Energy policy to change?

Published 8:49 am Wednesday, November 4, 2009

By Staff
Kerry Whipple Bean
If federal legislation requiring that states get 15 to 25 percent of their energy from renewable sources, Alabama would have a long way to go, Public Service Commissioner Susan Parker told members of the Brewton Rotary Club Monday — even though Alabama has been using renewable hydropower for decades.
Currently, the proposed legislation does not allow states to count hydro power that was established before 1992 — and much of the hydro power Alabama uses comes from waterways that were dammed long before that date, she said.
But Parker said she and other public service commissioners are lobbying the federal delegation to make the renewable energy bill more fair to southeastern states, many of which don’t have the same opportunities for renewable power — such as wind — as other areas of the country.
Parker, a former state auditor, is seeking her second four-year term on the three-member commission. She has no Democratic opposition in the primary yet, but Republican Chip Brown of Mobile announced last month he plans to run for the seat.
Energy efficiency also likely isn’t enough to make up Alabama’s deficit in renewable energy, Parker said.
But federal stimulus funding for both Alabama Power Company and the Public Service Commission can begin to make a dent in improving energy efficiency, Parker said.
APC has received a grant to install “smart meters” at the homes of its customers. Those meters would allow customers to have more control over the use of power at their homes, which would allow them to take advantage of lower rates during off-peak hours.
Because those smart meters are difficult to use, the PSC has received $1 million for the next two years to educate people how to use the meters, Parker said.
If other folks are as technologically challenged as I am, I think that program might be more difficult than lobbying Congress on the energy bill.
Kerry Whipple Bean is publisher of The Brewton Standard. She can be reached at 867-4876 or by e-mail at