Letters to the editor: Clean energy, mask shaming, voting, workers
September 10, 2020

CLEAN ENERGY

Since 1901 and the state’s first hydroelectric plant, clean energy has provided a steady current of opportunity to our state. Our long-standing resourcefulness has put us at the forefront of the United States’ clean energy boom and only behind Vermont in the highest share of clean energy produced. But clean energy keeps Idaho running in more ways than one.

Closing out 2019, the clean energy industry supported more than 13,000 jobs statewide. While the pandemic squeezed these numbers in the short-term, a history of consistent demand growth, at both the corporate and individual consumer level, paints a promising picture for continued growth post-pandemic — given the industry is appropriately supported in recovery.

I’m thankful to Gov. Brad Little for recognizing Sept. 21–25 as National Clean Energy Week in Idaho and for his leadership on this issue. Recognizing the critical importance clean energy has played in Idaho’s prosperity over the last century shows how it will continue to play into the 21st century.

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Gov. McMaster recognizes proclaims Sept. 21-25th as ‘Clean Energy Week’
September 10, 2020

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued a state proclamation recognizing September 21-25th as Clean Energy Week in South Carolina. “South Carolina has experienced tremendous success in the solar industry and has significant potential in the development of wind, biomass, and other clean energy technologies,” says Gov. McMaster. South Carolina is now one of nine states in the country to formally recognize National Clean Energy Week 2020.

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Governor signs Clean Energy Week Proclamation
September 4, 2020

By Enrique Saenz

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a proclamation recognizing the week of Sep. 21 through 25 as Clean Energy Week in the state.

The proclamation recognizes that clean energy is powering more homes and businesses than ever before, and the clean energy sector has been a “key driver” of Indiana’s recent economic growth.

More than 86,000 Hoosiers have clean energy jobs, or about five times the amount of Hoosiers employed by fossil fuel industry.

At the end of 2019, more Hoosiers worked in clean energy jobs than real estate brokers, computer programmers, web developers and waiters and waitresses combined.

“[W]e must harness the power of Indiana entrepreneurs and small businesses and ensure government collaboration to assert American energy leadership and dominance in the global marketplace and assure low-cost reliable energy here at home,” the proclamation states.

Indiana is one of seven states in the nation to formally recognize Clean Energy Week this year.

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Alabama Power gets approval to raise solar fees even higher
September 2, 2020

SOLAR: State regulators will allow Alabama Power to increase a monthly fee on solar generation by 8% to $5.41 per kilowatt-hour, which opponents say will slash customers’ potential savings in half(Montgomery Advertiser, InsideClimate News)

ALSO:
• The second phase of a 497 MW solar farm in West Texas is now operational, making it the largest in the state. (reNews)
• Raleigh County, West Virginia, officials vote to move forward with a solar project that promises to bring 100 jobs during construction. (WVVA)
• Florida college students help develop technology to help make solar panels more efficient by tracking cloud movement overhead. (WKMG)

***SPONSORED LINK: National Clean Energy Week Policy Makers Symposium is September 21-25. Register to hear from members of Congress and leading clean energy innovators. Register today at https://nationalcleanenergyweek.org.***

UTILITIES: Duke Energy says it could cut greenhouse gas emissions more than 70% in the next 15 years in North and South Carolina, but it would cost customers up to $58 a month(Bloomberg) 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Dothan, Alabama, officials approve an agreement with Charge Point to install the city’s first public electric vehicle charging stations(Dothan Eagle)

GRID: An intense heat wave blankets areas of Louisiana and Texas hit by Hurricane Laura, where more than 300,000 still lack power. (Washington Post)

RENEWABLES:
• Two Austin Community College campuses are now powered with 100% renewable energy, making it the first community college in Texas to do so. (KVUE)
• South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issues a state proclamation recognizing September 21-25 as Clean Energy Week in the state. (ABC News 4)

OIL & GAS: The Coast Guard is responding to a natural gas-producing platform off the coast of Corpus Christi, Texas, that has been leaking since Tuesday morning. (KRIS TV)

NUCLEAR: More than 800 workers Georgia Power’s Plant Vogtle nuclear project have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

PIPELINES: Energy Transfer announces that it has completed its Lone Star Express Pipeline expansion project in Texas. (news release)

DEVELOPMENT: The Trump administration is seeking to fast track environmental reviews of dozens of major energy and infrastructure projects, including some on national forest land in the Southeast. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY:
• Despite projections that it’s nearly complete, the Mountain Valley Pipeline still faces major hurdles, according to an environmental hydrologist. (Virginia Mercury)
• A reporter outlines how the South could save money by cleaning up its power grid — but its monopoly utilities are holding it back. (Vox) 

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Gov. McMaster recognizes proclaims Sept. 21-25th as ‘Clean Energy Week’
September 1, 2020

by Daniella DeRobbio

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued a state proclamation recognizing September 21-25th as Clean Energy Week in South Carolina.

“South Carolina has experienced tremendous success in the solar industry and has significant potential in the development of wind, biomass, and other clean energy technologies,” says Gov. McMaster.

South Carolina is now one of nine states in the country to formally recognize National Clean Energy Week 2020.

This is the third year the NCEW has been recognized by gubernatorial proclamation in SC.

Building a Stronger America With Clean Energy Opportunities
July 23, 2020

 

The economics of a clean energy future are a no-brainer, it’s time for the politics to catch up

RealClearEnergy

By Heather Reams

 

The American economy has faced unprecedented disruption this year, but for our clean energy and energy efficiency industries, the blow has been devastating.

 

As geopolitical and domestic tensions have risen, global energy demand has fallen, and this once humming economic machine of energy production, storage, and transmission has experienced crippling aftershocks across the United States.

 

It’s not just traditional forms of energy that have been impacted. Clean energy industries, including renewables, energy efficiency and emerging technologies like energy storage, have been hit particularly hard. In fact, since March more than 620,000 of the nation’s clean energy workers have lost their jobs, according to a recent U.S. Department of Labor analysis.

 

Nonetheless, disruption can also present opportunities to reassess our priorities within the broader economy, leverage resources that have not yet reached their full potential, and drive new growth.

 

Heading into the first quarter of 2020, clean energy was booming in the United States. The industry was coming off a remarkably transformative decade in which renewable energy was creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. The clean energy sector had grown to a workforce of 3.3 million U.S. workers employed in all but two of America’s 3,007 counties.

 

Fortunately, the shape of that massive economic footprint is indelible. The clean energy sectors that have been pounded, the projects that have been abandoned or interrupted, and the jobs that have been lost can almost all be recovered. We can rebuild the economy better and faster with clean energy leading the way forward. Lawmakers know this to be true, which is why the next round of stimulus legislation is expected to address energy innovation and infrastructure.

 

Equally important, doubling down on clean energy offers a chance for Americans to finally unite behind something in this very divisive election year. Citizens of every political stripe support the idea of investing in clean energy development to protect the environment, create jobs and strengthen national security – Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike. And to nearly a voter, America wants to reach this clean energy future through measured, common-sense policymaking that “leans in” to the strength of America’s unfettered innovation base – while also supporting a strong and healthy economy.

 

Public Opinion Strategies conducted an online survey in June of over 1,000 Republicans and Republican-leaning independents nationwide. Among the results, the study found that two-thirds (67 percent) of conservative-minded voters agreed that making investments in clean energy is important to our nation’s effort to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus shutdown. Even more Republicans (70 percent) agreed that accelerating the growth of clean energy in the United States can help the U.S. become a world leader in the competition for green economic development.

 

Without a doubt, there is a dynamic space for clean energy industries right now, and there is also a rare consensus of bipartisan voices surrounding it. In fact, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) recently put forth a resolution designating September 21 – 25, 2020, as “National Clean Energy Week,” and U.S. Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Alan Lowenthal (R-CA) introduced an identical resolution in the House.

 

Now in its fourth year, National Clean Energy Week (NCEW) events have convened policymakers, advocates, and private sector leaders in Washington, D.C., to break barriers and elevate the value of clean energy across our nation. This year is particularly special because the event will be virtual — allowing these impactful discussions to be heard by folks outside the Beltway. Bringing the clean energy message into every living room and home office, NCEW organizers have reinvented the occasion and created an opportunity to reach more Americans than ever before. This is critically important because the more informed citizens are, the more likely their leaders will take notice and continue fostering bipartisan cooperation around the issue.

 

When it comes to preserving our environment and jumpstarting the economy, we need to pursue every innovation, and that’s what National Clean Energy Week is all about. While tremendously challenging, this new economic climate presents an opportunity to stimulate growth by investing in clean energy, pursuing fiscally responsible investments in infrastructure, and reducing barriers to the execution and completion of clean energy projects that will get Americans working again. Our many policy experts participating in the events will be discussing these issues, and we invite you to join us in September at www.nationalcleanenergyweek.org.

 

 

Republicans and Democrats come together for National Clean Energy Week
September 23, 2019

September 23, 2019, Yale Climate Connections

Listen to Audio Here.

These days, bipartisan collaboration sometimes seems impossible. But during National Clean Energy Week, Republicans and Democrats come together for meetings in Washington, D.C., and workshops across the country.

“National Clean Energy Week was started really as a place for both sides of the aisle to really get out of the politics and talk more about what are the solutions,” says event chair Heather Reams, executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions.

She says attendees range from policymakers and industry groups to consumers, and their interests are diverse. Some are seeking business opportunities. Others are passionate about solving climate change. Some work in solar, and others in wind.

“It really allows a lot of people to get out of their silos and come together to solve problems together,” she says.

Reams says last year, it was rewarding to see people collaborate regardless of their politics.

“You couldn’t tell, really, who was a Republican and who was a Democrat on stage and in most of the presentations. Instead of that ‘red or blue’ issue, it really was a red, white, and blue issue for America,” she says. “The fact that we came together to discuss challenges and determine solutions, that we can continue a dialogue beyond National Clean Energy Week, is really exciting.”

Reporting credit: Ariel Felton/ChavoBart Digital Media.

Editor’s note: This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story.

Georgia pushes to expand clean energy
September 22, 2019

September 22, 2019, Valdosta Daily Times

As we celebrate Clean Energy Week, we should also celebrate the strides Georgia is making in improving the lives of Georgians through a more diversified energy portfolio and the expansion of clean and renewable energy.

Much of the credit goes to Public Service Commission Chairman Bubba McDonald, Vice-Chairman Tim Echols and Commissioner Chuck Eaton. They set the table several years ago by expanding solar in Georgia.

In July of this year, Commissioner Tricia Pridemore and I joined them and we unanimously voted to increase renewable energy by more than 30 percent than ever before. Their leadership in expanding clean energy supply has led to lower rates for consumers, and the cost of solar has plummeted from around 17 cents per kilowatt to around three cents per kilowatt.

Our unanimous vote on Georgia’s Integrated Resource Plan will bring over 2,260 megawatts of renewable and clean energy into our state over the next few years. We voted to increase utility solar, distributive generation solar and added biomass energy for the first time. We also raised the behind the meter size limit from 250 kilovolts to 500 kilovolts. The continued diversification of Georgia’s energy profile will lower costs for consumers while adding jobs to our economy.

As rural Georgia is recovering from the impact of two natural disasters and economic uncertainty, renewable energy can be a source of financial relief. It has recently been reported in several areas that solar farms have saved family farms in Georgia by signing long-term contracts, some as long as 35 years.

A family rents a portion of their property for solar farming and the extra income enables them to finance their other agricultural operations on the rest of their property. The economic impact of solar farms has also helped local county governments survive through rough times. In some counties, solar farms have become the largest taxpayer and have even paid for public facilities such as fire and police stations.

I am very proud we voted to include biomass energy in the IRP for the first time. Renewable biomass energy has become an economic engine and is homegrown in my district. Our abundance of agricultural byproduct has translated into a booming biofuel industry. Companies like Georgia Biomass have made us the largest exporter of biomass energy in the world with Europe being our primary market.

Clean and renewable energy has become important to our economy and our quality of life. Georgia is the number one renewable energy state in the country without renewable portfolio standards. We have done it through our tremendous utility partners, policy advocates and the tireless work of the Georgia Public Service Commission staff.

Gov. Kemp has proclaimed the week of September 23-27, as Clean Energy Week in Georgia. I want to join him in recognizing the 76,000 Georgians working in clean energy industries. This week is a tribute to your work in creating a clean energy environment in Georgia that is lowering prices and improving our lives.

Jason Shaw is a statewide public official serving as a commissioner on the Georgia Public Service Commission.

Utah celebrates successes for Clean Energy Week
September 20, 2019

By Laura Nelson and Scott Baird | Special to The Tribune | The Salt Lake Tribune | September 20, 2019

Across more than a century of statehood, Utah’s pioneering spirit has forged trailblazing pathways to achieve its remarkable destiny – defying expectations to meet new challenges that come with positive economic growth, a changing climate and an unparalleled energy demand. As we join the nation in celebrating Clean Energy Week, Utah’s leadership continues to be nationally unmatched in driving outcomes across policy, development and innovation to increasingly satisfy consumers’ growing appetite for energy that creates jobs and strengthens security and affordability, while preserving the environment and protecting our air.

Utah’s long-standing, “all-of-the-above,” market-based policy, when coupled with our statewide commitment to identifying solutions across resources, has allowed us to transform our energy economy. For instance, in the last five years, Utah’s renewable energy scene has surged by 150 percent, supporting 6,000 jobs and skyrocketing our state into the top 10 for solar, third for geothermal, not to mention increasing wind, biomass, hydro and energy storage resources.

Additionally, energy efficiency now plays a critical role in our solutions, providing some 30,000 jobs, as we realize net zero communities across the Wasatch Front. Utah is also a lead for advanced technology on carbon capture, and infrastructure that supports advanced, clean solutions for abundant fossil and nuclear resources.

Wise policy, responsible development and innovation has allowed Utah to cut its carbon emissions by 15 percent in the past decade, and we are continuing to realize improvements to reduce other emissions impacting our airshed — even in the face of rapid population growth. Consider that from 2002 to 2014 Utah’s population increased by 600,000 (26%). During that same time, statewide emissions of criteria pollutants declined by 30% — a 46% reduction in per-capita emissions. The entire state now meets federal air quality standards for PM2.5 particulate pollution. And the trend for energy and environmental advancement is expected to continue.

Last year, Gov. Gary Herbert and our Legislature made national headlines when we enacted House Concurrent Resolution 7. The resolution made a bold claim that Utah could reduce carbon emissions with renewable energy in a way that would grow the local economy. The bill calls on Utah to “prioritize our understanding and use of sound science to address causes of a changing climate and support innovation and environmental stewardship in order to realize positive solutions.”

The 2019 legislative session also saw the advancement of significant targets for budgeted air quality investment, with Utah lawmakers appropriating $29 million aimed at improving our air shed. Targeted strategies and programs included an exchange program to replace wood-burning stoves with gas or electric ones, installation of electrical vehicle charging stations, free mass transit on poor air quality days, promoting telecommuting, encouraging Utah’s refineries to produce cleaner-burning Tier 3 fuels and defined research initiatives.

This week represents the culmination of more than a year of defining a unified vision for the future of energy in our state: Herbert has proclaimed this week “National Clean Energy Week” in Utah, one of the first states in the nation to do so, and the Salt Palace is hosting the 19,000 attendee Solar Power International Conference to bring together the people, products, and professional development opportunities that can drive the industry and forge its bright future.

We can have affordable energy and, yes, we can have a clean environment. Along with all of you, Herbert, the Utah Legislature, the Governor’s Office of Energy Development and the Utah Department of Environmental Quality are committed to realizing the results for a robust energy and environmental future.

Laura Nelson is energy adviser and executive director of the Governor’s Office of Energy and Development.

Scott Baird is executive director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality.