Daily Digest

Solar becoming a game-changer for Florida utilities

SOLAR:
• Solar energy’s ability to compete with conventional energy looks to be a game-changer for utilities, including those serving Central Florida. (Orlando Sentinel)
• Earthjustice joins those opposing a proposed Florida Constitutional amendment backed by utilities. (Miami Herald)
• An environmentalist blasts Florida’s utilities for spending almost $10 million to “mislead and confuse” people for its proposed Constitutional amendment. (Florida Politics)
• A court ruling dims prospects that a large solar-energy farm capable of generating enough electricity for thousands of homes will ever be built in Tennessee. (Memphis Commercial Appeal)
• An industry jobs survey finds solar companies in the South had little difficulty finding qualified workers. (Builder)
• A North Carolina senator says large, ground-mounted solar systems are ruining the state’s farmland. (Raleigh News & Observer)
• A church in Laurel Park, North Carolina begins construction of a solar system funded by 70 individuals and families to supply about half of its annual electricity needs. (Asheville Citizen Times)
• The first three solar farms in Sanford, North Carolina are now supplying enough electricity for about 750 homes. (The Sanford Herald)

WIND: Conservationists don’t want any proposed wind turbines to be seen from the Bald Head Island Lighthouse off North Carolina’s coast. (Wilmington StarNews)

SUSTAINABILITY: The Office of Sustainability in Memphis, Tennessee prepares to launch an initiative that encourages residents to conserve energy and water. (The Memphis Daily News)

CLIMATE: A new service targeting South Florida predicts how many days a property there is below sea level each year. (Broward-Palm Beach New Times)

OIL & GAS:
• Leaders of Kure Beach, North Carolina are set to vote tonight on whether to oppose offshore drilling. (Wilmington StarNews)
• Duke Energy asks North Carolina regulators to approve plans for a natural gas-fired power plant by March 1, a timeline that critics say enables limited oversight. (Asheville Citizen-Times)
• North Carolina regulators reject a petition by environmental groups to hold a full hearing on a Duke Energy natural gas plant in Asheville. (Charlotte Business Journal)

UTILITIES:
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas ask for expedited approval of their $4.9 billion planned merger. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• The Jacksonville Electric Authority ranked high in a J.D. Power survey of businesses rating electric utilities. (Jacksonville Business Journal)
Florida Power & Light is set to request rate hikes totaling 24 percent by 2019. (Tampa Bay Times)
Virginia’s Attorney General said he has to defend a controversial law he opposed that could clear an uncontested path to higher profits for Dominion Virginia Power. (Daily Press)

CLEAN POWER PLAN: Activists say North Carolina’s response to the federal rules does little to help low-income communities. (Indy Week)

ACADEMIA: Richard Newell, the founding director of the Duke University Energy Initiative, is stepping down to pursue new opportunities in research and public service. (Duke Today)

COAL ASH: Opposition grows over Virginia’s approval of Dominion Virginia Power’s coal ash wastewater disposal into rivers. (Prince William Times)

COAL:
• President Obama signals moves to help coal-dependent communities hit by mine closures and company bankruptcies. (The New York Times)
• Virginia makes it easier for laid off coal miners to transition to minerals industry. (Kingsport Times News)

EMISSIONS: If ever sued over damages linked to its carbon emissions, a utility such as Georgia Power could face a $1.7 billion liability from its biggest coal-fired power plan, new research suggests. (Utility Dive)

POLITICS:
• They live at ground zero, but Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio say climate change is a distant threat. (Miami Herald)
• Protestors in North Carolina want equal time and invite Gov. McCrory to the type of meeting he had last June with utility executives. (WNCN)

NUCLEAR: Southern Co. and X-energy have been awarded up to $40 million each to research and overcome “key technical challenges to the design, construction and operation of next generation nuclear reactors.” (The Hill)

FRACKING: A single well in the West Virginia Marcellus Shale field yielded enough natural gas in 2014 to provide electricity for about 24,000 homes. (The Intelligencer / Wheeling News Register)

LIQUIFIED NATURAL GAS: The owner of the nation’s first port for exporting natural gas in Louisiana pushes back its startup time-frame to late February or March. (KSLA)

PIPELINES:
• Opponents of the Palmetto Pipeline from South Carolina through Georgia into northeast Florida say there is no regional need for the fuel it would transport. (Athens Banner-Herald)
• The planned Palmetto Pipeline includes an 11-mile stretch of land owned by the publisher of newspapers closely covering the permitting process.  (Atlanta Progressive News)
• Franklin County, West Virginia holds a public hearing tonight on the Mountain Valley Pipeline. (The Franklin News-Post)

COMMENTARY:
• The deck in North Carolina already seems stacked in favor of offshore drilling by the very agency that’s supposed to protect the environment. (Lincoln Times-News)
• An increasing number of South Carolinians are saying no to offshore drilling. (The Post & Courier)
• A Virginia newspaper calls on an in-state company to end its quest to mine uranium for processing into nuclear fuel.  (Danville Register & Bee)
Coastal Georgians oppose risking their homes for claims of jobs and revenue “that will never be realized” from offshore drilling. (Savannah Morning News)

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