Speak Out Against Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released its draft proposal for offshore drilling activities along the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). The waters off the South Carolina coast are included in this plan.photo

A public comment period is open until March 30th, 2015. We encourage you to take a moment to tell BOEM that South Carolina opposes offshore drilling and should be excluded from this plan.

Click here to let BOEM know that:

  • Current estimates for reserves off the South Carolina coast equate to a 6-day supply of oil and gas at current US consumption rates. This meager amount of resources is not worth the risk to our coastal quality of life and natural resources.
  • South Carolina’s marine fisheries produce over a billion dollars annually in economic value, while outdoor recreation from coastal tourism generates over $7 billion in economic activity each year in our state. Embracing offshore drilling would mean the industrialization of our state’s coastline with oil and gas infrastructure, which is in clear conflict with the existing economic and environmental advantages enjoyed by our coastal communities.
  • As evidenced by the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, a major spill can impact thousands of miles of coastline, devastate local economies, and wreak havoc on the marine and coastal environment. Therefore, any drilling allowed on the Atlantic OCS represents a threat to the South Carolina coast.
  • The impact of seismic testing on marine mammals, fish, other sea life and the surrounding ecosystem is also of serious concern.
  • NOAA has ranked the south Atlantic planning area as having the highest relative sensitivity to spilled oil along the East Coast. BOEM should remove South Carolina and its neighboring states from the Proposed Five-Year Program.

You can also click here to sign a petition against offshore drilling along South Carolina’s coast, or click here to find your state and federal elected officials.

For more on the BOEM process, click here.

Learn more about offshore drilling and SC here.

CAP OCS sharable

BOEM leasing chart 2

BOEM leasing chart 1

lease map

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Utilities and Solar Advocates Reach Net Metering Settlement

Utilities, solar businesses, and conservation groups reached a settlement agreement last week on how rooftop solar will be treated for the foreseeable future in South Carolina. The settlement agreement is a critical step forward in implementing South Carolina’s recently adopted landmark solar legislation, Act 236, which laid the groundwork for residents, utilities, schools, churches and other nonprofits to begin to capitalize on the state’s significant solar potential.

Under the settlement, residential and commercial utility customers that install solar panels on their rooftops before 2021 will receive full retail credit for any excess power that flows back onto the electric grid and will be eligible to remain on this rate until December 31, 2025 without any solar-specific charges or fees. Additional solar programs and incentives designed to spur investments in residential and commercial solar will be filed by utilities with the PSC within 60 days of settlement approval.

The settlement also establishes a methodology for valuing solar power for purposes of utility recovery of lost revenues, if any, which will be recoverable by the utilities through distributed energy resource programs that were authorized by Act 236. In 2020, the PSC will reevaluate the solar policies included in the settlement and will consider any appropriate changes at that time.

News coverage of the settlement

“Today’s settlement represents a win for solar in South Carolina and is a testament to the consensus-based approach that continues to prove effective in advancing solar energy in the Palmetto State,” said Hamilton Davis, of the Coastal Conservation League in Charleston.

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“SCE&G has worked in the spirit of collaboration from the beginning with other stakeholders last year to pass the landmark S.C. Distributed Energy Resource Act. In that same way, we recognize that all parties represent different points of view, but we’ve come together to compromise and support the net metering settlement agreement, which allows us to move forward and advance solar for all in South Carolina,” said John Raftery, general manager, renewable products and services and energy demand management at SCANA Corp.

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“Cooperation was a key element when South Carolina passed solar legislation in June. Many of those same groups participating in that process have ironed out an agreement that will enable solar development in the state,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy president — South Carolina. “Our customers will participate in the growth of solar through the various incentives described in the settlement. We believe this is a positive step for South Carolina — and the future of solar energy in our state.”

Read More

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Landmark Solar Legislation Signed by Governor Haley

On August 6th, Governor Nikki Haley and Senator Greg Gregory led a signing ceremony celebrating South Carolina’s new solar legislation. This was a monumental step forward for clean energy in the Palmetto State.

As reported by The State newspaper:

“What we had were a lot of barriers — barriers that stood in our way when it came to solar energy,” Haley told more than 50 environmentalists, utility representatives and solar energy company executives.

Haley said expanding solar power in South Carolina will help diversify the mix of energy sources, while helping the Palmetto State catch up with North Carolina and Georgia in efforts to encourage sun-fired power.

“When you look at North Carolina and you look at Georgia, they’ve been doing pretty well when it comes to solar energy — and they don’t have any more sun than we do,” the governor said during the event at Half Moon Outfitters, which installed a “solar tree” several years ago to help power the business.

Solar Legislation Signing Ceremony (Video)

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Think Energy SC, February 12th Newsletter

A new website, SC Solar Now, has been launched to serve as a central location for news and information on solar energy here in South Carolina.

SC Solar Now will keep you updated on solar investment opportunities, public hearings, and the latest solar news across the Palmetto State. With the recent adoption of landmark solar legislation by the South Carolina Legislature, this is a great resource for understanding how solar can work for your home or business.

You can learn more about SC Solar Now by clicking here.

In other solar news, Duke Energy and SCE&G have proposed a series of new solar programs that will create multiple options for residential, commercial, and large-scale solar access for their customers.

Learn more about the Duke Energy proposal here.

Learn more about the SCE&G proposal here.

On the offshore drilling front, coastal communities in South Carolina are speaking out against the recent proposal from the Obama Administration to allow oil and gas exploration and development off the South Carolina coast.

The City of Beaufort and the Town of Port Royal both unanimously adopted resolutions this week opposing offshore drilling. As noted by Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling, “Simply put—our state and local governments spend millions of dollars to bring people here to enjoy our natural environment. Why in the world would we put that at risk?”

Read more on the resolutions here.

You can also click here to watch a recent panel discussion on offshore drilling hosted by the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Learn more about offshore drilling, its potential impacts to the South Carolina coast, and how you can get involved by clicking here.

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Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce panel discussion on offshore drilling

Below are two clips that highlight the threat offshore drilling represents for South Carolina’s economy and environment. Video of the full panel discussion is also linked below.

Watch the full panel discussion here.

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This Week’s News, January 22nd

The Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce will be hosting a panel discussion during the evening of Thursday, January 29th on the pros and cons of potential offshore oil and gas exploration and development on South Carolina’s economy and environment. The event is open to the public and will include participation from the SC Manufacturers Alliance and the SC Coastal Conservation League.

Click here for more details

At a recent press conference focused on offshore energy resources, Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling stated, “I’m a child of the Lowcountry. I love what we have here, and I see no need for oil exploration and drilling. Why would we put at risk the wildlife, the jobs, the quality of life we enjoy?”

Read more here and here

The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce recently announced its opposition to offshore oil and gas exploration and drilling.

Read more here

Click here to learn more about offshore drilling and its potential impacts to the South Carolina coast.

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Submit your comments on the Clean Power Plan today!

The EPA will be accepting public comments on the proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) until December 1st. This rule is focused on reducing carbon pollution from existing coal plants and provides unprecedented flexibility for state compliance in an individualized and cost-effective manner.

Increased investment in local South Carolina resources like solar and energy efficiency means more than just cleaner air; it means a stronger economy and increased consumer choice when it comes to powering our state.

Let the EPA know that a balanced plan for South Carolina should result in:

  • A substantive role for our state’s vast renewable energy resources like solar and wind in reducing carbon pollution;
  • Significantly increased energy efficiency opportunities for homeowners and businesses that can serve to reduce electricity bills; and
  • Assurance that the contribution of consumer-side resources like solar and energy efficiency are not undermined by utility-owned energy sources like nuclear and natural gas.

Please take a moment to submit your comments to the EPA and ask them to ensure that the Clean Power Plan results in a balanced approach to creating a clean energy future for South Carolina.

Click here to submit your comments online.

Or email your comments to A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov with the subject line ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602.

For more information on the Clean Power Plan and what it means for South Carolina, click here.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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




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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.

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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.

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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

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