Clean Power Plan (111d) and South Carolina

June 2nd, 2014 should prove to be a historic day for clean energy in South Carolina. As Governor Haley signed into law landmark solar legislation (S.1189), the EPA released new rules to address carbon pollution from existing power plants.

Click here for an overview of S.1189.

Instead of cookie-cutter requirements for every power plant in the country, the standards allow discretion at the state and utility system level to reduce carbon with clean energy alternatives like efficiency upgrades and solar power.  South Carolina is well positioned to meet its targets in a cost-effective and timely manner.

Click here for an overview and additional resources related to the new carbon pollution rule.

As noted by Blan Holman of the Southern Environmental Law Center, “Job creators like Boeing, BMW and Google seek the clean energy we are building in South Carolina. Some doomsayers resist improvements that protect human health, but time and time again, they are proved wrong as prosperity grows along with clean energy innovation.”

More here

Increasing energy efficiency investments, which should be a key component of South Carolina’s compliance strategy for this rule, could actually result in lower bills for utility customers. Additionally, the cost of solar has decreased precipitously, and utility scale solar is now competitive with traditional generation options like coal and natural gas. Having solar offset the need to import and burn coal and natural gas is a win-win for our economy and environment.

Along with already-planned coal retirements and capacity replacements with natural gas and other sources, South Carolina is on track to reduce its power sector carbon emissions quickly and economically.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sunrise in South Carolina

Sunrise is breaking in South Carolina for solar power. A comprehensive piece of solar legislation took a significant step forward this week as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 19-1 in support of  S.1189. The full senate will now be considering the bill.

A broad group of stakeholders representing conservation interests, in-state solar businesses, electric utilities and electric cooperatives came together over the past few months to break the clean energy gridlock in South Carolina and develop this consensus piece of solar legislation.

Read More

What does S.1189 do?

First, the bill continues “net metering” in South Carolina.  Net metering allows consumers to sell power from their solar panels back to the grid.

Second, the bill enables new distributed renewable energy programs by utilities that, by 2021, must result in 2% of installed peak capacity from distributed resources like solar.

  • 1% must be from residential and commercial scale distributed systems (below 1MW)
  • 1% must come from larger (up to 10MW) facilities.
  • Hard cost caps limit program size and ratepayer impact
  • Programs must facilitate solar for tax-exempt entities like churches and schools

Third, after the Public Service Commission (PSC) approves these distributed renewable energy programs, the PSC will adopt new net metering rates capturing the benefits and costs of distributed solar.  With the new net metering rates:

  • Cap for individual commercial net metered facilities will rise from 100 kW to 1 MW
  • The cap for aggregated net metered installations will rise from 0.2% to 2%
  • Existing NEM customers will be grandfathered at current rates until Dec. 31, 2020

Fourth, once new net metering rates are in effect, the bill allows for solar leasing.  Homeowners and businesses will be able to lower their power bills by leasing solar systems, without paying large up-front capital costs.

  • Solar leasing will be capped at 2% of a utility’s peak demand
  • Bill allows for leasing and net metering by customer; does not allow for direct 3rd party sales of electricity

1 page overview of S.1189

“Time to unleash SC’s solar power potential” 

S.1189 (Changed from S.536 for procedural reasons)

Click here to find your senator or representative and express your support for S.1189.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Solar Energy & South Carolina: Myths, Facts, and Answers

How does South Carolina compare to neighboring states?

South Carolina has fallen far behind neighboring states in the region when it comes to installed and planned solar capacity. North Carolina has installed 51 times more solar (388 megawatts) than South Carolina, and the Georgia Public Service Commission has approved almost 30 times more solar (785 megawatts) than is currently planned in our state.

Click here for an FAQ on solar in South Carolina

MYTH: Solar requires utilities to build back-up generation

FACT: The utility system as it exists today can accommodate a large amount of new solar, as evidenced by the North Carolina experience and requirements for new solar ordered by the Georgia Public Service Commission. The lower levels of solar penetration that South Carolina could expect to deploy over the next decade would not require utilities to build back-up generation.

Click here for more Myths & Facts on solar

Contact your SC Representative and Senator today and ask them to support passage of solar legislation in 2014!

Click here to find your representatives.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week’s News, June 12th

With recent changes to the policies governing solar energy in South Carolina, investments in this clean energy technology are expected to grow.

Read More

South Carolina’s offshore wind potential also received recognition from the legislature this year. A resolution was adopted touting the state’s large offshore wind resource and the economic opportunities it represents.

Read More Here and Here

What will it cost to address carbon pollution in the US? The Rocky Mountain Institute puts even the most exaggerated predictions in perspective.

Read More

Energy Efficiency Spotlight 

The term “death spiral” is trending in the utility world as fears of profits losses proliferate in the face of increased rooftop solar deployment and advancements in energy efficiency technologies. But a new report from ACEEE argues these fears are misplaced and the coming changes manageable.

Read More

Climate Change News

New rules to limit carbon pollution from existing coal plants have received a lot of attention over the past week. Although some interest groups have criticized the limits as being overly restrictive, the reality is that this rule creates flexibility for state’s to clean up their power supply in ways that benefit public health and the economy.

Read More Here and Here

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week’s News, May 20th

We’ve reached the final leg of the solar race in South Carolina. Last week, S.1189 moved out of a key House committee with unanimous and bipartisan support. The legislation will now be taken up on the floor of South Carolina House this week.

Click here to find your representative and express your support for S.1189.

For media coverage on last week’s vote, click here

For a full overview of S.1189, click here

A number of conservation groups have requested that the SC Public Service Commission reconsider a recent decision that would allow Duke Energy to construct a new natural gas plant in the upstate without fully evaluating the economic and environmental mitigation options available to the company. The groups maintain that integrating a solar energy element to compliment operations of the gas plant would reduce costs for customers while also reducing environmental impacts.

The formal request for reconsideration filed with the SC Public Service Commission can be found here.

As evidence by three solar projects that have just been announced in Georgia, large-scale solar is now outcompeting traditional fossil fuel alternatives on cost.

Read More

Energy Efficiency Spotlight

Thinking about making energy efficiency home improvements to save money this summer? You better act fast if you want to take advantage of up to $2,500 in rebates that SCE&G is offering their customers for a limited time. The program will be officially canceled on July 31st of this year.

Read More 

Climate Change News 

Watch US Senator Sheldon Whitehouse speak on the Senate floor about his recent trip to South Carolina and the Southeast to learn about climate change challenges in the region.

Watch Here

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week’s News, April 23rd

As coastal communities like Folly Beach battle against rising seas and a U.S. Senator from another state tours the southeast to learn more about the impact of climate change on our region, South Carolina elected officials continue to do the bidding of the American Petroleum Institute and its members.

Folly renourishment project provides short-lived relief.

U.S. Senator Whitehouse visits Charleston on his tour of the southeastern coast.

Ignoring an abundance of in-state clean energy resources like solar, offshore wind, and energy efficiency, Senator Scott, Representative Duncan, and Governor Haley have instead committed to gambling with South Carolina’s coastal economy and environment.

Read More

Learn more about offshore drilling and SC 

A solid approach to integrated resource planning is a key component of keeping electricity rates low for utility customers, and deficiencies in planning methodologies can lead to poor investment decisions and lost opportunities for utilities and their customers. The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) takes a closer look at whether Duke Energy is making the right choices when it comes to the future of their coal fleet.

Read More

Georgia has become the poster-child for how updated energy policies can drive economic development. Our neighbor has enjoyed the nation’s highest jump in solar jobs (225%) over the past year. Today Georgia has 146 companies and over 2,000 employees in the solar sector.

Read More 

The decreasing cost of solar combined with advances in battery technology will soon make the electric grid optional for many U.S. utility customers. A recent report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) suggests that the changing economics of electricity markets, spurred on in part by advances in customer owned energy generation, will eventually make the current utility business model obsolete.

Read More

Energy Efficiency Spotlight

A law that would have eliminated energy efficiency standards for state owned buildings in South Carolina has been amended to keep these requirements in place. A compromise was reached between manufacturing interests, conservation groups, and green builders that ensures new state buildings will continue to reflect industry best practices for efficiency in water and energy usage.

Read More

Here’s a short overview on what energy efficiency improvements for buildings can mean for reducing our nation’s energy demand.

Read More

Climate Change News 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released their 5th report on the current state of climate science. A comprehensive overview of climate related impacts, adaptation and mitigations options, and vulnerability assessments can be found on the official IPCC website.

Read More

Is it time for Americans to start thinking like the Dutch when it comes to water management?

Read More

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week’s News, March 13th

The solar industry had a banner year in 2013 growing its U.S. market by 41%.

Read More 

Both of South Carolina’s neighboring states, Georgia (#7) and North Carolina (#3), now find themselves ranked in the top ten states nationally for installed solar.

Read More

The ongoing coal ash controversy in North Carolina is additional motivation for South Carolina to feel some urgency in charting its clean energy future. Although our state is ahead of the curve in addressing coal ash problems, we have fallen behind the curve in allowing clean energy resources like solar to be successful.

Read More

The operator of our nation’s largest electric grid, PJM Interconnection, has concluded that up to 30% of its power could come from solar and wind without posing any significant challenges to grid operations. In addition, a study prepared for PJM estimates that this level of renewable capacity would lower average energy prices for customers, significantly reduce carbon emissions, and necessitate only a small amount of additional power to balance renewable intermittency.

Read More

The Obama Administration took another step towards oil and gas development off the South Carolina coast with last week’s release of a final draft for rules pertaining to exploration activities. Despite substantial public opposition and a litany of negative environmental impacts to wildlife, the Administration appears poised to move forward.

Read More Here and Here

The International Energy Agency estimates that energy efficiency gains since 1974 are responsible for offsetting the equivalent of two-thirds of our current energy demand each year. That’s nearly equal to the world’s combined annual output of oil, gas, and coal.

Read More 

The National Academy of Sciences has released a new publication on the science of climate change. Climate Change: Evidence & Causes was designed for readability and access by general audiences and includes an up-to-date overview of what the best science is telling us about our changing climate.

Read More

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week’s News, February 11th

The City of Charleston has passed a resolution urging the South Carolina Legislature to enact policies that advance solar and other renewable energy resources. The resolution specifically mentions the current solar leasing legislation (S.536/H.3425) now before the senate and house.

Read More

The state legislature took one step forward and one step back on solar energy last week as the Senate Finance Committee passed improved incentives for commercial solar installations while placing an expiration date on current residential solar incentives. The SC Public Service Commission also heard proposals on how Duke Energy could save their customers money by incorporating solar into plans for a new natural gas plant.

Read More Here and Here

At the urging of conservation groups, South Carolina utilities have begun cleaning up coal ash storage facilities around the state. Recent news out of North Carolina involving a major coal ash spill at a Duke Energy site reinforces the importance of addressing these ticking time bombs.

Read More

As the amount of nuclear waste stored in South Carolina continues to increase, plans for long-term storage have failed to materialize.

Read More

As the southeast prepares to get slammed with another blast of winter weather, it isn’t unusual to hear confused statements about the role climate change plays in these events. Thankfully, we have people like local weatherman Jim Gandy to explain the difference between weather and climate.

Read More

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week’s news, January 16th 2014

Hey South Carolina, it’s time to get serious about solar. That’s a primary theme running through a new report on solar energy by the state’s Energy Advisory Council (EAC).  As the country and neighboring states have forged ahead on deploying significant amounts of solar while enabling homeowners, businesses, schools, and churches to take advantage of this clean energy technology, South Carolina has been at a virtual standstill.

That’s expected to change in 2014. Solar leasing legislation (S.536/H.3425) in the senate and house has enjoyed broad bipartisan support but drawn the ire of our state’s utilities, and alternative legislation on solar could result from the recent EAC report. One thing is certain: elected officials will have to act if solar is to succeed in South Carolina.

As noted in the EAC report, “How state policymakers structure the legal, regulatory, and economic environment will be critical in setting the stage for successful development and promotion of distributed generation in South Carolina.”

So, take a moment and let your representative and senator know that you expect solar legislation to pass in 2014.

Click Here to find your elected officials

Click Here to get the EAC report on solar

How does South Carolina compare to neighboring states when it comes to solar? Do utilities have to build back up generation when their customers invest in solar? How can we rely on solar when the sun isn’t always shining?

Click Here for the myths and facts related to solar in South Carolina

Much of the discussion surrounding solar energy is focused on the economics. Utility customers are looking for ways to reduce their electricity bills and solar has become a popular solution. But there’s also an overarching environmental component to the clean energy debate that can be witnessed first hand along the South Carolina coast: climate change.

The Lowcountry is ground zero for many of the changes we are experiencing today and many of the challenges we can expect in the decades ahead. A recent article from a leading online resource for climate research and reporting has outlined how Charleston and South Carolina are already feeling the effects of a changing climate and what we are (or aren’t) doing to prepare for a very different future.

Read More

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

This Week’s News, January 9th, 2013

The SC Public Service Commission (PSC) was recently presented with compelling information on economic development opportunities related to solar, offshore wind, and energy efficiency. Experts in these various fields covered the clean energy resources available in South Carolina and the positive economic impact more investment in these areas would have for the state. The PSC regulates SCE&G, Duke Energy and Duke Energy Progress.

Read More 

Watch the presentations and the Q&A with the PSC

Want to learn more about the PSC or even consider running for a commission seat in in 2014? Then take a look at uPowerSC.

Read More

Cities and states along the east coast are vying to become hubs for wind manufacturing. Do cities like Charleston and states like South Carolina have what takes to compete in this market?

Read More

If South Carolina elected officials could take action to erode monopolies, promote self-reliance, defend property rights, create jobs, and support our state’s global competitiveness, wouldn’t you expect them to?

Read More

Energy Efficiency Spotlight

Rolling blackouts due to extreme cold weather disrupted service for thousands of SCE&G residents this week. The company’s prescription for avoiding future blackouts? Energy efficiency.

Read More

Take a look at how South Carolina’s utilities stack up against each other and leading utilities when it comes to energy efficiency.

Read More

Climate Change News

President Obama’s rhetoric on climate change has been aggressive, but his actions tell a different story as fossil fuel production skyrockets.

Read More

Remember what the tobacco industry and some politicians were saying not long ago about the “uncertainty” surrounding nicotine addiction and the health impacts of cigarettes? Fast-forward two decades and substitute “climate change” for “tobacco.”

Read More

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment