31 Dec

‘Unusual Alliances’ in Broad Ohio Opposition to Federal Coal Bailout

first_img‘Unusual Alliances’ in Broad Ohio Opposition to Federal Coal Bailout FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Midwest Energy News:Ohio energy companies, state agencies and other groups are forming some unexpected alliances in their positions for and against a federal proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power over other forms of electricity.The proposed rule from the Department of Energy calls on FERC to revise its pricing rules to guarantee recovery of costs and profits for various coal and nuclear plants with on-site fuel storage. The move would protect those plants from some of the competition from natural gas generation and, to a lesser extent, from renewables.“This case is about whether Ohioans and other customers across the country will be made to subsidize uneconomic power plants at a time when Ohioans should be benefitting in their electric bills from lower prices in the competitive generation markets,” said a filing by the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel with federal regulators. “Making customers pay subsidies to power plant owners is a bad idea.”The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio likewise opposed the rule. “The PUCO…is deeply concerned about the additional costs that will be borne by Ohio’s consumers and businesses as a result of the DOE’s proposed rule,” said its filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The DOE’s failure to quantify the costs of the proposed rule “is also deeply concerning,” it added.Grid operator PJM Interconnection said the proposed rule “is unduly discriminatory and, therefore, unlawful in at least two critical respects.” Among other things, the rule would undermine federal law promoting competition in energy markets. Additionally, the “generic mandate of cost recovery improperly ignores the well-established rights of states and wholesale customers to challenge the prudence of particular utility costs.”PJM’s filing also noted that the Trump-Perry plan fails to consider recent rule changes that it and other grid operators have to follow to ensure reliability. “The shortsightedness of the DOE…suggests that reliability and resilience may not be the underlying goals of the DOE,” the comments noted.“The energy technologies of earlier generations are unable to compete in the present,” said the Environmental Defense Fund’s filing. In its view, the proposal goes against federal law forbidding “any undue preference or advantage” under the Federal Power Act.Although the Buckeye Institute in Columbus has not filed formal comments on the proposed rule, the free market group nonetheless opposes it. “Subsidies of any kind make outcomes worse for consumers,” said economic research analyst Quinn Beeson. If federal regulators ultimately determine that any changes are necessary to address a rapidly changing mix of power plants, “they should look to market-based solutions and not something as heavy-handed” as the Department of Energy’s proposed rule, she said.More: Unusual alliances emerge in Ohio over plan to prop up coal and nuclear plantslast_img read more

31 Dec

BP Unit Links Solar and Storage in Western U.S. Projects

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The BP-backed solar developer Lightsource sees a very compelling case for deploying energy storage in the Western U.S.All major utility-scale solar developers have added storage development talent, and some have begun regularly bidding on combined projects. But few have actually won bids for, much less constructed, hybrid plants. That makes it hard to determine just how central that kind of project is to their business models. Not so with Lightsource, the largest European solar developer, which launched its U.S. branch last year and soon after it received $200 million from oil and gas giant BP in exchange for a 43 percent ownership stake.North America Chief Commercial Officer Katherine Ryzhaya affirmed the company’s view on storage in a keynote interview at GTM’s Solar Summit in San Diego last week. “For a utility-scale solar developer, we’re not putting forward any proposals without storage, currently, to anybody west of the Colorado,” she said. “Every utility process, every bilateral at this point, at least on the West Coast, is looking at solar-storage hybrids.”The aggressive use of energy storage follows from Lightsource’s strategy of customer-driven project development. Traditionally, solar developers would start by nabbing a site and securing interconnection, then look around for an offtaker, Ryzhaya said. “I don’t think that’s the world we’re dealing in today. Today, it’s entirely flipped: It’s a customer-led business.”The old way prioritized least-cost development; under the customer-driven mentality, Lightsource crafts projects tailored to specific customer needs. Such a perspective is more amenable to the higher cost inclusion of storage, provided that it solves a problem that standalone solar can’t.Lightsource tracks the retirement of conventional power plants, Ryzhaya said, and seeks opportunities to backfill that gap with solar and storage. This combination is particularly attractive when plants retire in dense urban load pockets, where permitting a new gas plant would be exceptionally difficult.More: Lightsource: No More Solar Bids Without Energy Storage West Of The Colorado BP Unit Links Solar and Storage in Western U.S. Projectslast_img read more

31 Dec

Global utility company AES sees 12-gigawatt capacity growth by 2022 driven largely by renewables

first_imgGlobal utility company AES sees 12-gigawatt capacity growth by 2022 driven largely by renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):AES Corp. executives have laid out an ambitious plan to add nearly 12,000 MW of new capacity to the company’s portfolio by 2022, fueled in large part by the rapid development of the sPower renewables pipeline.“Our goal is to earn attractive returns while greening our portfolio,” AES President and CEO Andrés Gluski said Aug. 7 on the company’s second-quarter 2018 earnings call.AES has signed 1,500 MW of long-term power purchase agreements so far this year and is on track to exceed its internal projection of 2,000 MW for the full year, Gluski said.The company attributed a significant portion of this growth to renewable energy developer sPower, which AES bought in 2017 through a joint venture with Alberta Investment Management Corp. AES in February 2017 predicted sPower’s development pipeline of more than 10,000 MW of renewable energy projects would initially deliver about 500 MW of signed PPAs per year.Gluski pointed out that year-to-date sPower has about 1,200 MW of renewable capacity locked into long-term contracts with large corporate customers, such as Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc., as well as utilities. “This is more than double the 500 MW annually of signed PPAs that we expected to achieve when we acquired sPower last year,” Gluski said.“The business has outperformed our expectations since we acquired it, both from an operational and development perspective,” AES Executive Vice President and CFO Thomas O’Flynn said on the call. Because of sPower’s contributions, AES is now “on pace” to sign 2,000 MW to 3,000 MW of new renewable PPAs annually in 2019 and 2020, Gluski noted. “This would result in 7.5 GW of new renewable PPAs being signed through 2020, all of which would be online by 2022.”More ($): AES exceeding portfolio growth targets through long-term contractslast_img read more

30 Dec

You Say Tomato, I Say Global Warming

first_imgDear EarthTalk: I’ve been hearing more and more references to the need to clean up our agricultural practices for reasons pertaining to health, food quality, even global warming. What are the major environmental issues today associated with agriculture?   — Tony Grayson, Newark, NJWhat amazes many environmental advocates to this day is how the widespread adoption of synthetic chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers for use in agriculture was dubbed the “Green Revolution,” when in fact this post-World War II paradigm shift in the way we produce food has wreaked untold havoc on the environment, food quality and human health.Agricultural output has certainly increased as a result of these changes, but with the vast majority of the world’s farms now relying on petroleum-derived synthetic chemicals to grow crops and petroleum-derived fuels to drive the engines of production—modern agriculture has become overwhelmingly toxic to the atmosphere and is hastening global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that agricultural land use contributes 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions; here in the U.S. almost 20 percent of our carbon dioxide emissions come from agricultural sources.Intensive use of chemicals isn’t good for our nutrition intake, either. Overworked, depleted agricultural soils generate fruits and vegetables with fewer nutrients and minerals than those produced by farmers decades ago. And much of the food we eat is laced with chemicals that end up in our bloodstreams.Beyond its effect on the food we put in our bodies, modern agriculture generates large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and other fertilizers running off into our streams, rivers and oceans, compromising not only the quality of our drinking water and the health of riparian ecosystems, but also causing those huge oxygen-depleted ocean dead zones we hear about in coastal areas such as the Gulf of Mexico.Yet another issue with modern farming is the amount of animal waste generated and concentrated in small areas, which creates unsanitary and potentially dangerous conditions for the animals and humans alike. And the widespread use of antibiotics on farm animals to keep disease in check results in the development of stronger strains of bacteria that resist the antibiotics used by humans to ward off infection and sickness.Also, many worry about the potential impacts of the widespread use of genetic engineering, whereby genes in plants, animals and microorganisms are manipulated to select for specific traits. These genetically modified organisms, reports Greenpeace, “can spread through nature and interbreed with natural organisms,” thus contaminating the natural environment in unforeseeable and uncontrollable ways.The good news is that rapidly increasing consumer demand for healthier food is forcing agribusiness to see the wisdom of moving away from business-as-usual. Organic farming, which eschews chemical fertilizers and pesticides in favor of more natural choices, holds considerable promise for greening up our agricultural systems. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic cropland acreage averaged 15 percent increases between 2002 and 2008, although certified organic cropland and pasture accounted for only about 0.6 percent of U.S. total farmland in 2008. So we still have along way to go.CONTACTS: IPCC, www.ipcc.ch; USDA, www.ers.usda.gov/Data/Organic.last_img read more

30 Dec

The Steel Wheels Roll To MerleFest

first_imgThe Steel Wheels – brand new record in hand– head to MerleFest for the first time this week.The last time we chatted with Trent Wagler, he and mandolinist Jay Lapp had just wrapped up a multi-day bike tour that had them pedaling from Staunton to Roanoke and Lynchburg and up to Wintergreen. Pretty heady – and hilly – territory for two guys, two bikes, and a bunch of stringed instruments. Since then, Wagler, Lapp, along with Brian Dickel and Eric Brubaker, their mates in The Steel Wheels, have made bike touring a regular part of their calendar. You won’t see them on bikes this week, though, as the band heads down to Wilkesboro, North Carolina, for its first appearance at MerleFest. We caught up with Trent to chat about the new record, biking, and playing Doc Watson’s big party.BRO – When we last chatted, you and Jay had just finished your first bike tour. You still spending a lot of time on the bike?TW – Oh, yeah.  We have actually done two more bike tours since we talked. Jay and I did another duo tour through Michigan, and last year we did a full band bike tour for the first time. We even had three other riders join us, partly for fun and partly for the extra mechanical skills. We added more bikes to the mix, which added more possibilities for misuse. It’s been a consistent thing now since that first bike tour.BRO – Are you learning anything? Are the tours getting easier?TW – The more people we had, the more fun it was. That is something we definitely learned. There was something very special about those first two tours that Jay and I did; you are really isolated out there and really banking on this one other guy for support and energy. That’s special. But when you add more people to the mix, at least with the people we added – I mean, I am sure you could find some real sour apples who would make the thing a real drag – but we just had such a fun time with all the other riders. We also learned from the first year to the second and third that Michigan is a whole lot flatter than Virginia.BRO – Any future rides?TW – We want to keep cycling a part of what we do. As we start here in 2012, we’ve booked out in advance so far that we don’t think we can do a bike tour like we have done in recent years. Instead, we are looking at organizing some one day biking events around festivals or particular venues we are playing. We’ve got a bike ride we are going to lead at the Fayetteville Roots Festival in Arkansas, and we are playing at a festival called the Space Race Rumpus, which is all about cycling, in West Virginia. We are hoping to add a few more. It will be a little different, but we always have our bikes in the van. It’s one of those things that help keep us sane on the road.BRO – In the liner notes, you dedicate your new record, Lay Down, Lay Low, to “the good struggle.” Can you elaborate on that?TW – The idea of the good struggle came out of a discussion with a good friend of ours about what this record was all about.  I hit on this idea that we were all getting to the point in life where we are sorting out the long standing dreams we had when we were kids while struggling with the reality of having kids of our own and whatever it is that we think is a sensible dose of reality. In the midst of that, we are trying to find hope and joy in a life that sometimes feels like it is pulling you down. The phrase “the good struggle” came out of that. In the end, it describes everyone, from the parent who is trying to figure out how to feed a child healthy food when the kid wants to eat McDonalds every day to the person who is struggling to get up every day because of a mental health issue to the person who is working to build a home from logs he cut from his own land. It also came from a friend who actually inspired the song “Lay Down, Lay Low,” who certainly has struggled more than many of us could fathom. He was ready to take his life – ready to jump off a bridge – and he told me that story and what it was that brought him off that bridge, how he got back in his truck and drove home to begin that long journey back to a place where he felt safe and secure. That was the impetus for us to coalesce around, but the album has a lot of lightness with that darkness, and we tried to paint a canvas around this notion of a struggle that is a hopeful one.BRO – We are featuring “Spider Wings” on this month’s Trail Mix. Can you give me some background on this tune?TW – I had some friends who were premiering the documentary Coal Country – a well done film about mountaintop removal – in Charlottesville and they asked me about a week before the premiere to write a song and then perform it before the showing of the film. And I didn’t get it done. But I had another song that I knew from before and I used it and made it work. Then, the following week, “Spider Wings,” started to bubble up inside of me. That’s where it came from – from thinking about issues related to mountaintop removal.BRO – You guys will be making your first appearance at MerleFest this week. What does it mean to you and the band to be playing at the granddaddy of Americana music festivals?TW – It means a lot. Any band that ever picks up a fiddle or mandolin or banjo, at some point – whether they think will play it in a year or two or in ten years – thinks about playing MerleFest. After a while it sort of became a monkey on our back. We’d be playing in North Carolina and a fan would come up and say, “You know, you guys would be great at MerleFest!  Have you ever heard of MerleFest?” And we knew we had to play it. And now it just feels perfect – we have the new album out, and I feel we are ready to play MerleFest. Honestly, three or four years ago, when we were just getting started, I don’t think we could have showcased what we do as well. But now we are meeting MerleFest at the right time. It is going to be a perfect experience from top to bottom and we are honored to be there. The Steel Wheels will be hitting the stage at MerleFest on Thursday and Friday. If you are down there, make sure to catch them and, if you have a bike handy, maybe join them for a spin.last_img read more

30 Dec

OGIO Rivet Messenger Bag Review

first_imgWhen it comes to commuting, less is usually more.The whole art of the commute is to get from where you are to where you need to be effectively and efficiently, with as little hassle as possible. This typically means you need all your work/work out/school/party stuff safely tucked away in a bag that is light and mobile, but also burly enough to protect your gear on the go. Maybe you also want it to be stylish. Maybe you also want it to be socially acceptable in every situation, from the office to the bar. Maybe you also want it to make chai tea and whip up vegan apps while you ride your fixie no handed and check your email in rush hour traffic. Some things we can have, others we can’t…..yet.OGIO is trying hard to get there with the Rivet messenger bag. OGIO is an interesting company. They make slick looking, functional travel bags and luggage, but they also make golf bags, heavy duty motocross accessories, and ATV racks. Basically, if you have a storage issue, OGIO has a product to fix it. The Rivet is aimed at the most technologically advanced commuter. It has pockets specifically designed for (17-inch) laptops, phones, tablets, and power cords. The phone slot is protected with “crushproof” plastic and all are lined with plush, bright red fleece so that when you unzip them it has the effect of a medical extraction.OGIO calls this Red Protection, meaning if the pocket is red in color, you know there is some sort of protection for your valuables, i.e. crushproof, soft lining, etc. This is cool, but the real reason you know your gear will be protected is the overall look of the bag. The straps are made out of the same rugged material as seat belts and the bag itself is coated 12 oz. canvas. Plus, the bag is large; not only in its 1350 cubic inch storage capacity, but also in its profile. Much like the SUV, this has a calming effect even if it doesn’t actually do anything to help prevent your laptop from getting smashed under a semi-truck. The computer sleeve pocket is built into the back panel, and super padded, so barring a semi-truck attack it should be fine in most reasonable situations. I like this design because it isolates the computer, preventing it from getting dinged up by the riff-raff of legal pads, pens, or….what do you call those things?…oh, yeah, books.The Rivet also has a “Pullman luggage handle port” so you can throw it on your carryon when you need to sprint through the Atlanta airport because, let’s face it, you will have to do that. The jet black motif adds a touch of class to the whole deal, making this a jack of all trades when it comes to the messenger bag.The video below puts it all in perspective.last_img read more

30 Dec

November Trail Mix Free Music Download: Big Star, Bear’s Den, Field Report and More

first_img“Dad, isn’t that the theme song to That ‘70s Show?”My son, John Patrick, and I had just hopped in the van to run some errands and I had tossed Live in Memphis, the recently released live recording from Big Star, into the cd player, when he lobbed that query at me.Having little tolerance for vapid sitcoms (sorry, Ashton), my only response was, “Hell if I know.” I was then struck by the thought that, unknowingly, my son was hip to Big Star, the Memphis rock band that was alternative long before radio made it cool in the mid-1990s.I found that refreshing.Turns out that “In the Street,” the first track on Live in Memphis, is the title track to That ‘70s Show. While this won’t have me running to Hulu to catch up on old episodes, I would like to toss out kudos of the show for selecting a pretty killer track for their theme song.Trail Mix is also stoked to have Big Star here on the November mix. Check out “Daisy Glaze,” taken from Live in Memphis, the only known Big Star that was professionally filmed, which is now out there and available on both CD and DVD.There’s lots of other great music available this month, too. Check out brand new tracks from Bear’s Den, a great up and coming trio from Great Britain, and Field Report. Julian Lage and Chris Eldridge return to the mix with their acoustic magic, and the mix is happy to feature a new cut from Front County, one of the few bands to have won both the Rockygrass and Telluride bluegrass band competitions.Cale Tyson, with his new spin on old country, and Josh Oliver, one of East Tennessee’s finest songwriters, return to the mix this month, as does Josh Daniel, of The New Familiars, though he does so with a track from his latest sonic foray, The Josh Daniel/Mark Schimick Project.Trail Mix is also happy to welcome newcomers like Springtime Carnivore, Scott Ainslie, DRGN KING, Jack Kerowax, The Dead Ships, and all of the other artists that round out this fantastic collection of music.As always, spread the word about Trail Mix. Play it loud. Play it often. Tell a friend. And, of course, buy these records. This music is just too good to not purchase.Download this month’s playlist here.last_img read more

30 Dec

Ski the Conditions You Have

first_imgA few months ago I splurged on a ski cabin to take my winter-loving boy to the slopes. His favorite season is winter (admittedly sometimes I look at him and wonder if he’s really my son, as my attitude tends to surviving more than enjoying the colder months). Southern Appalachia’s fickle weather makes it impossible to predict whether a day in February will be in the twenties or sixties.Nevertheless, I took a gamble and made plans for a snowy long weekend. We’d hone his turns on the blue trails and in the evenings we’d ice skate or hit the tubing hill. Plenty of hot chocolate breaks would warm him up and then there’d be the fireplace and hot tub back at the cabin to unwind after a cold day outside.The forecast didn’t corporate. Temperatures hovered around forty with a hundred percent rain. Some friends canceled, others decided to stay in the cabin and save skiing for better weather.My son wouldn’t hear of not skiing. He’d been counting down the days until we headed to the slopes. I forced a smile and packed rain jackets and pants to wear over our thermals.We purchased our lift tickets and patches of mud greeted us as we stepped into our skis. The lift lines non-existent, we shuffled right to the front and lowered the bar. We ascended into the fog as rain beaded up on our clothes.The rain had washed away the snow and in breaks in the fog, we played I Spy , pointing out Mardi Gras beads, stray gloves and a tree tenacious enough to grow out of rock.That day we had the mountain all to ourselves. My son pointed his skis toward the barest patches of earth or the longest stretches of ice and skied right over them, laughing. I imagined that he was triumphant, that despite the weather he was enjoying himself. His example of squaring up and skiing right over unpleasant conditions made me realize that he was improving his skiing by getting comfortable dealing with ice and mud.I was reminded of a lesson I learned not skiing, but sailing. When the wind was too strong or nonexistent, when the wind blew in the exact opposite direction I wanted to go, I would repeat the age-old saying.Sail the winds you have.We could no more wait for better snow than we could have waited for the perfect amount of wind blowing in the right direction.So when it’s too hot or too cold, too wet or too dry, I’ll resolve to make the best of it.last_img read more

30 Dec

Outdoor Updates: Mysterious Illness is Sickening Florida Panthers

first_imgMarathon Runner Rescues Drowning Man and Dog Kellner threw off her running shoes and swam out to the man and dog, who both initially clung onto her. The weight of both of them was too much for Kellner which led her to make the difficult decision of pushing off the dog. The dog luckily began to swim back to shore as Kellner drug back the man. Kellner stayed with the man until EMT’s arrived to take him in for observation. Mysterious Neurological Disorder is Sickening Florida Panthers In four counties in Florida, camera traps have recorded cats stumbling and collapsing to the ground in various stages of the illness. Based on what scientist are seeing in the footage, the disorder hits kittens the hardest. State and federal wildlife officials are working to determine the root cause of the sickness and prevent a possible epidemic before it spreads. Florida wildlife officials are asking for the public’s help in figuring out what’s disabling wild cats in the state. Submit observations at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Panther Sightings page. Katie Kellner, 28, a member of the BAA racing team, was running part of the Boston Marathon course at the Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Brighton when she noticed a man and a dog in the water. Short after Kellner spotted them, the man’s head started bobbing and he began shouting for help. A mysterious neurological disorder that has stricken panthers and bobcats in the sunshine state over the past two months has increasingly raised concern over the past year. No one knows what causes it or if theirs a way to cure the already endangered animals. The man and dog are expected to be just fine thanks to Kellner, who not only became a hero but who also finished the remaining 5 miles of her run that same day.last_img read more

30 Dec

ERIC ARTZ: REI RETAIL STORES CLOSING UNTIL MARCH 27

first_imgBe well and take care of one another.  As the coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread throughout the communities where we all live and work, we have consistently looked for ways to help protect the health and safety of our employees and customers. Since our founding, REI has been about doing the right thing for our community.   After a great deal of careful consideration, we are temporarily closing our 162 retail stores nationwide starting tomorrow, March 16, until March 27.  I believe that is the right thing for our community. In fact, I believe it is our duty—to do all we can to help keep one another safe in this unprecedented moment.  Know that we will continue to work closely with our teams and public health officials throughout the country to understand how to best serve your needs, and serve our customers as soon as local conditions allow. We’ll continue to share information with our members and employees as we move forward together into a future that’s hard to predict.  We’ve always been deliberate and transparent when making significant decisions about our business. This is a difficult decision for any business, and I do not make it lightly. Our decisions are grounded in the belief that there are more important things than business right now—we owe that to one another.   That also means all employees from our stores will be paid during this temporary closure. And, even with our stores closed, we will be working hard to do everything we can to continue to serve our customers. All orders through REI.com will get free shipping while our stores are closed. Customers who have questions about gear and local outdoor activities that they’d normally ask in our stores can get answers through our digital community, REI Conversations and Co-op Journal will feature articles that help people find ways to get outside even during these challenging times.  center_img In the meantime, thank you for your understanding, your patience and, most of all, for being a part of this incredible community. The outdoors remains a vital part of all our lives, especially in moments like this.   To Our Co-op Community,  My very best,  Eric ArtzPresident & CEO, REI Co-oplast_img read more