solar power installations increase over the next six years around the country, grid operators and utilities will undoubtedly have more solar power to manage during the April 2024 eclipse, which astronomers predict will wow people from Texas to Maine. I’m confident that the 2017 eclipse will be seen as a teaching moment, perfectly aligned with the future of solar power, and I’m hopeful that I may once again find myself along the path of totality!