2 years ago

Alabama Power’s latest solar-without-subsidies move could protect state’s military bases

solar power military base

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC), the agency tasked with regulating the state’s utilities, this week approved solar energy proposals by Alabama Power that could help protect Ft. Rucker and the Anniston Army Depot during the next round of military base closures.

Earlier this year, Alabama Power established a groundbreaking new renewable energy program, seeking to boost its power from renewables—including solar—to 500 megawatt hours over the next six years. 500 megawatts of solar power is enough renewable energy to serve about 100,000 homes during an hour of peak sun intensity on cloudless days. Alabama Power already has 1,600 megawatts of hydro resources across Alabama, and 404 megawatts of wind generation from projects in Kansas and Oklahoma.

“This proposal provides a common-sense path for expanding renewables in Alabama,” Nick Sellers, Alabama Power’s vice president of regulatory and corporate affairs, said at the time the proposal was rolled out. “The Public Service Commission has been clear that they do not want renewables to be subsidized by all of our customers. This filing achieves that policy directive while also allowing for solar and new renewable energy projects that are expected to provide economic benefit for all of our customers.”

The plan was mainly geared toward attracting large corporations to the state, many of which have instituted company-wide policies requiring a certain percentage of their power consumption to be fueled by renewable sources.

The PSC approved Alabama Power’s plan in September. This week, the Commission also approved the Power Company’s first two solar projects to be built under the plan — one each at Ft. Rucker and the Anniston Army Depot.

In 2007, Congress set a goal for the Department of Defense to fill at least 25 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2025.

The Anniston Army Depot, a state-of-the-art maintenance facility, employs 4,100 total soldiers and civilians. Ft. Rucker, the Army’s aviation training base, supports a daytime population of just under 14,000, including about 5,800 people in uniform, 7,600 civilian and contract employees and 3,300 military Family member residents. Both installations are boons for their respective region’s economy, attracting suppliers and other private sector businesses to the area.

Solar plants at the two Alabama bases will produce approximately 10 megawatts each, enough combined power to service over 4,000 homes. The cost of the two projects will be just south of $50 million, but the benefits could be significant in the next couple of years when the Department of Defense could consider another round of base closures.

Alabama fared well overall in the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, in spite of Ft. Rucker being slated for realignment. The base’s Aviation Technical Test Center moved to Redstone Arsenal in north Alabama and combined with the Redstone Technical Test Center to form Redstone Test Center, keeping the project in the state.

The BRAC Commission considers a wide range of variables when deciding which bases to close. Spokespersons for Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL2) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) both confirmed to Yellowhammer that Alabama Power’s renewable energy projects could be positive marks for the two Alabama bases if they are ever targeted for realignment.

The three Alabama Public Service Commissioners each questioned the Obama Administration’s energy policies, but voted to approve the projects to support the troops.

“I am concerned if we did not approve this measure that our vindictive, liberal president would probably try to punish Alabama and those members of the military who honorably serve in our great state at the Anniston Army Depot and at Fort Rucker by transferring them to other bases outside of the state,” said Commissioner Chip Beeker.

“I believe that the number one thing in this state we’ve got to look after are our veterans and jobs,” added Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh. “The slogan at this commission is jobs, jobs, jobs.”

“We want customers to understand that this project has broader benefits,” Alabama Power spokesman Michael Sznajderman told the Birmingham Business Journal. “We are working with the military to meet their goals, and they are important to the state, so it is important to us to help them. They have certain requirements they are trying to meet regarding renewable energy, and we have been having ongoing conversations with them and these are just the first projects out of the gate.”


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5 hours ago

Evidence mounts of full-scale Russian campaign to undermine American energy

The U.S. government for the first time ever blamed Russia for hacking into American energy infrastructure. The Trump administration action comes a little over two weeks after a House committee detailed Russian attempts to influence energy markets.

U.S. officials said a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” that began in March 2016, possibly earlier, is part of a campaign to target critical infrastructure, including energy, nuclear and aviation facilities.


The FBI and Department of Homeland Security on Thursday said hackers targeted small facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks,” Reuters reported.

It’s the first time the U.S. has directly called out Moscow for infrastructure hacking. It’s still unclear whether or not the hacks were successful or led to any damage, and the security alert did not name the companies targeted.

The Trump administration condemnation comes more than two weeks after the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology found Russian agents used social media outlets to embolden opposition to American energy production.

“Russia exploited American social media as part of its concerted effort to disrupt U.S. energy markets and influence domestic energy policy,” reads the committee’s report on Russian activities.

The committee found accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a Russian troll farm, published 9,097 social media posts from 2015 to 2017 targeting energy policies and projects. Thirteen Russians connected to IRA were indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller.

“The IRA targeted pipelines, fossil fuels, climate change, and other divisive issues to influence public policy in the U.S.,” the House committee found.

For years, Republicans and energy industry experts have worried Russian money was being used to undermine U.S. energy policy.

Intelligence officials confirmed in early 2017 in a declassified report on election meddling that the state-owned media outlet Russia Today (RT) ran “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.”

The House committee began the investigation in 2017 and asked Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to investigate whether or not Russians were using an offshore Bermuda-based law firm to funnel money to U.S. environmental groups.

Lawmakers asked Mnuchin to investigate whether or not the U.S.-based environmental group, the Sea Change Foundation, took $23 million from a Bermuda-based shell company with ties to Russian oligarchs in 2010 and 2011.

Sea Change gave millions to U.S.-based environmental groups, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters. All of those groups oppose hydraulic fracturing.

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6 hours ago

VIDEO: PA-18’s lessons — dangerous teachers — student walkouts … and more on Guerrilla Politics

Radio talk show host Dale Jackson and Dr. Waymon Burke take you through this week’s biggest political stories including:

— Were the results in Pennsylvania’s special election a rejection of Trump or Pelosi?

— Why did the executive director of the state’s superintendent association imply teachers were unstable and dangerous?

— Will the student walkouts bring about some real change on gun issues?

Clayton Hinchman joins Jackson and Burke to discuss his campaign for Congress in Alabama’s 5th Congressional District.

Jackson closes the show with a “Parting Shot” directed at Hillary Clinton where he begs her never stop talking.

7 hours ago

AlabamaWorks! is holding a career event for students to learn about jobs in the state

Edie Gibson and Antiqua Cleggett talk “Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA” which will be held April 24-25 at the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Complex.

Worlds of Work at SkillsUSA is designed to help 8-12th grade students “connect the dots” and clearly identify steps toward a college or career pathway as they enter their high school education.

More information is available here.

Subscribe to the Yellowhammer Radio Presents The Ford Faction podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

8 hours ago

Wounded Warrior running for Alabama State House representing Chambers and Lee Counties

Back in 2003, while U.S. Army Specialist Todd Rauch and his buddies were patrolling the streets of Abu Ghraib, an Iraqi city made famous by its notorious prison, a remotely-detonated mortar exploded near his patrol. His right shoulder and hand were severely injured in the blast.

Rauch was eventually flown to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and endured 12 surgeries to save his limbs from amputation.

He is now running as a Republican for the State House of Representatives district representing Chambers and Lee Counties.

So how did this Illinois-native find himself running for office in Alabama?

While recovering at the hospital, Rauch’s roommate was from Fort Payne and “all he talked about was Auburn and Auburn and Auburn,” Rauch told Yellowhammer News.


Rauch soon recovered from his injuries, and then his plans for a transition to civilian life became all about … Auburn, Auburn, Auburn.

“I applied to Auburn and felt like it was a good place to get a fresh start,” he said

Rauch studied psychology at Auburn University, with the intention of working in veteran services or military intelligence. He then worked for a time as an intelligence analyst and then began working in veterans’ services, helping his brothers and sisters in arms receive the benefits they were promised.

He’s running on a platform strengthening communities.

Rauch has a firm conviction that a community’s representative ought to be more present in the community itself, something he said he hasn’t seen much at the 75 city and county commission meetings he has attended over the last few years.

“I realized that there was no one there who was representing us in Montgomery to take those voices and those issue and those problems to Montgomery,” he said.

Rauch has put improving jobs and education among his platform principles.

He is a stanch supporter of the community college system, of which both he and his wife are products.

“It’s a good and affordable way to get your education and to get experience in college without jumping into a four-year university,” he said.

Rauch also supports expanding broadband access to rural areas. He said it is critical to the development of rural areas that have little internet and cell service.

“You’re not able to do your banking,” he said. “Some of these people aren’t even able to have home security systems because some of that works off of cell service.”

With the campaign motto, “Community. Country. Service,” Rauch said he wants to work to improve life for his constituents, and by extension, the rest of the state and country.

“Focusing on the community creates better environment for the kids, inspires better leaders, and provides better community for our state, and provides a better state for our country,” he said.

The GOP primary is June 5.

(Image: Todd Rauch for Alabama/Facebook)

The conservative alternative to Martha Roby gains momentum as Terry Everett, lawmakers endorse Barry Moore

State Rep. Barry Moore’s campaign for Congress recently received strong endorsements from the district’s former congressman and a dozen of Alabama’s most conservative state lawmakers.

“Since I left Congress, government has grown, our representation has wavered, and District 2 values have been casted aside,” said former Republican Congressman Terry Everett, who represented the district from 1993-2009. “We need to make a change, and I am privileged to support Representative Barry Moore for Congress.”

Everett’s powerful endorsement comes days after 12 of the state’s most conservative lawmakers gathered in Montgomery to endorse Barry Moore, whose conservative record they witnessed firsthand while working alongside him in the State Legislature.

Wetumpka State Rep. Mike Holmes told reporters that the district has “an opportunity to send a strong, unapologetic conservative to Washington,” and Montgomery State Rep. Dimitri Polizos agreed, saying that Moore is a “proven conservative leader” who will “stand with President Trump and give our district the representation it deserves.”

Visit Barry Moore’s website, his Facebook page and @RepBarryMoore on Twitter to learn why Terry Everett and others believe in his vision to Make Alabama Great Again!

(Paid for by Barry Moore for Congress)