renewable energy

Harry Brown's anti-wind energy "maps" are still alive

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This is why we can't have nice things:

Brown, whose district includes the largest Marine base on the East Coast, believes the turbines could interfere with military radar or flight routes, and cause Department of Defense officials to close, downsize, or relocate military installations to other states. The solution, he says, is a statewide map that will rule out wind energy in certain places.

“The map says it’s okay here, it’s not okay here,” Brown told Southeast Energy News this summer. “To me that’s the only way we’re ever going to be able to resolve this issue.”

There's nothing to resolve, you idiot. There are already multiple mechanisms in place to safeguard the airspace for both military and civilian aircraft, which means this move by Brown is really about something else. And that something else becomes clearer by his effort to draw in Solar and Biomass energy projects into his crusade:

Choosing voodoo economics over successful ventures a recipe for failure

The following Op-Ed was apparently not ready for Prime Time viewing:

NC’s motto “Esse Quam Videri,” to be rather than to seem, should be more than just a quaint Latin reference on our State’s Seal. It should be an organic, working principle to guide us, as it was originally intended. Even for those on the right who profess to believe state government should be run like a business, when something you’re doing is working, and working so well it exceeds all expectations you had about its viability, you don’t try to actively undermine that success. Scheme and plot to make it go away. If you did that in a publicly-held corporation, your shareholders would revolt, and sweep that Board of Directors right out the door, and replace them with more responsible leaders.

In the government realm, those shareholders are the voting public, not the shadowy PACs funded by wealthy individuals who would sacrifice overall economic growth for personal profits every day of the week.

Author's note: Sometimes these essays have their origin in a single misleading sentence in the news, generating a desire to set the record straight. In this case, it was actually a symbol that I had seen one too many times, the Georgia Film logo (with a peach, of course) that got my mind churning. Here's the rest:

Stanford research on utility companies' growing opposition to Solar power

The future of our planet literally hangs in the balance:

As installed solar prices fell in the period after 2009, the utility industry maintained the view that these small installations posed no threat to their businesses. Then, the industry made an abrupt about face with the publication of an important briefing paper in 2013. In January of that year, the Edison Electric Institute, the industry association for investor owned electric utilities released a briefing paper entitled “Disruptive Challenges” that focused on the key economic challenges facing the retail electricity sector. In it, a dark future for the industry was outlined: how flat electricity sales, the rapidly falling cost of distributed solar power, and rising rates necessary to replace existing grid infrastructure create a unique set of challenges for the power sector.

The paper was all the more unusual because it was released for public consumption. Most EEI publications are released only to member utilities for internal consumption.

And the likely reason it was released for public consumption was to (more easily) provide talking points for all the other industry-related "think tanks" and right-wing nutters opposed to both renewable energy and climate change science. We're in the middle of this crisis right now, folks, and it's important to understand this is a national battle and not just more Duke Energy shenanigans. And this is especially relevant for many of my environmentalist friends who were eager to make compromises to get the recent energy bill passed, that included more freedom for Duke Energy to "negotiate" rates they pay to Solar farms. It's a long one, so try to stay with me:

New Solar bill a wolf in sheep's clothing

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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

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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. :)

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