renewable energy

New Solar bill a wolf in sheep's clothing

solarfarm.jpg

If you don't know your history, you're doomed to forget your successes:

North Carolina solar companies owe much of their success to an obscure federal law passed in the wake of the 1973 OPEC oil crisis, when shortages produced lines around the block at gas stations and tipped the U.S. economy into recession. At that time, Americans got about one-sixth of their electrical power from burning petroleum, much of it imported from the Middle East. In a bid for greater energy independence, lawmakers approved The Public Utility Regulatory Policy of 1978, known as PURPA.

Among other things, PURPA required utilities to buy renewable power from independent producers if it cost no more than electricity from the conventional power plants owned by the utility. The aim was to source more power from small renewable facilities, like the Person County Solar Park, easing demand for electricity from coal, gas and—in particular—petroleum-fired power plants.

I will say this again, and keep saying it if that's what it takes: In the clean energy revolution, in the reducing our carbon footprint contest, in the cutting back on pollution effort, it's all about the Megawatts. Yes, allowing for 3rd party leases on residential Solar is great, and it will make it a lot easier for folks to have them installed on their homes, but we're talking 10-15 kilowatts per. An analogy might better get my point across. Say you have a really long wall, that needs to be painted on both sides. On one side, you've got one person using a paint roller, and on the other side, you've got fifty people dabbing with a fine artist's paint brush. When the person with the roller gets tired, another steps up eagerly and starts rolling. On the other side, you're constantly trying to replace each of those fifty people dabbing. I don't need to tell you which side will be finished first, or that one of those sides may never be finished. It's a bad analogy, but it's been in my head for several weeks, and I had to get it out. Here's more on the threat to PURPA:

Majority of NC House opposes moratorium on wind energy

windturbines.jpg

Hopefully they will stick to their guns and keep it out of Budget compromise:

The state Senate’s budget plan took an ax to the Department of Environmental Quality, while the House dipped in with a scalpel, setting up major differences to bridge when the two sides sit down to negotiate a final spending deal. In all, the Senate wants to eliminate a total of 45.5 positions, most of them currently filled. The House plan retains the assistance and customer service and education programs and only cuts 6.5 positions that are currently vacant.

What House budget writers did cut is aimed at a handful of programs and special provisions championed by their Senate counterparts, including a provision pushed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown, R-Onslow, that would impose a moratorium on new wind energy projects through 2020, a move that has the backing of some House members, but has been strongly opposed by a majority of its members.

This is critical. A 3-year moratorium would set us behind, and those projects will not wait for us to come to our senses, they will go to another state. And who knows what the investment environment will be like after 2020; we might never have this opportunity again. There is no science, or economics, or any other legitimate driving factor behind this moratorium, it's just ideology fueled (literally) by propaganda. Propaganda paid for by Kansas billionaires who don't give two shits about North Carolina's future, they just want to keep enriching themselves from leaky oil & gas pipelines. And those who would do their bidding (I'm looking at you, Civitas) have forfeited the right to claim they represent the interests of NC's citizens.

John Droz caught in multiple lies over wind farm opposition

And he tried to mislead Homeland Security, no less:

The U.S. military was forced to accept a wind farm in Pasquotank and Perquimans counties despite no guarantees it wouldn't impair a regional radar system, a North Carolina wind energy opponent claims.

John Droz, a physicist known for advocating against renewable energy, also acknowledges, however, that he has no direct evidence the former administration of President Barack Obama forced the military to approve the Amazon Wind Farm US East project.

Bolding mine, because integrity, something John Droz is sorely lacking. This also means every single one of those Republican lawmakers who put their signature on this letter lied to the umbrella organization that was created to protect the United States from domestic terrorism. Think about that for a moment. If you or I did something like that, we'd be lucky to avoid an intense interrogation session or two, and would likely be placed on the No-Fly list. But their lust for attacking Obama, not unlike that weasel van der Vaart, had them eager to take part in this fiasco. Here's more conspiracy theorizing from John Droz:

NC's clean energy sector is spearheading recovery

And we can't afford to let the GOP derail its growth:

North Carolina has almost 1,000 clean energy firms that employ 34,294 full-time equivalent jobs. This represents an estimated 31% increase in employment from the previous year. Additional jobs continue being added to the industry, and the rate of growth has more than doubled since 2015.

North Carolinians are benefiting from clean energy in the form of lower electric bills, healthier communities and expanded local tax bases, as job opportunities continue surfacing across the industry's diverse supply chain.

There's been a lot of brainstorming by Democrats on how to refine messaging, especially in the area of economic opportunity. Well, here you go. Not only is promoting clean energy in the best interests of maintaining our health and well-being, and something we should push even if there wasn't an economic benefit, the clean energy sector has the potential to bring much-needed revenues to nearly all 100 counties. Quoting myself from an Op-Ed in late 2015:

For those few still feeling mistakenly safe, we present Liquid Uranium

On the plus side, you'll die relatively quickly:

The U.S. government wants to move the waste from the Chalk River Nuclear Facility in Ontario, Canada to the Savannah River Nuclear Site in South Carolina. Kamps says, until now, this type of uranium has only been shipped as a solid and is extremely dangerous.

"If you're exposed to it at a short distance, with no radiation shielding, it can actually kill you in a very short period of time. Or in a fiery crash or terrorist attack, this material could be disbursed over a very broad region," Kamps said. Interstate 26 is one potential route, where nearby residents haven't heard a word. But residents living near the potential route aren't the only ones left in the dark.

Oh, that's just fantastic. "We can't tell you where it's going to be, because Terrorism, so you'll just have to remain in a state of constant terror. And update your living will, because your cognitive functions will probably get seriously derailed before your organs begin failing, which, if you think about it, is probably a blessing. Have a nice day."

JLF uses Hurricane Matthew to attack NC's REPS

Because natural disasters are a great opportunity for propaganda:

And then there are the inhabitants of the so-called “free market think tanks” funded by those fun-loving fossil fuel barons, the Koch Brothers, and their not so silent junior partner from North Carolina, Art Pope. Take a gander at a column released yesterday by the Director of Regulatory Studies at the John Locke Foundation. In it, the author argues – we are not making this up – that the mass, storm-related electricity outages of recent days lead to one overriding conclusion: North Carolina must reduce its commitment to renewable energy and the law (the “Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard” or “REPS”) that requires public utilities to derive a proportion of their electric load from renewables.

Everybody needs to understand why Koch and Pope's Puppets are so dedicated to overturning REPS in NC (and other states): Because it's working. The REPS was designed to create a demand for renewable energy, thus driving up production of Solar panels and wind turbine parts, which (in turn) would bring the costs down to a competitive range.
What you won't hear from people like JLF's Jon Sanders is how much those costs have already dropped:

Op-Ed on the GOP's disingenuous attack on wind energy in NC

In which I preach from my chair a little bit:

In each of the last five years, we have seen numerous attempts by the Republican-led General Assembly to erode environmental protections and undermine the fantastic growth in our clean energy sector. Some have succeeded, some have failed, but the efforts have been relentless. In this previous short session, one of the more notable of these was Sen. Harry Brown’s attempt to ban the construction of wind energy projects in the vast majority of the state, in particular eastern North Carolina, where the most suitable winds are located.

While this bill failed to pass out of the N.C. House this year, Brown has promised to bring it back again next year. When he does, it needs to go to the Rules Committee or wherever the muckety-mucks decide is the best place for it to die a slow, legislative death.

I would like to take this time to encourage everybody reading this to engage in the process of analysis and feedback with media outlets, especially print media. Their "stable" of content creators has shrank severely in the last decade or so, and they are much more open to publishing material from non-standard sources. By "non-standard" I mean clumsy amateurs like myself. :)

Utility-scale Solar development faces new challenges in NC

Economical, structural, and of course ideological:

That means that Duke is now paying Strata only wholesale electricity rates – without the subsidy – for power generated by six Strata solar farms that went online this year. “There is zero rate impact for rate payers,” O’Hara said. “And Duke is locking in a price for 15 years.”

As global solar prices went into a free fall and panel efficiency improved, solar farms became cost-competitive with coal-burning power plants and combined-cycle natural gas plants, two of the cheapest sources for generating electricity. The cost inversion, from priciest to cheapest, hasn’t won over all critics of renewables, but it has shifted their focus to new concerns: that solar panels may be toxic, and that solar farms conflict with agriculture.

That's typical of the anti-renewable, climate-change-denying crowd: When your main argument fizzles, you have to scramble to create a new (misleading) approach. But in their zest to find such, they also reveal their hypocrisy. Environmentalists have been pushing for decades for public officials to recognize the added costs associated with fossil fuel use, from ecological to human health issues, but that has fallen on deaf ears. And now that their "It's too costly!" argument no longer works, they want to create dangers from clean power production? Oh, hell no. As to the economics: Those of us who understood the true goals of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards knew (or hoped) that prices would fall, and with that decline would come a decline in the demand from investors, who would see their profit margins shrink. This wasn't merely part of the plan, it was the plan. And it's working better than we'd imagined. That being said, it appears Duke Energy is doing what all monopolies do, leverage their competition out of the market:

The battle to continue NC's renewable energy success

Progress is a four-letter word to some people:

It’s hard to see what’s not to like about North Carolina’s growing renewable energy industry. It’s clean. It creates jobs. It puts idle farm land to profitable use. It’s part of what must be an urgent, global response to climate change.

Yet there are some in the General Assembly determined to halt and even reverse the state’s booming solar power industry and to lower its prospects as a leader in wind power.

Some ideological positions are simply too absurd to understand. Even in the absence of the millions spent by the Koch Brothers and other fossil fuel astroturfers, there will always be a handful of science-fearing individuals tilting at windmills. The industry propaganda just fuels their delusions, and makes it much more likely they'll be able to do actual damage instead of just fuming about it.

Legislative alert: The attack on Solar farms continues

If this bill becomes law, you won't see any more renewable projects being built:

§ 143‑215.127. Setback and landscape buffer requirements.

(a) Setback requirements. – A wind or renewable energy facility shall be sited no nearer than one and one‑half miles from the property line of any adjacent parcels. The one and one‑half mile setback requirement shall not apply to adjacent parcels having common ownership with the facility or the parcel where the facility is situated.

(c) Landscape buffer requirements for solar farms. – A solar farm shall maintain a landscape buffer by installing native landscaping, including trees and shrubs, in a perimeter surrounding the solar farm and any equipment related to that solar farm. The landscape buffer shall provide the greatest degree of screening feasible and shall minimize visual contact with the solar farm for any adjacent parcels. For the purposes of this subsection, a "solar farm" means an array of multiple solar collectors that transmit solar energy and where the collection of solar energy is the primary land use for the parcel on which it is situated.

Bolding mine. It would need to be researched by active Solar farm developers in our state, but I doubt more than one or two projects to date would have met that 1 1/2 mile setback requirement. That alone is a lethal blow to the industry, which is obviously the goal of this bill. When they decided to amend the Statute that had previously dealt only with wind turbines, they tripled the setback distance from 1/2 mile to 1 1/2 miles. That's more than ten times the distance the state is requiring fracking wells to be setback from homes and surface water (creeks, lakes, rivers). Kill this bill, before it kills NC's Solar farm industry.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - renewable energy