Republican Sen. Bo Watson says his bill establishing a framework to handle pole attachment issues between the public power distributors that own them and investor-owned cable companies is an attempt to resolve a years-long fight, reports Andy Sher.
But the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association, which represents cable operators such as Comcast, charges the bill will result in a “new, outrageously high fee on broadband providers across the state.”
The bill, sponsored in the House by Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, is scheduled to come before a Senate committee today.
Watson said the bill is an attempt to resolve issues between the cable industry and municipal electric services, such as Chattanooga’s EPB, and rural electric cooperatives.
“If you keep in mind that the co-ops’ and municipal electric services’ No. 1 mission in life is to keep electric rates as low as possible, well, anything that shifts the costs of that pole onto the ratepayers is potentially raising the rate of electricity, which is counter to the mission that [they] have,” Watson said.
Under current law, no one can attach lines or otherwise use the poles without the consent of utilities.
The bill establishes a cost-sharing framework for pole attachment fee negotiations between utilities and attaching parties. It also creates a dispute resolution mechanism for unsuccessful negotiations between parties.
Cable operators charge it would nearly double the rates they currently pay and are pressing their own bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, and Rep. Steve McManus, R-Cordova.
EPB spokesman John Pless said in an email statement that the municipal electric service “does not want our electric customers to subsidize the cable industry. Comcast pays us an average of $1.02 per utility pole per month. The cost to own and maintain each one of our utility poles is about $100 to $120 per year.
Charging stations for electric vehicles are sprouting up across the region, but good luck finding a car plugged into one, observes the Chattanooga TFP.
Tennessee Department of Revenue officials estimate that at least 530 electric vehicles have been registered in Tennessee in the past two years, based on the number of buyers seeking a tax rebate. Spokesman Billy Trout said the department has issued about $1.35 million in rebates so far.
…There are about 700 public charging stations across Tennessee to cater to cars such as the Nissan Leaf, Ford Focus Electric, Mitsubishi i, Smart Electric, Tesla S and Roadster.
…Most electrics cost $30,000 to $40,000, but some soar as high as $100,000 or more. The Chevrolet Volt, an “extended range” car, has a gasoline engine that recharges the battery but does not power the wheels. The Volt goes about 35 miles before needing a charge, while cars like the Leaf can go about 70, officials said.
Potential customers are encouraged with a $2,500 to $7,500 federal tax credit and a $2,500 rebate in Tennessee.
News release from state Department of Transportation:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) will continue to display fatality messages on its overhead Dynamic Message Signs, but will do so on a weekly basis rather than daily. TDOT began displaying the fatality numbers on the signs in April 2012 after seeing a sharp increase in fatalities in the first quarter of the year.
“We feel the fatality messages have been extremely successful in increasing awareness about highway deaths across the state this year, and may have helped us stop the dramatic increase we saw early in 2012,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “We have also heard from drivers who say the messages have caused them to make positive changes in their driving behavior.”
While somewhat controversial, the fatality messages have garnered mostly positive responses from Tennessee motorists. A Franklin, TN man emailed to say the signs made an impression on him and his friends, “I have to tell you that none of us ever wore seat belts until we saw those signs. We are all in our 50s and did not grow up wearing seatbelts. Since we saw your signs, we kid each other on how ALL of us always wear them now. You may think people are not paying attention because fatalities are up, but I have talked to so many people that have changed their seatbelt wearing habits since you put those signs up. Thank you.”
TDOT will also continue to run safety messages targeted at specific issues like texting while driving, drowsy driving, and driving under the influence.
Note: Previous post HERE
News release from Department of Economic and Community Development:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development announced today that Chevrolet Volt purchasers are now eligible for the state’s $2,500 electric vehicle (EV) rebate. The rebate requires that consumers qualify for and participate in The EV Project, a national study on EV use and charging infrastructure deployment.
The EV Project will provide participants with a free Blink® 240V networked charge station and a credit of up to $1,200 towards its installation. To be eligible, Tennessee residents must sign an EV Project participant agreement, purchase the Volt, take delivery of the car, and have SPX Corporation install their Blink charge station by June 30, 2012. Volt owners who have already purchased and taken delivery of their vehicles are still eligible for the rebate if they are accepted into The EV Project. Consumers should contact the original selling dealer to inquire about retroactive rebates.
“The state’s $2,500 electric vehicle rebate provides an extra incentive to those who want to purchase a more energy efficient and environmentally friendly vehicle,” Molly Cripps, director of the ECD Energy Division, said. “We’ve had a great deal of interest from Tennessee consumers regarding the Volt, and I am pleased it is now eligible for rebates.”
“We applaud the state of Tennessee for adding the Volt to the EV rebate program,” stated Don Karner, president of ECOtality North America. “Tennessee is a vital market for The EV Project. The addition of the Volt into the rebate program ensures we will further our efforts to gather invaluable data from our already rich infrastructure in the Tennessee market.”
The primary goal of The EV Project is to collect, analyze and report on the use of electric vehicles and the infrastructure needed to support them. This information includes data regarding the energy used, along with time and duration of charger use. No personal information is shared or included in the analyzed data. Participants must maintain an in-home Internet connection to transmit the data until The EV Project concludes on April 30, 2013.
In September of 2010, the state of Tennessee announced that $2.5 million had been budgeted for the electric vehicle rebate program, enabling the first 1,000 Tennessee residents who purchase either a Chevrolet Volt or Nissan LEAF SL, the opportunity to participate in The EV Project and receive a $2,500 rebate. The state rebate is in addition to a federal tax rebate of up to $7,500.
ECOtality is the project manager of The EV Project and will oversee the installation of commercial and residential charging stations in 18 major cities and metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia. The project will provide an EV infrastructure to support the deployment of EVs in these key markets. The project is a public-private partnership, funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy through a federal stimulus grant and made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
For more information on the state’s EV rebate program, please visit tn.gov/ecd/CD_energy_electric_vehicle_rebates.html. More information on The EV Project is available at TheEVProject.com.
About ECOtality, Inc.
ECOtality, Inc. (NASDAQ:ECTY), headquartered in San Francisco, California, is a leader in clean electric transportation and storage technologies. Through innovation, acquisitions, and strategic partnerships, ECOtality accelerates the market applicability of advanced electric technologies to replace carbon-based fuels. For more information about ECOtality, Inc., please visit www.ecotality.com.
Public anxiety over $4 gasoline has given U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander the chance to preach about two of his favorite energy topics, reports Michael Collins. That would be wind power and electric cars.
The day after Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill that would have eliminated about $2 billion in tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies, Alexander stood on the Senate floor and suggested subsidies for wind power should be terminated.
“Why are we talking about Big Oil and not talking about Big Wind?” he asked.
The next day, the Maryville Republican appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to argue that short-term incentives to jump-start the use of electric vehicles is the best way to use less energy and keep down gas prices.
“If you believe that the solution to $4 gasoline and high energy prices is finding more American energy and using less, this is the best way to use less,” Alexander said.
Alexander has never made a secret of his disdain for wind power, which he argues is expensive and unreliable. At the same time, he has become one of Congress’ most enthusiastic cheerleaders for electric cars.