Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/12/14)

September 12th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/12/14).

  1. The Harvard Crimson reports, “Members of Harvard Faculty for Divestment called once again for an open and public forum with members of the Harvard Corporation and the Harvard Management Company in a letter to Senior Fellow William F. Lee ’72 on Tuesday.”
  2. Greentech Media asks, “Is a Solar Development Boom About to Begin in Texas?”
  3. Climate Progress reports: “A major report by the global body responsible for energy analysis finds the total benefits from energy efficiency upgrades equals — and often exceeds — the energy savings. The 232-page International Energy Agency report upends decades of conventional thinking about efficiency, and should lead governments and corporations to sharply increase their efficiency budget.”
  4. According to Mother Jones: ”With every year that passes, we’re getting further away from averting a human-caused climate disaster. That’s the key message in this year’s ‘Low Carbon Economy Index,’ a report released by the accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.”
  5. USA Today reports, “Politically ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states are increasingly turning green as they push energy efficiency and renewable power to save money and protect the planet, says a report today with prominent bi-partisan support.”

New, Bipartisan Study “Highlights 12 State Policies to Advance Clean Energy and Help Meet Pending EPA Rules”

September 11th, 2014

Given the myriad of economic and competitive advantages offered by clean, abundant renewable energy, there’s no good reason for this to be a partisan issue in any way. For instance, this article talks about how “a founding member of the national Tea Party and a leader of the Atlanta Tea Party group…is also an outspoken proponent of distributed solar generation and other forms of renewable distributed energy.” Why does self-described “right-wing grandmother” Debbie Dooley feel this way? In her own words, it’s because “solar is a way to give monopolies very much needed competition.” It’s also about “[providing] consumer choice…the freedom to choose and create your own electricity.” In addition, Dooley argues, distributed solar power is “a national security issue for our country,” among other reasons because “the grid can be attacked.” Finally, Dooley notes that rooftop solar “empowers the individual and it’s good for the environment.” Dooley says her presentation on this topic has received “thunderous applause” at the Tea Party convention.

With that in mind, it’s encouraging to see a bipartisan report, led by former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman (D) and former Secretary of State and Treasury George Shultz (R), concluding that “states throughout the country – both red and blue – are implementing innovative renewable energy and energy-efficiency programs which could be adopted by their neighbors to improve their economies and reduce emissions cost-effectively.” According to former Secretary Shultz, “The goal of the study is to provide a source for states to compare and contrast innovative policies, so that they can learn from each other.” Highlighted examples from around the country include:

• Energy-Efficiency Resource Standards – Wisconsin
• Energy-Efficient Building Codes – Mississippi
• Building Energy Benchmarking and Disclosure – California, Washington
• Utility and Customer Market Incentives – Arizona, Washington,
• Renewable Portfolio Standards – North Carolina, Minnesota
• Net Energy Metering – Texas, Vermont
• Community Renewables – Colorado, California, Minnesota
• Renewable Energy Tariffs – North Carolina, Virginia
• Energy Savings Performance Contracts – Pennsylvania
• Third-Party Ownership of Distributed Power Systems – New Mexico
• Property-Assessed Clean Energy – Connecticut
• On-Bill Repayment – Hawaii, New York
• U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program – Nebraska, Massachusetts

Finally, the “encouraging conclusion” of the report is a simple but exciting one: “Both red states and blue states are turning green – whether measured in dollar savings or environmental improvement.” Now, we just need to keep that trend going and accelerate it with smart policy choices by state legislatures across the country.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (9/11/14)

September 11th, 2014

Here are five recommended reads for today (9/11/14).

  1. Greentech Media reports: “New data from EIA shows that new natural gas plant additions beat out solar in the first six months of the year. But there’s a crucial segment of the market missing: commercial and residential solar projects of less than 1 megawatt.”
  2. According to Climate Spectator, “In a study that reframes the discussion about the so-called ‘hidden fuel’, the IEA shows how energy efficiency has the potential to support economic growth, enhance social development, advance environmental sustainability, ensure energy-system security and help build wealth.”
  3. EcoWatch reports, “Fracking California Videos Show Huge Impact of Drilling on Communities.”
  4. Jigar Shah writes at the Audobon Climate Report: “Follow the Money to Zero-Emissions Energy: Solar and wind energy are already feasible options.”
  5. At Forbes, Ucilia Wang explains “How LEDs Are Going To Change The Way We Look At Cities.”

CEO of America’s Largest Coal Company Appears to Have No Concept of “Reality” or “Truth”

September 10th, 2014

In the voluminous annals of dirty energy denialism and flat-out falsehoods, this interview with Greg Boyce, the CEO of America’s largest coal company, Peabody Energy, has got to rank up there. Here are a few whoppers by Boyce that jumped out at us.

  • Boyce says, “Since 1970, coal use has increased almost 200%, yet the emissions from coal have been reduced by almost 90%.”  Except, of course, that he’s completely ignoring emissions of global-warming-causing carbon dioxide, which haven’t been reduced at all.  As if that’s not bad enough, Boyce also fails to mention that reductions in pollutants like lead and mercury from coal-fired power plants came from government regulation, which his industry vehemently opposed every step of the way. Details, details.
  • Boyce claims that coal is “the lowest-cost form of electrical generation” and, he implies, will continue to be so over the next 20-30 years. That’s certainly not going to be true in 20-30 years, and it’s already not the case today in an increasing number of places. For instance, Greentech Media recently reported that solar is at grid parity in Utah, a “state with no renewable standard.” If that’s already the case in Utah, and if solar costs continue to fall as they’ve been doing for years, Boyce’s prediction will soon be proven false everywhere. Don’t believe us? See the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest cost projections, which forecast coal-fired power to be more expensive than wind, geothermal, hydro and natural gas (with solar cheaper than coal-fired power with carbon capture and sequestration capability).
  • Boyce calls clean energy “boutique and high-priced energy” and basically says it’s unaffordable. He also claims that “there are no replacements for fossil fuels at scale, at affordability.” None of that, of course, is even remotely true. As we just discussed in the previous bullet point, new coal-fired power plants coming online in 2019 will be more expensive than a variety of other power sources – wind, geothermal, hydro, and natural gas. The situation will look even worse for coal if it’s forced to clean up the pollution it currently spews for free into the air and water. In other words, coal is actually the “boutique and high-priced energy” source, especially if you incorporate all the environmental and health care damages it inflicts into its price.
  • Finally, regarding the newly-proposed EPA carbon-pollution reduction regulations, Boyce falsely claims that “everybody doesn’t like them.” In fact, there’s a lot of polling that shows them to be quite popular. For instance, this ABC News/Washington Post poll finds “70 percent support for limiting emissions from existing power plants.” Meanwhile, this poll of two “swing states” (Virginia and Pennsylvania) finds that “61% of voters were found to support new power plant rules which the EPA proposed on Monday, even after hearing the arguments for and against.” If 70% and 61% are what Boyce means by “everybody doesn’t like them,” then we also expect he believes other crazy things like the earth is flat, up is down, black is white, and…coal is clean.

Will AEP President Nicholas K. Akins Eat Some “Safe Enough to Eat” Coal Ash on Camera for Us?

September 10th, 2014

When it comes to dirty energy’s attempts to excuse, ignore, minimize, deny and disregard their industry’s multitude of problems, this has got to be an instant classic.

A lawsuit filed last month on behalf of 77 people claims that the plaintiffs were exposed to dangerous chemicals in coal ash, which led to several illnesses and deaths. The dispute is focused on American Electric Power‘s Gavin Landfill site in North Cheshire, Ohio, which is used for collecting and sipping of 2.6 million cubic yards of coal combustion waste byproducts from the Gavin Power Plant every year.

Repeatedly, individuals were not provided with protective equipment, such as overalls, gloves or respirators when working in and around coal waste,” the lawsuit says. “These working men and women, already exposed to the contaminants at the job site, then, in turn, carried the coal waste home to their families on their clothes and shoes, thus even exposing family members to the deadly toxins.

In the complaint, the plaintiffs claim that they asked supervisor Doug Workman whether it was safe to work with coal ash. “By sticking his finger into the coal waste and then placing his fly-ash covered finger into his own mouth,” the lawsuit reads, “[Workman] then misrepresented to the working direct claim plaintiffs that coal waste was ‘safe enough to eat.’”

So, we’re wondering: Where does the President of AEP, Nicholas K. Akins, stand on his employee’s “safe enough to eat” guarantee? If he’s good with it, will he eat some coal ash on camera for us? And if he won’t, because he knows this stuff contains deadly toxins, then why does his company expose its employees to it?