Wired In Newsletter – June / July 2018

Sarah Gilliam | July 5, 2018 | Wired In Newsletter

As 2018 reaches its mid-year mark, we wanted to take a moment and THANK YOU for supporting our work. For over 30 years, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has been a leading voice for energy policy that protects the quality of life and treasured places in the Southeast. We are proud of our ongoing efforts to promote clean energy and climate solutions and we THANK YOU for coming along this journey with us, no matter the challenges we face. If you haven’t supported SACE financially in the past, consider a small gift of just $5. Every little bit helps! Donate today.

1. Worst Solar Year Since 2011? TVA on Track for an Embarrassing Record Low

2. Primary Voting is Underway! Are You Supporting Clean Energy Champions?

3. Transportation Electrification Accord Launched

4. How Climate Change is Impacting Hurricanes

1. Worst Solar Year Since 2011? TVA on Track for an Embarrassing Record Low

Half way through the year, when the days are long and sunny, many power companies throughout the Southeast are taking advantage of that sunshine with ever-growing solar portfolios, as we reported in our Solar in the Southeast Report earlier this year. The Tennessee Valley Authority, however, is failing miserably. SACE, along with other members of the Tennesseans for Solar Choice coalition, hosted a press conference on June 21st, Summer Solstice 2018, to raise the alarm on TVA’s continued lack of solar progress and broken solar programs.

As TVA forges ahead on a path to the worst solar year since 2011, the poor performance seems to be a deliberate mismanagement and slowing of TVA’s own solar programs. TVA has three programs for solar: Green Power Providers (GPP) for residential and small businesses, Distributed Solar Solutions (DSS) for larger community scale solar in partnership with Local Power Companies, and large scale solar through a Request For Proposals (RFP) process.

The Tennesseans for Solar Choice coalition is questioning TVA’s commitment to their own programs. Despite being halfway through the year, recent data from GTM Research show less than 2 megawatts (MW) of solar were installed in the first quarter, and year-to-date applications for residential and small business solar are down 73 percent from where they were a year ago. RFP contracts were expected to be awarded in the first quarter 2018, but this has not yet happened. Despite some hopeful hints at progress, such as the recent announcement that TVA is working with Facebook in Huntsville, AL, it appears that TVA has been using their monopoly power to choke off the pipeline for future solar projects, with one of the most dramatic examples being that, halfway through the year, the Distributed Solar Solutions program for 2018 has yet to be announced.

Tennesseans for Solar Choice shared frustrations over the current, lagging status of solar throughout TVA’s territory, emphasizing that it is time for other solar options. As TVA continues to reduce the rate they pay for self-generation, going below the amount that customers pay on their electric bill for the first time since TVA started their solar program in 2003, opportunities exist for residents and businesses to design their solar generation “behind the meter” to ensure they capture the full retail value. However, new fees and in-cohesive policies are slowing down this process as well. Moreover, the coalition called for TVA to provide “contract flexibility” allowing Local Power Companies to offer solar programs that align with their customers’ preferences.

While hesitant to share publicly out of fear of retaliation from TVA, many solar contractors throughout the region have experienced the frustrations of their customers who want to go solar but are confronted with red-tape, inconsistent policies and fees, and incredible delays in application approval. Some customers have even been contacted by TVA employees directly, who worked to dissuade them from going solar. As TVA continues to actively discourage people from going solar, local solar companies are forced into uncertainty as their business models based on TVA’s own solar programs fall short.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy stated: “We are disappointed by TVA’s dysfunctional solar programs that result in missed opportunities for the regional economy, job growth, and environment. Neighboring states are becoming national leaders in solar development and reaping these benefits while Tennessee is falling behind. TVA’s failure to embrace technology innovation and what customers clearly want more of threatens to undermine its future in the 21st century.”

You can read more about Tennesseans for Solar Choice and join their email list to stay informed HERE. It is clear that this will be an ongoing struggle to ensure that families and small businesses throughout the Valley will have access to clean, affordable solar energy.

2.  Primary Voting is Underway! Are You Supporting Clean Energy Champions?

What’s the connection between elections and a climate-resilient, clean energy economy? To have climate-friendly and clean-energy policies we need climate-friendly and clean-energy supporting leaders.

Many in the Southeast already voted in their state’s primary, while those in Tennessee (August 2nd) and Florida (August 28th) prepare to cast their votes for local, state, and federal races as well as constitutional amendments and ballot measures, so the time to support clean-energy champions  is now!

Are you registered to vote in the primary or in the general election at your current address?Check the list and the links below:

  • Alabama (check voter registration records here)
  • Florida (check voter registration records here and you can register to vote online and request a vote-by-mail ballot here)
  • Georgia (check voter registration records here)
  • North Carolina (check voter registration records here)
  • South Carolina (check voter registration records here)
  • Tennessee (check voter registration records hereand you can register to vote online here, too!)

Once you’ve confirmed your registration status, there are hundreds of online and in-print resources and scorecards you can consult to help you determine whether a candidate shares your positions and opinions on a given issue – including the resources listed below that focus on environmental and clean energy policies and programs:

3. Transportation Electrification Accord Launched

On June 19, the Transportation Electrification Accord, a set of guiding principles for promoting transportation electrification, was officially launched at the annual EV Roadmap 11 conference.

Why is it needed?

The transportation sector is now the #1 source of carbon emissions in the United States, and transportation electrification offers an immediate opportunity to cut those emissions and to support the electricity grid.  The principles outlined in the Accord provide guidance for utilities, utility regulators, and local and state decision makers about how transportation electrification can be advanced to benefit all utility customers and users.

Electric transportation can support job growth, new income for states, grid services, and reduce air pollution.

The Accord is endorsed by diverse stakeholders including non-profits, automakers, utilities and consumer advocates. Signatories include: Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Plug In America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Cities-GA, Sierra Club, Honda, BYD, Illinois Citizen Utility Board, Forth, and many others. See website for more.

So, what’s in the Transportation Electrification Accord?

The Accord highlights the need for both investor and publicly- owned utilities to participate in and facilitate the deployment of EV charging infrastructure and/or supporting infrastructure for residential and commercial applications. Utilities are uniquely “positioned to ensure that installed charging infrastructure, whether owned by utilities or other parties, maximizes the public benefits of these innovations, through appropriate integration of these technologies in order to maximize electrical system benefits for all classes of customers.”

The Accord also highlights that charging infrastructure should “optimize charging patterns to improve system load shape, reduce local load pockets, facilitate the integration of renewable energy resources, and maximize grid value. Using a combination of time-based rates, smart charging and rate design, load management practices, demand response, and other innovative applications, EV loads should be managed in the interest of all electricity customers.”

Open charging standards or protocols must also be adopted for both front-end and back-end interoperability and consumers must also be protected. Charging infrastructure should have transparent pricing and open access policies, as well as clear mapping locations and signage of the stations.

These principles provide a starting point for all stakeholders in the transportation electrification sector to work together to effectively improve our transportation and utilities systems, as well as provide cleaner air for all. For more on the Accord, go to www.theevaccord.com.

4. How Climate Change is Impacting Hurricanes

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through November, marking a good time to reflect on the connections between hurricanes and climate change. It also makes sense to prepare our families and communities for when individual hurricanes strike, as well as prepare for the long-term future of stronger hurricanes.

To this end, SACE collaborated with partner groups in Florida in June to host a webinar and in-person forum in Miami, featuring NASA Senior Scientist Timothy Hall, to explain how climate change is making hurricanes stronger.

According to Dr. Hall, the top three effects of global warming on hurricanes, ranked from most certain to less certain, are: 1) higher seas from sea level rise means greater storm surge during a hurricane, and thus more flooding; 2) warmer air means more rainfall, thus more flooding; and 3) warmer oceans increase intensity of hurricanes. You can read more in detail on our recent blog post here.

At the Miami hurricane forum, Dr. Hall’s presentation was followed by an opportunity for South Florida residents to discuss tangible resiliency solutions with a panel of experts. Social impact accelerator Radical Partners also announced its latest 100 Great Ideas campaign, which will focus on climate resilience and sustainability and offer a way for the community to crowdsource solutions that will be synthesized into a widely shared report. Read more and watch the event video here.

Ask anyone who lives along the coast, and they’ll tell you that just one hurricane is bad enough. With global warming increasing the destructive potential of hurricanes, it is time that–just as we prepare our households for disasters to avoid the worst impacts–we also prepare our communities to avert worst-case scenarios by doing our part to stop global warming by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels that emit carbon pollution.

Sarah Gilliam
This blog was written by a former staff member of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.
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