Tag Archives: South Carolina

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.

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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!

Colleton Solar Farm: South Carolina’s largest

South Carolina’s largest solar farm generated 5% more power than planned in its first year (2014), and demonstrated that tracking mounts provide more power in the late afternoon at peak air conditioning use time. It took only nine weeks to build, far faster than any pipeline or nuclear project, and you could build enough of these solar farms to produce more energy in less time than it would take just to permit either of those, much less build them. However, Santee Cooper could do better about enabling others to install and connect solar power. Right now, Santee Cooper is making even Duke Energy look good.

Santee Cooper, 24 January 2014, South Carolina’s largest solar farm introduced to the public, Continue reading

Duke Energy expands solar stake from NC to SC

Duke Energy, purported big customer of FPL and Spectra’s Sabal Trail fracked methane pipeline boondoggle, is expanding into solar financing for commercial projects, and from North Carolina into South Carolina. After even FPL’s parent bought a Hawaii utility to get into the solar game, why would anybody want to waste time, money, eminent domain land takings, trees cut down, or the hazards of sinkholes, leaks, and explosions near schools and businesses when we can all go straight to faster, cheaper, and far safer and cleaner solar power?

First this: Jennifer Runyon, Renewable Energy World, 9 February 2015, Duke Energy Takes Equity Stake in REC Solar, Embraces Distributed Generation: The move gives REC Solar a cash injection, $225 million in funds available to finance commercial projects, and a streamlined process to deliver solar projects more quickly.,

The largest utility in the U.S. is doubling down on distributed solar by taking an equity stake in commercial solar developer, REC Solar. The companies announced today that Duke will now own a majority stake of REC Solar and that together they will make it easier for commercial customers to go solar. In 2013, Duke Energy invested in Continue reading

Kinder Morgan’s Palmetto Pipe Line to Savannah and Jacksonville

If you thought Sabal Trail was a one-off pipeline, think again. Kinder Morgan wants to build another pipeline conveniently past Elba Island LNG through Savannah and Jacksonville. Apparently it’s not actually for methane, but it’s still another fossil fuel boondoggle among many that local and state governments and NGOs need to proactively deal with instead of each type one by one.

Chip Harp, Valdosta Today, 9 February 2015, New Nat Gas Pipeline to Fuel Coast, Continue reading

Videos: Mike Allen, Anti-Tethering, Budget, Surplus, Abandonment, Evidence, Workers Comp, Manhole @ LCC 2015-01-27

The room was packed as the Chairman commented on Dr. Amanda Hall’s proposal for an anti-tethering ordinance, as did four citizens (realtor Alan Canup, veterinarian Jeff Creamer, LCDP Chairman Tom Hochschild, and Carol Kellerman), plus Chairman Slaughter again. Citizen Frenchie DePasture commented on trash, at Tuesday evening’s Regular Session of the Lowndes County Commission. Mike Allen, Utilities Director until last Friday, got an offer he couldn’t refuse from Hilton Head, South Carolina and a presentation from County Manager Joe Pritchard. Finance Director Stephanie Black read from the agenda about a budget award (or passing grade) received by Lowndes County for the ninth year in a row, as one of 1400 awardees this year.

No rezonings, but Continue reading

All of the above: mercury water, methane fracking, radioactive waste, water overuse; EPA go clean renewables instead –Susan Corbett

South Carolina Sierra Club Chair Susan Corbett summed up the problem with the EPA’s carbon rule: it opposes one poison while promoting others. We can make a real green clean energy policy based on conservation, efficiency, solar, and wind energy. Remember, you can still send in your own comments directly to EPA.

SC Sierra club, chair at EPA Atlanta hearing, by Elaine Cooper on YouTube 30 July 2014: Continue reading

Brad Lofton leaving Myrtle Beach, SC

Looks like Horry County, SC stuck to its initial three-year offer, both for Lofton, and for millage to fund his development authority there. There are things the newly-renamed Valdosta-Lowndes Development Authority could do to let sunshine turn Lofton’s local land legacy green.

Jason M. Rodriguez and Amanda Kelley wrote for Myrtle Beach Online yesterday, Brad Lofton leaving Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corporation,

Membership to the EDC increased earlier this year, but revenue from the membership decreased by nearly $60,000, impacting the organization’s marketing services and more.

Loton has had many projects succeed, and met some challenges during his time in Horry County.

Earlier this month Continue reading

NRC to change nuke foreign ownership so EDF can fire up Calvert Cliffs?

The NRC “upheld” license denial for the Calvert Cliffs nuke with its fingers crossed, the very same day directing staff to look into changing the requirement by which it just ruled. A requirement against majority ownership by a foreign firm, in this case √Člectricit√© de France (EDF), whose flagship Cattenom reactor caught on fire a week ago with smoke seen from miles away; two people died at Cattenom in February. You can comment on NRC’s proposed changes to let EDF fire up Calvert Cliffs online or in person June 19th in Maryland.

The same day the NRC upheld denial of a license, 11 March 2013, the same Commission

“directed the staff to provide a fresh assessment on issues relating to FOCD including recommendations on any proposed modifications to guidance or practice on FOCD that may be warranted.”

And the issue with Calvert Cliffs was that very same “foreign ownership, control, or domination (FOCD) of commercial nuclear power plants.”

This explains why Continue reading

Wind power and the Southern Company –Seth Gunning @ SO 2012-05-23

Seth Gunning from Atlanta spoke at the Southern Company (SO) meeting 23 May 2012 at Callaway Gardens; he was representing the Georgia Sierra Club with 97 shares. SO CEO Thomas A. Fanning graciously greeted him. Gunning brought up health effects of coal plants. Then he talked about two paths.

The way I see it, Southern Company sits at a crossroads. That one path Southern Company continues to drag its feet on the development of renewable energy economies in the southeast. The other path, Southern Company becomes a leader in creating jobs and economic development in clean energy in the south.

He thanked SO for recently partnering with Santee Cooper in the Palmetto Wind Project in South Carolina. It’s curious how there’s been no news whatever about that.

Then Gunning mentioned another wind project:

The state of Georgia is the only Atlantic state not currently working with the Department of Interior to streamline the permitting processes for offshore wind development.

He was referring to the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium announced by DoI 8 June 2010. (Not to be confused with Google’s privately-funded Atlantic Wind Connection.) Gunning asked whether the Southern Company would advocate Continue reading

Do you miss him yet? Brad Lofton in SC

He may be gone, but he’s still up to his old tricks, and he’s using us for a reference.

Adva Saldinger wrote in The Sun News 8 May 2011, Lofton hits ground running in new post; CEO asking taxpayers for $1.6 million:

The new Myrtle Beach Regional Economic Development Corp. president and chief executive is by many accounts aggressive and personable, and he says, ready to take charge and bring much needed jobs to the area quickly.

Brad Lofton said he will bring 500 jobs in the first 18 months, and an average of 500 jobs each year over the next five to 10 years.

And a pony!

Has anybody verified the jobs Lofton claimed he brought to Lowndes County? Continue reading