Footnotes Issue #65: September 28, 2012
Bullish on Solar? Not Quite Yet...
On Wednesday, Georgia Power filed plans with the Public Service Commission (PSC) to develop 210 megawatts (MW) of solar power in the next three years, enough to power about 16,500 homes. This is four times more solar capacity than the last "big deal" of 50 megawatts they announced. It is substantial progress and Sierra Club applauds it. To put Georgia Power's announcement in context, Georgia currently has about 17 MW of solar installed, according to state tax credit data. Last year, the Public Service Commission added an additional 50 MW, meaning that 210 MW more is a significant step in the right direction. However, in the first half of 2012 alone, New Jersey added 277 MW. New Jersey is not adjacent to the Sunshine State. A group called the Georgia Solar Utility is proposing to add 2,000 MW in Georgia.
Public Service Commissioner Chuck Eaton, up for re-election in November, scooped the announcement by publishing an OpEd in the Savannah Morning News on Tuesday. Eaton, according to the most recent polls, is running neck and neck with his challenger Steve Oppenheimer. The idea is that Eaton will prove to voters that he is capable of moving our energy mix into the 21st century without harming ratepayers, and voters will in turn re-elect him.
Should voters fall for it? The Georgia Chapter voted last weekend to endorse both PSC challengers, Steve Oppenheimer and David Staples. The incumbents made it easy for us: they didn't return our questionnaires. But looking through both responses, the choice could not be more clear. Both challengers believe that impacts to health should be considered in energy resource planning, they believe there should be a risk-sharing mechanism for the Vogtle nuclear project, and they both pledged not to take gifts from those they would regulate.
Moreover, the addition of 210 MW of solar power to Georgia Power's fuel mix over the next three years in no way negates the need for consumers to have more choice in financing solar arrays on their homes. The Solar Freedom Bill (SB 401, which was amended to SB 459) would have clarified that nothing in Georgia law prevents a homeowner from generating solar electricity on their property. Explicitly allowing consumers to finance a solar system through a third party is the single most important policy that can get solar to scale, in California where they are allowed, they account for 57% of the total solar installed.
Both of our endorsed Public Service Commission candidates need people power! Check them out online and get involved! Visit Steve on Facebook or his website. Visit David on Facebook or his website. Volunteer and help spread the word.
In other Wednesday afternoon renewable energy news, our Beyond Coal Campaign published an Action Alert targeting Governor Nathan Deal's office for their failure to pursue the development of Georgia's significant clean offshore wind energy resources, by not participating in the Department of Interior's Smart from the Start program.
Even though Georgia has the fourth largest potential to develop offshore wind energy, Governor Deal is one of only two Governors from the Atlantic Coast states that is not currently working to streamline permitting and leasing that would attract wind energy jobs to our state.
Please take a moment to send an email to Governor Deal and his staff saying "Wind Works for Georgia Jobs" and to share/post the action alerts on social media.
Sierra Club Meetings
Smart Energy Team Meeting, Monday, October 1, 7:00 p.m.
Wildlands Committee Meeting, Tuesday, October 16, 7:00 p.m.
RAIL, Monday, October 22, 7:00 p.m.
Atlanta Inner City Outings (ICO), Tuesday, October 23, 7:30 p.m.
Fundraising Committee, Wednesday, October 24, 7:00 p.m.
October 3 – Presidential Debate: Make Climate Change a Priority
October 7 - Atlanta Streets Alive
Join thousands of fellow Atlanta residents from 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. as we take over 5 miles of car-free public space. It's your time to ride, walk, run, skip, cartwheel, skate or sing your way down North Highland Avenue, Virginia Avenue and the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. To join the Great Atlanta Halloween Bicycle Parade, line up at Corley Street and Highland (next to P'Cheens and Highland Bakery). We'll have kickoff announcements at 1:50 p.m. and the Parade will roll right at 2:00 p.m.!
October 13 - Ogeechee River Orchestra Premiere
October 20 – Hike at Dobbins Mountain (near Cartersville)
Help us keep Georgia's wild places wild.
Your donation can do so much to help us continue to protect Georgia's environment.
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