Lawsuit Challenges TVA’s Attack on Solar Energy in the South

Lawsuit Challenges TVA’s Attack on Solar Energy in the South

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media Contacts
Howard Crystal, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 809-6926, [email protected]
Daniel Tait, Energy Alabama, (256) 812-1431, [email protected]
Erin Jensen, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0722, [email protected]
Michael Hansen, Gasp, (205) 701-4270, [email protected]
Jennifer Rennicks, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, (865) 235-1448, [email protected]

Lawsuit Challenges TVA’s Attack on Solar Energy in the South

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (September 5, 2018) — Five climate and energy-conservation groups today sued the Tennessee Valley Authority for imposing discriminatory electricity rates that discourage homeowners and businesses from investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Alabama, notes that the utility’s new fixed “grid-access charge” will, for the first time, require its customers to pay a mandatory electricity fee regardless of their energy usage. Such fixed fees make rooftop solar less cost-effective.

The utility is also reducing electricity rates for large businesses. This move encourages companies to continue relying on its fossil fuel-powered energy rather than investing in distributed solar. The new rates also cut costs for the biggest energy users, discouraging efficiency.

The utility’s board of directors, with a majority appointed by President Trump, has now given final approval to all of these rate changes.

“TVA’s outrageous new rates penalize people working hard to save energy and money while rewarding big companies that run up huge electricity bills,” said Howard Crystal, a senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “This perverse plan forces customers to prop up dirty, outmoded power plants instead of transitioning to renewable power. We desperately need clean-energy progress and efficiency investments to protect our communities and the environment.”

As detailed in today’s lawsuit, the utility has failed to disclose the environmental impacts of these rate changes, in violation of federal law. The new rates will inevitably result in more energy generated by power plants that run on fossil fuels — creating unnecessary pollution and worsening the climate crisis. TVA must address the damage the new rates will cause in an environmental impact statement.

“TVA continues to lose its leadership position on renewable energy and energy efficiency. TVA’s rate changes are about one thing and one thing only,” said Daniel Tait, technical director for Energy Alabama. “Killing energy efficiency and renewable energy to protect its monopoly stranglehold on regular folks.”

“Clean, renewable energy like rooftop solar represents a tremendous opportunity in Alabama to create new jobs, generate homegrown energy, save customers and businesses money, and reduce impacts on human health,” said Gasp Executive Director Michael Hansen. “TVA’s so-called ‘grid access charge’ will disincentivize solar energy and all its benefits.”

“The TVA’s notoriously high bills already force working families and low-income households to choose between feeding their families and keeping the lights on,” said Damon Moglen, senior strategic advisor with Friends of the Earth. “Now customers are being forced to bolster the highly polluting fossil fuel industry by paying even more for their electric bills. We must end the TVA’s disastrous and unfair practices and transition to a clean energy system that is accessible and affordable to everyone.”

“TVA’s move to increase fixed fees on monthly bills is intended to undercut customers’ ability to control energy costs through energy efficiency and solar investments,” said Dr. Stephen A. Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “TVA is trying to mislead people by talking about their ‘low rates’ but energy consumers don’t pay rates, they pay bills, which are calculated as a rate times consumption plus fixed fees. Customers in the TVA service territory have some of the highest bills in the United States. The devious ‘grid access charge’ will only accelerate the high-bills problem by increasing fixed fees and stifling efforts to control electric consumption by families and small businesses, leading to higher costs and more pollution. This legal action seeks to educate people about what is happening to them each and every month.”

TVA is a federally owned corporation and the nation’s largest public power provider. It generates electricity for more than 9 million customers in Tennessee, northern Alabama, northeastern Mississippi, southwestern Kentucky, and portions of northern Georgia, western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia.

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Gasp, Conservation Groups Demand Lance LeFleur’s Resignation or Termination

Gasp, Conservation Groups Demand Lance LeFleur’s Resignation or Termination

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Eleven Conservation Groups Call for ADEM Director’s Resignation or Termination ahead of Annual Job Evaluation

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 30, 2018) — The bribery and corruption trial U.S. v. Gilbert, et al yielded many disturbing revelations, including the failures of leaders at the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the Alabama Environmental Management Commission (AEMC) to avoid conflicts of interest with those whom they regulate.

There and in many other instances, ADEM Director Lance LeFleur has failed to lead the Department in a manner that advances its official mission “to assure for all citizens of the State a safe, healthful and productive environment.”

Coincidentally, LeFleur’s annual job evaluation and public comments are due today, July 30.

This morning, Black Warrior Riverkeeper emailed its evaluation of Director LeFleur to the Personnel Committee of the AEMC, which oversees ADEM. The letter calls for LeFleur’s resignation or termination due to his consistent failure to lead and advance ADEM’s mission.

Groups signing Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s letter include Alabama Rivers Alliance, Cahaba River Society, Cahaba Riverkeeper, Choctawhatchee Riverkeeper, Environmental Defense Alliance, Friends of Hurricane Creek, Friends of the Locust Fork River, Gasp, Little River Waterkeeper, and Tennessee Riverkeeper.

For more information, contact Black Warrior Riverkeeper Staff Attorney Eva Dillard at [email protected] or 205-458-0095.

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About Black Warrior Riverkeeper

Black Warrior Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the Black Warrior River and its tributaries. The citizen-based nonprofit organization promotes clean water for the sake of public health, recreation, and wildlife habitat throughout the Black Warrior River watershed.

Ask Trey Glenn to Recuse Himself

EPA Region 4 Administrator Trey Glenn was paid by Balch & Bingham and Drummond Company as a consultant on the 35th Avenue Superfund Site. He has a clear and lasting conflict of interest and therefore must recuse himself permanently from all EPA matters involving the 35th Avenue Site or former clients.

Who Does Trey Glenn Work For?

Who Does Trey Glenn Work For?

Who Does Trey Glenn Really Work For?

Financial disclosures show the EPA Region 4 Administrator was paid at least $5,000 by Balch & Bingham for ‘Drummond/ABC Coke project’

by Michael Hansen | March 9, 2018

Yesterday I wrote a lengthy story about then-Sen. Jeff Sessions’ involvement in the corruption scandal related to the north Birmingham Superfund site. It turns out that his office was intimately involved with trying to pressure the EPA to back off cleanup efforts that Gasp has been working on for the past 7 years.

Today, I’d like to let you know about another shady piece of the puzzle. Back in August 2017, Onis “Trey” Glenn was appointed as EPA Region 4 administrator, which oversees the agency’s mission in eight states: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. You may recall that Glenn was the director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management from 2005–2009. His tenure as head of ADEM was controversial.

While he was pushing for the job as director of ADEM, Glenn approved invoices for engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie (which has since changed its named to Arcadis).