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A new study shows health disparities cost Texas billions of dollars; Senate rejects impeachment articles against Mayorkas, ending trial against Cabinet secretary; Iowa cuts historical rural school groups.

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The Senate dismisses the Mayorkas impeachment. Maryland Lawmakers fail to increase voting access. Texas Democrats call for better Black maternal health. And polling confirms strong support for access to reproductive care, including abortion.

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Rural Wyoming needs more vocational teachers to sustain its workforce pipeline, Ohio environmental advocates fear harm from a proposal to open 40-thousand forest acres to fracking and rural communities build bike trail systems to promote nature, boost the economy.

Report: Major TN utility lags in clean energy transition

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Thursday, October 26, 2023   

A report by the Sierra Club rates utility companies for what they say they are doing to transition to cleaner energy sources, compared to what they are actually doing.

In the analysis, the Tennessee Valley Authority is slowly reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and received a "D" grade for its transition to renewable energy.

Amy Kelly, field organizing strategist for the Tennessee chapter of the Sierra Club, said the TVA has proposed adding six natural gas turbines to the Allen Combustion plant in Memphis. She warned of rate hikes for customers.

"Even though they say their rates are low, by adding more gas, they're adding this volatile fuel cost to people's bills," Kelly pointed out. "I think people should demand that other options be looked at. We already know that solar is cheaper than gas."

Kelly pointed out the TVA has made promises to decarbonize 70% by 2030, and 80% by 2035. She argued the utility is not making sufficient moves to meet the goal.

The TVA is accepting public written comments on the proposal for the turbines by Nov. 13.

Kelly added the Sierra Club has spoken with local residents who would rather see the TVA invest in renewable energy for the area. She reported they are concerned about pollution, since the current combustion turbines have not been running at the Memphis site.

"They are worried about their water supply, which is an aquifer that supplies the city's water," Kelly pointed out. "And that there was no, really, consultation with the community before these plans were put out, as well as there's no alternative that TVA is looking at."

Kelly emphasized adding six turbines to the Memphis site would have very little impact on local employment.

The Inflation Reduction Act passed last year made funding available to companies to fight climate change.

Noah Ver Beek, energy campaigns analyst for the Sierra Club's Beyond Coal Campaign and the report's co-author, said many utilities are still delaying the transition to cleaner energy. In part, he said it's because many utility incentives are tied to the performance of fossil fuel-based assets.

"The Inflation Reduction Act, the IRA, it includes this great big pot of money that utilities can take advantage of to build out more wind and solar and storage," Ver Beek stressed. "At the same time, we see across modeling that's going to lower utility bills for Americans, that's going to increase reliability. But we haven't seen utilities really take advantage."

Ver Beek added people of color and low-income communities continue to be exposed to higher levels of dangerous air pollution than other groups, and are at higher risk of developing chronic diseases related to pollution.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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