This blog entry was written by Allie Brown, former Clean Energy Advocacy Manager at SACE.Guest Blog | September 14, 2018
This post is the seventh in a series of blogs examining where the 2018 candidates for state and federal offices in the Southeast stand on key energy and climate issues. To read the candidate profile for Republican Nominee for Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, click here. To continue to track their stances on energy, you can watch the two televised debates between Abrams and Kemp on October 23 and November 4 on WSB-TV.
Note: The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy does not support or oppose candidates or political parties. Links to reports, candidate websites and outside sources are provided as citizen education tools.
Candidate: Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams is the Democratic candidate for Georgia Governor. She served as the minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011-2017. According to her website, during her time in the Georgia House of Representatives, Abrams has co-sponsored laws to, “clean up solid waste and hazardous waste, offer a tax credit for hybrid and low-emission vehicles, promote clean energy, protect state parks, and require public notice of landfill leaks.” She has also received an Environmental Leader Award from the Georgia Conservation Voters.
The Abrams campaign recently released a proposal called the “Advanced Energy Jobs Plan,” where the candidate proposed economic development priorities she will plan to take on as Governor of Georgia. The plan defines advanced energy as “…. solar, wind, water (hydro), wood and other organic matter (biomass)…” and plans to generate local job growth by advancing these energy technologies. According to the plan, Georgia can gain “25,000 to 45,000 long-term, good-paying advanced energy jobs in fields like manufacturing, installation, construction, coding, and operations.”
In July, Abrams made a campaign stop in Hinesville, GA to visit the Coastal Solar Power LLC. She discussed the need for local, clean energy jobs: “If we build our own renewable advanced energy ecosystem in Georgia, those are the jobs that don’t go anywhere,” Abrams said. “Georgia is uniquely positioned as one of two states that can do hydro, biomass, wind, and solar.” Her plan includes a need to encourage the use of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), a mechanism for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on private property that has not made much progress in Georgia to date.
She also has a proposal to establish a Georgia Green Bank to invest and advance renewables in the state. This proposal is a low-interest loan program that would initially require a $40 million investment per year and, according to the Abrams campaign, would spur at least $200 million more in private capital.
Abrams’ Advanced Energy Plan also discusses improving energy efficiency to reduce costs and utility bills in Georgia. The Abrams campaign highlights the need to create more green buildings by updating building codes and reviewing permitting standards: “Georgia will encourage energy efficiency among public facilities by offering state-funded incentives and championing updated building codes.” A part of the proposal also addresses retrofitting our utility grid, although details on the implementation of this remain vague.
Another sector of the energy plan states a proposal to “Fight for clean water and keep communities safe from coal ash.” Abrams is not a stranger to coal ash. She co-sponsored HB 1028, that requires landfills to alert the public when there is a leak in their community. Abrams’ energy proposal suggests more needs to be done to address coal ash: “Public notice of a leak is an important first step, but we need additional measures to ensure the highest standards in monitoring, disposal, and treatment.”
In 2016, Abrams co-signed HB1036, a one-year moratorium on the proposed Palmetto Pipeline that would have run along Georgia’s coastline.
Abrams also voted yes on HB 413, which puts more oversight on petroleum pipelines and was signed into law this year.
Abrams’ campaign website states that she plans to “protect our communities from climate change” if elected Governor. In the candidates’ “First 100 Days Pledge,” she plans to create a youth council in her first 100 days as Governor. Abrams mentions climate change as one of the many issues that “young people have driven policy debates and informed the public conversation.”
One of the biggest debates around nuclear in Georgia right now revolves around Plant Vogtle, a nuclear power plant with additional units under construction that continues to be delayed while exceeding its budget by the billions. Politicians are divided in either supporting the project to continue or calling on the Georgia Public Service Commission to throw in the towel.
We could not find any statement from Abrams on her general support for or against nuclear power – although she does not define nuclear as one of the “advanced energy resources” in her jobs plan. It’s also unclear how she would specifically address Plant Vogtle moving forward since she does state that “6,000 workers employed at Plant Vogtle have proven to be outstanding, despite corporate mismanagement that has slowed the project at the expense of ratepayers and taxpayers. Ensuring that Georgians have access to diverse, reliable energy sources and skilled high-wage jobs is essential.”
In a Politically Georgia article at the end of 2017, Abrams states: “Given the level of investment Georgians have already made in Plant Vogtle, I urge the Public Service Commission to seek a solution that protects taxpayers and ratepayers without leaving behind Georgia workers.” When the PSC voted at the end of 2017 to continue on with the project, Abrams said “…I strongly disagree with today’s PSC decision to not hold Georgia Power accountable, as this demonstrates an allegiance to corporate shareholders, not to ratepayers and families. As Plant Vogtle continues, we must demand leadership that requires accountability and for corporations to shoulder the risk of investment, not everyday Georgians.”
Her campaign website states that she would:“Focus on expanding public transit and low emission vehicles.” The Advanced Energy Jobs Plan includes evaluating fleet operations for higher efficiency standards “…which reduces pollution, saves taxpayer dollars and creates opportunities for small business development for charging stations across the state.”
The proposal does not go into much detail about advancing electric vehicles (EVs). Abrams was a part of negotiating a massive transportation bill, HB 170, which ultimately removed the local tax credit for EVs and added a $200 annual fee. However, she did co-sponsor HB 220, which would have extended the tax credit, but this bill failed to pass.
We encourage you to register and then vote this November. Click here for voting resources provided by the Georgia State Elections Division. If you are inspired by this blog and have questions for the candidate, please contact her campaign here.