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The Renewable Energy Renaissance

The real Renaissance is in renewable energy whose sources could meet 25% of the nation's energy needs by 2025. Renewable technologies can help restore political and economic stability as well as save money…and the planet.

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Tuesday
Nov222016

With a Meeting, Trump Renewed a British Wind Farm Fight

As reported by the New York Times, President-Elect Donald J. Trump is engaging in personal business matters that violate ethical standards as incipient "Leader of the Free World," the highest office in the U.S. And Exhibit A is Trump's advocacy, during a meeting with U.K. Brexit leaders, against an off-shore wind turbine farm on the Scottish coast that Trump holds would mar the view at the golf course he owns.

The article also mentions a meeting between Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Abe. That meeting also has raised eyebrows, given Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump's, attendance, despite her lacking security clearance.

Japanese Prime Minister Abe has a strongly pro-nuclear agenda, striving to overcome popular resistance in Japan in order to re-activate dozens of atomic reactors shut down after the ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began on 3/11/11. But Abe is also pushing the sales of Japanese reactor designs overseas. This includes Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000s -- four of which are currently under construction in Georgia and South Carolina -- as well as Hitachi-General Electric ESBWRs, as targeted at Fermi 3, MI and North Anna 3, VA.

But aside from the ethical violations of a president-elect leveraging his office to advance his own business interests -- at the expense of the public good -- there is that question of wind turbines marring the view. Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), addressed this very issue during a late October 2008 (on the eve of Barack Obama's election) Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy book tour in Michigan. As began a Beyond Nuclear op-ed published in the Muskegon Chronicle at the time:

One of the objections raised against wind turbines is the impact they have on the view. But Dr. Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, who spoke last month in Kalamazoo, put it well. He said we have four choices when it comes to our energy future. We can either: do without electricity; experience catastrophic climate change, if we continue to burn fossil fuels unabated; risk radioactive disasters and nuclear weapons proliferation if we expand nuclear power; or, deal with the view.

Of course, Trump's unethical behavior -- including most especially his adamant climate change denial -- also begs the question: would Trump prefer to see catastrophic sea level rise at his coastal properties, or off-shore wind turbines?

As reported by the New York Times:

When President-elect Donald J. Trump met with the British politician Nigel Farage in recent days, he encouraged Mr. Farage and his entourage to oppose the kind of offshore wind farms that Mr. Trump believes will mar the pristine view from one of his two Scottish golf courses, according to one person present.

The meeting, held shortly after the presidential election, raises new questions about Mr. Trump’s willingness to use the power of the presidency to advance his business interests. Mr. Trump has long opposed a wind farm planned near his course in Aberdeenshire, and he previously fought unsuccessfully all the way to Britain’s highest court to block it.

The group that met with Mr. Trump in New York was led by Mr. Farage, the head of the U.K. Independence Party and a member of the European Parliament. Mr. Farage, who was a leading voice advocating Britain’s exit from the European Union, or Brexit, campaigned with Mr. Trump during the election. Arron Banks, an insurance executive who was a major financier of the Brexit campaign, was also in attendance.

“He did not say he hated wind farms as a concept; he just did not like them spoiling the views,” said Andy Wigmore, the media consultant who was present at the meeting and was photographed with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Wigmore headed communications for Leave.EU, one of the two groups that led the Brexit effort. He said in an email that he and Mr. Banks would be “campaigning against wind farms in England, Scotland and Wales.”

Mr. Wigmore said that Mr. Banks had previously opposed wind farms and that they had been studying the issue on their own. However, he said, Mr. Trump "did suggest that we should campaign on it” and “spurred us in and we will be going for it.”

His account of the meeting was previously reported in The Express, a British paper.

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for Mr. Trump’s transition office, at first disputed that Mr. Trump had raised the subject of wind farms with Mr. Farage, suggesting that participants in the conversation “denied this took place.” However, when pressed with the fact that one of the meeting’s attendees, Mr. Wigmore, had described the conversation in detail, she declined repeated requests to comment...

Norman Eisen — who served as the “ethics czar” in the Obama White House, appointed by the president to oversee rules related to conflicts of interest and lobbying — said that these kinds of allegations, even if they are just rumors, demonstrate why Mr. Trump must completely separate himself from involvement in his business enterprises.

Mr. Eisen said that it was “an extraordinary transgression of the core idea of public service” for Mr. Trump to speak with prominent Britons and a member of the European Parliament about his frustration with wind farms that harm views — at the same time as he has been involved in a fight over this exact issue.

Mr. Trump’s actions are undermining public confidence in the office of the president, he said, adding, “I am profoundly troubled by it.”

In Scotland, Mr. Trump has a golf course on the west coast, Trump Turnberry, which he bought in 2014 and which has hosted four British Opens, and one on the east coast, Trump International Golf Links, that he built near Balmedie, a village in Aberdeenshire. Both resorts have struggled financially.

The Aberdeenshire course has been controversial since the Scottish government approved its development in 2008, turning aside environmental concerns about the destruction of coastal sand dunes. A local pressure group called Tripping Up Trump is among the opponents of the resort.

Mr. Trump’s fight against an offshore wind farm, consisting of 11 turbines, off the Aberdeenshire coast ended last December when Britain’s highest court unanimously rejected his attempt to block it. Mr. Trump had vowed to halt development on the golf course project if the wind farm went forward.

The skirmishing between Scottish officials and the Trump Organization became bitter. After the ruling, Alex Salmond, Scotland’s former first minister, called Trump a “three-time loser” — referring to his losses in various levels of the court system — while Mr. Trump called Mr. Salmond “a has-been and totally irrelevant,” according to the BBC.

Scotland, one of four regions of the United Kingdom, is led by Nicola Sturgeon, the current first minister. “Scotland has vast potential to generate the power we need from renewable sources, in a way that helps the global fight against climate change,” her office said in a statement, adding: “We have clear planning policies in place to ensure wind farms are developed in appropriate locations.”

Tuesday
Oct112016

Developer of huge solar array near Tonopah wants to build 10 more

Monday
Sep262016

East Hampton, NY will go 100% renewable by 2020

Beyond Nuclear board member and journalist, Karl Grossman, describes the exciting plans for East Hampton, NY to become powered by 100% renewable energy by 2020:

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell sat back the other day and spoke with satisfaction about the town’s plan to have 100% of its electricity come from renewable energy—safe, clean, green power—by 2020. That’s just four years away! 

After the East Hampton Town Board in 2014 unanimously adopted a resolution to have all the town’s electricity come from renewable sources, Mr. Cantwell said: “Making the switch to clean energy is just the right thing to do, both for the environment and for keeping more money in the local economy and creating jobs here.”

At East Hampton Town Hall recently he commented: “We’re doing it!”

East Hampton is to meet its 100% renewable energy goal through solar energy, from panels on town-owned land and rooftops, and from wind energy from off-shore wind turbines like those Deepwater Wind is now completing east of the town in the ocean near Block Island.  Read the full article.

Friday
Aug262016

Resources on just economic transitions when renewables/efficiency force atomic reactors to permanently shut down

Some resources (in backwards chronological order) on just economic transitions, for atomic reactor workers, municipalities dependent on their tax revenues, low-income households vis-a-vis electricity cost, etc., when atomic reactors permanently shut down:

Joint Proposal, between Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), environmental groups (Friends of the Earth (FOE), Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council), and unions (including International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW), for the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at the end of its 40-year operating license in 2024-2025, and its replacement with energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity, June 21, 2016.
http://www.pge.com/includes/docs/pdfs/safety/dcpp/JointProposal.pdf

Beyond a Band-Aid: A Discussion Paper on Protecting Workers and Communities in the Great Energy Transition, Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), Takoma Park, MD, June 10, 2016.
http://ieer.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/beyond-a-band-aid-just-energy-transition_2016_LNS-IEER.pdf

[Note that this discussion paper is mostly focused on the phaseout of fossil fuel industries in Maryland. However, nuclear power is touched upon. Even though it is Maryland- and fossil fuels focused, the concepts can and should be applied to atomic reactor shutdowns nationwide.]

April 23, 2016. NIRS and AGREE submit extensive comments to New York PSC that show how NY can meet its 2030 carbon emissions goals without nuclear (and thus without nuclear subsidies).

October 22, 2015. NIRS/AGREE analysis finds FitzPatrick reactor can be replaced with clean & renewable energy at a lower cost. Press release; full analysis

THE NEED TO FORMALLY ESTABLISH A PLANNED ECONOMIC MITIGATION FUND FOR REACTOR COMMUNITIES IN ILLINOIS, David Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Chicago, IL, May 7, 2015.
http://neis.org/wp-content/uploads/THE-NEED-TO-FORMALLY-ESTABLISH-A-PLANNED-ECONOMIC-MITIGATION-FUND-5-5-15.pdf

In addition, there must be some great resources coming out of Germany. After all, the fourth largest economy in the world is phasing out both nuclear power (completely, by 2022), and is decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% (as compared to 2005 levels) by mid-century, through the expansion of renewables like wind and solar, as well as maximized energy efficiency. An Oct. 15, 2015 National Geographic article entitled "The Will to Change," in an issue entitled "Cool It" about the climate, appropriately gave much of the credit for the German energy transformation to the anti-nuclear movement.

Monday
Aug222016

America's First Offshore Wind Farm May Power Up a New Industry

Two of the project’s wind turbines, about three miles away, can be seen from shore on Block Island, but island residents have been largely supportive. Credit Kayana Szymczak for The New York Times As reported by Justin Gillis in the New York Times, the Block Island wind power development off of the Rhode Island coastline may be but a small beginning to what could grow into a major renewable energy industry in the U.S., as it has in Europe.

Beyond Nuclear raised offshore wind as an alternative to 20 more years of nuclear power at Seabrook, NH license extension proceeding. The Gulf of Maine has some 5,000 Megawatts-electric of offshore wind power potential, several times more than the Seabrook atomic reactor generates. But the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was not interested to hear about it. Nor did the courts require NRC to examine such alternatives when Beyond Nuclear raised a legal appeal under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

Beyond Nuclear also raised offshore, and on shore, wind power as an alternative to 20 more years at Davis-Besse in Ohio (Lake Erie has significant offshore wind power potential). But again, NRC refused to examine it, despite its NEPA obligations to do so.

In both proceedings, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board panel voted to grant an evidentiary hearing on the wind power alternative to 20-year atomic reactor license extensions. But the nuclear utilities appealed those rulings to the NRC Commission itself, which then overturned the ASLB rulings, in the companies' favor. An appeal by Beyond Nuclear et al., at the Boston U.S. Court of Appeals, was rejected.