Address leftover fossil fuel infrastructure & lifecycle of renewables

Old infrastructure should be properly disposed of or recycled and not pose an undue burden on frontline communities.

Advocates will need to make recommendations for old infrastructure during the transition away from fossil fuels. How does the community ensure that the old infrastructure is dismantled, disposed of, or recycled responsibly?

Policy recommendations

Ensure that dealing with the old fossil fuel infrastructure does not result in a utility bail out. For example, FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. plans to shutter the Bruce Mansfield power plant’s because of they could not compete with cleaner energy sources.[1] As states transition away from fossil fuels and determine how to manage what is left, policy-makers should not bail out utilities on the backs of customers.

Community should make recommendations for the disposal and/or recycling of fossil fuel infrastructure so that it is not dumped in BIPOC and frontline communities resulting in more hazardous waste.

Promote potential job opportunities that can be created in the retirement of old fossil fuel infrastructure. The jobs potential should be a central element of Just Transition where good high-paying careers are created for displaced workers.

Create a mechanism to start paying for decommissioning costs now, while most customers are still connected. Otherwise, those with means could flee local communities and the remaining customers, who are mostly BIPOC and frontline, will get stuck with the decommissioning costs.

Address the lifecycle of renewables:

  • Consider the quality and safety of materials being installed in renewable energy.
  • Put disposal plans in place. “PV systems may be decommissioned for several reasons. Repowering a solar system with newer technology that is more efficient or has a higher nameplate capacity can provide even more electricity from the same amount of space. The replaced PV modules can be reused in other projects as they may still have plenty of useful life left. Often these modules can find new opportunities in charitable, off-grid or even grid-connected projects, provided they continue to meet the appropriate building codes and safety standards.”[2]

Examples

References

  1. Chediak, Mark et al. “California’s Fire ‘Bailout’ for PG&E, Edison Clears Hurdle.” Claims Journal, 10 Jul. 2019. Accessed 4 Sep. 2019.
  2. End-of-life Considerations for Solar Photovoltaics.” Solar Energy Industries Association, 2019. Accessed 27 Jul. 2019.