High voltage DC evidence that solar and wind can make coal go away with no need for natural gas –WWALS to Suwannee BOCC 2016-02-01

Sent today to the Suwannee Board of County Commissioners (PDF):

Dear Commissioners,

It’s good to see you have a workshop about Sabal Trail’s proposed river crossings on the agenda for tonight. WWALS, including its members in Suwannee County, continues to oppose any such crossings of the Suwannee River or the Santa Fe River, or anywhere in the fragile karst terrain of central Florida and south Georgia containing our drinking water in the Floridan Aquifer.

Here’s more evidence that solar and wind can make coal go away with no need for natural gas. A new study shows adding interstate high-voltage DC electric power lines to load-balance across the U.S. would enable a very rapid shift to solar and wind power, dropping CO2 emissions by 80% from 1990 levels by 2030, five years from now. Florida needs to do its part by deploying solar power for local production during sunny days, rather than wasting $3 billion on yet another natural gas pipeline.

“Better power lines would help U.S. supercharge renewable energy, study suggests,” by Puneet KolliparaJan., in Science, 25 January 2016, http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/01/better-power-lines-would-help-us-supercharge-renewable-energy-study-suggests

“Analysts have long argued that nations aiming to use wind and solar power to curb emissions from fossil fuel burning would first have to invest heavily in new technologies to store electricity produced by these intermittent sources—after all, the sun isn’t always shining and the wind isn’t always blowing. But a study out today suggests that the United States could, at least in theory, use new high-voltage power lines to move renewable power across the nation, and essentially eliminate the need to add new storage capacity.

“This improved national grid, based on existing technologies, could enable utilities to cut power-sector carbon dioxide emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2030 without boosting power prices, researchers report today in Nature Climate Change.”

“Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on US CO2 emissions,” byAlexander E. MacDonald, Christopher T. M. Clack, Anneliese Alexander, Adam Dunbar, James Wilczak & Yuanfu Xie, in Nature Climate Change, 25 January 2016, doi:10.1038/nclimate2921 http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nclimate2921.html

See for example the wind and solar power maps from that article, which show that Florida has more sunlight on average than Georgia (righthand map), and wind power elsewhere (lefthand map) can serve to balance cloudy days in Florida.

Such power lines could go in existing rights of way, and would not require drilling under any rivers.

And solar power brings local jobs. There are now more U.S. jobs in the solar industry than in all of oil and gas extraction; see “There Are Now More Solar Jobs In America Than Oil Extraction Jobs”, by Shane Ferro, Huffington Post, 14 January 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/solar-jobs-rising_us_569409e5e4b0cad15e65be87

Solar jobs keep booming, while oil and gas jobs remain flat or are declining:

That article notes that solar jobs don’t pay as well as oil or gas drilling, but on the other hand pipeline installation crews come in from somewhere else and do little for the local economy, while many solar jobs are local, and solar power directly reduces local electric bills.

Suwannee County can lead the way to the clean, safe, profitable solar future of Florida. A good next step beyond the resolution you already passed asking for the compressor station to be moved would be to oppose FPL and Spectra Energy’s plan to drill under the Suwannee and Santa Fe Rivers for the unnecessary, destructive, and hazardous Sabal Trail pipeline.

For the rivers and the aquifer,

John S. Quarterman, President

Here’s the previous letter from WWALS to SBOCC of January 19th, and one before that of December 2015.


You can join this fun and work by becoming a WWALS member today!