Archive for Energy
I imagine most of you Hooligans plan to help Jane Whilden regain a seat in the NC Legislature and help Susan Wilson defeat Republican Nathan Ramsey. You’re likely already aware that Pat McCrory doesn’t need to win the Gubernatorial race. If the rash of prior NCGOP legislative dictates weren’t enough, maybe this will get you involved – AC-T:
F to a wrinkle in proposed “fracking” legislation in N.C. spotted by, among others, Capitol Press columnist Scott Mooneyham. Regarding rules being considered in the state Senate, Mooneyham writes, “Any local ordinances that would have the effect of banning the wells would be repealed by the legislation, and a newly established state Oil and Gas Board would be given the power to preempt any new ordinances that have the effect of banning the wells within a local government’s jurisdiction… Lawyers who work for the N.C. League of Municipalities aren’t sure what the language means or what the effect would be. They see the power given to this new nine-member board, whose membership may well tilt toward the drilling industry, as almost absolute in determining what local ordinances will and won’t be allowed. In other words, sounds to us like the fix is in. Mooneyham notes the irony in play here, “What’s so troubling about this provision is how little regard it shows for private property rights, something allegedly dear to the hearts of the conservative Republican majority in the legislature.”
We’ve seen the NCGOP ignore the will of local governments in so many ways since 2010. This is the latest in a long line of efforts that seek to centralize more power in Raleigh and take it away from you. This time it also involves a process that may cause earthquakes and make your drinking water flammable. If Republicans take the Governor’s seat and maintain their legislative majorities, then you can count on more control from Raleigh and more laws passed in favor of industry over individuals.
From a Brownie Newman newsletter:
Asheville and Buncombe County have a history of leadership when it comes to clean energy.
It was just over ten years ago that Senator Steve Metcalf and Senator Martin Nesbitt, who was a member of the state House at the time, sponsored a bill called the NC Clean Smokestacks Act. This bill required the utility companies in North Carolina to install modern pollution controls on their coal-fired power plants which generate most of the state’s electricity and also generated a majority of the emissions that create haze, smog and ground level ozone pollution.
When local environmental groups put forward the concept of the Clean Smokestacks Act, most people didn’t give it much of a chance and few politicians were willing to consider it. Fortunately, two of Buncombe County’s state legislators championed the effort. It took more than three years to get it done, but thanks to hard work from hundreds of citizens from western North Carolina and across the state, the bill was passed, and North Carolina’s air is a lot cleaner today as a result.
I was the Director of the Western North Carolina Alliance at the time the Clean Smokestacks Act campaign was carried out, and was able to see first-hand how people working together around a common purpose could make a real and positive change.
As a member of the Asheville City Council over the past eight years, I am proud how our community has continued to be a leader for clean energy. In 2007, Asheville adopted a policy committing the City to reduce its use of fossil fuels and carbon pollution levels by 80%, which is the level that the scientific community believes is necessary to avoid the most severe and irreversible impacts of global warming on our children’s generation.
Asheville has aggressively followed through on this commitment:
In addition to this being a hard hitting ad from the Obama campaign, it features Asheville’s Walnut Street. Thanks to Jon Ostendorff’s Politics Now blog for pointing it out!
Brownie Newman today announced his plans to run for Buncombe County Commission. Newman has served two terms as a member of Asheville City Council and has served as Mayor Pro Tem since 2009. Newman did not run for re-election to City Council in 2011. His last official day as a member of City Council is Dec. 6.
“As a member of Asheville City Council, I tried to set ambitious, achievable goals for our community. I am proud that we have established Asheville as a leader for energy independence and green jobs, promoted the growth of locally owned businesses and made it clear that we are an inclusive community that supports equal rights for all our citizens,” said Newman.
Newman cited these as some of the key accomplishments on City Council:
Established Asheville as a leader for clean, renewable energy:
– Asheville City Council committed the city to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% and to require all new municipal building to LEED Gold standards.
– Asheville replaced its old, polluting diesel buses with a new fleet including clean, quiet hybrid buses and is replacing its city street lights with LED bulbs, which will save taxpayers $650,000 a year in lower utility bills.
– Newman helped secure funding for Asheville Green Opportunities, to provide job training and mentoring for young people from low income neighborhoods so they can develop work experience in the new clean energy economy.
Supported job creation, locally owned businesses and working families:
– Asheville worked with Mountain BizWorks to create a revolving loan fund to provide capital to local citizens to start their own business.
– Asheville partnered with Buncombe County to bring Linamar to Asheville, who will create at least 400 or more good paying manufacturing jobs and put the property formerly occupied by Volvo back into productive uses.
– Asheville held the line on property tax rate while investing more than $35 million to fix our long neglected water infrastructure.
Along with other members of Council, Newman supported a domestic partnership policy to extend equal workplace rights to municipal employees. The policy assures city workers will receive the same compensation for doing their job, regardless of sexual orientation.
“During a time when state legislators are trying to change North Carolina’s Constitution to discriminate against our citizens, I am proud that our community is standing up for equality,” said Newman.
In addition to his work on City Council, Newman is also one of the partners at FLS Energy, a local solar utility company. Since Newman joined FLS Energy in 2008, the company has grown from eight employees to more than eighty. Newman serves as Vice-President and Project Finance Director. He is one of the four members on the FLS board of directors.
Newman will be running in a new two-member County Commission district that includes most of Asheville and the central part of Buncombe County. Long-time County Commissioner Bill Stanley has announced he will not seek re-election.
Holly Jones is currently a commissioner from this district who plans to run for re-election. Newman and Jones previously served together on Asheville City Council and the two plan to support one another for County Commission.
“Holly has done a great job as County Commissioner. I am proud to lend my full support to her re-election campaign and am honored to have her support.” said Newman. Holly Jones added, “I am excited that Brownie is running for County Commission. He has contributed a lot to the City Council over the past eight years and he will be an effective member of the Commission.”
The Newman campaign will hold its kick-off event in January. Details to follow.
Lots of important topics on tap for the last meeting of this incarnation of City Council. While there’s one issue that has folks banging the drum more loudly, there are several others that also have far-reaching consequences. I’d love to hear more from everyone about them.
For those of you interested in conservation and development – there’s a behemoth development proposed for the ETJ.
For those of you interested in water issues and business issues, we’re having another look at potential water rate changes for heavy manufacturing.
For those of you interested in multimodal transportation, particularly transit, we’re having a look at whether to renew the contract for Transit Management Services to the current company, First Transit.
Beginning Monday, Nov. 21, the city will move into Phase II of a streetlight upgrade program in which traditional bulbs will be upgraded to LED bulbs. Retrofits will take place Monday through Thursday between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. with no expectations of traffic disruption.
In spring of last year, the City of Asheville successfully installed 700 lights in River District and Kenilworth neighborhoods in Phase I of the street light upgrade project. Phase II has a broader reach and will involve 2800 streetlights across West Asheville, Kenilworth and Oakley. Once completed all four phases are expected to save $650,000 annually and 2628 tons of avoided carbon which is equal to the amount of carbon absorbed from 60,000 trees.
Phase I of the four year initiative began in May 2011 and has generated $32,000 in actual savings. City Council’s approval of the Green Capital Improvement Plan rounds out the triple bottom line impact of the project. The plan, adopted in the 2011-2012 budget commits all dollar savings from municipal energy efficiency projects to future energy efficiency projects.
The City of Asheville is the first in the nation to implement this innovative financial model where all the energy savings pay for the streetlight investment. The lighting upgrades build further upon the successful lighting ordinance passed in 2008 which ensures all municipal streetlights adhere to “Dark Sky” standards.
Ain’t it a shame, about the radium rain?
Recording artist Bruce Cockburn tells of his experience visiting Germany only three days after the Chernobyl accident:
“Radium Rain, for instance, came out of, uh, my own experience of the aftermath of Chernobyl, in Germany. I’d gotten, I arrived in Germany three days after Chernobyl happened. I had wrestled with myself to some degree before I left, thinking “Oh, I don’t know. I wonder about going to Europe at this moment.” But it seemed like it wouldn’t matter where you were anyway, that stuff’s gonna come down on you sooner or later so I might as well go and see what it looked like. And I did and it was very interesting experience, and, uh, quite frightening in some respects and funny in others. The extremes that people went to. The extremes that governments went to to try to sort of suppress peoples anxiety about the whole thing and it became ridiculous at a certain point, you know. At first they’re saying, and I’m sure it was true of all the governments involved, they were saying Oh, there’s no problem, you know, those stupid Russians just made a mistake, but we’ve got it together, don’t worry about it”. And, you know, the next day they’d be saying “Well there’s a little bit of a problem, don’t let your kids play in the dirt”, you know. And the next, the next day, or week later they’d be saying “Well, you know, if you’re a mechanic, you should avoid changing the air filters of cars, unless you’re wearing protective clothing, and, you know, if you’re a pedestrian, hold your breath when cars go by, cuz of the dust”, you know. And I mean it’s absurd. How can you possibly not breath when the cars are going by on the street? And it just went from the horrific to the ridiculous.” – from “Interview and Segments” a CD released in 1990 by True North/Epic. Anonymous submission.
So I’m living here in California, it’s Friday and it’s going to rain. The climate models indicate we could hear from our geiger counters today for the first time since the nuclear disaster in Japan started. I know it will seem like a trivial amount of exposure and folks will say “don’t worry!” But what I’m worried about is that the Fukushima situation is currently completely out of control. Our leaders have as little clue as to what happens next as they did in the early days of the BP disaster. When the time comes, they’ll just shift the goalposts like Cockburn recounts in his Chernobyl story.
I’ve thought for a long time that nuclear energy just does not add up. The risks are too great to justify the rewards. There are better choices emerging in the alternative energy sector. If you’re a proponent of the technology, please take a moment to reconsider. Because that stuff’s gonna come down on you sooner or later.
Ain’t it a shame, about the radium rain?
The Western North Carolina Green Building Council is launching a new team based weatherization program, called Neighbor Saves. Please share it with your networks!
December 8th will mark one year since I was sworn in as a member of your Asheville City Council. It’s been a learning curve like no other in my life. Thanks for all of the support that’s been offered by friends and all of the prodding that been offered by others. I’ve managed to help get a lot done in this first year, and I’ve still got a ways to go. My colleagues on Council and staff have been patient and helpful as I’ve learned the ropes.
This week I’ll offer some different ways of looking at what’s been accomplished this year. The Wins, The Vote Spreads, and The Chronology will be featured in separate posts to give everyone various ways at looking at what’s what. I reviewed the minutes of all the Council meetings through Nov. 9 and recorded the stuff that I thought would be helpful for my personal reflection as well as your public reflection. It won’t be perfect, but it’s the best you’ll get anywhere.
Today’s chapter, The Wins, focuses on those things that made good on my campaign promises as well as several bonus items. I haven’t gotten everything done yet, but some big strides have been made.
When elected, I promised to try to make Asheville more affordable and more sustainable. I promised to work to increase multimodal infrastructure. I promised to make Asheville more welcoming to her LGBT citizens. I promised to help balance the budget and protect our progressive priorities. After the jump, you’ll find my list of The Wins.