A recent report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has indicated that the Walton family, majority owners of Wal-Mart, have donated millions of dollars to a handful of organizations over the past few years, many of which have a vested interest in restricting the growth of the solar and renewable energy sectors. Another Walton-owned company, First Solar, was instrumental in the decision to allow one of Arizona’s largest utility companies, APS, to begin imposing additional fees on owners of household rooftop solar systems. These changes caused a sharp decline in solar installations in Arizona despite the fact that Arizona is one of the most productive locations for solar energy. This should serve as a warning that although many corporations may appear to have “gone green”, how their money is spent is a better indication of where their true interests lie.
Full report can be found here.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee Tuesday voted down an amendment that would have stated conclusively that climate change is occurring.
E&C Committee members voted 24-20 against the amendment, introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to H.R. 3826, the Electricity Security and Affordability Act. That bill, if it makes it through Congress, would put an end to EPA regulations on emissions for new power plants until technologies like carbon capture and storage are commercially viable in at least six states for one year. It passed in Tuesday’s committee, but the amendment, which would have placed on the record that the committee accepts that climate change is happening and is caused by greenhouse gas pollution, did not.
Twenty-four E&C members — all Republicans — voted against the amendment. Among them was E&C Chair Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), who has said before that he doesn’t think climate change is caused by human activity, and Joe Barton (R-TX), who also questions humans’ role in climate change. In total, the Republicans who voted to deny climate change have accepted about $9.3 million in career contributions from the oil, gas and coal industries, according to analysis by the CAP Action War Room.
Category: Business / Economics
, Call to Action
, Energy Storage
, Renewable Energy
This is a selection from the ad that the Sierra club ran last Sunday.
Editorial Intern-Memphis Business Journal
July 29th, 2014
The Sierra Club has launched a statewide ad campaign to promote green alternatives to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s re-purposing of Memphis’ Allen Fossil Plant.
On Sunday the Sierra Club ran a full-page ad in the Knoxville News-Sentinel applauding the TVA for retiring the Memphis coal burning plant and urging that they adopt renewable resources instead of replacing the plant with a natural gas facility.
Ads will also run in the Commercial Appeal and the Memphis Flyer. Radio advertisements will run throughout late July in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Memphis. A digital ad campaign will also be introduced.
TVA plans to retire the coal plant and re-purpose it by December 2018 in accordance with new standards by the Environmental Protection Agency. The company will make a final decision about the Allen Fossil Plant at August 21 in Knoxville. They are accepting public comments on its draft environmental assessment through August 8.
According to TVA, the plant contributed to climate change pollution by emitting more than 4.7 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in 2013. The Allen Fossil Plant is the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide in Shelby County.
Scott Banbury, Conservation Coordinator for the Tennessee Chapter of the Sierra Club, says, “Moving from a big coal plant to an even larger scale gas plant is a step in the wrong direction. This campaign is designed to show TVA, and the general public, that wind energy, solar power, and energy efficiency savings are the best solution for Tennessee’s future.”
Please join us for a public forum on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, hosted by the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Because seating is limited, registration for the forum is strongly encouraged. Additional details, including registration and parking information, are provided below and also available by clicking here.
The Living Light Solar House, designed by more than 200 UTK students, has been donated by the University of Tennessee to the Oak Ridge Children’s Museum. The home is 750 square feet and is a zero-energy structure, providing an example of what energy efficient housing could look like in the future. Originally produced to compete in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, the house will now serve as an educational and inspirational tool for children and visitors to the museum.
More information here and here.
CarCharging Inc. and the City of Knoxville have finalized an agreement for the continued operation and maintenance of their Blink electric-vehicle charging stations located throughout Knoxville. This agreement will not have an effect on the Blink EV charging stations operated by ORNL.
More information can be found here.
SAN MATEO—In a recent move by SolarCity, the company will attempt to bring solar energy into the hands of a much larger portion of the population. Currently, photovoltaic solar panel systems are out of reach for many people because of their prices, forcing them to continue to rely on energy produced using fossil fuels. However, SolarCity’s goal is to change this, producing solar energy grid components on such a large scale that their prices will become low enough so as to become more economically viable than fossil fuels. In order to achieve this goal, SolarCity has purchased Silevo, a solar panel manufacturing firm, which SolarCity will expand, opening a new manufacturing plant in New York, and potentially more in the future. SolarCity will target a true “Gigafactory” to produce more than a gigawatt of solar power capability. “What we are trying to address is not the lay of the land today, where there are indeed too many suppliers, most of whom are producing relatively low photonic efficiency solar cells at uncompelling costs, but how we see the future developing,” the company’s blog post read. “Without decisive action to lay the groundwork today, the massive volume of affordable, high efficiency panels needed for unsubsidized solar power to outcompete fossil fuel grid power simply will not be there when it is needed.”
Silevo is known for its ‘tunneling junction’ solar cell structure. Combining the benefits of increased carrier generation, back of the cell contacts, matrix redundant cell connections, and eliminating bussbar current collection will create the next generation of silicon solar cells and panels that will reduce the cost of the panel by increasing the overall efficiency. The target is rooftop solar which is the kernel of SolarCity’s business.
With TVA sales on the down side, it would be a great coup if TVA could entice SolarCity to build a plant here in Tennessee. One gigawatt sized factory would create a $200 million yearly income for TVA and employ hundreds of workers with high paying manufacturing jobs.