The Environmental Journal of Southern Appalachia

Displaying items by tag: sace

UN Climate ChangeA rainbow pierces gray skies during the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow. United Nations

Climate activists stress positives of Senate climate bill despite its shortcomings 

Amy Rawe is communications director for Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

KNOXVILLE The U.S. Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), an estimated $430 billion bill, of which approximately $370 billion will be allocated to investments in clean energy and to address climate change.

It’s the single largest climate investment in U.S. history, and if it passes the House, will put the country on a path to be able to achieve roughly 40 percent emissions reduction from 2005 levels by 2030, reestablishing our influence in meeting the Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

If passed, the Inflation Reduction Act will:

  • Give opportunities to hundreds of thousands of Americans to work in well-paying jobs manufacturing, installing, and maintaining clean energy, energy efficiency, and clean transportation
  • Lower Americans’ cost of electricity by spurring the development of hundreds of gigawatts of low-cost clean energy, including wind, solar, and battery energy storage.
  • Protect drivers from expensive and volatile fuel costs through financial incentives to switch to electric vehicles.
  • Reduce households’ bills through historic investments in rebates and tax credits for home energy efficiency and efficient electric appliances.
  • Promote environmental justice and direct resources and benefits to disadvantaged communities, which are often overlooked for investment and bear heavy costs of fossil fuel pollution.
Published in News

methane leaksBloomberg reports that methane leaks from the natural gas sector may be far worse than estimated by the EPA. While replacing coal-fired power plants with natural gas ones reduces air pollution it may not help at all with climate change because methane is 30 times more effective as a greenhouse gas than CO2.  Image source: Kayrros SAS

Report: Many utilities are not reducing carbon emissions despite public assurances to the contrary

KNOXVILLE Global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2025 and experience rapid and deep reductions to avoid a potentially catastrophic future, according to a new analysis by air-quality and climate advocates. Emissions must reach net zero by the early 2050s to limit warming to 1.5 degrees (C) in order to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis.

Many utilities and municipalities have acknowledged this dynamic, but the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s fourth annual “Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast" report highlights that current utility resource plans are not in line with this overarching target. Obstacles to getting utilities on track that are discussed in our report include: increasing reliance on fossil gas, underutilizing energy efficiency, and placing limitations on popular technologies such as rooftop solar. There’s still a lot of work to do before any Southeast utility is on track to decarbonize.

Published in News

261383081 10158333581961961 3485857265137687965 nIllustration courtesy of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Annual SACE, Atlas Public Policy data indicates rapidly escalating and enduring demand for electric vehicles in Southern U.S.

Stan Cross leads Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy's electric transportation policy and utility reform efforts across the Southeast.

When will the electrification of America’s cars, trucks, and buses really take off?

Imminently, if not already. Look to the Southeast, which is experiencing impressive EV market growth despite a lack of state-level EV-supportive policies, incentives and regulations.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and partner, Atlas Public Policy, updated key year-end indicator data from the annual “Transportation Electrification in the Southeast” report to capture regional and state-specific growth in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.

This is a critical time for the expanding EV market. The pandemic has exposed global supply chain weaknesses related to auto manufacturing and battery production that can only be solved by increasing domestic production of critical materials and components.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine is once again exposing the entanglement of America’s commitment to global democracy and dependency on oil for transportation, and highlighting the national security benefits of rapidly transitioning to electric mobility powered by domestic electricity. 

Published in News

Editors note: SACE executive director Stephen Smith is on the board of Foundation for Global Sustainability. Hellbender Press operates under the FGS nonprofit umbrella.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) released its fourth annual “Energy Efficiency in the Southeast” report, which tracks recent policy developments and performance trends in electric utility efficiency from 2020.

It continues to highlight that despite being a proven low-cost clean energy resource with enormous potential to reduce carbon emissions and customers’ energy burden, Southeastern utilities continue to underinvest in energy efficiency.

As a result, households in many Southeastern states have some of the highest electricity usage and monthly energy bills in the nation. Some states and utilities are making progress, and it’s not too late for local policymakers to take advantage of untapped efficiency savings to help reach crucial decarbonization goals.

Published in Feedbag
kingstonThe Tennessee Valley Authority's fossil plant at Kingston. TVA
 

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy: TVA is not coming clean in Congressional inquiries

KNOXVILLE On Jan. 13, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce sent a letter to the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) requesting information regarding business practices that appear inconsistent with TVA’s statutory requirement to provide low-cost power to residents of the Tennessee Valley.
TVA’s response to the committee’s 16 questions dodges some of the committee members’ key concerns and provides misleading information on several issues, including:
Published in Voices

kingstonThe Kingston Fossil Plant in Kingston, Tennessee is shown in this file image from the Tennessee Valley Authority.

TVA denies lobbying or cronyism, cites need for “expertise and analysis”

Editor's Note: This report is a collaboration between Hellbender Press and Hard Knox Wire.

A coalition of environmental groups who joined forces to stop the Tennessee Valley Authority from using ratepayer money to fund trade groups who lobby against the Clean Air Act and other environmental protections filed a federal lawsuit against the utility.

The environmentalists claim the practice potentially raises conflicts of interest and throws into doubt TVA’s willingness to comply with clean air laws even as the utility retires its coal plants in order to transition to a mix of fossil gas and nuclear power.

The 20-page lawsuit was filed Sept. 9 in federal court in Knoxville by a half-dozen groups, including the Knoxville-based Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). The groups aren’t seeking monetary damages other than court costs and legal fees.

TVA has invested millions of dollars in measurable air quality improvements as it prepares to divest from coal as a main electricity source. Nevertheless, TVA paid membership dues to interest groups such as Edison Electric Institute (which is headquartered five blocks from the U.S. Capitol) and Energy and Wildlife Action Coalition, according to the plaintiff’s suit.

“TVA has not been officially served with the lawsuit, so it would be inappropriate to comment on its specifics,” TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said early Thursday.

“As the nation’s largest public power provider and a federal agency, the Tennessee Valley Authority needs to demonstrate leadership by halting the financing of groups propping up the fossil fuel economy,” said Howard Crystal, legal director at CBD’s Energy Justice program. “Instead it funds these groups to do its dirty work while it moves forward with building new fossil gas plants. TVA can and must do better.” 

TVA contends it merely wants to get input from multiple stakeholders with multiple perspectives.

“As a federal agency, TVA is prohibited from participating in lobbying activities, and the TVA Board has directed that any dues, membership fees, or financial contributions paid to external organizations not be used for purposes inconsistent with TVA’s statutory mission or legal obligations.   
“Like other major utilities, TVA’s membership in a diverse array of external organizations allows TVA access to specialized expertise and analysis that directly benefits all of our customers at a cost significantly lower than if TVA were to undertake such work alone.”

Maggie Shober, director of utility reform at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said TVA has a special responsibility to support environmental protections.

“TVA is unique in the power industry in that environmental stewardship and economic development are codified in the agency’s founding mission,” she said. “It is imperative that the largest public power utility operate with accountability and transparency, stop funding anti-environment and anti-green jobs work, and invest in clean energy that will support the health of the Valley and the people who depend on it.”

Daniel Tait, chief operating officer of plaintiff Energy Alabama, said: “TVA has forced its customers to make political speech by taking money from their utility bills and using it for anti-clean energy advocacy. We have repeatedly called on the TVA inspector general to investigate this misuse of customer funds but after hearing and seeing nothing, we felt compelled to act.”

The path to the lawsuit began when the groups used the Freedom of Information Act to discover that TVA paid $200,000 in 2018 to the Utility Water Act Group, which lobbies against parts of the Clean Water Act. They also learned the utility was paying $500,000 a year to join the Edison Electric Institute, a group that represents all private, investor-owned utility companies in the country.

Published in News

transportation electrification in the SE 2021 email banner

Because most electricity is generated locally, shifting to electric transportation might save consumers money at the plug.

(This story was reported and written by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy).

Electrifying transportation could provide an economic boon for Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. That’s what the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) reveals in a new analysis, “Retained Transportation Fuel Spending in the Southeast: Electric vs. Internal Combustion Vehicles.”

 

SACE analyzed how much consumers spend on gas and diesel and how much of that transportation fuel spending remains in a given Southeast state and how much leaves. The analysis then looked at what happens if all on-road gas and diesel-powered cars, trucks, and buses are replaced with vehicles that drive entirely on electricity.

DOWNLOAD THE REPORT
WATCH THE REPORT WEBINAR

What We Found: $47 Billion on the Table

FUELING TRANSPORTATION IS EXPENSIVE

Southeast consumers spend approximately $94 billion on gas and diesel fuels annually. And because the region has nearly no oil production or refining operations, only about one-third of that amount — approximately $30 billion — is retained in our region’s economy, and the rest leaves to pay for the imported fuels. That adds up to $64 billion leaking out of our region’s economy every year. 

Published in News

widows creek

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy offers detailed climate action items for fossil-based utilities

A new SACE report shows not only that is it possible for the four largest utilities in the Southeast to achieve 100 percent clean electricity, but there are several pathways to get there. A variety of different energy technologies and programs can be deployed to reach this goal.

The key takeaway is that we need to start now.

clean electricity standard is a policy that requires utilities to use clean energy resources to generate a minimum portion of all energy by a certain date. Since the first renewable standard was passed in Iowa in 1983 states and utilities across the U.S. have a lot of experience with this kind of policy.

As part of federal climate action, the Biden administration and several members of Congress have proposed different versions of a Clean Electricity Standard (CES) that achieves 100 percent clean electricity by 2035. SACE has called for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to lead the way by getting to 100 percent clean electricity by 2030.

To help us understand what 100 percent clean electricity would look like here in the Southeast, SACE staff developed pathways to meet a CES policy for our region’s four largest utility companies: TVA, Southern Company, NextEra (which owns Florida Power & Light and Gulf Power), and Duke Energy.

On Wednesday, June 16, and Thursday, June 17, SACE’s policy staff will host webinars focusing on pathways to 100 percent clean electricity for each of the utilities examined in the report: Duke Energy, NextEra, TVA, and Southern Company, including:

-What a federal Clean Electricity Standard is and how it could be key to kickstarting aggressive decarbonization;

-Multiple pathways with a different power generation mix for each utility to reach net-zero carbon emissions; 

-How distributed resources like rooftop solar and energy efficiency are key to decarbonizing; and

-Descriptions of the method used to develop and test each pathway to clean electricity.

Register for one or more of the following webinars Wednesday, June 16, and Thursday, June 17:

Download the report: “Achieving 100% Clean Electricity in the Southeast: Enacting a Federal Clean Electricity Standard.”

The primary pathway is focused on distributed energy resources (DERs). We found that with significant and sustained investments in DERs, like energy efficiency and rooftop solar, these utilities can achieve a customer-oriented pathway to clean electricity. In fact, these two resources, energy efficiency and rooftop solar, could meet approximately one-third of all electricity needs for these utilities by 2035. In addition to these distributed resources, these successful pathways will also include wind power, large-scale solar, and energy storage.

We found that when utilities have the ability to share resources to meet peak needs and reserve margins, fewer resources are needed overall. In most parts of the country, utilities already have the ability to do this through competitive electricity markets, but not in the Southeast. Having one such market that spans across the Southeast would help the region as a whole achieve 100 percent clean electricity.

Our analysis only looked at existing technologies. While it is good to know that today’s technologies can play a critical role in the pathway to 100 percent clean electricity, and so we must ramp up these technologies immediately, it is also true that investments in technology innovation are important to make it easier to get there. We still need to invest in research and development that can lead to improvements of existing clean electricity technologies and commercialization of new clean electricity technologies. This should not be a question of either deployment or research, both are needed.

Published in Voices

Apr 24  1-2 p.m. EDT

Natural Resources Defense Council and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Zoom Webinar - Free and open to the public - RSVP

Leilani will take us through the paces in her electric car and explain why she’s an advocate for electric transportation powered by clean energy. Following the virtual ride, Leilani will answer live questions posed by viewers. Make sure to register to hold your reservation.

Published in Event Archive

Apr 21  1–2 p.m. EDT

Heather Pohan & Maggie Shober, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy

Webinar - Free and open to the public - more details and RSVP

“Tracking Decarbonization in the Southeast: Generation and CO2 Emissions,” a report developed by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, examines the role electric utilities have played in decarbonizing the power supply over the last decade. The report examines power sector carbon dioxide emissions throughout the Southeast, home to some of the biggest utility systems in the nation.

Published in Event Archive
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