Posts filed under ‘southern energy network’

Southeast Power Shift Recruitment Kick-Off Call a Success!

Last Wednesday we hosted the first of many bi-weekly Power Shift 2011 Southeast Training Calls. Young people from across the South (South Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida) jumped on the call to feel the regional solidarity and excitement around going to Power Shift 2011!

On the call we emphasized the date change: Power Shift 2011 will be happening April 15th – 18th in Washington D.C. at the Convention Center. We also started the conversation off with our top three tips of what you should be doing in your community and/or campus.

1.       Build a core group and Sign up as Campus Coordinators!- try and get at least four people so you can divide and conquer housing, fundraising, recruiting and travel!

2.       Set goals – How many people do you want to bring and how much money will you raise?

3.       Start building the buzz with Facebook events, posting flyers on campus, and  holding kick-off meetings!

We realize one of the biggest barriers to getting tons of folks to Power Shift 2011 is money, which is why we wanted to start the bi-weekly call series with a fundraising training! To help us all, our Development Assistant, Kelsea Norris, was kind enough to join us and give everyone some really strong tips and best practices around fundraising.

Kelsea’s top 5 quick tips:

1.       Think big and move beyond the bake sale: There are many “out of the box” ways to raise large sums of money! Student Government, Local Businesses or Organizations, and restaurant or bar percentage deals.
2.       Just ASK, and ASK EVERYONE: if you don’t try, then you’ll never get anywhere.
3.       Create a budget and a plan with goals.
4.       Get Creative: use www.Chipin.com to ask friends and family for support!
5.       Use the EAC Fundraising toolkit: http://energyactioncoalition.org/powershift2011/tools

After Kelsea gave us her amazing training, a student from the University of Alabama, Adelaide Abele, told her personal success around raising $3,000+ for other environmental initiatives and events in the past. Her pointers include:

  • Try to connect with the people/group – personalize your ask.
  • Because of time crunch; shoot for the big groups and big donors!
  • Don’t write people off because you assume they are not interested.
  • Follow-up, follow-up, ALWAYS FOLLOW-UP!
  • It’s scarier, but more lucrative to meet with someone face-to-face.

To finish up the call we asked youth from across the South to give us some ideas of what they are going to do to raise funds for Power Shift 2011. Here are some of the great ideas:

  • Build a fake jail: Get professors, community members, students and/or administrators to commit to sit in a fake jail until their bail is met.
  • Sports tournaments
  • Asking local non-profits for sponsorship, like the local Sierra Club and Audubon chapters.
  • Garage sales: Getting stuff donated and then sell it at a fundraising sale!
  • Singles Auction: a great opportunity for coalition building! Think through influential groups like athletics, Greek life, or Student Government.
  • Work with local businesses: bars, restaurants, clubs, etc.
  • Student Government funds

If you missed this call, don’t worry! We will host these calls every other Wednesday with a different training each call! Every call is designed to give you the skills and confidence you need to rock Power Shift. Our next call is February 9th at 8:00PM ET. We will be focusing on recruitment, so you’ll have the skills to get a ton of folks on your campus or in your community excited and registered for Power Shift. Look out for the next Facebook event!

February 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm Leave a comment

News Round-up: Cobb EMC CEO Indictment

On Thursday, January 6, Cobb EMC CEO Dwight Brown was indicted on 31 counts of theft by taking, racketeering, conspiracy to commit fraud, and making false statements. Cobb EMC is an Electric Membership Corporation providing power to close to 200,000 customers in the northwestern suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia.

The indictment brings years of legal wrangling to a head, as Cobb EMC members have accused the Cobb EMC Board of Directors and Mr. Brown of wrongdoing, secrecy, and mismanagement of EMC funds previously.

Mr. Brown and the Cobb EMC Board of Directors are also known for being leaders in Power4Georgians (P4G), a consortium of several EMCs from across the state. P4G is the developer in two proposed coal plant construction projects, which will be member funded and could cost more than $2 billion a piece.

Here’s a round up of some of the best local news coverage concerning Mr. Brown’s indictment:

Electric Co-Op CEO Accused of Massive Thefts

Lisa Coston, Courthouse News

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/01/18/33392.htm

EMC’s Brown indicted for theft, racketeering

Brandon Wilson, Marietta Daily Journal

http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/10914123/article-EMC’s-Brown-indicted-for-theft–racketeering?

EMC Hopefuls call for more transparency

Brandon Wilson, Marietta Daily Journal

http://www.mdjonline.com/view/full_story/11054052/article-EMC-hopefuls-call-for-more-transparency?instance=home_news_special_coverage

Cobb EMC case raises questions on coal plant

Dave Williams, Atlanta Business Chronicle

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/print-edition/2011/01/21/questions.html

Attorneys file to derail prosecution of Cobb EMC chief

Margaret Newkirk, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

http://www.ajc.com/business/attorneys-file-to-derail-818204.html

We’ll have more coming soon about the connections between Dwight Brown and the fight against Plant Washington.

January 31, 2011 at 5:04 pm Leave a comment

USF Moves Closer to Passing a Student Green Energy Fund on their Campus

USF Students score a big victory for the Student Green Energy Fund Campaign!

Yesterday the University of South Florida’s (USF) Board of Trustees voted to approve a Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) for USF. The SGEF is, in short, a maximum fee of $1.00 per credit hour that would fund renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on campus. On the Tampa campus alone this would generate approximately $1,000,000 dollars annually, and all of the money must be spent on energy saving measures or clean energy on campus.

From here, the SGEF proposal for USF moves onto the Board of Governors where, if passed, students will be able to vote in the Spring on whether to enact this fee. The fee would then take effect in the fall. This would make USF, a school generally lacking in sustainability, one of the first Universities in Florida with a SGEF!

The SGEF is really the campaign from which the youth climate movement began for Florida, and it is very close to my heart. The need for a state network became apparent to Florida youth while working on the SGEF campaign, starting in 2007. With a state network, after we won the SGEF campaign, we would still work together to conquer other pressing issues in the area. Now, thanks in large part to this campaign, Florida has an active state network, called the FL YES Coalition, which connects campuses across the state to tackle other pressing environmental issues.

Running a campaign from beginning to end has been a good experience for me. I am a senior at USF, and when I graduate I want to be able to say that while I was here, I took part in something meaningful that will tangibly affect the lives of future students at USF. The past couple of years have been trying for our movement. There was not a meaningful international agreement at Copenhagen, and the U.S. has still not passed legislation to address climate change. This has weighed heavily on me and caused me to question the possibility of us affecting change at all. However, the Student Green Energy Fund has made me realize that there is still a great amount of power in organizing.

Change is possible right now: the key is to focus on things that you can directly affect on a local scale. Winning these smaller scale campaigns helps us build our movement so that one day, our legislators and public officials will look around and realize that they are the only ones left refusing to switch over to a clean energy economy and address climate change.  And although they refused to listen to us, we continued on without them.

While passing the SGEF at USF is a local initiative, it has the potential to have rippling effects throughout the state. Students attending a school that invests in clean energy and efficiency will participate in a culture of sustainability, and they will be better prepared for the future marketplace of clean energy jobs. The University is meant to be a window into the future for how our society will function. For Florida to have all of its major universities invest in clean energy sends a clear signal to legislators that it is time to catch up with the youth of America and make investments for our future.

- Karissa Gerhke is a Senior at the University of South Florida, President of the Students Environmental Association and an active member of the FL YES Coalition.

December 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm Leave a comment

Power Shift 2011: It’s Happening

That’s right. Power Shift 2011 is happening. Mark your calendars now to spend April 1-4 at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC with thousands of your closest friends from across the country.

If you didn’t have the chance to attend Power Shift 07 or 09, this is your chance to be part of a transformational, awe-inspiring event. Previous speakers have included Van Jones, Ralph Nader, and my hero, Majora Carter. In 2009, activists attending Power Shift took part in the Capitol Coal Action, where Bill McKibben and Jim Hansen led the charge in shutting down the Capitol coal plant, which burns toxic coal to power Congress.

The first step in the journey to Power Shift 11 is to sign up as a Power Shift Coordinator. Coordinators help spearhead recruitment efforts on campus and in their community, which is one of the most important ways you can help get tons of folks to this amazing event. You can sign up here, and myself or Dan Cannon will be in touch with you soon to get things running on your campus.

You’ll also need funds to get there.  Now is a great time to ask your family members to contribute to your Power Shift fund for the holidays! Starting in January 2011, we’ll also be rolling out additional resources to help with fundraising.

Perhaps most importantly, we’ll be voting each and every day to help Power Shift win $50,000 from the Pepsi Refresh content. These funds will be earmarked specifically for travel stipends and scholarships for students to attend Power Shift.

In order to win, we need your help!  Will you commit to voting each and every day?  Here’s how you do it: Starting January 1, you’ll text, use Facebook, and vote via the Pepsi Refresh website. We’ll send out the codes closer to January 1, but you can go ahead and sign up for the Progressive Slate, which helps Power Shift win, atwww.theprogressiveslate.com.

I wouldn’t ask you to do this if it wasn’t important.  When you roll out of bed at noon on New Year’s Day, check your mail and start the year off right by voting to get $50k for Power Shift.

I can’t wait to see YOU in D.C. for Power Shift 2011.

Jenna

GA Organizer, Southern Energy Network

December 16, 2010 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

Obama Reverses Drilling Plans

On March 31st 2009 President Obama addressed the country announcing his administration’s plan to increase America’s dependence on archaic, dirty and unsafe oil. The administration announced they would open offshore oil and gas exploration along the Atlantic coast line and eastern gulf.

The day of the announcement, the youth climate movement, including hundreds of young people in the South, was disappointed in the Administration’s step backwards.  Instead of moving towards a clean energy economy and addressing the climate crisis as promised on the campaign trail, the Obama administration was caving to dirty energy corporate interests, and climate science denier’s lies.

The Obama Administration was failing to listen to young people — the very voting block that carried him to victory in his historical presidential election.

Nineteen days later the worst environmental disaster in US history hit the Gulf Coast ecosystem and economy with devastating and irreversible impacts.  The BP offshore oil disaster hit just as the Obama Administration felt comfortable in talking about the “safety” of offshore oilrigs.

The youth climate movement could have easily said “I told you so,” instead we fought back. We encouraged an immediate ban on new offshore oil drilling (we were given a mere six months), we demanded that Congress investigate BP and hold the company accountable for their disaster. We donated pounds of hair helping to construct miles of hair boom, and we met with local, state, and national decision makers calling on them for climate and clean energy action NOW! Even after six months we continued to address the issue by holding 10/20 days of action, like this one Tyler Offerman and students at FGCU held.

Eight months after making his original announcement to open our coast to risky offshore oil drilling President Obama’s Administration reversed their decision, citing the BP oil disaster as the reason to be more cautious and aware of our decisions. The administration is now calling for a seven year ban.

Some climate activist are seeing this as a victory and are celebrating, calling on the grassroots community to thank the Administration for their recent announcement.  Although this is a good FIRST step, and I am thankful, I still feel this is the Obama’s Administration attempt to keep the youth climate movement pleased, a decision that will hold us over until the next election, a decision that allows President Obama to stand up and say “I banned offshore oil drilling for 7 years – vote for me in 2012”.

As an active member in the youth climate movement, I am fed up and although this might be a “win” for some, for me – this is not enough. With the UN negotiations around the global climate crisis in Cancun happening over the next two weeks, the United States does not have time to “lead” with small incremental steps such as a seven year ban. If we want to emerge on top, leading the new clean energy global economy and the global fight against the climate crisis, we need large monumental steps such as a permanent ban on new offshore oil drilling for our entire coast. We need the leadership President Obama promised on his campaign trail!

December 3, 2010 at 4:07 pm Leave a comment

How much will Plant Washington really cost?

Reposted with permission from Clean Energy Footprints, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy’s blog.

In 2008, ten Georgia Electric Membership Corporations (EMCs) joined under the banner “Power4Georgians,” and went public with a proposal to build a new coal-fired power plant in Sandersville, GA, known as  Plant Washington.  From our perspective, this has been a bad deal for EMC members and the environment from the start, but considering recent trends, the deal is looking worse and worse.

Costs are rising and demand is falling – both of these trends put EMC members at even greater risk of high rates.  Many U.S. utilities are forecasting much lower growth rates due to the economic downturn; Power4Georgians has yet to revise their growth projections for an accurate update since 2008.  The official price tag for meeting this unclear energy need with a coal plant?  $2.1 billion. That estimate – more than two years old – sounds like a lot of money,  and it is.  Considering recent trends in coal plant construction costs, you know this is one of those “too good to be true” deals.

Power4Georgians needs to update the price tag of this coal plant and immediately revise demand growth projections. Nationally-renowned energy forecast expert David Schlissel reviewed Power4Georgians’ single-page Cost Analysis document.  He found that Power4Georgians was low-balling their cost estimate:

“A number of factors suggest that this Cost Analysis was heavily biased in favor of a coal plant and against renewable alternatives…. The range of coal plant construction costs used by Cobb EMC was unreasonably low compared to recent cost estimates for other proposed coal-fired power plants.  In particular, there is no reason to expect that Plant Washington will be able avoid the soaring price increases being experienced by other coal-fired power plant construction projects.”  Read the whole report

The estimate may have been low to begin with, and with nearly two years passed since the original cost projection, we’re more than a bit suspicious that $2.1 billion is outdated.


ampohio1

Rising costs, customers paying the price

Costs at other coal-fired construction projects have continued to rise.  For example, the projected cost of building AMP-Ohio’s proposed 960MW coal plant in Meigs County skyrocketed from $1.2 billion in 2005 to nearly $4 billion in Nov. 2009 before it was cancelled.  Fortunately, with cancellation, the bulk of those costs were averted – but the 81 communities that originally signed on are still trying to figure out how to pay the  $200 million already spent on development.

In one case where a new coal-fired plant did make it to completion, the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) decided in July 2010 that customers of We Energies, a Wisconsin utility, will pay $23 million for it, despite arguments that demand trends have changed and the power is not needed.  That works out to a rate increase for customers of 18%.

A few short months before, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment denied the air permit for another plant based on the PSC’s assessment that it would have raised rates 60%.

Unfortunately, Georgia’s PSC does not regulate EMCs so members can’t count on oversight. Because EMCs are “self-regulating,” it is up to the members of these co-ops to stop Plant Washington before the costs rise any further.

Uncertainty makes costs worse

Uncertainty about the cost of construction is a major factor. Construction costs are rising due to increased demand for materials and expertise worldwide.  As one utility exec said, “When equipment and construction cost estimates grow by $200 million to $400 million in 18 months, it’s necessary to proceed with caution.”  Contractors are reluctant to sign a fixed-price contract knowing that material costs are rising.

A utility that insists on finding a contractor to sign a fixed-price contract pays a price premium for transferring risks to the contractor.

Then there’s regulatory uncertainty, with a wide range of pollution-cutting enforcement measures under consideration in Washington.  New, tougher regulations will soon be implemented for ozonesulfur dioxide,mercurycarbon dioxide, and even coal ash waste.  That’s a good thing for communities and our planet, because it will make utilities pay more of the actual costs associated with coal pollution so that less will be borne by citizens who are getting sick and facing the consequences of climate change.

These tighter standards also create a financial incentive for clean energy like wind and solar and energy efficiency, placing them on a more even playing field as utilities decide where to invest in a new generation of power supply sources.  Schlissel found in the case of Plant Washington that a price on carbon could double the cost of electricity ( read report).

Wall Street investors consider the risks associated with construction costs and financing costs, and the low-cost financing that gives publicly owned utilities an edge becomes a lot harder to obtain. Wall Street investors are leery of new coal investments, given that no one knows just how much it will cost in the future to emit carbon dioxide.  In August 2010, credit ratings agency Moody’s downgraded its rating of Southern Company, one of the most coal-dependent major utilities, due to “longer-term pressures from potential carbon controls and renewable portfolio standards.”  For Georgia co-ops, high risk assessment by private lenders translates to higher interest rates on loans and, ultimately, higher total cost.

Members’ bills on the line

Members of the remaining EMCs invested in Power4Georgians (Central Georgia EMCCobb EMCSnapping Shoals EMC,Upson EMC, and Washington EMC) would likely foot the bill for Plant Washington.  But they don’t need to pay an exorbitant bill for a coal plant that will add 50 more years of air, water, and climate pollution to our state. Alternatives are available: these EMCs haven’t fully maximized the cost-saving power of energy efficiency and clean, cost-competitive renewable energy.

Power4Georgians needs to come clean about an updated price tag and immediately revise demand growth projections.  New coal wasn’t worth it at $2.1 billion, and the further we go down this path, the worse this deal gets for Georgians.

For more cautionary tales and a handy piece of info to pass out to your friends, check out SACE’s new fact sheet on the costs of coal for Georgia EMCs.

 

 

 

 

 

November 8, 2010 at 6:45 pm Leave a comment

Trick out the Vote in the South!

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays: candy, costumes, and in 2010, democracy!

Hundreds of student and community groups around the South are planning Trick or Vote events, with a simple but powerful idea: taking advantage of the one day per year where people expect you to knock on their doors! It’s critical that our generation turn out in record numbers at the polls again like we did in 2008. Holding a Trick or Vote event is an incredibly fun way you can get people out to the polls on November 2nd!

This year, nothing is more important than getting young people out to vote. Scary Oil and Ghastly Coal are haunting the political system by pumping millions of dollars into the election, trying to keep their power in Congress. Luckily, we have people power on our side, and the power of our generation will only grow in this decade. We need to go to the polls sending a strong message to our decision makers: people over polluters and profits.

Come up with a great costume idea, gather several friends, and spend a few hours this weekend fighting off dirty energy’s forces of destruction. You can find a ton of resources, register your event, or find one in your area here:http://act.energyactioncoalition.org/p/salsa/event/common/public/create.sjs?distributed_event_KEY=604.

Feel free to contact one of SEN’s organizers (http://www.climateaction.net/about/staff) with questions.

Happy Halloween!

Jenna Garland

Georgia Organizer

P.S. Remember to take tons of pictures, tag them with #trickorvote, #powervote, and #southernenergy when you upload them to Flickr or other photo sharing websites. If you upload photos to Facebook, tag @Southern Energy Network in the description and we’ll find them.

 

October 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm Leave a comment

Written by Bill McKibben, Cross-posted from HuffingtonPost.com

I really really don’t want to write this.

Because all I want to do is sit here searching through the thousands upon thousands of photos that are still streaming in from yesterday’s 350.org Global Work Party. With 7300-odd work parties in 188 countries , it was the most widespread day of political engagement in the planet’s history, and a real chance for people across the world to say the same thing: We’re fed up with the inaction of our leaders on climate, and we want them to work half as hard as we’re working. Now!

But that’s from the macro level. One by one, the pictures just tell profound and beautiful stories of people taking the future into their hands. Some are poignant: street children in Rawalpindi Pakistan, flooded out of meager homes by this August’s deluge; or slum dwellers in Bangladesh, standing ankle deep in the water for their work party even as new record storms drove half a million from their homes. Others are exuberant–bike activists in Auckland fixing hundreds of cycles for free (and paying for parts by running a pedal-powered smoothie maker).

And perhaps the best are the ones that, by random juxtaposition on the Flickr flood of images, tell stories that need telling. We got a picture of young men in Afghanistan planting lots of trees in the valleys around Kabul–imagining a country beyond war. And a few minutes later a picture of a scout troop from the coal state of West Virginia who spent the day earning energy education merit badges, looking not so very different from their Afghani counterparts.

When it comes to climate change, the world is united in two ways.

One of them’s bad: around the the planet, the fossil fuel industry has managed to squelch the necessary transition away from coal, gas and oil. That’s why we have to build a movement big enough to matter. We’re not going to beat Exxon Mobil with money; if we beat them it will be with passion, spirit, creativity. With bodies.

The other is good, awfully good: everywhere there are people ready to picture a possible future and then go to work to make it real. They’re in the northernmost cities on the planet, up there in Iceland; they’re in the southernmost cities, down there in Argentina. Most of them, to judge by the pictures, don’t look like our stereotype of environmentalists: they’re poor, they’re black and brown and Asian, they’re young. They look like the world.

It makes sense that this would be the most widespread day of civic action ever–in climate change we face the first truly worldwide problem. They don’t call it global warming for nothing. But these pictures show the flipside: they’re globally heartwarming.

Follow Bill McKibben on Twitter: www.twitter.com/billmckibben

October 11, 2010 at 7:26 pm 1 comment

SSREC Early Bird Registration Deadline Extended!

SEN is pleased to announce we’ve extended the deadline for Early Bird Registration for the SSREC! You’ve got til Thursday at midnight to lock in the early price of $25. Friday morning it goes up to $35 – get it now while it’s hot!

You can register at http://bit.ly/ssrecregister. If you’re a student at UGA, you’ll register at http://bit.ly/ssrecugareg.

For more info about the conference, happening Oct 1-3 at the University of Georgia, visit www.climateaction.net/ssrec.

We look forward to seeing you!

September 15, 2010 at 4:45 pm Leave a comment

Georgia Youth Testify at EPA Hearing

On Wednesday September 1st, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a hearing in downtown Atlanta on a proposed rule designed to reduce ozone and particulate pollution from coal-fired power plants drifting across state lines. Because we strongly support this proposed rule, students and Southern Energy Network staff made the trek to Atlanta to offer testimony at the hearing to show our support.

Georgia Organizer Jenna Garland spoke first, sharing her recent experience at a training session held in facilities located adjacent to a coal-fired power plant in Little Village neighborhood in Chicago. After only a week spent in such close proximity to the plant, many in the group began to experience headaches, sore throats, and stuffy, sensitive sinuses. After leaving the conference, Jenna was sick with a bad sinus infection for a full week. It’s hard to imagine how distressing and detrimental to one’s health it must be to breathe those fumes everyday. Small children growing up near that and other plants are hit the hardest.

Stephen Feinberg, a student at the University of Georgia and member of the Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions Steering Committee, spoke about looking forward to a future where he can get married and have children in Georgia without worrying about the air quality adversely affecting his children’s health. He shared a scary statistic: according to some sources, 1 in 6 woman of childbearing age have enough mercury in their bloodstream to cause birth defects in children. He believes that this rule is a step in the right direction towards reducing and ultimately eliminating the coal plants in Georgia and all over the South.

Stephen Feinberg and Talie Watzman giving testimony to US EPA.

Last but not least, I shared a personal anecdote about my years as a runner on my high school cross-country team. Watching my friends and teammates struggle with asthma at every practice and during races, I never realized that the poor air quality in Georgia was contributing, if not causing, their problems. I believe that the proposed rule is a good first step, but EPA should be doing even more to clean up air quality in Georgia.

Georgia has three new proposed coal-fired power plants, and building any of them will worsen air quality in our state. EPA, as well as the state regulatory authorities, needs to stop permitting new coal plants and allowing them to be built. Instead of building new coal plants, we should reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and moving towards cleaner, sustainable sources of energy.

In addition to the Clean Air Interstate Rule, EPA is also holding nationwide hearings around coal ash regulation. Coal ash is a waste product of burning coal for electricity, and is extremely toxic. When it is mixed with rainfall or other water, it becomes coal sludge. On December 22, 2008 a coal sludge pond in Kingston, TN collapsed, dumping millions of tons of coal sludge into a valley, knocking down homes and polluting water.

EPA is accepting statements around the Clean Air Interstate Rule through October 1st, and is accepting comments around coal ash through December 18. Visit the EPA website to review proposed rules and submit comments! IF you’re in the South, join us on September 14 in Charlotte, NC, for the Region IV EPA Coal Ash hearing.

Talie Watzman

University of Georgia Freshman

September 13, 2010 at 4:29 pm Leave a comment

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