SACE members speak up for a clean electricity standard

Congress is currently considering a Clean Electricity Performance Program, which could drastically reduce carbon emissions and advance clean energy. Here’s what our members have to say in support of it.

Kate Tracy and Guest Blog | September 13, 2021 | Climate Change, Energy Policy, Utilities

Brady Watson, former Civic Engagement Coordinator for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, also contributed to this blog post.

With Congress currently considering a broad range of legislative proposals that together constitute perhaps the most consequential package of climate and clean energy actions ever debated in the U.S., Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) members have been speaking up to their members of Congress to urge support for climate action. There is one legislative proposal in particular that SACE has been communicating with our members about. Below, we’ve compiled a list of comments from SACE members to their members of Congress about this provision that we at SACE believe has the potential to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and further drive us toward a clean energy future: a clean electricity standard, known formally as a Clean Electricity Performance Program (CEPP). Congress is currently debating this legislation, and a final vote could come by the end of September. 

First, let’s go over some background on the CEPP, what it is, and how it could benefit Southeast residents.

Why we must rapidly decarbonize, how a CEPP can help do that 

Climate science dictates that we must decarbonize our economy by 2050 to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, and perhaps the best way to hit this target is to decarbonize the electricity sector, the second-largest greenhouse gas emitting sector of our economy, by 2035.

Source: SACE, “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast” 2021 report, Southeast Carbon Emissions by Sector, Page 5

A CEPP, such as the policy that the House of Representatives is considering in committee today, would help ensure that utilities generate a certain percentage of their electricity from clean sources, like solar and wind, through a combination of incentives for utilities that are proactive in clean energy development and penalties for utilities that lag. Analysis suggests that a CEPP that moves us to 80% clean electricity by 2030 could save hundreds of thousands of lives, add hundreds of thousands or millions of jobs, inject over $900 billion dollars into the U.S. economy, and raise $154 billion in tax revenue for federal, state, and local governments.

Source: Energy Innovation, Studies Agree 80 Percent Clean Electricity By 2030 Would Save Lives And Create Jobs At Minimal Cost

SACE members speak up in support of federal action on climate

SACE members recognize the massive benefits decisive action on climate could provide and have been speaking up to their members of Congress about it. Read on for stories from our members here in the Southeast on why they support clean energy action. 

Fossil fuel status quo has had devastating consequences

“I have personal experience living with the effects of devastating mining — destroyed mountains, polluted waterways, and poor health. We have much work to do to change the lives of those who live in the coalfields. It starts with setting a goal. You cannot achieve a goal without first declaring it. It is imperative.” – Kathy S., Wise, VA 

We should act now for future generations to preserve a livable planet

“We must QUICKLY transition to [a] carbon-free electricity grid so that our children and grandchildren can have a chance at a decent life. A Clean Electricity Standard is a vital part of achieving that transformation. As a Florida native who follows energy policy, I know that the companies that supply the majority of electricity to the southeast US, while talking a good game, have no real plan to be carbon-free within the time frame that we know is mandatory – 2035 to 2050. A Clean Energy Standard can change that. PLEASE support a 100% Clean Electricity Standard which will reduce our addiction to fossil fuel and save our children and grandchildren from a hostile future.” – Roberta G., Gainesville, FL 

“If you watched David Attenborough’s recent special on climate change, you know that a majority of scientific opinion states that we are rapidly approaching tipping points in several areas of the global ecological system. These include arctic and antarctic glaciation, ocean circulation and acidification, animal habitat destruction, warming climate, and deforestation. If we go through these tipping points, it could become impossible to reverse the devastation that is being caused by climate change.” – William S., Knoxville, TN 

“Act on behalf of Humanity. In order for our children and our children’s future to be healthy, clean and vital, we must do ALL that we can to lessen the impacts of the climate crisis, we must slash greenhouse gas emissions and rapidly decarbonize our energy sector.” Patricia S., Coral Gables, FL 

Personal experience and expertise suggest a move toward clean energy is the smart and necessary choice

“As a retired scientist I know we must act now to stop dreadful consequences of global warming. It’s obvious that many businesses, including the auto industry see the writing on the wall. We can make money investing in technology that will make us leaders in the world. This is the future and we should be in front of it.” – Nancy, N., Maryville, TN

“As a homeowner who installed a photovoltaic system on my property to lessen our carbon footprint, save money and set a good example, we must slash greenhouse gas emissions and rapidly decarbonize our energy sector to avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis.” – Kent, W., Tallahassee, FL 

“We can’t pretend any more that climate change isn’t absolutely real and caused by people using fossil fuel. I have solar panels on my house, plus storage batteries, and I drive an electric vehicle, so I’m doing my part. Now I’m counting on you to do yours. Please support this critical policy.” – Mary, B., Niceville, FL 

“I strongly urge you to support this critical policy. Plus let me add that even though I rent I use renewable energy to light my apartment 100%” – Sara H., Long Beach, CA 

“Please support a growth in clean energy in the south. We are the natural place to have such resources. Solar energy can be a big boost to our economy, and it reduces our gas and coal fired plant emissions, not to mention being much safer than nuclear power. Clean energy production can provide a large amount of good jobs in our area. The Southeast also stands to benefit immensely from a rapid increase in clean energy. Our region is already home to a robust manufacturing supply chain. A national Clean Electricity Standard would further open up markets and create more jobs here in our region, positioning the Southeast to lead in the clean energy transformation. I urge you to support this critical policy. Thank you.” Mary M., Clarksville, TN

“Please use the vote that I gave you to invest in our smart future, whether it is for a clean electric grid, a revolutionary transportation system, or food that tastes good again. And as a side note, please do tell TVA to buy electricity back from citizens. Our roofs are perfect places for Solar Energy, there is no need to ruin gorgeous prairies and farmlands for it.” – Philippe H., Knoxville, TN

Support for climate and clean energy policy is widespread

While our members’ opinions highlighted here represent just a sliver of the population, public polling reveals this clean energy support is reflective of the widespread support for clean energy and climate action among Southeastern residents. In mid-June, Data for Progress and the SACE polled likely voters in Georgia to assess support for President Biden’s proposed clean electricity standard, along with other key climate and clean energy provisions in the American Jobs Plan. We found that a clear majority of Georgia voters support putting America on a path to achieving 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, including a majority of Democrats and Independents, and nearly 50 percent of Republicans.

Source: Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Data for Progress, Georgia Voters Support the Clean Electricity Standard

We also found that Georgia voters support federal investments in clean energy jobs, even after being presented with counter-arguments, and support the American Jobs Plan’s incentives for low-pollution technologies.

Take Action

We know that a CEPP that moves us toward 80% clean electricity by 2030 is both possible and necessary to prevent the worst impacts of climate change. As Congress continues to debate this legislation, please consider using our action tool to send a letter to your elected officials urging them to support the CEPP and take the required steps to reduce emissions and confront the climate crisis. If you’d like to take it one step further, please call your member of Congress directly at 1-866-648-0359 and ask for their full support on the climate and clean energy policies and solutions in the budget bill. 

Take Action

Stay tuned to our blog for more updates on federal clean energy legislation and how you can take action.

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