Month: December 2020

Op-Ed: Federal Decisions Could Prevent Bailouts for Ohio Utilities

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享John Finnigan for the Cleveland Plain Dealer:Ohio-based utilities FirstEnergy and AEP are trying to get subsidies for several old, dirty coal plants owned by their sister companies. These assets are losing money because customers can buy cheaper power from new, cleaner renewable energy and natural gas plants. And instead of closing their outdated Ohio plants, the powerful utilities have made proposals to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to bail them out. By guaranteeing the purchase of power for the next eight years, the deals would force Ohioans to pay billions of dollars to keep the FirstEnergy and AEP plants running.The PUCO should reject the bailouts: There is a strong business case against them, plus the extra costs and pollution would greatly harm customers and the environment. But in case the PUCO does approve these bailouts, two new developments at the national level will help ensure the lousy deals don’t go through in the end.First, the U.S. Supreme Court just upheld the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) rule on demand response, an important service that pays customers to conserve energy when the grid is overloaded and struggling to produce enough power to meet demand. FERC is the federal agency tasked with keeping our electricity rates fairly priced, and the court’s ruling recognizes the value of a competitive energy marketplace.Moreover, the decision reflects the overall aim of federal electricity regulation: to advance an efficient and economic marketplace that favors just and reasonable rates. Put another way, national law respects a system that levels the playing field for power producers and allows the least-cost option to succeed. Bailing out FirstEnergy’s and AEP’s uncompetitive power plants is the opposite of just and reasonable, not to mention far from the least-cost option.Part of the PUCO’s mission is also to ensure an environment that fosters competition. But if it will not, federal regulators can and should uphold those principles. In other words, federal regulators will need to bail out the Ohio regulators, if they fail in their duty to protect customers.Second, other power companies filed a new complaint with FERC attacking the FirstEnergy and AEP bailout plans. These companies include NRG and Dynegy – two of the nation’s largest independent power producers – and they want FERC to revoke a prior blanket approval that allows FirstEnergy and AEP to buy electricity from power plants owned by their affiliate companies. FERC normally will look closely at these transactions to ensure a competitive process is used and customers receive a fair price.In this case, FERC gave blanket approval for FirstEnergy and AEP to buy electricity from their affiliates because they assured FERC they would do so through the regional competitive power auction process. The auctions are an open and transparent process where all the regional power producers submit bids, and the lowest priced bids are selected. This would keep utility-affiliated power plants on equal footing with other power producers. The process also aims to protect customers from corporate nepotism and paying above-market prices through sweetheart, no-bid contracts, as in this case.NRG and Dynegy rightfully claim the FirstEnergy and AEP bailouts – by locking in prices and guaranteeing a power purchase from their own generators for the next eight years – would undermine the competitive auctions. Indeed, the combined bailouts would force customers to pay nearly $6 billion more than market prices. Unfortunately, FirstEnergy and AEP did not use an arm’s length process here – they entered into the deals with their affiliates with no competitive bidding, no review by an independent party, and no negotiation on the price. If FERC upholds the complaint by NRG, Dynegy, and others, as it should, this would block the FirstEnergy and AEP bailout plans, even if the PUCO approves them.We still hold out hope the PUCO will do the right thing and protect customers, the environment, and Ohio’s competitive energy market by rejecting the bailouts. Yet, FirstEnergy and AEP are two of the nation’s largest utility companies, headquartered in Ohio, so the PUCO could succumb to political pressure. If it does approve the bailouts, the federal demand response ruling and the complaint by several power companies are positive signs the bailouts will fail their next test: review by FERC and the federal courts.Bailouts for FirstEnergy, AEP should be rejected: John Finnigan (Opinion) Op-Ed: Federal Decisions Could Prevent Bailouts for Ohio Utilitieslast_img read more

Offshore wind, battery linked in Scottish power project

first_imgOffshore wind, battery linked in Scottish power project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享UPI:The first battery used to store energy from wind power from a facility offshore Scotland was installed Wednesday, Norwegian energy company Equinor said.Equinor, formerly known as Statoil, started handing out contracts to deliver a 1 megawatt lithium battery storage system for the Hywind wind farm off the Scottish coast last year. The company said Wednesday the system was connected so that Hywind power could move through submarine cables to the battery storage facility and then onto the Scottish grid.“As the wind is not always blowing energy storage technologies like batteries and other ways of storing electricity, is expected to become increasingly important to secure grid stability,” the company’s statement read.For Equinor, the battery component for wind energy adds support to its efforts to complement its oil and gas portfolio with “profitable renewable energy.” The company took “oil” out of its name earlier this year to reflect a changing energy business landscape.Sebastian Bringsvaerd, a development manager for Hywind and Batwind at Equinor, said the facility could serve as a teaching ground for the emergence of battery storage systems for wind. “We want to teach the battery when to hold back and store electricity, and when send power to the grid, thus increasing value of the power,” he said in a statement. “The value in storage is not necessarily in the amount of energy you can store, but how you optimize, control and offer smarter energy solutions.”More: Batteries make offshore wind energy debutlast_img read more

Analysts doubt business value of Zinke’s military base plan for coal exports

first_imgAnalysts doubt business value of Zinke’s military base plan for coal exports FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A proposal being considered by the Trump administration to use U.S. West Coast military installations for exporting coal and liquefied natural gas would face significant bureaucratic, economic and national security obstacles before it could become a reality. Even if it cleared those obstacles, the proposal would likely fail in its aim to circumvent environmental opposition in Western states, according to numerous experts.“It doesn’t seem to make sense from a business perspective, from a permitting perspective, and from a national security perspective,” said Tom Hicks, a former acting undersecretary of the U.S. Navy who is now a principal at the Mabus Group, a firm that consults on matters including energy. “… You just wouldn’t do it for all kinds of reasons.”U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke described the proposal in a recent interview with the Associated Press as a way to advance national security by boosting exports of U.S. fuels to Asian markets.However, a move to site export facilities on military bases would require government agencies and developers to address security and safety concerns, including concentrations of people, the presence of ammunition depots, and critical infrastructure and assets such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Experts were also skeptical about how much red tape the idea would actually cut, because developing export facilities would still require state and federal approvals that opponents could contest.“If you are looking at exports off the West Coast, whether it’s LNG or coal or oil or any other energy commodity, you are just going to get resistance from the local population,” Bob Ineson, executive director of global LNG research at IHS Markit, said about the Trump administration proposal. “And I’m not sure that using a federal site is going to change that. You’ve still got to go through the approval process. You’ve still got to get rail or pipe in there.”More ($): Proposal to export gas, coal from US military bases faces major obstacleslast_img read more

Key Australian energy adviser backs renewables over coal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Sydney Morning Herald:The federal government’s top energy adviser Kerry Schott says the plunging cost of renewables will force Australia’s remaining coal plants to close even earlier than planned, as mining giant BHP renewed calls for a price on carbon to urgently slash national emissions.Energy Security Board chair Dr. Schott on Monday predicted that renewables would force many of Australia’s remaining coal-fired power plants to make an early exit from the energy market, by beating them on price.“Commercial reasons will be made about retiring coal plants and they’re likely to get dropped out the door faster than their technical lives would suggest,” she said at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia event in Melbourne.But she said the transition must be well managed to avoid a hasty rush to renewables pushing up energy prices.More: Coal’s days are numbered, top government adviser says Key Australian energy adviser backs renewables over coallast_img read more

The Prudent Mariner

first_imgThe Prudent MarinerThe Prudent Mariner The Prudent Mariner, the first novel by Savannah native Leslie Walker Williams, offers her a spectacular debut into the world of Southern American literature. Set in the coastal region of Georgia where she was raised, Williams crafts a story that begins with a lynching begat by a tale of sibling animosity, and the subject of race, the one thread in our social fabric that always seems so near to unraveling, permeates virtually every aspect of the text. So too does the multifaceted role of the woman in the South; Williams subtly confronts the complexity of being a woman in the face of familial obligations and societal expectations. Rich in detail, Williams gives readers much to consider about life below the Mason-Dixon Line.last_img

“Hell of the High Country” Bike Race Set to Challenge Cyclists

first_img“Hell of the High Country” Bike Race Set to Challenge Cyclistsstory and video by Eric CrewsCycling in the High Country of North Carolina is known for its challenging climbs, screaming fast descents, and scenic vistas of the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains. But if Andrew Stackhouse, creator of the Boone-Roubaix, gets his way, the area’s scenic gravel roads and their steep grueling climbs will soon be added to that ever growing list of reasons to ride in the High Country. Stackhouse, owner of Pirate Race Productions, has partnered with the local non-profit “Wine to Water” to present Boone’s latest cycling challenge, the Boone-Roubaix (Roo-bay), alternately known as, The Hell of the High Country. The ride takes willing participants on a tour of some of the High Country’s steepest and most challenging climbs with the large majority of those climbs taking place on gravel roads where the cyclists will have to battle poor traction, difficult road conditions and the constant threat of flat tires in order to succeed.The event consists of three separate divisions and the longest race, the Gran Parcours, will cover 69 miles of roads, 6 of which take place on some of the area’s most scenic gravel roads. “We modeled the Boone-Robaix after the Paris-Roubaix, which is known as The Hell of the North,” event organizer Andrew Stackhouse said in a recent interview with the Mountain Times. “It’s unique and difficult, but a fun challenge for cyclists.” It will be a challenge that many cyclists from other areas who are not accustomed to riding in the High Country will experience for the first time. The course follows a well-known series of country roads that a devoted group of area cyclists have been enjoying for years. By taking their high-performance road bikes off the beaten path and onto, as they call it, the Western Carolina Pave`, these High Country cyclists have created an almost legendary mystique surrounding these roads.“The mixed terrain aspect makes this ride really unique,” John Fennel, an employee at Magic Cycles Bike Shop in Boone, said recently. “With the winter we’ve had, road conditions could be anywhere from packed almost-as-good-as-concrete to soupy mud – conditions most road racers aren’t accustomed to.”“Roby Greene, Flannery Fork, and some of these others roads are just classic,” Josheph Grimes, an employee at Boone Bike & Touring said. “You’re more likely to see a farmer driving a tractor than you are a car, there’s livestock feeding on the side of the road, sometimes there are chickens halfway in the road. That type of stuff is definitely not something that folks from off the mountain have any idea about.”To learn more about the event and how you can register for the 1st ever “Hell of the High Country,” visit www.pirateraceproductions.comto view the video visit:

Daily Dirt: Skier Numbers Down, Climate Change Affecting Mascots, Conservation Alliance Awards

first_imgYour weekly news blog from the most trusted source in the Blue Ridge…Eagles Nest Outfitters, Black Diamond Equipment and The Forest Group win The Conservation Alliance Outstanding Partnership Award for 2014Eagles Nest Outfitters, Black Diamond Equipment and The Forest Group were the selected winners of The Conservation Alliance Outstanding Partnership Award for 2014. The award recognizes member companies who go above and beyond in building relationships with Conservation Alliance grantees.Wild South and ENO have worked together over the past year to engage thousands of people through the “Wild South Wednesdays” environmental education and advocacy campaign. The campaign has expanded to include other outdoor retailers that support Wild South’s mission and highlighted the mutual passion for protecting the South’s wild places.Conservation Alliance grantees from the past two years may nominate member companies for the award recognition.“ENO has become a major leader in the Southeast and we nominated them for this award because our ‘Wild South Wednesdays’ campaign drastically raised awareness for our work to protect the last best places and collaborate with outdoor retailers partners as well,” said Benjamin Colvin, Wild South’s Development Director.The Wild South Wednesday campaign collaborated with regional outdoor retailers and leaders including ENO, Rock Creek Outdoors, Alabama Outdoors, Mountain High Outfitters, Mast General Store, Sunrift Adventures, Deltec Homes, Footsloggers, RootsRated and others that form a network through which an impact is made on the protection of wild places and wild things in the South.Climate Change Threatens Real-Life Species Behind Iconic College MascotsA new National Wildlife Federation report details that climate change is hurting the real-life species that are mascots for many of America’s college athletic programs.Climate change is the most serious environmental threat today to many animals and plants and urgent action is needed at all levels, according to Mascot Madness: How Climate Change is Hurting School Spirit.Mascot Madness looks at the best available science on how climate change is impacting many of America’s best-known mascots, from familiar species like bears and bison to exotic cats like lions and tigers. Warmer temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and rising sea levels are altering habitat in ways that can affect animals’ diet, range and behavior:Wolverines (U. of Michigan) rely on deep snowpack for building dens to raise their young and may be declared a threatened species as the climate continues to warm.Terrapins (U. of Maryland) and Gators (U. of Florida) face reproductive threats. When alligators overheat, more eggs hatch as males. In contrast, terrapins produce more females in hotter temperatures. Imbalances in sex ratios like these can be a threat to sustaining healthy populations.The entire range of the critically-endangered red wolf, a real-life inspiration for the North Carolina State Wolfpack, is found at only three feet elevation or less, making them extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels and hurricanes.Buckeyes (Ohio State) are threatened by stronger storms, deeper droughts, and more intense heat waves fueled by climate change and are being pushed to migrate north – into rival territory in Michigan.The National Wildlife Federation is America’s largest conservation organization inspiring Americans to protect wildlife for our children’s future.National Ski and Snowboard Visits Off 1.3 Percent Due to Dry West CoastThe National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) estimated that U.S. ski areas tallied an estimated 56.2 million skier and snowboarder visits during the 2013-14 season—a figure short of the 10-year industry average of 57.3 million, and down 1.3 percent from last season’s 56.9 million skier visits.If the West Coast had experienced an average amount of skier visits, nationally the ski industry would have been close to another record season.“With the drought and a rough start to the season in the Far West, an abundance of cold and snow in the East and Midwest, and near-perfect conditions in many parts of the Rocky Mountains, it’s hard to imagine a more complicated weather pattern over the course of one season,” said Michael Berry, NSAA president.Most of the country had a positive season, with the four resort regions from the Rockies to the Atlantic posting gains relative to last season and 10-season averages. Good snowfall contributed to increased visits in the Southeast (15 percent), Rocky Mountains (6.4 percent), Midwest (4.1 percent), and Northeast (0.6 percent)—collectively a 5.3 percent increase over last season and their third-best season in 36 years of available estimates.By contrast the Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest had very low snowfall well into the season, enough to drive a 27.7 percent decline in visits: a 27.5 percent drop for the Pacific Northwest and a 27.8 percent drop for the Pacific Southwest, reducing visitation to the second lowest level in 36 years.In longer perspective, visits nationally were up 10.2 percent in 2013-14 from a recent low of 51 million visits in 2011-12, and down 7.2 percent from the record high of 60.5 million in 2010-11.For more information visit read more

The Most Colorful Time to Get Tucker’d

first_imgStep outside, take a deep breath and let your lungs fill with paradise. This is fall at its very best, when autumn’s early arrival transforms Tucker County, West Virginia into an explosion of color. Loyal leaf peepers joyfully make their annual pilgrimage here and are rewarded with hues of blazing intensity. The legendary Leaf Peeper’s Festival, September 23rd – 25th, just might be the ultimate celebration of fall color. From the rugged beauty of the Blackwater Falls State Park to the pristine backcountry of the Dolly Sods wilderness and the breathtaking views at Lindy Point, this is a world untouched, unhurried, and unrivaled. Endless outdoor adventure makes getting “tucker’d” in Tucker County irresistible. Enjoy activities in the National Forest with epic mountain bike trails or gentle and scenic rail trails. A vast network of well-maintained trails allows firsthand access to a world of natural wonder. The Canaan Valley chairlifts run throughout the fall season, and just might be the best way to take in the colors of the valley and surrounding mountains. You’ll also find some of the East’s wildest areas here, including two Federal Wilderness Areas and Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge.canaanvalley-weisler-0022 Fall in Tucker County brings with it plenty of fairs, festivals and friskiness. Sip a craft beer, an espresso, or a hot chocolate, and savor the folksy warmth and spirited music of the season. Raise your mug with an “ale to autumn” at one of the area’s three microbreweries—Mountain State Brewing Company, Blackwater Falls Brewery and the newest addition, Stumptown Ales. Explore the charming nooks and crannies of the quaint small towns of Davis, Thomas and Parsons where lively street pubs, corner cafes and eclectic shops provide a warm welcome. Make fall more colorful than ever with a visit to Tucker County, West Virginia. To learn more or for a free Travel Guide, visit or call 800-782-2775.last_img read more

Free Climber Austin Howell dies in Linville Gorge

first_imgThe U.S. Forest Service is investigating the incident. Authorities said Howell was free climbing in one of the most challenging portions of the Linville Gorge. BURKE COUNTY, N.C. – Free soloist Austin Howell died Sunday after falling more than 80 feet from Shortoff Mountain in Burke County, officials said. Burke County Emergency Services Director Mike Willis said rescue crews were able to reach the victim by rappelling down the mountain about 90 minutes after the call for aid was made. Other climbers were performing CPR on the victim. Blue Ridge Outdoors had the opportunity to talk with Austin about his art and philosophy in 2016. You can get to know him better by reading the article here.last_img

Chile Asks For More Time To De-Mine Bolivian Border

first_imgBy Dialogo July 30, 2009 Chile has asked to extend by two years a deadline for the removal of landmines it planted on its border with Bolivia in the 1970s, according to Bolivia’s defense minister cited in the media. The clearing of the thousands of devices would be complete in 2014 instead of 2012 under the proposed “moratorium,” Defense Minister Walker San Miguel was quoted as saying by the daily La Razon. He did not say whether Bolivia would accept the request. Chile began the process of clearing the landmines in 2005 under the terms of a Mine Ban Treaty it signed in 1997. Chile sowed the mines during a period of tension with Bolivia, which had sought and failed in the 1970s to regain access to the Pacific Ocean. Bolivia, a poor landlocked nation, lost sea access during an 1879-1904 war with Chile.last_img read more

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