FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享John Funk for the Cleveland Plain Dealer:FirstEnergy customers could save $256 million over the next eight years, state regulators believe, by paying increased monthly bills now.That extra money, which could be as low as $3.50 or as high as $8-to-$10 a month in the next couple of years, will subsidize the operations of two power plants that cannot match the low-priced power produced by natural gas-fired plants, which now set wholesale prices on the high-voltage grid.The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio handed down its ruling Thursday, agreeing with FirstEnergy that saving the old power plants is a good idea and that in later years the arrangement will lower customer bills because natural gas prices could increase significantly. The commission also concluded that if the plants were to close, the cost of building new transmission line upgrades would cost between $436 million and $1.1 billion, costs customers would bear.The opinion and order, which is sure to be appealed, dismisses the arguments made by the experts retained by opponents, including the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, the Sierra Club, competing power companies and others. These analysts concluded that the power deals could cost FirstEnergy’s customers an extra $3 billion to $5 billion over the eight years.UCO believes FirstEnergy deal will save customers $256 million Appeals Expected in Ohio Ruling to Keep Aging Coal Plants Online
Op Ed: It’s Time To Prohibit Self-Bonding By Coal Companies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Caspar Star Tribune:This past month a completely unknown and unproven company called Blackjewel, LLC “bought” two of Wyoming’s oldest and biggest coal mines. More particularly, they were given the mines in exchange for assuming their cleanup risks and some hypothetical future royalties. They acquired the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines near Gillette from another new and unproven company called Contura Energy, spawned just last year when Alpha Natural Resources went through bankruptcy and spun off what it called its “crown jewel” Wyoming assets. Now the crown jewels aren’t looking so shiny and Contura is unloading them at a loss because these mines are liabilities. Instead, Contura will concentrate on its metallurgical coal business in the East.Hopefully, the one thing that should not be a problem going forward is bonding to assure clean up and reclamation of the mines. Thanks to a settlement agreement with the Department of Interior during Alpha’s bankruptcy, Contura wasn’t allowed to self-bond. Instead of continuing to hide, as Alpha had done, behind the chimera of a self-guarantee – really nothing more than an uncollectible IOU — Contura was forced to back Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr’s reclamation work with surety bonds and letters of credit from third-party financial institutions. Blackjewel should be required to do the same as a condition of the sale before the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) lets them take over the mine permits. This would insure there will be money available for reclamation jobs if Blackjewel were to walk away from its cleanup obligations while these bonds are still in effect.The recent history of the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr coal mines demonstrates one thing: their cleanup liabilities are nearly as high as (and possibly higher than) their value as operating mines. This loudly underscores that Wyoming regulators must not continue to allow self-bonding.If uncertainties and a down market continue to plague the coal industry as economists nearly unanimously predict, self-bonds will remain worthless promises and Wyoming will pay the price. Unless Wyoming prohibits them now, the next time mines change hands and weaker and weaker mine owners go bankrupt, we will not be so lucky.Self-bonding has no place in a regulatory scheme that was created to ensure the worst-case never happens. Taxpayers were never meant to be left holding the bag for hundreds of millions of dollars in reclamation work. America’s coal mining regulations were born in the late 1970s when abandoned and un-reclaimed mines were strewn across the country. Congress created an abandoned mine land fee to clean up past messes and required reclamation bonds to prevent future mines from being abandoned without reclamation. But the law also contained a loophole allowing states to accept self-bonds in the place of reliable third-party guarantees. Although Montana and other states showed the foresight to prohibit self-bonding, Wyoming became the No. 1 user in the country of self-bonding IOUs. Three years ago when Alpha, Peabody Energy and Arch Coal all declared bankruptcy, there was more than $2.4 billion of reclamation work in our state not covered by collectible insurance.With the lessons of these bankruptcies fresh in our memory, DEQ is considering an important step to update Wyoming’s reclamation bond rules. The update proposes to remove loopholes that allow companies to qualify for self-bonds when they really shouldn’t. DEQ’s proposed rules are an important change that would reduce risk to our citizens and our state treasury. Unfortunately, there will always be some risk from self-bonding until Wyoming totally eliminates the practice. As DEQ moves forward with their new rules, the agency needs to eliminate ALL self-bonding for ALL new coalmine permits and ALL permit renewals. Colorado has recently taken steps to limit self-bonding after the Peabody and Arch bankruptcies, and Wyoming should follow their example.–Bob LeResche is vice chair of the Powder River Basin Resource Council and a board member of the Western Organization of Resource Councils. He is a former commissioner of Natural Resources for the state of Alaska and executive director of the Alaska Energy Authority.More: Contura Sale Underscores Need to End Self Bonding
China expected to take lead in offshore wind capacity by 2021 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The U.K., which now leads the world in offshore wind installations, will soon lose its title to China, despite plans to double its capacity by 2030. The analyst firm FTI Consulting expects China’s cumulative offshore capacity to pull ahead of the U.K. after 2021.That year, China is expected to have almost 10.9 gigawatts of cumulative capacity, compared to less than 10.4 gigawatts in the U.K. China has been catching up with the U.K. since 2017, when Chinese offshore wind installations breached the 1-gigawatt mark.From 2019 onward, FTI Consulting expects China to install 2 gigawatts per year, rising to 4 gigawatts annually by 2025. In contrast, the U.K. is not expected to reach 2 gigawatts per year until 2024.China’s advancement comes as the U.K. completed a number of prominent projects in 2018, including the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, Walney Extension, which clocks in at 659 megawatts, plus the 573-megawatt Race Bank and 400-megawatt Rampion plants.Pointing to the scale of China’s ambitions, this month Jiangsu Province in eastern China was reported to have approved 24 offshore wind projects with a total capacity of 6.7 gigawatts, all due to come online before the end of 2020. The 122.29 billion yuan (USD $18 billion) investment is part of a plan called “Three Gorges on Sea” that aims to develop 10 gigawatts of offshore wind in Jiangsu, reports said.The Jiangsu projects approved this month are nearly six times as much as the 1.2 gigawatts of offshore wind power that China installed nationally in 2017, based on figures from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). They also represent more than twice as much capacity as the whole country had installed offshore at the end of 2017, which GWEC put at almost 2.8 gigawatts.More: China set to overtake UK as offshore wind leader by 2021
Solar-plus-storage projects spreading across the U.S. FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A new wave of solar farm development, pairing solar photovoltaics with battery storage, is accelerating across the United States, most notably in California, Hawaii, Florida and the Northeast.Roughly 40 such systems were in operation in the U.S. as of late September, combining about 533 MW of storage with 1,242 MW of solar capacity. Meanwhile, companies are developing at least another 85 co-located solar and storage projects, most of which are in the near- to medium-term planning stages or under construction, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. The planned projects combine 4,175 MW of storage with 8,921 MW of solar.These dynamic renewable energy assets can operate past sunset and into the hours of peak electricity demand typically served by natural gas-fired and hydroelectric generation. Adding energy storage to PV can also help reduce curtailments, or cuts of solar production during periods of midday oversupply on the grid, a growing challenge throughout California and other parts of the country, and smooth the variability of the renewable resource.The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, or LADWP, in September approved power purchase agreements for output from the Eland Solar and Storage Center in Kern County, a planned 400 MW solar project with 200 MW to 300 MW of batteries. Under development by 8minute Solar Energy LLC, the Eland facility is billed as “the largest solar and battery energy storage system in the United States.” The contracts, pending approval from the Los Angeles City Council, have all-in prices between $30/MWh and $40/MWh, depending on battery size. That is comparable to other recently contracted solar-plus-storage projects in the West.But some of the biggest U.S. solar-plus-storage buyers are outside of California. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. affiliate NV Energy Inc., for instance, in June announced plans to add 1,190 MW of solar capacity paired with 590 MW of battery storage in Nevada. Platts Analytics has identified a recent surge in solar-plus-storage projects in the deeper development pipeline. As of September 2019, for example, the California ISO’s interconnection queue showed 23,377 MW of energy storage under consideration with solar projects on the grid operator’s transmission system. That is up from 5,965 MW in June 2018.More ($): Solar-plus-storage power plant development accelerates in the U.S.
Week 5 is now over, which means here is week 6! For the next 3 weeks we will be giving away lift passes to Wintergreen Resort!Each week we will give away 2 weekday lift passes (valid Monday-Thursday) to one lucky individual, so 16 in total over 8 weeks.To sweeten the deal, we are also giving away a pair of Bolle goggles (a $40 value) with the tickets!This giveaway is now over, but week 7 of the Wintergreen Lift Tickets giveaway is up and running!Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 noon EST on February 15th, 2013. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and Wintergreen Resort reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before March 1st, 6:00 PM EST 2013. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.
I’ve had my fair share of close calls from motorists skimming the hairs on my arm or unexpectedly jamming their breaks to avoid rolling me over the hood of their cars. Between beer bottles, apple cores, McDonalds Chicken McNugget containers and the unoriginal slurs, I have had plenty of things hurled at me from the passenger side window.The most terrifying experience occurred on a backcountry dirt road where I was chased by what appeared to be an intoxicated driver and forced off my bike. Two brutish men jumped from the car and immediately began berating me. I escaped unscathed. I was one of the lucky ones.And that’s when I decided to change my own attitude towards motorists.Until this incident, I was the guy who needed to be on a leash following a close call with a vehicle. Like a shark smelling blood in shallow waters, I was immediately angry, screaming, throwing water bottles, and making damn sure that whale of a Suburban knew I would break off his mirror if I saw him at the next light. But I am not a shark. I am a blue gill …at best.This strategy does not work. It’s simple. I’m a buck 40 soaking wet. A ’95 Honda Civic, one of the smaller cars on the road, comes in at 2500 pounds. You don’t have to be a physics major to understand that the momentum equation doesn’t work in a cyclist’s favor. So what can we do?I wave. Yes… I wave. I wave at everyone.The adversarial bike-verses-car mentality doesn’t work. In order to coexist on the road, motorists and cyclist must understand one another first. In developing a mutual respect, one party must make the first move. That’s my goal with this simple gesture—a preemptive wave to cut tension before it boils over.Sometimes you can “feel” a car coming, and you know they aren’t expecting you. Perhaps you hear the roar of a tractor trailer or a Penske moving truck rolling at light speed like a star destroyer. I know I need first to be seen, then stay to the right and give my hand a quick wave. The wave says, “I hope I’m not in your way. Thanks in advance for acknowledging my presence and giving me a few feet.”I’m not always right either. Sometimes, I don’t hear that Prius behind me, or I have gone to the yellow line to avoid some man-eating potholes. Get that hand up there again. This time I’m saying, “My bad! I’m sorry about that, please don’t hold it against me (or my similarly dressed friends.)”I wave at kids on the sidewalk – one day they too will be drivers. I wave at farmers on tractors and soccer moms coming the other way, just to say hello. The postman gets another wave, and fellow cyclists, they get one too. And now, instead of chasing down and screaming at the car that nearly puts me in a ditch, I still wave. (Ok, maybe I swear to myself once they are out of sight.) It’s a lot of waving, but hey I’m a cyclist and the upper body could use some more exercise.It is my hope, and my goal, that something as simple as a wave will help more cyclists to recognize and respect the drivers around them, and that motorists see cyclists not as a burden, but as another life, another father, another mother, a son, a daughter… another person worth waving back to.
It’s hard to believe that just over three months ago, I was sitting in my basement apartment among a mound of boxes that, just days prior, had been my life. Everything I owned except the essentials was packed away.My mixing bowls, measuring cups, baking pans. A set of vintage ceramic jars that hold dry ingredients. All of it was packed neatly into a box labeled “Goodwill.” Even my full-sized bed with the flannel sheets and the big down comforter and the rocking chair and my little wooden desk (damn, I miss that thing) were among my giveaways.But that’s just it. Those things were all things. I didn’t need them per say, and that’s what I wanted to see for myself – just how much I could do without. I packed all that crap (and much, much more) into my minivan, parked it in my very patient parents’ driveway, and said hasta luega to my former self, that former life.Even once the project launched, it didn’t seem real. It’s taken nearly every single one of these past 90-some days for this lifestyle to sink in. In the first month alone I must have done three additional purges before I truly felt like I was operating on the bare necessities. But now, it doesn’t feel so strange to be using the same spork (yes, spork) and bowl every day, the same coffee mug, the same Eddie Bauer outfit. If anything, staying in a house where my glass gets used once before ending up in the dishwasher seems much stranger.I’ve spent a lot of hours sifting through video footage both old and new this past week to pare down into three minutes just what’s been going on these past three months (that’s no easy task, by the way). There have been times that were particularly rough, sleepless nights I was sure my Go would get blown away in a storm, or mornings I would awake to the mess a raccoon made of my week’s worth of food.But as I was replaying interviews and browsing through videos, those moments didn’t surface. What I thought of, instead, were the incredible people I’ve met and reconnected with along the way. From the Carolina coast to the highlands of Pennsylvania, I’ve met people from every walk of life who have inspired me in ways I’m sure even I can’t fully grasp right now.This video barely even begins to scratch the surface of showing just who those faces were, but they, and ultimately you, are the ones who make this project what it is. Without the support of our readers and people who want to help me fulfill this crazy dream of mine, I would never be able to swallow my self-doubts and press on.So thank you to all of you amazing people out there who let me bum on your couch, eat your food, wash my stinky synthetics in your washing machine, hang my paddling gear up in your front yard, and plug 4,032 different cables and cords into your power outlets. Thank you to the strangers out there who have welcomed me with open arms and shown me a little glimpse of your backyard adventures. Thank you, Panera, for letting me poach Internet even though I usually only buy one cookie.Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Join the Boys and Girls Clubs of Central Virginia to cycle for a cause! On Sunday, September 14, riders of all levels will meet at the Old Trail Village Swim Club in Crozet, Virginia, to bike in the shadow of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains.The event offers a variety of different options, even one for the whole family. Choose between 25, 50, 75, and 100 mile courses, or take the kids on an 8 mile family ride.25 Mile RouteThe 25 mile route includes rolling terrain in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountians passing historic homes and estates. It doesn’t include the steep climb up Afton mountain. This route is perfect if you have limited time on the day of the event or want to join your family for the 8 mile ride to Chiles Peach Orchard. There is one fully stocked rest stop at Greenwood Community Center. Like all of our routes it has full support from our staff, volunteers and police officers at major intersections.50 Mile RouteThe 50 mile route showcases the beauty of Albemarle County. The terrain is ever changing with some hills and curves, but doesn’t include the Afton Mountain climb. This “half century” is ideal for those who prefer a challenging but shorter route option. You will be welcomed by friendly volunteers at three rest stops.75 Mile RouteThe 75 mile route is a challenging course for the dedicated cyclist. Test your climbing ability on Afton Mountain. The scenery includes rolling countryside, mountains views and wineries. You will be treated to three fully stocked rest stops, including freshly made sandwiches.100 Mile RouteThe 100 mile route features the climb up Afton Mountain and the thrilling decent! The route is the ultimate challenge and features nearly 7,000 feet of climbing over three counties. The views of the mountains, estate homes and countryside are breath taking. There are many volunteers to cheer you on and police to guide you at major intersections. The route is suitable for fit and well trained cycling enthusiasts. We encourage any rider doing the Century route to set a steady pace and take advantage of the five (yes 5!) rest stops with many food and hydration options.8 Mile Family Fun RideThe 8 mile family fun ride is ideal for families and children who like to enjoy a special day together. The route leaves Old Trail and follows Jarman’s Gap Road to Chiles Peach Orchard where riders are treated to freshly made donuts. There is a fully stocked rest stop with plenty of snacks and drinks. The route returns to Old Trail via Jarman’s Gap Road. The course is mostly flat with no steep hills and low traffic.Bikers meet at 8 a.m., and following the race are invited to attend a pool party at the Swim Club with a catered lunch and refreshments as well as live music.All proceeds from the race benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs of Virginia. Register to support local youth and spend a great day in the mountains!
I drive my truck up the steep gravel road leading to the Bracken Mountain trailhead, my mountain bike in the back, my journal and pen in my pack.A few years ago, in the face of a budget crisis, the city of Brevard was presented with an easy way out—a developer offered to buy 400 acres owned by the city. Instead, the city of Brevard turned the area into a trail that bridges downtown with Pisgah Forest.For the first time dread doesn’t consume me as get on my bike, because the alternative, sitting down in front of my computer and work on my book, seems much worse.The climb robs me of my breath within the first five minutes, a welcome distraction from thinking about how to write the difficult parts of my book.Writers lore has it that ideas drift about, waiting for a person with whom to partner. It seems possible that among all the woodland creatures, sprites and gnomes spread ideas like fairy dust. While I’m not buying the open-your-hands-and-an–idea-will-find –you philosophy, writing has been tough these past few days and I’m open to muses in whatever form. I pump my legs, which more often than not came out in stomping bursts instead of fluid rotations. As the trail steepens, I push the flat pedals with as much force as I can muster and when I can’t pedal any longer, when my pedals stubbornly and resolutely refused to turn, I push.Ride and push. Sip some water. Repeat. That’s how I summit Bracken Mountain, an elevation gain of 1200 feet, pedaling and pushing and luxuriating in long stops when I sprawl on the forest carpet and stare at the pine needles dancing above in the gentle breeze.The summit sparked my imagination – the forest dense with hardwoods and hemlocks, where rhododendron and mountain laurel grow in abundance. I turned my head at every rustle in the leaves, half expecting to spot wild turkey, a deer, or perhaps even a bear.I press my back into the truck of a solid oak and practice being as still as the tree. Siting in the presence of all those lofty giants, I root myself, going deeper inside of myself and quieting the noise of daily life. Every time my mind wonders and self -destructive phrases loop through my head about how awful my writing is and that nobody will read it anyway, I think about trees.Trees stand exactly where they grow, owning that space, stretching and reaching upward and out. Trees don’t judge. They don’t say that hemlock is a better writer. They don’t look think I can’t do this and even if I do, nobody will ever read it. No, trees stand and stretch and reach for the rays of the sun.I write like a tree, without judgment, accessing parts of myself that I couldn’t before.In the shade of the trees, I write about other adventures, of the endless ocean stretching on the horizon, the turquoise of the Caribbean waters, the relentless sun beating down. Distance frees me somehow to write about those stories without judging their magnitude or worth, to let the words flow knowing I’ll edit later.As I ride back downhill to my truck, my hands hover on the brakes, my mind turned to how riding Bracken was breaking me. Bit by bit, with every pedal stroke mental blocks about what I considered possible are falling down.
Spend your Halloween weekend in Virginia Beach, Virginia and experience the East Coast’s largest Halloween beach bash, the Anthem Wicked 10K presented by Bon Secours In Motion. Mark your calendar for October 26-27, 2018. You’ll be busy enjoying a boardwalk run beside the Atlantic Ocean followed by a post-race party on the beach. What more could you ask for? We’ve got a lot more!The Anthem Wicked 10K Weekend features a race for everyone: 10K, Mile, 1K for the kids, and a huge costume contest with cash prizes. Virginia Beach is the place to be Halloween weekend whether you’re planning a family getaway, a weekend for the girls, trying to run a personal best, or just want an excuse to wear a costume.Once you cross the finish line, a huge post-race party on the beach is waiting for you. We’ve got everything you need to celebrate your Spooktacular race. Live music from the 80s cover band, The Deloreans, brings the energy to this party, and Blue Moon beer and soup form Baker’s Crust are readily available to help you recover from your race. 1oK participants get 3 beers with their registration!But wait. There is still more! The weekend kicks off on Friday night, October 26th with the Old Point National Bank Monster Mile. Add the Monster Mile to your Wicked 10K registration to complete the Pumpkin Smash Challenge. This mile course runs under the lights on the Virginia Beach Boardwalk and finishes with a post-race party at The Shack on 7th. Enjoy live entertainment and Blue Moon Beer at one of Virginia Beach’s local hangouts.Your Wicked weekend at the beach will be one for the record books. Remember your experience with the race swag you’ll receive: a race shirt, finisher medal, and finisher lunchbox.We can’t wait to see you in October. Wicked good times are guaranteed at the Anthem Wicked 10K Weekend.