Energy Alabama Birmingham Meetup August 3 2022 at Cahaba Brewing in Avondale. Text written on blue background with 2 white puffy clouds on the left and right sides. Yellow sun on the horizon in the background. Illustration of electric vehicle and solar panel also shown.

Birmingham Meet-Up at Cahaba Brewing: August 3

Energy Alabama is hosting a meet-up in Birmingham on August 3 at Cahaba Brewing from 4-7 p.m. It’s a come-and-go event, so you can stop by and say hello or hang out with us all evening. This meet-up is open to everyone who’s passionate about clean, sustainable energy and working to bring about positive change to our state.

We want clean, affordable and sustainable energy available to all Alabamians!

Members will receive a free drink ticket. If you’re not currently a member, we still want you to attend the meet-up so we can connect! If you decide to join before, or during, the meet-up you will also get a free drink ticket. Find out about membership options here.

We will have a few light snack options available (while they last). If you’re really hungry and want something more substantial, The Current food truck will be open. Cahaba Brewing is located in the Avondale area of Birmingham.

There’s no need to RSVP, but we have created a Facebook event page, if you’re a Facebook user and want to let us know about your interest in clean energy in Alabama.

Energy Alabama is a statewide organization with a mission to advance sustainable, clean energy in Alabama. We’re growing and expanding our footprint around the state and would love to CONNECT with you and share our message about the benefits (and immediate viability) of clean energy options.

We also want to HEAR from you about your experience with shifting your energy footprint to clean, sustainable sources. And if you have experienced challenges, due to state and local policies, or lack of infrastructure we want to hear about those as well.

Energy Alabama Birmingham Meetup August 3 2022 at Cahaba Brewing in Avondale. Text written on blue background with 2 white puffy clouds on the left and right sides. Yellow sun on the horizon in the background. Illustration of electric vehicle and solar panel also shown.

Alabama Public Service Commission approves Alabama Power gas plant acquisition amid soaring gas prices

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Today the Alabama Public Service Commission approved Alabama Power’s request to acquire the Calhoun Gas Plant and also increased the utility’s energy cost recovery factor, resulting in an approximately $7 increase to Alabamians’ monthly bills.

Just over a year after receiving approval to add almost 1,900 megawatts of additional gas resources, Alabama Power requested in October 2021 to acquire Calhoun Gas Plant, yet another plant that generates electricity by using “natural gas,” a carbon-emitting fossil fuel made of methane.

SELC intervened in the proceeding on behalf of Energy Alabama and GASP and advocated for clean, cost-effective alternatives like solar and battery storage facilities and more energy efficiency programs — alternatives that would not only be cheaper for Alabamian ratepayers, but which would also shield them from price hikes like the one the commission approved today. 

Alabama Power claims that it needs the Calhoun plant because it plans to retire a large coal unit at the Barry Plant near Mobile; however, the utility’s flawed planning process failed to adequately consider clean energy options in lieu of further dependency on fossil fuels with volatile — and increasingly high — prices.

Increased investment in fossil fuels is concerning not only because of their impact on climate change, but because prices for renewable forms of energy like wind and solar — already lower than gas — are expected to fall further thanks to innovations in technology, while the price of gas is expected to stay high for the foreseeable future.

“Alabama Power is doubling down on gas at a time when utilities should be pursuing lower-cost and less-risky renewable energy and energy efficiency options,” says Christina Andreen Tidwell, senior attorney in SELC’s Alabama office. “Especially considering the energy burden Alabamians already face, the Public Service Commission’s decision should have taken into consideration the volatility, ultimate environmental impacts, and hefty price tag of gas, rather than simply passing them on to Alabamians.”

“Despite Southern Company’s purported commitment to a net-zero carbon goal, Alabama Power continues to invest ratepayer money into energy sources that hurt the environment and communities in the state,” says Michael Hansen, executive director of GASP. “Let’s be crystal clear: gas is neither clean nor renewable. The Alabama Public Service Commission must hold the utility accountable to the families most affected by the company’s decision to push forward with reliance on gas.”

“The Commission should have required Alabama Power to conduct a robust and transparent planning process to ensure that the utility’s energy resource decisions are in the best interest of customers instead of shareholders,” says Daniel Tait, executive director of Energy Alabama. “Instead, the Commission rubberstamped Alabama Power’s request for more expensive and unreliable fossil fuels.”

According to Southern Company’s own data, Alabama Power’s average “natural gas” fuel price increase in 2021 was larger than any other fuel source. Now that the commission has voted to increase Alabama Power’s energy cost recovery factor, Alabamians will pay even more for extra generation capacity that gets little use and is at the whims of a highly volatile and unpredictable market.

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Energy Alabama is a membership-based non-profit organization advancing Alabama’s transition to sustainable energy. We accomplish our mission by educating at all levels, informing smart energy policy and building the next generation workforce to deploy more sustainable energy. We believe in sustainable energy for all. energyalabama.org

Clean Up TVA Coalition Launch

Groups and community members unite to propel TVA into a just, equitable, and fossil-fuel-free energy future by 2030

 

TENNESSEE — Dozens of organizations in the Tennessee Valley came together today to launch the Clean Up TVA Coalition, demanding immediate action from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to cut carbon emissions and transition to a fossil-fuel-free and just energy future by 2030. Coalition partners include the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), Appalachian Voices, Sierra Club, Sunrise Knoxville, Sunrise Nashville, Center for Biological Diversity, Sowing Justice, Statewide Organizing for Community Empowerment (SOCM), Knoxville Democratic Socialists of America, Energy Alabama, Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light, Memphis NAACP, and One Knox Legacy Coalition.

The coalition was formed in response to TVA’s desire to replace its Kingston and Cumberland coal plants with new methane gas plants and 149 miles of new gas pipeline. The utility has the second-highest planned gas buildout by 2030 among all major utilities. The coalition is urging TVA to invest instead in clean energy, such as solar, storage, and energy efficiency, to replace the utility’s fossil fuel fleet, especially the retiring Kingston and Cumberland coal plants.

TVA is too reliant on fossil fuel energy and plans to continue to generate millions of tons of carbon,” said Pearl Walker, co-chair of the Memphis NAACP Environmental Justice Committee. “Households in the TVA footprint – especially Black, Brown, and low-wealth communities – will continue to be disproportionately burdened by high utility bills and dirty energy. Memphis already has one of the highest energy burdens in the country and now TVA is plowing toxic coal ash through our neighborhoods. TVA needs to focus on community resilience and redressing harms from its over-reliance on fossil fuels by transitioning to clean energy.”

“Communities near the Kingston and Cumberland Fossil plants deserve an economic transition that brings high-paying, sustainable jobs and development to those areas,” said Bri Knisley, Tennessee Campaign Manager at Appalachian Voices. “It’s wrong for TVA to push temporary solutions like gas plants onto communities that really need long-term investments.”

“People are fed up with TVA bowing to the fossil fuel industry and slow-walking renewable energy, so we’re pulling together to hold TVA’s feet to the fire,” said Gaby Sarri-Tobar, an energy justice campaigner at the Center for Biological Diversity. “TVA officials have been ignoring the climate emergency and raking in huge profits, even as its customers face skyrocketing utility bills and one climate catastrophe after another. Tennessee Valley communities want leaders who are committed to 100% clean, renewable, and affordable energy and who will move swiftly to make that happen.”

President Biden has called for a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035. TVA – a federal agency – will only achieve 80% carbon emission reductions by that date. Further, President & CEO, Jeff Lyash, has stated the utility’s aspirations to retire its coal fleet by 2035 while relying on methane gas. The International Institute for Sustainable Development warns that to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius the U.S. must stop all oil and gas extraction by 2034.

“As the country’s largest public power provider, TVA must lead – not stand in the way of – the just transition to fossil-fuel-free energy,” said Maggie Shober, Research Director at SACE. “We can’t afford to rely on coal and gas that pollute our communities, burden customers with high and volatile prices, and send us further towards climate catastrophe. We are coming together to demand TVA turn things around by retiring coal and replacing it with clean and cheap energy efficiency and renewables.”

TVA lags behind other utilities in solar and clean energy investment, which produce as much as 15% of delivered energy with solar power. TVA is predicted to quadruple its solar capacity by 2024, but even then, it will trail behind other utilities in the Southeast at half the regional average. Solar with storage is already more cost-effective than methane gas. Renewable options offer many benefits, including improving community resilience, electricity affordability, and minimizing negative ecosystem impacts.

TVA needs to step up its energy efficiency and renewable energy offerings, so our power provider isn’t a tag along but a leader in the 21st century,” said Amy Kelly, Sierra Club’s Tennessee Beyond Coal Campaign Representative. “Local power companies are even exploring options to leave the utility altogether in search of cheaper, cleaner energy. This is not the legacy TVA wants to leave behind. It must reverse course and champion a new age for public power, centered on transparency, democracy, equity, and clean energy.”

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The Clean Up TVA coalition is committed to transforming TVA into a green utility by shutting down coal plants, preventing new fossil gas development, and accelerating a just transition to fossil-fuel-free, distributed renewable, affordable, and democratic energy for all communities and workers in the Tennessee Valley.

 

Join with Us to Take Action Now

Atmos: Banking for Sustainable Energy

A New Way to Support Sustainable Energy

Do you know where and how your bank is investing your paycheck? If you bank with one of the big banks, your deposits are almost definitely funding the fossil fuel industry.

To help make it easy to align your money with your values, we’ve partnered with Atmos, a climate-positive banking platform where you can earn a high interest rate on deposits while helping to scale clean energy solutions. Atmos will donate $20 to Energy Alabama for every new account, and you can rest easy knowing that 100% of your FDIC-insured deposits are funding innovative technologies and infrastructure to build a clean energy future. And, when you choose to give regularly to Energy Alabama – or any of the climate non-profits on their platform – Atmos will double your savings rate.

Here at Energy Alabama, we know that true sustainability means improving family conditions, public health, and economic development. We understand the power of markets to scale clean energy solutions that will improve the lives of all Alabamans. That’s why we’re excited to join the Atmos platform. When you bank with Atmos, you’re building the clean energy future as you sleep, swipe or save.

How to Join

Sign up using this link, and Atmos will donate $20 to Energy Alabama. Two minutes is all it takes to put your money to work.

About Atmos

Atmos Financial is a climate-positive banking platform that scales up climate positive solutions. 

Atmos offers FDIC-insured checking and high-yield savings accounts for individuals, and invests 100% of every dollar deposited into clean energy projects. When you bank with Atmos, you’re building the clean energy future as you sleep, swipe or save.

Atmos has no minimum balance, and provides a fee-free platform for donating to non-profits, like Energy Alabama. And, it offers best-in-class rates — and doubles them when you use your account to donate on a regular basis.

Atmos is included in: 

Learn more about Atmos.

US Capitol Building

Congress is asking TVA some hard questions

Congress is finally asking TVA some hard questions… many of the same questions we’ve been asking for years.

Questions like what’s up with all these fixed fees and grid access charges? Why are TVA customers paying more for energy than the average customer across the country? Why does TVA make it so difficult to go solar? And, why isn’t the TVA making a stronger effort to decarbonize?

The TVA is not a private company, but rather a federally created public utility. TVA was established by the Federal government to assist in the economic and physical development of the Tennessee Valley. But these days it’s being run more like a private corporation, where profits matter more than customers. As part of its mission, TVA is legally required to be a national leader in technological innovation and environmental protection, while providing low-cost power to municipalities, citizen cooperatives, and farmers.

On January 13, members of the U.S. House Committee on Energy & Commerce wrote a letter to the CEO of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) requesting information regarding business practices that are not in line with TVA’s legal requirement to provide low-cost power to the residents of the Tennessee Valley. The committee members also expressed concern that TVA is blocking the deployment of renewable energy.

The E&C Committee says that TVA is not upholding their statutory requirements on three points.

TVA is overcharging residents for electricity, causing particular suffering to the low-income households in the Tennessee valley.

Although TVA claims a commitment to low rates, in 2020 most of TVA’s customers faced electric bills above the national average, with many low-income households spending as much as 27% of their household income on energy. TVA believes this disparity may be connected to the TVA’s refusal to prioritize energy efficiency, while continuing to impose (and increase) fixed fees.

Although TVA admits that energy efficiency is critical to providing energy at the least cost to consumers, they cut energy efficiency programs by nearly two-thirds in the last eight years, and completely removed incentive programs that reward customers for choosing more efficient options. Additionally, TVA has added fixed fees, including grid access charges, to purposefully disincentivize customers from adopting energy efficient measures on their own. These fixed fees mean that customers are likely to face higher bills, even if they reduce their energy use.

 

TVA is blocking attempts by commercial and residential customers to adopt renewable energy.

In internal documents, TVA identified distributed energy sources (EG. a business/personal solar farm) as a threat to their business model. They also anticipated that their grid access charges would decrease the deployment of solar energy projects by 40 percent. Other documents show that they are allowing local utilities to add even more fees in an attempt to decrease adoption of solar energy.

 

TVA is not making proper efforts to decarbonize.

Although the E&C Committee commended TVA decarbonization efforts, the committee does not believe they are doing enough. The committee finds TVA’s goal to reduce carbonization only 7% by 2030 “unambitious.” The committee is concerned that the TVA continues to invest in new natural gas generation rather than deploying solar and wind energy. Almost a year after President Biden signed Executive Order 14008, which includes decarbonizing the electricity sector by 2035, TVA has yet to revise its plan for carbon emission reduction.

Congress has made efforts to protect TVA customers from predatory practices by requiring TVA explore all options and resources in their planning, including energy efficiency and renewable resources. Yet, as we’ve seen time and again, the TVA continues to prioritize high-cost fossil fuels and ignore the demand for cheaper alternative energy sources. We are happy to see that the E&C committee agrees and finds the TVA’s business practices are not in line with their statutory requirements, and this failure to comply is hurting not just the customers but the environment as well.

Read the full letter from the Committee.

TVA’s response is due by February 2, 2022. Energy Alabama is looking forward to seeing it! And, of course, we’ll be here to keep you updated.