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.



"Industry tries to cast cloud over solar use"

As reported by Joby Warrick in the Washington Post, dirty energy industries such as fossil fuels (not to mention nuclear power) have been leading a largely unsuccessful lobbying effort in state legislatures to block rooftop solar photo-voltaics (PV) across the U.S. A part of their defeat was due to support for solar, not only from progressives, but also from conservatives and evangelicals.

But more recently, the cynical utility lobbying effort by the biggest electricity retailers in the country has found more success at friendly state-level public utility commissions, where such impediments as costly surcharges for solar PV panels and net metering have been approved, over widespread protests.

It all boils down to dirty, dangerous, and expensive energy industries -- fossil fuels and nuclear power -- trying to kill the competition from renewables, so they can maintain their century-old electricity sales monopolies.

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Chicago put out a press release on Feb. 26th, the day Exelon unveiled its mega-bailout request to the State of IL legislature, for ratepayer subsidies to prop up five uncompetitive atomic reactors. NEIS entitled the press release "Exelon Legislation, FERC Comments, a 'Declaration of War' on Renewables and Efficiency, Group Asserts." NEIS Director, Dave Kraft, lays out all the ins and outs of Exelon lobbyists attempted money grab, at the expense of ratepayers' pocketbooks as well as the renewable energy and energy efficiency future of Illinois.

An interesting overlap between the Washington Post's national coverage above, and NEIS's press release: Exelon Nuclear of Chicago wants to takeover the Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco, which serves Washington, DC, Maryland, and Delaware. As the public interest coalition PowerDC has warned, if Exelon does take over Pepco, rooftop solar will be among the first casualties, as Exelon seeks to roll back the competition to its nuclear business model. In fact, Exelon can be expected to jack rates in the Mid-Atlantic, in order to prop up its uncompetitive nukes in IL. In fact, after taking over Baltimore Gas and Electric (Constellation Nuclear) in 2012, Exelon has sought four rate increases since.


VT Gov. Shumlin: "An energy innovation program for Vermont"

VT Gov. Peter Shumlin, who also serves as the chairman of the Democratic Governors AssociationAs reported by the Mountain Times of Killington, VT, Governor Peter Shumlin (D-VT) is calling on the State of Vermont Legislature to join him in passing major legislation that would make the Green Mountain State a cutting-edge center for clean, renewable energy and efficiency.

Vermont already boasts 15,000 clean energy jobs, but Shumlin wants to add another 1,000 with this bill.

He also wants a dramatic increase in rooftop solar photovoltaics state-wide. This would be paid for with efficiency cost savings, applied toward solar PV panel installation on customers' monthly bills.

The legislation sets a very aggressive schedule for clean energy implementation. It would require utilities to provide 55% of energy from renewable sources just two years from now, and 75% by 2032.

Shumlin cites job growth, to retain young people in Vermont, and lowering residents' electricity bills, as major motivations for his Energy Innovation Program.

In 2010, Shumlin was the Democratic candidate for governor most opposed to Entergy Nuclear Vermont Yankee's (VY) license extension, and rode that wave of popular support into the governor's mansion. Before becoming governor, he had led the effort in the Vermont State Senate that culminated, in Feb. 2010, in a 26 to 4 vote to block VY's 20-year license extension. In August 2013, Entergy announced it would permanently shutdown VY. At 12:12pm Eastern on Dec. 29, 2014, it did so.

A reflection of VY's and nuclear power's irrelevance to VT's clean, safe, and affordable energy future? Gov. Shumlin doesn't even mention VY in his op-ed!

Shumlin's op-ed also ran in the Brattleboro Reformer, published very near VY.


Major legal victory in Missouri for distributed solar PV! 

Photo credit: reported by the The Joplin Globe, solar PV advocates including Renew Missouri (the Earth Island Institute) and the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, and the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, have just won a major legal victory before the State of Missouri Supreme Court.

The ruling blocks an electric utility from wiggling out of providing rebates to customers who install solar photo-voltaic (PV) panels on their homes, as required by a 2008 state-wide Missouri voter referendum on minimum renewable portfolio standards. The utility, Empire District Electric Co., lobbied for and won the exemption from the State of Missouri legislature. But the State Supreme Court ruled the exemption was an illegal end run around the popular will of "Show Me State" voters, who passed the initiative by a 2 to 1 margin.

As the article reports:

'..."This ruling legally clarifies that as of today (Tuesday), more than six years after a majority of Empire's own customers voted to require them to do so, Empire must offer solar rebates," [P.J. Wilson, director of Renew Missouri,] said.

The plaintiffs were represented by Henry Robertson, an attorney with the nonprofit Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, based in St. Louis. "This is a validation of the initiative petition process and clarifies that the Legislature can't subvert the will of the people before they even get a chance to vote on an issue," he said.

Heather Navarro, director of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, said, "Today is a win for Missouri voters and clean energy jobs, especially in Southwest Missouri. Empire customers will now enjoy the same economic benefits of solar energy as seen elsewhere in Missouri."...'

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Associated Press, St. Louis Public Radio, and many other media outlets have reported on this story.

The good news means that solar PV panel installers will now waste no time in setting up shop in southwestern Missouri, creating a significant number of new, skilled, well paid renewable energy jobs (see photo, above left)!


Beyond Nuclear works in coalition with the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center, and Missouri Coalition for the Environment, as on "Nuclear Waste Confidence"-related contentions and legal actions opposing atomic reactor licensing.


"Emanuel lines up with Exelon critics to push clean-power agenda"

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (photo credit: Bloomberg)As reported by Steve Daniels in Crain's Chicago Business, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (photo, left) has joined with the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition to promote genuinely clean energy, such as wind, solar, and efficiency.

As the article reports, "Members of the coalition include frequent Exelon foes like consumer advocacy group Citizens Utility Board, the Sierra Club and Wind on the Wires, the industry trade association for Illinois wind producers. But it also includes growing clean energy firms like commercial solar installer SoCore, California-based solar firm SolarCity, GE Wind and energy efficiency firm Schneider Electric...[and] Chicago Pipefitters Local 597...".

The article also reports:

'...Exelon also has suggested that nuclear power, which emits no carbon, ought to be eligible for the same subsidies other clean sources like wind and solar receive.

At the press conference, one of the group's members scoffed at the notion that nuclear should be considered green the way wind and solar power are.

“Everybody knows what (clean power) is,” said Howard Learner, executive director of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, a frequent Exelon critic.'


Push back against nuclear takeover of DC electric utility is solar powered (and people powered)!

ORGANIZE!As reported by David Roberts at Grist, Exelon Nuclear proposed takeover of Pepco represents a "Big, nuke-heavy utility looking for new ratepayers to fleece." It is part and parcel of Exelon's desperate bid to keep its dirty, dangerous, uncompetitive, aging nuclear power reactor fleet afloat. But anti-nuclear and environmental groups, the public interest movement, businesses, and consumer and ratepayer advocates are fighting back.

A big part of that push back, as by the coalition called PowerDC, is to promote distributed rooftop solar on residences and small businesses throughout the District of Columbia. Given its behavior elsewhere in the country, Exelon's takeover of Pepco could seriously undermine DC's progressive, mandated energy efficiency and renewable energy goals.