– Dec. 21, 2022 –

Take a trip with me

It’s about 650 miles from Memphis to Savannah, a distance that until recently would defeat many electric vehicles. The Current’s Mary Landers chronicled her relatively painless experience earlier this month picking up her new Kia EV6 in Memphis and driving it home to Savannah. The road trip required a little planning and extra time, mainly to deal with glitchy charging stations, but overall it went smoothly. Why Memphis? Good question. The Memphis Kia dealer was the nearest one not charging thousands over the sticker price last summer when the car was ordered. In an ironic twist, the car’s invoice showed it was imported through the Port of Brunswick before being shipped to Memphis. Good one, Kia.

Georgia legislators are expected to take up some electric vehicles issues in the coming session, including how to best make up for the gasoline road tax EVs don’t pay, and how to expand the state’s charging infrastructure. A study committee that wrapped up its work last month published its findings online. The 500-page report contains oodles of background and trends on Georgia and the nation’s switch to electric transportation.

All charged up and ready to leave the dealership in Memphis. That’s our salesman Zach on the right. Credit: Stewart Dohrman

Rate hike coming

Speaking of electricity, it’s going to cost Georgia Power customers more to keep the lights on and the EVs running in 2023. As Capitol Beat’s Dave Williams reports, the Georgia Public Service Commission approved a rate hike Tuesday. It wasn’t as big as initially feared, but clean energy advocates and the solar industry were disappointed in the short shrift the regulators gave to rooftop solar at the urging of the monopoly utility. “The PSC’s failure to expand the pilot monthly netting program and only offer a temporary increase for exported energy will keep the state’s rooftop solar sector mired at the bottom of the national rankings,” tweeted the Solar Energy Industry Association.

Meanwhile, two separate investigative reports scrutinize Georgia Power’s parent company, Southern Company. An NPR/Floodlight investigation looks at how six news sites in Alabama and Florida are being influenced by money from utility companies, including Southern’s Alabama Power. The New York Times looked at how Google is having trouble meeting its renewable energy goals in the Southeast because the region is a stronghold of state-regulated utilities and lacks a competitive market.

Solar panel covers the roof of this home near Savannah High School. Credit: Mary Landers/The Current

Proposed dredging provokes lawsuit

One Hundred Miles is suing the Army Corps of Engineers over its plans to dredge the Brunswick harbor next summer, when the activity most endangers sea turtles. The hopper dredges used to maintain the harbor can vacuum up turtles along with sand, injuring or killing them in the process. Dredging has previously been restricted to the winter months when fewer turtles are present, resulting in low mortality for the threatened loggerheads. The advocacy group wants the Corps to produce better evidence that dredging during nesting season won’t harm the loggerhead sea turtle population, which is still recovering from steep declines last century.

The lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia alleges the Corps did not conduct a sufficient environmental review as required by the National Environmental Policy Act.

“We already know that seasonal dredging windows work and that our state agencies and federal agencies have relied on them for as long as they have these three decades, because they do safely balance the need to keep our harbors safe and navigable with protections for our wildlife,” One Hundred Miles’ Catherine Ridley told The Current.

The Corps has 60 days from the Dec. 15 filing to respond.

A loggerhead returns to the sea after nesting. Credit: Georgia DNR

Briefly noted

Included in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act were provisions banning the buying and selling of shark fins in the U.S. Coastal Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter voted yes on the NDAA and was a cosponsor of H.R.2811 – Shark Fin Sales Elimination Act of 2021. Savannah has been a top exporter of shark fins in recent years as other states tightened regulations on the industry. Shark fin soup is a delicacy is some parts of Asia.

Not that you’ll need it with the coming cold snap, but Georgia’s beach water quality and swimming advisories are moving to a realtime map that will allow the public to find information on the go. The Georgia Healthy Beaches advisory map is available
on mobile and desktop platforms for beach goers to pinpoint their location and find current advisories, as well as parking, first aid, and amenity information.

Here’s a tip for keeping backyard citrus trees alive when the temperature drops below freezing, as is expected along the entire Georgia coast starting Friday. “Watering the ground underneath citrus trees a day or two before predicted cold weather can help quite a bit, as moist soil radiates more ground warmth than dry soil,” HGTV suggests. Remove weeds, grass, and mulch under the trees before you water so the sun can better warm the moist soil.

Finally, a gift for readers, in the form of a video taken off Ossabaw earlier this month. Georgia DNR collected this drone video of a right whale nicknamed Medusa and her calf. Medusa is at least 41 years old. This is her 7th known calf. It’s one of four right whale calves spotted in Georgia so far this season.

YouTube video

Coast Watch will not be published next week. We’ll resume publication on Jan. 4, 2023.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

If you have feedback, questions, concerns, or just like what you see, let us know at thecurrentga@gmail.com.

With a little planning and patience, an EV road trip goes smoothly

An electric vehicle road trip from Memphis to Savannah reveals a growing public charging network.

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Georgia lawmakers shelve controversial proposals on electric vehicles

ATLANTA – A legislative study committee looking for ways to help accommodate an expected increase in electric vehicles plying Georgia highways approved a series of wide-ranging recommendations Wednesday. This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service But the lawmakers either tabled or defeated proposals on some of the most controversial issues the […]

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State energy regulators approve Georgia Power rate hike

The $1.8 billion rate hike – down from Georgia Power’s original request of $2.9 billion – will raise the average residential customer’s bill by $3.60 per month starting Jan. 1.

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First two right whale calves of the season spotted off Georgia coast

Researchers spotted the first North Atlantic right whale mom and calf pair of the 2022-2023 season Wednesday off the coast of St. Catherines Sound.

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Support non-partisan, solutions-based investigative journalism without bias, fear or favor on issues affecting Savannah and Coastal Georgia.


Mary Landers is a reporter for The Current in Coastal Georgia with more than two decades of experience focusing on the environment. Contact her at mary.landers@thecurrentga.org She covered climate and...