Clean Energy Week: How South Carolina’s clean energy efforts compare to other states
September 24, 2020

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – About 16% of South Carolina’s energy production is from a renewable source.

Congressman Tom Rice says, though, more than half of the State’s energy consumption is emission-free. “We’re pretty high in the country, at least above the middle of the pack, in terms of emission-free energy production, but we need to do a lot more,” Rice said.

Just a few weeks ago, President Trump signed a moratorium against offshore drilling. Rice says while this won’t have direct implications on South Carolina’s clean energy efforts, he sees offshore wind energy as a potential option off the coast.

“They are pursuing that actually in Virginia and in other areas in the North,” Rice explained. “It hasn’t quite got to South Carolina yet, but I expect that they would.”

Congressman Rice says one clean energy source that has taken off in our area in recent years is solar energy, and it continues to do so.

“There is a new one that was just announced that’s going to be in Timmonsville up there next to Florence in the Pee Dee,” Rice said. “I think it’s a $20- or $30-million investment.”

Rice said that solar farm will be able to power 5,000 homes.

He also emphasized the impact to the environment of the drop in coal energy usage.

“South Carolina’s environment is what brings a lot of our prosperity,” he said. “It’s the reason why people want to vacation here. It’s the reason why people want to live here. We need to be very careful to protect that and I think what we’re doing is working.”

To see how South Carolina’s clean energy usage stacks up against other states, click here.

 

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Delaware Governor Recognizes Clean Energy Week
September 23, 2020

DOVER, Del.- Delaware Gov. John Carney has issued a state proclamation recognizing Sept. 21-25, 2020 as Clean Energy Week in the first state.

In the proclamation, Carney notes the economic importance of clean energy and says, “clean energy technologies and clean energy jobs will be critical to getting our economy back on track and ready for an emissions-free future.”

Delaware is now one of 26 states, and Washington, D.C., to formally recognize National Clean Energy Week 2020.

Murkowski ‘not giving up’ on Senate clean energy bill vote before the end of 2020
September 23, 2020

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Dive Brief:

  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is holding out hope that the comprehensive clean energy bill she sponsored will pass the Senate this year, despite a potentially more difficult path following the death of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday.
  • “Our challenge now is to bring our innovation package back to the Senate floor. We think that we can finish debate in just a few hours, at most, if we’re just given the chance,” she said during a National Clean Energy Week symposium Tuesday. “We recognize that that will require cooperation from members on both sides of the aisle, which is a lot to ask, especially right before an election. But I’m sure not giving up.”
  • Policy watchers and other members of Congress say the fight over whether to fill Ginsburg’s seat may take up much of what little time is left in the fiscal year. The justice’s death “added the October surprise in September,” said Sen. Mike Braun, R-Ind., during the symposium.

Dive Insight:

Murkowski will wrap up her 12 years of leadership on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) at the end of this year, having spent six years as ranking member and another six as chair, and implored clean energy interests not to give up hope on seeing a clean energy package pass before her term as chair is up.

“Some are already looking ahead to next year, past the elections and to a new Congress, as they contemplate what is possible on clean energy, and I understand that impulse,” she said. “But I would also encourage you not to give up hope on meaningful legislation before the end of this year.”

She and ENR Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-W. Va., in February introduced a wide-ranging legislative package that incorporates almost 50 bills reported to the Senate in 2019. It includes 17 demonstration projects for advanced nuclear, carbon capture, long duration storage and geothermal, and would be the first comprehensive federal energy bill to pass since 2007.

The bill hit a roadblock in March, ultimately preventing the Senate from bringing it to the floor for a vote. An amendment to limit the use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) — a potent greenhouse gas used in air conditioner units, refrigeration, building insulation and other applications — led to the stall, but senators came to an agreement on including the amendment earlier this month.

The inclusion of the HFC phasedown “clears one significant hurdle” and ultimately “makes it an even better bill,” Murkowski said Tuesday.

But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s resolution to nominate a new Supreme Court Justice to Ginsburg’s now-vacant seat before the election could tighten the timeline, say stakeholders. Murkowski is one of two senators to oppose filling the vacant seat before the November elections. And the White House has been clear in its opposition to the HFC phasedown.

On Monday the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) indicated the president would veto the House’s companion bill, set for a vote this week, in part because of the HFC provision.

Both the House and Senate version of the bill would reduce HFC use 85% over the next 15 years.

“This legislation would bypass well-established processes and procedures and would impose substantial, unwarranted costs on Federal, State, and local agencies and other key stakeholders in both public and private sectors,” the OMB said in a statement. “It would do so by setting rigid energy savings and water consumption reduction targets for Federal agencies, requiring State and local governments to establish strict building codes that are not grounded in available technologies, and mandating a rigorous transition from hydrofluorocarbon use in the private heating and cooling sector.”

Despite the looming Senate fight and White House opposition to the House’s HFC phaseout, among other provisions, some policy observers say there is still room for negotiations, and time to make the package law.

“There is still time for the House and Senate to agree on a compromise energy bill closer to the full Senate Innovation Act, which I believe the White House will ultimately support,” said Sasha Mackler, director of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s energy project, in an email.

 

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National Clean Energy Week: Push for Virginia to become ‘job creator’ and ‘energy exporter’
September 22, 2020

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ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — An organizer of National Clean Energy Week celebrations is shifting focus to bringing more clean energy jobs to the Commonwealth.

There are more than 90,000 jobs in the industry currently, a statistic Gov. Ralph Northam is praising.

Energy production is expanding in Virginia beyond some of the older forms, like coal and oil. Now, there is solar, wind, and hydroelectric energy, as well as offshore wind.

Heather Reams is the chairwoman of National Clean Energy Week and is based out of Washington, D.C. She wants this week to promote Virginia being a job creator in clean energy.

According to Reams, clean energy can lead to economic growth, consumer choice, lower energy prices, and cleaner environments.

Clean energy jobs in Virginia:

  • 12,000 solar energy jobs
  • 75,000 energy efficiency jobs
  • Largest hydroelectric facility in Bath County, VA
  • Largest solar farm east of the Mississippi in Virginia

The jobs available can also help the Commonwealth and the rest of the country bounce back from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“These are good paying jobs all across America and certainly in the Commonwealth,” Reams said. “They can help people get back on their feet and getting back to the life they once had. This means a lot to our tax base. This means a lot for our economy. It can also attract new businesses to Virginia because more businesses are seeking clean energy to power their companies.”

Twenty-one states, including Virginia, are recognizing Sept. 21-25 as “National Clean Energy Week.” The U.S. Senate has also made the same proclamation.

Clean energy advocates and some lawmakers are also pushing Virginia to become an “energy exporter,” which means the Commonwealth would focus on producing its own clean energy instead of relying on other countries.

Reams believes Virginia becoming a homegrown leader in clean energy will give farmers and consumers more options.

“We can have a strong economy and also protect our environment,” she said. “That’s what clean energy strives to do this week. Have those dialogues. When you have a lot of choice and it’s coming to your grid, it lowers the price for consumers but it’s also cleaner. So you get the benefit of clean air, clean water, beautiful lakes and parks, mountains. We have all of those in Virginia.”

Reams says it is important for Virginia to generate energy while attempting to keep emissions low. After all, energy can create pollution.

Reams also admits not everyone is on board with discussing clean energy because of the potential talk about climate change that may follow. She hopes this week of recognition will spark those conversations.

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