Tag Archives: energy

Lamar and Joe Carr both oppose Cumberland wind farm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is urging his fellow Tennesseans to oppose what he calls an “unsightly” wind farm near the Cumberland Mountain State Park.

The longtime supporter of nuclear power argued on the Senate floor this week that the 23 wind turbines Apex Clean Energy wants to install are “massive” and would spoil the “natural beauty of our state.”

“We should not allow anyone to destroy the environment in the name of saving it,” said Alexander, arguing that wind energy is being fueled by “billions in wasteful taxpayer subsidies” to out-of-state companies.

Apex counters that the $130 million project will emit no pollution and create no hazardous waste as it provides a safe energy alternative near wildlife and natural areas.

Spokesman Kevin Chandler said officials at the Charlottesville, Virginia-based company were disappointed Alexander hadn’t gotten into touch to discuss his concerns.

“But we have greatly appreciated the local welcome we’ve received in Cumberland County and look forward to making this project a reality,” Chandler said.

The wind farm near Crossville, about 100 miles east of Nashville, is projected to power 20,000 homes. It is located on a privately-owned 1,800 acre site behind a limestone quarry, though the turbines would be visible from Interstate 40.

“This project will help bring about cleaner, healthier air, reduce pollution, and create economic growth and jobs in Cumberland County,” Chandler said.

Note: Alexander’s full news release is HERE. And below is a news release from Joe Carr, Alexander’s chief opponent in the 2014 Republican primary, while campaigning in Cumberland County for the 6th Congressional District seat. Continue reading

$100M wind farm coming to Cumberland County

News release from Cumberland County officials
January 12, 2016 (Crossville, Tenn.) — Cumberland County (TN) officials announced today that Apex Clean Energy, an independent renewable energy company based in Charlottesville, Virginia, is planning to locate a new wind farm on private land in the county, ten miles east of Crossville.

The Crab Orchard project represents an investment upwards of $100 million into Cumberland County and is expected to produce up to 71MW of power with 20 to 23 turbines. The project is expected to begin operations in 2017.

“This is very exciting news for Cumberland County — for our residents, businesses and visitors, alike,” said Brad Allamong, president of the Crossville/Chamber of Commerce. “We’re thrilled that so many business and government leaders across this county came together to collaborate on this common vision. It’s such positive news for our region.”
Continue reading

AR lawmakers oppose OK-to-Memphis power line

GUYMON, Okla. (AP) — Officials with Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners say construction could begin in 2017 on a planned 700-mile transmission line to carry wind-generated electricity across Oklahoma and Arkansas into Tennessee.

The planned Plains & Eastern Clean Line would carry the wind power from as-yet undeveloped wind farms in the Oklahoma Panhandle to Memphis, Tennessee, where it would connect to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Mario Hurtado, Clean Line vice president for development, told The Journal Record that he expects the project, announced in 2010, to be operating by 2020.

“It takes a lot of time to put together an infrastructure project like this,” Hurtado said.

However, opposition has surfaced in Arkansas, where the state’s six-member congressional delegation has objected to the federal government possibly using eminent domain to take land for the project. The federal lawmakers say eminent domain should be decided at the state and local level.

“We continue to have serious concerns that this project erodes the rights of local communities and the state of Arkansas to have a seat at the table in the decision-making process,” according to a statement from Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton and Reps. Steve Womack, French Hill, Rick Crawford and Bruce Westerman following a Dec. 10 meeting with U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

All of the six lawmakers are Republicans.

Clean Line officials say about $7 billion will be invested in the project, boosting economies in both Oklahoma and Arkansas.

“Several hundred permanent, quality wind tech and support jobs will be created to operate and maintain the line and wind farms,” said Vicki Ayres-Portman, Clean Line outreach manager based in Guymon.

“Millions of dollars annually will go to counties, schools and landowners,” Ayres-Portman said. “It is a great way for our farmers and ranchers to diversify their income as well.”

In November, researchers from the center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas published a study that estimated the construction of operation of the transmission project will add more than $660 million to the economy in Arkansas.

TRA approves project bringing Oklahoma wind energy to TN

The Tennessee Regulatory Authority has approved operation of a transmission line into the state by Plains & Eastern Clean Line LLC, reports the Memphis Business Journal.

Plains & Eastern Clean Line is planning a 700-mile electric transmission project that will deliver wind energy from the Oklahoma Panhandle region to utilities and customers in Tennessee, Arkansas and other markets in the Southeast.

The project’s goal is to provide affordable, renewable energy to more than one million homes annually, create construction jobs in Tennessee and help reduce air pollution. Clean Line Energy Partners LLC, a Houston-based company, is investing $2 billion in the project, and the company has an exclusive contract in place to acquire 208 acres on Miller Road in Millington.

In early 2014, the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis & Shelby County approved an 11-year tax abatement for Plains and Eastern Clean Line.

…”Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and its manufacturing division the Tennessee Manufacturers Association applauds this decision by the TRA on behalf of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line,” said Catherine Glover, president of Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry. “We believe this is a strong example of Tennessee moving forward as a clean energy leader, attracting new business investment and spurring job creation.”

Further, from Wind Power Monthly:
Last year, Clean Line issued a request for expressions of interest in capacity on the transmission line. The company said fifteen potential customers submitted more than 17GW of requests for capacity.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Southwestern Power Administration is carrying out an environmental review of the line.

In December, it issued the draft environmental impact statement which initiated a 90-day public comment period, scheduled to conclude in March.

As part of this, the DOE will host 15 public meetings in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Texas during January and February. Clean line said it expects construction to begin in 2016, with a construction time of two to three years.

Energy secretary hails Oak Ridge projects (and gives joking apology to Lamar!)

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz praised Department of Energy projects at Oak Ridge during a speech Friday at the University of Tennessee, saying they were central to America’s science and economic competitiveness.

The Oak Ridge Reservation in Anderson and Roane counties includes the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the East Tennessee Technology Park and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Moniz, delivering the university’s Baker Distinguished Lecture on Energy and the Environment, said technologies under development there are an important part of the country’s transition to a clean-energy economy. They include technologies for producing more fuel-efficient vehicles, advanced biofuels and lower-cost batteries for electric vehicles.

He also highlighted the reservation’s role in developing advanced materials. A project to develop affordable carbon fiber products has a wide range of applications from lightweight vehicles to wind turbines, he said, adding a joking apology to U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander for mentioning wind energy. Alexander, who was in the audience, has been an outspoken critic of wind-power technology.

Carbon fiber is lightweight and stronger than steel, but currently it is expensive to produce. It is used in products like high-end bicycles. To make it cheaper, the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy awarded a $35 million grant to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a manufacturing demonstration facility.

Moniz also highlighted a research center for 3-D printing at Oak Ridge and the reservation’s Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors, the first Department of Energy innovation hub, which, he said, has already produced products.

“As we build the domestic clean-energy economy, we’re also building opportunities for exports,” he said. But he warned that “if we dawdle, we’re not going to be at the front of the train.”

Note: For more, see Frank Munger’s Atomic City Underground report, HERE.

Bredesen to UT Students: 50-cent Gas Tax Increase Not a Great Idea

University of Tennessee graduate students got some practical advice for their national energy policy ideas that might be politically unpopular from two former public figures who have governed in the real world, reports Georgiana Vines.
The occasion was Thursday when presentations by a policy studies class in the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education were made to the center’s namesake, former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, acting the role of “president.”
Then walked in his friend and “vice president,” former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, who’s also been a U.S. secretary of energy and a diplomat. Richardson was in Knoxville as a guest of the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy.
…On increasing the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, the students recommended a 50-cent increase as a “shock” price that would see consumption go down initially; then, as consumers got used to it and started purchasing gas again, another increase would be imposed.
Bredesen said the amount might not seem like much, but when people have limited income and also need transportation, it’s not an easy idea to sell.
“This is a very privileged group of people,” Bredesen said, speaking of the students. “When you present your ideas in the public sector, you’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of those who are not.”
Think of a single mom with a kid at home, he told them.
“She’s spending a dime and then some to stay afloat,” Bredesen said.

Talk of Repealing TN Solar Tax Break Scaring Away New Companies?

Lifted from a Tennessean story on solar energy tax credits and their impact in Tennessee, which has been rated as having “the third-fastest-growing clean energy economy” in the nation:
Tennessee now gives a massive property-tax break to solar-power facilities by allowing them to be assessed at their salvage value — defined as no more than one-half of 1 percent of their initial investment costs. But companion bills filed by several Republican legislators in the General Assembly earlier this year would eliminate that break so that solar installations would be assessed and taxed based on their real value, just like other business and residential property.
“That has already pretty much shut down any new solar companies coming to Tennessee,” said Ben Macias, vice president of Shoals Technologies Group in Portland, a manufacturer of components for solar systems that has about 500 workers.
“A lot of solar-power manufacturers are coming to the Southeast, but they are on hold as far as relocating in Tennessee is concerned because of the tax question in the legislature,” he said.
For a 50-kilowatt solar system installed at a business, for instance, the change could raise the property tax $1,500 a year, said Billy Gibson, vice president for engineering and development at Integrated Solar, another Nashville company that installs home and business systems.

Former DOE Executive Dies While Under Indictment

Dr. Michael Strayer, a former U.S. Department of Energy executive who was indicted last month on 13 federal charges, died earlier this week in Loudoun County, Va., reports the News Sentinel.
Strayer, who was involved in operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratories at the time of the alleged crimes, lived with his wife lived in a Virginia home that authorities allege was purchased with government funds diverted to their personal use.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Maryland, where Strayer was charged with conspiring to defraud the government of more than $1.2 million, confirmed Strayer’s death and said the charges against him would be dismissed after the court received the defendant’s death certificate.
However, Marcia Murphy said Strayer’s death would not affect the charges against his widow, Karen Earle, a co-defendant in the case and alleged recipient of federal funds for bogus services.
Murphy said she had no information on the cause or circumstances of Strayer’s death.
“I know he passed away. I don’t know how,” she said. “We can’t be the ones confirming that.”
Murphy said there was an investigation under way in Loudoun County, which is in Northern Virginia outside Washington, D.C.

DesJarlais Pushed Speedy Approval for Federal Loan Guarantee (despite letter to the contrary)

Republican members of Congress investigating federal loan guarantees to now-bankrupt energy companies told Energy Secretary Steven Chu last week that they never asked him to speed up similar projects in their states, according to USA Today.
But that’s exactly what some did, according to a review of 484 congressional support letters obtained by USA TODAY. Some letters, for example, urged quick approval of a $2 billion loan guarantee for the American Centrifuge, a uranium enrichment project projected to create hundreds of jobs in states including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.
“It is imperative that this application move forward now,” said a letter signed by five members of Congress, including Rep. Joe Pitts, R-Pa.
“Any delays put the project at risk,” said a letter to the Office of Management and Budget signed by 15 members, including Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., and Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C.
And even as late as Nov. 4, DesJarlais signed on to another letter saying “quick action is paramount” and asking for “immediate action on funding.”
That was two months after the bankruptcy of solar panel maker Solyndra despite a $535 million federal loan guarantee. Solyndra’s failure prompted Congress to hold hearings about pressure by the White House to speed up a decision on the loan guarantee so that Vice President Biden could announce it.
At one hearing last Nov. 17, Chu testified that he had received nearly 500 letters from members of Congress supporting the loan programs. “We appreciate the support that the loan programs receive from many members of Congress who have urged us to accelerate our efforts and to fund worthy projects in their states,” he told a House subcommittee.
But in a letter to Chu last week, 19 GOP members of Congress — including Pitts, DesJarlais and Myrick — defended those letters, accusing Chu of “intentionally making misguided and far-reaching statements to cover your own failures.”
“These letters should in no way give you and your staff the belief that members are specifically asking you to ‘accelerate’ taxpayer funds and push them out the door without proper oversight,” they wrote.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., crafted that letter. She said in an interview that the main point was to request information about the decision-making process that led to the failed loans. And while she did not send letters supporting loan guarantees, she also defended members who did write Chu.

TVA Giving State $26M for Energy Efficiency

More than $26 million in TVA settlement funds will help the state buy electric cars and rework several buildings to reduce energy costs and air pollution, reports The Tennessean.
A new Clean Tennessee Energy Grant Program, also, is available to local governments, businesses and other groups for amounts of up to $250,000.
“Increasing energy efficiency in state government will help us be even better stewards of both taxpayer dollars and our environment,” Gov. Bill Haslam said in an emailed announcement Wednesday
. “These projects will benefit Tennesseans on both fronts, and I look forward to implementing additional projects as we move forward.”
The funding comes from a Clean Air Act settlement with the Tennessee Valley Authority last April that ended a series of lawsuits over pollution from its coal-burning power plants. Tennessee will receive about $5.25 million a year for five years. In the first year, $2.25 million will go for air quality grants, and $3 million will pay for energy efficiency projects in state government.