Renewables are Winning, Nukes are Dead, and Coal is Crashing

Somebody is willing to read the sunshine writing: Renewables are Winning, Nukes are Dead and Coal is Crashing, as Kathleen Rogers and Danny Kennedy wrote for EcoWatch 14 Dec 2012.

As I wrote back in April when formerly coal-plotting Cobb EMC went solar:

Coal is dead. Nuclear is going down. Solar will eat the lunch of utilities that don’t start generating it.

Can Georgia Power and Southern Company (SO) read that handwriting on the wall? They can’t fight Moore’s Law, which has steadily brought the cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) energy down for thirty years now, and shows no signs of stopping. This is the same Moore’s Law that has put a computer in your pocket more powerful than a computer that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in 1982 and was used by an entire company. Solar PV costs dropped 50% last year. Already all the new U.S. electric capacity installed this September was solar and wind. As this trend continues, solar will become so much more cost-effective than any fossil or nuclear fuel power that nobody will be able to ignore it.

Rogers and Kennedy explained this phenomenon:

The seismic shift in how we all use cell phones and mobile technology to access the internet almost snuck up on the incumbent technologies and the monopolies that made money selling us landline telephones and a crappy service. Now, we’re all using apps on smartphones all of the time. So too, the shift to a scaled, solar-powered future built around the modular technology at the heart of solar power—the photovoltaic solar cell—will come as a surprise to many. We call it the solar ascent, and it is happening every day in a million ways.

Will SO and Georgia Power continue to prop up that 1973 legal wall that inhibits solar financing in Georgia? Companies and even economic development authorities are starting to find ways around it, and of course there’s Georgia Solar Utilities (GaSU) trying to wedge into the law as a utility. After Hurricane Sandy, rooftop solar for grid outage independence has suddenly hit the big time (Austin Energy caught onto that back in 2003). The U.S. military got solar and renewable energy back in Afghanistan and are now doing it bigtime everywhere.

SO and Georgia Power can try to ignore Germany and Denmark far to the north forging ahead with solar while Georgia Power raises rates in Georgia to fund natural gas plants and for Southern Company’s three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture stool boondoogle that will suck up more water from the Savannah River than the city of Savannah. While Georgia Power complains about solar, even though solar uses no water, needs no fuel, and emits no pollutants, plus solar gets installed on time and on budget.

What’s going to fry SO and Georgia Power’s dirty lunch like a bug under a sunshine magnifying glass is cost. Solar already crossed nuclear at least two years ago. Germany admitted this spring that solar beats coal, and even Southern Company has given up on new coal plants (other than its Kemper Coal CWIP stealth-tax rate-hike boondoggle in Mississippi) and is closing old ones. And yes, solar already beats natural gas in cost, when you figure in construction costs and the most elementary fact: solar needs no pipelines because it needs no fuel.

Factor in the economic externalities SO so studiously ignores, and there’s even less contest. Already those new EPA rules on arsenic, acid gases, and other pollutants are factors in SO closing some coal plants (although not so far the three biggest CO2 emitters in the U.S., Scherer and Bowen in Georgia and Miller in Alabama). Eventually eminent current and former regulators, governors, and legislators will stop making excuses for fracking and EPA will regulate that, too, driving the price of shale gas up. Eventually SO shareholders will pass those coal ash and political spending transparency resolutions and coal power prices will go through the roof. And with even science misunderstanderers now finally getting climate change after Hurricane Sandy, and as the record heat and protracted drought get worse, people will demand our water not be wasted in fracking or by coal or nuclear power plants.

All that and already more than a year ago Brookings claimed clean jobs outnumbered fossil fuel jobs, and good-paying jobs, at that. Google warned even earlier that delaying solar will cost the U.S. millions of jobs, especially solar jobs. With Georgia Power holding us back, Georgia is losing more jobs proportionally than the rest of the country. Georgia could benefit more from solar electricity than all but two other states. So let’s get on with clean green jobs for profit, energy independence, poverty reduction, social inclusion, and oh by the way clean air and plenty of clean water!

If they can do it in Buffalo, we can do solar here: go to Mud Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant and see for yourself! Jerome Tucker and MAGE Solar explained more than a year ago at Lowndes High how solar means jobs in south Georgia, in distribution, installation, training, etc. Our Industrial Authority now has Georgia Power actively helping try to bring solar industry here. Let’s see Georgia Power go the next step and get that 1973 law out of the way of financing.

Southern Company and Georgia Power: the solar train is leaving the station. It’s time to get your nuclear buggywhip and your cancer-causing coal and your water-polluting shale gas fracking out of the way. Help us let the sun shine jobs on south Georgia!


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  1. Pingback: Solar could burn utility business model | On the LAKE front

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