Feb
04
2016

PACE Releases Study Showing Effect of TVA Coal Shutdown on Tennessee

Later today in Nashville, PACE will release a study showing that TVA’s plan to further reduce its use of coal for electricity generation could have negative economic effects in Tennessee. The report, entitled Potential Economic Impacts in Tennessee of Reduced TVA Reliance on Coal, was authored by Management Information Services, Inc., a Washington, DC-based analysis firm.

Report Cover

See the Full Study Here

Although coal today supplies about 40 percent of TVA’s electricity, the utility has gradually relied more on natural gas for electricity generation. As this reduction in coal use continues, the study finds, the impact on electricity rates and the state economy could be significant. The study calculates, for example, that average electric rates in Tennessee will be more than 20 percent higher under the coal reduction plan proposed by TVA. Low income households, including the working poor and seniors on fixed incomes, would be hit the hardest.

“The study we will release today makes it clear that TVA’s plan to continue reducing its coal use comes with real costs,” says PACE Executive Director Lance Brown, who represents Alabama on TVA’s Regional Energy Resource Council. “We hope that TVA’s leadership will recognize these multiple negative consequences and reconsider its plan to shut down coal-fired resources.”

Joining PACE Executive Director Lance Brown in releasing the study will be PACE Board Chairman and Tennessee River Valley Association Executive Director Cline Jones and PACE Board Member and National Black Chamber of Commerce President Harry Alford. Representatives of the Tennessee Mining Association are also expected to attend the study release.

In addition to causing higher electricity rates, the cumulative effect on the Tennessee economy of reduced coal use by TVA could also be severe. The study finds that reduced coal use by TVA could cause a $900 million decrease in Tennessee’s manufacturing output, reduce gross state product by more than $7 billion, and result in a nearly $700 million drop in Tennessee state and local government tax revenues. The study also describes the impact to jobs of TVA’s reduced use of coal-fired power, including the loss of more than 65,000 jobs annually by 2025.

“Coal-fired power has always been one of the backbones of a strong economy and affordable power rates,” explains National Black Chamber of Commerce President and PACE Board Member Harry Alford. “The last thing the Tennessee economy needs is to move backwards in terms of job growth and manufacturing competitiveness.”

Feb
01
2016

Wright: Nevada Example of Net Metering Done Right

The following guest blog comes from David Wright, who served on the South Carolina Public Service Commission from 2004 to 2013 and was President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) in 2011-2012.

David Wright

Recently, the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUC) took steps to properly balance the growth of renewable energy in the form of rooftop solar panels with fairness for all electricity consumers.

This decision warrants applause, and should be looked upon as an example as other states wade into the issue of net metering. Net metering is the billing mechanism put in place in most states that compensates households with rooftop solar for the energy that they produce. In many cases, these families are paid at a rate that is much higher than the value of that energy.

The issue here is that by over-paying these consumers, families with rooftop solar are basically excused from having to cover their fair share of the costs of the grid. Those costs must be picked up by someone, and in this case, it’s customers without rooftop solar. Worse, families without rooftop solar tend to be less well-off than those that have rooftop solar panels for a number of reasons.

As a result, this past December, the Nevada PUC rightly approved a new rate structure that represents a small increase in the amount that rooftop solar customers must contribute towards maintaining the grid, and compensates them for the power they produce at a rate that more accurately reflects the value of that power.

Unfortunately, instead of accepting this decision as a win for all electricity consumers in the state, especially those that were unfairly bearing the burden of the costs of other people’s electricity bills, some rooftop solar companies have cried foul, even claiming that they will have to lay off all of their employees in the state as a result of this decision. And, this is all on the heels of the Nevada Legislature telling these companies to proceed with caution due to the possibility of future updated regulation. The legislature recognized the cost-shift created by the existing net metering subsidy and set up a process to ensure that solar customers, as well as those that have yet to make that decision, are treated fairly.

Given the backlash exhibited by solar companies, the industry clearly did not take this warning seriously, and now the PUC must work to tame the beast.

During my many years in public service, including a decade spent as a commissioner, I have found that quick fixes to appease citizens or other constituencies in the short term usually create much larger issues in the long run. On the other hand, by acknowledging how policies instituted today will affect the future and carefully thinking through how future generations will benefit from regulations instituted today, we can be poised for continued innovation and success in regard to a cleaner energy future.

We shouldn’t let the policies enacted in the Silver State be tarnished by rooftop solar companies crying foul. The Nevada PUC has realized this, along with countless consumers who will no longer be subjected to unfair costs. As a leader in solar energy, Nevada has an opportunity and a responsibility to set a precedent for the rest of the country by establishing fair and balanced regulations around rooftop solar. In my view, they have done just that.

Jan
27
2016

Engineering Student Wins First PACECAR Tuition Scholarship

PACE is pleased to announce that Jeffrey Poole, a senior mechanical engineering major at the University of Alabama, is the first student to receive a tuition scholarship as part of the PACECAR program. The program, operated this Fall on the Tuscaloosa campus, offered free emissions testing to students and faculty. It was a joint venture between PACE and the Student Government Association.

Watch the PACECAR Commercial Here

Poole is a native of Jacksonville, North Carolina, and hopes to work on combustion engines with the automotive industry. His mother is an alumnus of the University of Alabama and his father is a retired United States Marine. Poole took part in a cooperative program this past spring and summer at International Paper in Selma, Alabama.

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He learned of the PACECAR program through the student newspaper and decided to take his 2003 Ford Escape for testing. Poole also had recently performed emissions tests in the university lab as part of his degree program and was curious about the process. The PACECAR program offers a subsidy for repairs for vehicles up to 12 years old, placing Poole’s vehicle at the limit for eligibility. Poole’s Ford Escape passed the emissions test, giving him assurance that his vehicle wasn’t adding unnecessary emissions to the environment.

“Most students don’t realize how much their emissions footprint though their vehicles affects the environment,” says Poole. “PACECAR is a great program and more students should take advantage of it.”

Asked about the impact of receiving a tuition scholarship for his final semester, Poole explained that he recently bought several expensive books and that his bank account could use the help. He said that he worked his first three years at the university, but decided not to work his senior year to focus on his grades and graduation.

“It’s a big deal for me,” Poole says of the PACECAR tuition scholarship.

“It is gratifying to know that our program helped many students, including Jeffrey Poole, do their part when it comes to controlling vehicle emissions,” explains PACE Executive Director Lance Brown. “We congratulate Jeffrey on winning the tuition scholarship and wish him the best of luck in his pursuit of a career in engineering.”