On Record is a regular feature which lets South Carolina’s policy-makers speak their mind about the issues most important to them. If you’re interested in guest-blogging for On Record, email PPR Editor Logan Smith. Today’s column is from Lam Le and Kathryn Hilton of the Palmetto Environmental Action Coalition.
South Carolina business leaders and policymakers came together last week to discuss and exchange ideas on the imperative effort for clean energy and creating new jobs.
The South Carolina Clean Energy and Jobs Forum was presented by the University of South Carolina, The Nature Conservancy, the South Carolina Energy Office and Duke Energy. Each of the sponsors had representatives serving on the panels discussing energy efficiency, policy, and research.
Many environmentalists at the forum were concerned about Duke Energy’s plan for the William States Lee III Nuclear Generating Station. There was a lot of focus on the potential of nuclear energy as the most viable to meet our energy needs, and a much smaller emphasis on the potential of renewable energy. Duke Energy President and CEO Jim Rogers spoke about the company’s wind farms in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, stating that those states have “consistent wind” to harness as an energy source. The South Carolina climate, according to Rogers, supposedly does not have such potential. This seems to ignore that the Department of Energy has stated that existing technologies can harness an estimated 1,000 to 5,000 MW of wind power off of our coast.
Duke Energy is not exactly famous for a clean environmental record. In 2008, when Duke Energy announced the construction of a coal fired power plant in the Charlotte suburb of Cliffside, North Carolina, we fought alongside other climate activists to shut down the project. Unfortunately, the plant is expected to be operational this year.
Glenn Prickett from the Nature Conservancy spoke on the keynote panel alongside Rogers, and emphasized the fact that renewable energy does have some negative environmental impact as well. Such includes the impact of solar development on water and wildlife in the Mojave Desert, as well as the impact on fisheries in China in hydroelectric research and development.
“I understand that renewable energy is challenging, but do we need to defend poor little oil and gas and nuclear at the expense of solar?” commented Andrew Streit of the Solar Business Alliance.
Though it is important to recognize that there is no source of energy — including renewable and clean energy sources — that has zero environmental impact, we must not ignore that nuclear energy produces waste that we still have not yet found a permanent solution for.