Tag Archives: Florida

The real worst and best cases of climate change

What do you want? The planet Venus? The current degraded Earth? Or a better world we know how to create?

What if it's a big hoax and we create a better world for nothing?
Joel Pett, Lexington Herald Leader, 18 March 2012, The cartoon seen ’round the world

Mostly I post about solar and wind power winning, which is what I think is happening. But sometimes it’s worth a reminder of what could happen if we do nothing about climate change, and I posted on my facebook page a story about that. Which actually didn’t go far enough to the real worst case. Nonetheless, that story has been attacked by numerous parties of all political and scientific and unscientific stripes for being too doom and gloom. Yet none of the attackers bothered to mention a best case beyond “the same world we have now”. I have news for you: the world we have now is an ecological catastrophe, and we can do a lot better. So here’s the real worst case, the current case, which is far from the best of all possible worlds, and the real best case, as I see it. Plus what we can do to head for the best case.

grinning fossilized skull

First, the story I posted: David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, 9 July 2017, The Uninhabitable Earth: Famine, economic collapse, a sun that cooks us: What climate change could wreak — sooner than you think. Notice that word “could”, which a lot of his critics seem to have ignored. He didn’t say “will”, and he clearly labeled what he was presenting as worst case scenarios.

In case anybody thinks he was making any of that stuff up, Wallace-Wells has also linked to an annotated version with footnotes for every substantial assertion. The annotated version notes at the top: Continue reading

Major climate change victory in U.S. House on Bastille Day 2017-07-14

On the anniversary of the French Revolution against a corrupt old regime, the U.S. House of Representatives took a step towards independence from the clammy grip of the fossil fuel companies. This has direct implications on Moody AFB. No more pipelines. Solar power now.

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian, 14 July 2017, In Landmark Move, GOP Congress Calls Climate Change ‘Direct Threat’ to Security: Extreme weather and rising seas threaten bases from Virginia to Guam. For the first time, a Republican House has voted to recognize that.,

One study last year found that rising oceans threaten 128 military installations on the coasts, including naval facilities worth around $100 billion.

The Pentagon has been aware for years of Continue reading

Video: Solar panels, heck yeah! –Tom Fanning, CEO, at SO stockholder meeting 2017-05-24

Tom Fanning, our genial CEO host, said some things I’ve never heard him say before like Southern Company is “pivoting towards wind” and SO’s board soon has to decide whether to go forward with Plant Vogtle “or not” probably by August. Fanning gets the first and last word in this blog post, plus a complete transcript of what I asked and Tom Fanning’s response, along with summaries of the other questions and answers.

Well see how it develops --Tom Fanning
Please hear me! I think renewables are exceedingly important in the future.
— Tom Fanning, CEO, Southern Company

In SO’s own meeting video of the 25 May 2017 Stockholder Meeting, you can see much praise about solar power and wind and R&D and a smart grid, along with stockholders wondering: Continue reading

Duke Energy solar: NC, SC, and now Florida

Duke’s new solar farms in Florida echo what Duke was already doing three and a half years ago when an independent study concluded more solar power in North Carolina would save utility ratepayers tens of millions of dollars annually.


Duke solar power farm in Perry, Florida, courtesy Duke Energy

John Downey, Charlotte Business Journal, 23 October 2013, Study: Solar benefits outweigh costs in NC,

It notes the gains from solar projects — such as lower transmission and distribution costs, avoided emissions, lower losses of electricity in transmission. The study calculates that such benefits outweigh the costs by 30 percent to 40 percent.

The utility buying most of that solar power in North Carolina is none other than Duke Energy. Parcel 25-01S-11E-1090700.0000 In Florida, Duke just got approval from the Suwannee Board of County Commissioners to build a 62-acre 8.8 MW solar plant next to its Suwannee Power Plant, while shutting down some old natural gas generating turbines, and keeping some newer ones going.

As we learned only a week before at a meeting about the Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) required by the Florida legislature, nitrogen runoff from fertilizers is a huge problem in the Suwannee River Basin, and needs to be reduced 80-90% from every source. Duke Energy (or even FPL) could buy power from distributed solar farms on 1030 more acres in Suwannee County and produce enough power to shut down the rest of its gas turbines at that Suwannee River facility, while generating enough power for twice the number of households in Suwannee County. That would remove power plant emissions and use of cooling water, while helping solve the BMAP problem.

No, I’m not recommending cutting down trees for solar panels. Rooftop solar power and solar panels on marginal farmland would make far more sense. As even Duke says, solar panels produce “little to no waste”, which means no fertilizer or pesticide runoff from them. Graze cows, sheep, or goats around them, and the farmer has income from both the solar panels and the livestock, while still needing no pesticides to control weeds. That’s what Sandy Hill Solar of Elm City, North Carolina does, and the utility buying their power is Duke Energy.

Duke by February 2015 had expanded its solar buying into South Carolina, and by October 2015 announced a new solar farm near Perry, Florida, Duke’s second such project in Florida, and operational in Perry by September 2016. Funny how solar plants can go online in less than a year, unlike the three-year-plus permitting process of interstate natural gas pipelines.

The Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) lists numerous studies about the cost-effectiveness of solar power, including that North Carolina 2013 report, now with a copy on the LAKE website. SEIA also lists one for Virginia which is on the MDV-SEIA website, and now also has a copy on the LAKE website.

For Georgia SEIA lists the testimony of GSEIA before the Georgia Public Service Commission in 2013. See also other testimony at that same GA-PSC session, which resulted in GA-PSC requiring Georgia Power to buy twice as much solar power as it wanted to. GA-PSC did the same again in 2015, which was also the year Georgia Power finally stopped its dozen-year-long objections to fixing a 1970s law, and actively backed a 2015 version of that solar financing bill, which passed unanimously in the Georgia Senate and was signed by the same Georgia governor who had accepted campaign finance contributions from multiple pipeline company PACs. After the bill became law, Georgia Power started selling solar power.

Georgia Power’s parent company Southern Company is also installing solar power in the Florida panhandle through its subsidiary Gulf Power, including three projects at military bases totalling 120 MW.

All that is without even comparing solar power to natural gas pipelines such as Sabal Trail. I did that comparison, and I’m still watiing for somebody to show me any flaws in my arithmetic, which shows that FPL’s ratepayers, now stuck with a $3.2 billion bill for the Sabal Trail boondoggle, could get five times as much electricity through solar power at that price.

For Florida SEIA lists only a very old (2003) study with a broken link, which can be found as a google book, but now would mostly be worthwhile as a museum piece. Duke’s own actions in Florida in 2016 and 2017 indicate Duke Energy knows the sun is rising even on the Sunshine State.

Sure, Duke is going too slow (although not as slow as FPL). Duke’s “strategic, long-range plan to install 35 megawatts of universal solar by 2018, and up to 500 megawatts in the state by 2024” is pocket change for peanuts. Stanford Professor Mark Z. Jacobson’s research project has spelled out what Florida (and each other U.S. state) needs in solar, wind, and water power to run everything, depicted on thesolutionsproject.org and backed up by a hundred-plus-page report.

The people of Florida are demanding more solar power. Tens of millions of dollars in fossil fuel and utility money didn’t convince the voters of Florida to support a fake solar amendment last November. The sun is rising, even on the Sunshine State. All the dirty dollars and all the bought politicians can’t stop it.

-jsq

Investigative reporting costs money, for open records requests, copying, web hosting, gasoline, and cameras, and with sufficient funds we can pay students to do further research. You can donate to LAKE today!

Videos: Sewage, Coal Ash, Historic Preservation, a dead cat, and turkeys @ VCC 2016-03-09

The Valdosta City Council heard from citizens about coal ash, wastewater, and toxic waste in the landfill. Mayor John Gayle offered to answer later in his office Eric Howard’s question about wastewater in his yard. The Mayor expressed his opinion that he and the council couldn’t do anything about the landfill, and read for yourself what he said about the Florida county resolutions about Valdosta wastewater. George Boston Rhynes told a droll tale about a dead cat and turkeys.

The Historic Preservation appeal was long and contentious, with the Mayor twice breaking a tie because only four City Council members were there: the appeal was approved. A citizen spoke about that afterwards, as did Council Tim Carroll.

Council Robert Yost recommended all the Hospital Authority Board should resign.

They unanimously approved both of the rezoning items; ditto the right of way maintenance bids.

And Firefighter Michael Penland is employee of the month.

Below are links to the LAKE video of each item, with a few notes (some drawn from Valdosta’s own SUMMARY OF ACTIONS), followed by a LAKE video playlist. See also the agenda.

How much solar power could Sabal Trail’s $3.2 billion buy?

The same money would buy a lot more electricity through solar power than that fracked methane pipeline could generate.

Update 2 March 2017: Added tables; fixed some typos.


Ramez Naam, his blog, 21 September 2016, New Record Low Solar Price in Abu Dhabi — Costs Plunging Faster Than Expected

Start with Sabal Trail’s numbers

Continue reading

Georgia Power new acquisition AGL’s Pivotal LNG exporting through Jaxport

Back in May 2015, Southern Company CEO Tom Fanning and Georgia Power CEO Paul Bowers both told me “If we can’t do coal, we have to do pipelines”. I-75 through Atlanta, Macon, Valdosta, I-10 through Lake City A year in the making, Southern Company bought pipeline company AGL Resources. Turns out AGL Resources is also an LNG export company, exporting through Jacksonville by LNG containers on trucks. And the plot thickens with the pending corporate takeover of CSX Railroad by the former CEO of Canadian Pacific, given that CSX depends a lot on carrying coal, which remember is what Southern Company is rapidly getting away from. Could CSX want to carry LNG? Meanwhile, LNG containers are already rolling down I-75 and I-10 to Jaxport, apparently through Atlanta, Macon, Valdosta, and Lake City.

Southern Company PR, 1 July 2016, Southern Company and AGL Resources complete merger, create a leading U.S. energy company, Continue reading

Possible corporate takeover of CSX

CSX stock went up 29% in January on rumors of a corporate takeover. The same CSX that let a plume of toxic chemicals leak below its Rice Rail Yard in Waycross, including into the upper Suwannee River watershed. It’s not clear a corporate takeover would do anything to stop that, or other possible contamination in for example Valdosta.

John Burr, WJCT, 6 February 2017, Business Brief: CSX Board To Consider Possible Takeover Friday, Continue reading

Pipelines companies don’t detect corrosion or stop explosions

A reminder of why to stop pipeline companies from burying investors’ money in the ground and get on with solar power: the pipeline that exploded in Texas last week was half owned by Spectra Energy, the pipeline company behind Sabal Trail, AIM, Penneast, and numerous other fracked methane invasions and behind thirty years of undetected corrosion resulting in leaks, explosions, property damage, and deaths. The pipeline company didn’t detect it and couldn’t even turn it off quickly. Want to bet that it, like Spectra’s Pennsylvania explosion last spring, was corrosion?

A very Texas report said “no people or cattle were injured” and also notice: “The fire is under control and will burn itself out.” Continue reading

Solar Panels at Daytona International Speedway

Even FPL is doing solar power now, as evidenced by these pictures John Horton sent back from Daytona yesterday. Front gate So, FPL, how about cancel Sabal Trail and help the sun rise faster on the Sunshine State?

Kelly Pickerel, Solar Power World, 19 February 2016, Three solar canopies complete at Daytona International Speedway, Continue reading