Ohio Commission Will Vote This Week on Whether to Require Ratepayers to Bail Out 2 Utilities

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享John Funk for the Cleveland Plain Dealer:The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio said late Tuesday it will vote Thursday on requests from FirstEnergy and American Electric Power to have customers help subsidize continued operations of older power plants.FirstEnergy in August 2014 filed a new rate plan containing unprecedented “power purchase agreements” between FirstEnergy Solutions, its unregulated company that owns its power plants, and its traditional utilities like the Illuminating Co., that are today just distribution companies.The agreements as proposed would have the Illuminating Co., Ohio Edison and Toledo Edison buy all of the electricity produced by the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant on Lake Erie and the coal-fired W.H. Sammis coal-fired plant on the Ohio River.The distribution companies would pay FirstEnergy Solutions whatever it cost to generate the power plus a 10.38 percent profit — and then immediately sell that power into the wholesale grid.If the companies received less money in the competitive markets where lower-priced power from gas-fired plants sets the pace, then customers would have to make up the difference.Extra charges would appear on the delivery side of their bills, meaning no customer could avoid the charges, even those customers buying power from other companies.FirstEnergy initially asked that the power purchase agreements run for 15 years but later agreed to an eight-year plan during negotiations with the staff of the PUCO.The company agreed that that plan would cost customers in its initial years but has steadfastly argued that it would save them money in later years because the cost of natural gas would rise over time, increasing the price of power from gas-fired power plants.Experts retained by the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) calculated that each of FirstEnergy’s 1.9 million residential customers could pay as much as $800 in higher bills, on average, over the next eight years (later updated in a federal case to $1,100 extra).The total additional costs shouldered by all FirstEnergy customers could reach $5.15 billion, the agency and NOPEC argued.Similarly, the OCC/NOPEC expert calculated that each of AEP’s 1.3 million residential customers could pay as much as $700 in higher bills, on average, over the next eight years (later updated in a federal case to $1,000 extra).The total additional costs borne by all Ohio Power customers could reach $3.1 billion, the agency and NOPEC argued.PUCO to decide FirstEnergy power plant subsidy case Thursday Ohio Commission Will Vote This Week on Whether to Require Ratepayers to Bail Out 2 Utilitieslast_img read more

Bipartisan Florida Opposition to Offshore Drilling Plans

first_imgBipartisan Florida Opposition to Offshore Drilling Plans FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享McClatchy:Florida’s congressional delegation, citing the state’s vibrant tourism industry, delivered a unanimous, bipartisan and stern message of opposition to offshore energy exploration during a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.Congressional Republicans and Democrats took turns blasting the idea of putting fossil-fuel development near the state’s 825 miles of pristine beaches in order to boost energy production and oil company profits.While Ken Lawson, president and chief executive of Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing arm, told lawmakers that the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion “will always serve as a stark reminder of what happens when we do not make our beaches, our waters and our environment our top priority.”BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded roughly 50 miles off the Louisiana coast in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, triggering an 87-day spill that released an estimated four million barrels of oil and gas. Along with 11 who died, 17 others suffered serious injuries and 115 people were evacuated from the rig, which sank.The hearing comes as the Trump administration nears a decision on whether to allow seismic testing for fossil fuel deposits along the Atlantic Coast. In January, the Trump administration dropped Florida from its plan to allow new offshore oil and gas drilling in most U.S. coastal waters. The decision, in response to appeals from Florida Gov. Rick Scott, prompted calls for similar carve-outs from lawmakers in other coastal states like New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and North Carolina. But similar exemptions have not been provided.More: Florida Congressional Delegation Gives Thumbs-Down To Offshore Drillinglast_img read more

A shift in heavy industry toward renewables

first_imgA shift in heavy industry toward renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Financial Times ($):In the forests of central Sweden, construction is about to begin on a giant wind farm with a single purpose: to supply power to the aluminium smelters of Norsk Hydro, one of the world’s biggest producers, for the next 29 years.The wind farm, which cost €270m to build, highlights an important development in renewable energy — a growing number of investments from heavy industry.Recent deals from cement plants and aluminium smelters signal how a market is developing for renewable energy, particularly during a time of volatility for traditional energy prices, as some of the world’s most carbon-intensive industries try to go green.“Industrial players are going to have a huge role, a pivotal role in the development of renewables in the future,” said Mark Dooley, head of green energy at Macquarie Capital and the Green Investment Group, one of the developers of the wind farm. “We think that, while it makes sense that an aluminium producer is in the vanguard, there is every reason to expect that all heavy industrial will follow.”Corporate buyers of renewable power have been on the rise and emerged as one of the main drivers for new renewables projects, because long-term power supply deals typically enable construction to begin on a large wind or solar project.Tech companies such as Microsoft and Amazon, which have big data centre power needs, were among the first to do these deals. But the trend has now spread across sectors and even to heavy industry, which has been one of the slowest sectors to decarbonise.More ($): Heavy industry turns to renewables in drive to go greenlast_img read more

Gas, carbon prices putting the squeeze on European coal generation

first_imgGas, carbon prices putting the squeeze on European coal generation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Policymakers across Europe have been scratching their heads about how to speed up coal plant retirements to slow global warming while not wrecking their power grids. But if the economics for electricity generation so far this year are any indicator, they need not worry.Many of the region’s largest coal plant operators have been throttling their coal-fired power stations as a combination of surging prices for carbon emissions and ample supplies of cheap gas have made running them less profitable than rival generation sources. Gas plants have seen a surge in production instead, while renewables such as wind and solar photovoltaics are also growing their share.“The much-touted fuel switch is actually happening,” Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of German power producer Uniper SE, said on a recent earnings call. Schierenbeck, who took over the top post at Uniper in June, said the utility produced more power from gas than from coal for the first time during the first half of 2019. “Even with less-sufficient gas-fired power plants, we’re able to compete with more coal-fired power plants on the market in terms of short-term operating costs, and for the first time, even with lignite power plants,” Schierenbeck told analysts.The fact that even lignite plants are being squeezed out is significant because they have historically produced among the cheapest power, pushing them to the front of the so-called merit order alongside nuclear stations.In a sign of the times, German utility EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG decided to shut down a 900-MW lignite plant in mid-June, saying current market conditions “do not permit economic operation.” The unit is supplied externally, meaning it has less control over fuel costs compared with some operators that run their own mines, including rival RWE AG.The changing economics are partly driven by cheap natural gas as U.S. exports keep flowing to Europe amid a global oversupply and partly by the recent mild winter that has kept European storage facilities full. On top of this, rising costs for allowances under the EU’s Emissions Trading System, the bloc’s cap-and-trade carbon market, are adding costs for high-polluting fuels.More ($): Coal plant profits slide in Europe as tide continues to turnlast_img read more

New report finds wind and solar will soon be cheaper than coal worldwide

first_imgNew report finds wind and solar will soon be cheaper than coal worldwide FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Building new wind and solar plants will soon be cheaper in every major market across the globe than running existing coal-fired power stations, according to a new report that raises fresh doubt about the medium-term viability of Australia’s $26bn thermal coal export industry.While some countries are moving faster than others, the analysis by the Carbon Tracker Initiative, a climate finance think tank, found renewable power was a cheaper option than building new coal plants in all large markets including Australia, and was expected to cost less than electricity from existing coal plants by 2030 at the latest.Solar photovoltaics and wind energy were already cheaper than electricity from about 60% of coal stations, including about 70% of China’s coal fleet and half of Australia’s plants, it said. In Japan, where Australia sells nearly half its exported thermal coal, wind power was found to cost less than new coal plants and was expected to be cheaper than existing coal by 2028. Solar power in Japan was forecast to be a better option than new coal by 2023 and existing coal by 2026.The story was similar in China and South Korea, which each take about 15% of Australia’s exported thermal coal. In China, wind was already cheaper than any coal power, and solar electricity was forecast to cost less on average than existing coal later this year. Renewable energy in South Korea was expected to be cheaper than existing coal within two years.The report acknowledged this trend did not necessarily mean coal power would be pushed from the market within a decade. It said some governments were effectively incentivising or underwriting new coal power through regulatory programs that either directly subsidised coal operators or passed the higher cost on to consumers.But the group found that coal power would struggle if markets were priced fairly. It called on governments to block new coal projects and phase our existing coal plants, in part by changing regulations to allow renewable energy to compete on a level playing field. Carbon Tracker’s Matt Gray, a co-author of the report, said proposed coal investments risked becoming stranded assets that locked in increasingly expensive power for decades. The analysis found that developers risked wasting more than $600bn if all mooted coal-fired plants were built.[Adam Morton]More: Wind and solar plants will soon be cheaper than coal in all big markets around world, analysis findslast_img read more

Deutsche Bank to stop global coal mining business activities by 2025, also halt oil sands funding

first_imgDeutsche Bank to stop global coal mining business activities by 2025, also halt oil sands funding FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Deutsche Bank, in a revamp of its policies for fossil fuels, said on Monday that it would end business activities worldwide related to coal mining by 2025 at the latest. The German lender also said that, effective immediately, it would not finance new projects in the Arctic or oil sand projects.The new policies follow announcements earlier this year of new sustainability targets and the issuance of the bank’s first green bond.Urgewald, a non-profit environmental and human rights organisation, said that the announcement was a welcome step forward but “still too little, too late”.“Compared to international competitors the bank is still lagging behind on climate,” it said, pointing to BNP Paribas and Royal Bank of Scotland as front runners.Deutsche Bank said that it would review all of its U.S. and European coal power activities by the end of this year with respect to clients’ diversification plans. It will begin a similar review in Asia in 2022.Deutsche chief executive Christian Sewing said the new policy “sets us ambitious targets and enables us to help our long-standing clients with their own transformation.”[Tom Sims]More: Deutsche Bank to end global business activities in coal mining by 2025last_img read more

German utility to test feasibility of transporting pure hydrogen in existing gas pipelines

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享H2View:European utilities company E.ON is converting a natural gas pipeline in Germany, which is part of the public supply system, to pure hydrogen.Part of its new research and development project “H2HoWi” in Holzwickede in North Rhine-Westphalia, the venture will see E.ON subsidiary Westnetz establish whether the existing infrastructure could even be used for pure hydrogen.Launched by E.ON SE and Westnetz GmbH, H2HoWi will act as an important milestone in making the public supply to the community of Holzwickede sustainable.The entire project will be executed by Westnetz and will be managed and operated until the end of 2023. Construction work will start in November 2020. As part of the innovative project, the development will be backed by scientific monitoring to confirm that hydrogen has no influence on the properties of the pipe material or the tightness of the existing infrastructure.Thomas König, E.ON’s chief operating officer, said, “Upgrading the existing gas network infrastructure for hydrogen is an important prerequisite for the success of the energy transition. By converting green electricity into hydrogen, regenerative energy can be stored in gas networks. The gas networks can thus become the storage facilities of the future.”[Molly Burgess]More: E.ON to convert natural gas pipeline to hydrogen German utility to test feasibility of transporting pure hydrogen in existing gas pipelineslast_img read more

I can hear the flowers a growin

first_imgI am not an early riser but every spring and summer I have reason to get up early and go outside. My garden. I will not be able to produce more than 1 meal a day from my kitchen garden, but my purpose is not strictly food production. The purpose is get my hands dirty in compost as I gently spread it around the base of fragile green plants in April. To watch seeds turn into leafy green shoots, strong and sturdy in May. To be involved from start to finish, with growing something that can nourish both body and soul. To feel connected to the earth and our creator in ways that grocery stores and air conditioning prohibit. To have a few quiet moments among the squash and tomato leaves to watch, listen and as David Rawlings sings about – hear the flowers a growin.Yesterday was a bevy of activity. Blooms have turned to fruit and right before my eyes, squash, strawberries, broccoli, green beans and tomatoes have appeared.  my graden in june Can you see the water traveling from the roots to these perfect fruit? Neither can I but I am amazed it is happening with no assistance from me.green beansThese little guys grew in less than a week. They are almost too lovely to pick and eat and as I admire them each morning, they seem too lovely to place in salad or stew.first squash of the yearA friend may bring her three year old daughter over this weekend to pick. If I am enraptured by this 20 x 8 foot plot at age 30, I think at 3 she too will be excited by the hidden fruit shining beneath the large leaves.Thomas Jefferson apparently said that “Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God .”I don’t labour there but I do feel chosen as I sit, listen, admire, prune and watch a world beyond mine. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes every morning. Maybe one of these days, I’ll even eat the veggies being grown and marvel at how wonderful they taste as well.last_img read more

Top Ten Toughest Trail Runs in the Blue Ridge

first_imgThe Tough Mudder: Trail running with a side of sadistic torture. It takes strong legs and an iron will to get you over the hills and through the woods at these toughest trail races in the Blue Ridge.1. The Gauntlet — 5 Mi Boone, N.C. • September 24The length of this extreme trail race at Cooper’s Farm in Boone is actually 4.3 miles, but what time you save in distance you’ll most certainly lose trying to conquer daunting man-made obstacles along the course. Runners battle wooden walls, a massive mud pit, and giant hay bales, as well as multiple creek crossings and a lung-busting hill climb known as “The Monster.”thegauntletrun.com Also try: Gunter’s Grunt and Grind Guntersville, Ala. • October 152. Rock 2 Rock — 10K Black Mountain, N.C. • May 2012Add 60 percent to your typical 10K time on this course, which climbs literally straight uphill for the first three miles. In addition to the punishing elevation gain, the terrain tests runners with gnarly terrain filled with roots, rocks, and low limbs.rock2rockrun.com Also try: Hickory Mountain 10K Brevard, N.C. • October 13. Battle at Big Creek — 15kRoswell, Ga. • November 5The elevation gain of the Big Creek Park trails is relatively mild, but the Battle’s technical course promises to keep you guessing. You’ll scamper around plenty of rocks and sneaky roots along this nine-mile course at one of metro Atlanta’s most scenic escapes.dirtyspokes.comAlso try: Paris Mountain 15K Greenville, S.C. • November 54. Conestoga Trail Run — 10 miHoltwood, Pa. • September 25Branded a trail race with 10 “hillish” miles— the toughest on the East Coast—the Conestoga Trail Run gains a breathtaking 3,000 feet as it traverses the rugged rural hill country of south-central Pennsylvania.lrrclub.orgAlso try: Mountwood 10-Mile Challenge Parkersburg, W.Va. • September 175. Shut-In Ridge Run — 18 miAsheville, N.C. • November 6Runners climb over 5,000 feet on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail from the North Carolina Arboretum near Asheville to the Mount Pisgah trailhead on a burly 17.8-mile course of insanely technical singletrack. Expect to walk.shutinridgerun.com Also Try: Big South Fork 17.5 Mile Trail Race Oneida, Tenn. • September 246. Mystery Mountain — MarathonChattanooga, Tenn. • October 9 Flat is not a word associated with the Mystery Mountain Marathon, which takes place at Fort Mountain State Park. Over 26.2 miles, runners endure 15,000 feet of elevation change through a relentless course that’s rewarded with vast panoramic North Georgia mountain views.getguts.comAlso Try: Twisted Ankle Marathon Summerville, Ga. • May 2012 7. Upchuck — 50KChattanooga, Tenn. • November 12The entire 31 miles of this hurl-inducing, minimally supported race takes place on the Cumberland Trail’s technical singletrack. The rocky and root-filled rollercoaster features epic climbs and descents into Soddy Creek, Possum Creek, and Rock Creek.rockcreek.com Also Try: Laurel Valley 50K Ohiopyle, Pa. • June 20128. Mount Mitchell Challenge — 40 mi Black Mountain, N.C. • February 25, 2012 Take off at dawn from Black Mountain and run to the top of the highest peak in the East. You’ll climb 4,324 feet in the first 20 miles along slushy, snow-covered trails to the 6,684-foot summit of Mount Mitchell, before returning back to town.blackmountainmarathon.com Also Try: Highlands Sky 40 Mile Trail Run Davis, W.Va. • June 20129. Mountain Masochist — 50 MiLynchburg, Va. • November 5A classic course created by ultra-running pioneer David Horton back in 1983, the Mountain Masochist traverses the rugged heart of the Virginia Blue Ridge backcountry, along the way climbing 9,000 feet.eco-xsports.com Also Try: Lookout Mountain 50 Mile Chattanooga, Tenn. • December 1710. Hellgate — 100K Natural Bridge Station, Va. • DecemberDo it in the dark. Hellgate starts at 12:01am from Natural Bridge Station and ruts through the desolate mountains to Fincastle. Along the way, the 100 or so runners in the limited field deal with single-digit temps, bone-chilling water crossings, and an icy roller coaster of monster climbs and rocky downhills.extremeultrarunning.comAlso Try: Trail Runner Ultra of Champions 100K Wintergreen, Va. • September 24Ok, actually there’s 11. Barkley 100 Marathon — 100 Mi Frozen Head State Park, Tenn. • MarchTen people have finished in 16 years. Year after year, the Barkley has broken the will of ultra-running elite, only conquered by the most determined. Broken down into five, 20-mile laps, the course features an incomprehensible 59,100 feet of elevation climb and descent with minimal aid, as it ruts through thick, poorly marked trails of the Cumberland Mountains. Runners must find books along the course and tear out pages to prove they reached required checkpoints.Also Try: Grindstone 100 Swoope, Va. • October 7As Tough as it GetsIf you like your trail running with a side of sadistic torture, consider taking on the Tough Mudder. Dubbed “Ironman meets Burning Man,” the 10-mile courses are designed by British Special Forces to test physical and mental stamina with mud pits, rope walls, and running through blazing fires and a maze of live electrical wires. There’s a reason only 78% of racers finish the events. Steep ski-slope terrain should only make things harder when Tough Mudder takes place at Virginia’s Wintergreen resort on October 22-23. toughmudder.comlast_img read more

The Running Plateau

first_imgMost runners who have been in this sport for a few years have experienced a plateau in their running performance at some point. The personal records (PR’s), also what I call the “low hanging fruit” come rather quickly and more easily in your first few years of running. Then almost quite suddenly it is much tougher to lower your fastest times at various distances. A mental roadblock sets up as well and you feel stagnant, thinking your fastest days in this sport are long gone.I’m amazed at how many runners lament that their best days are behind them and that they just can not seem to get faster. More times than not as I continue to dig deeper and ask more questions, which is easy, as most runners like to talk about their own running. I quickly find out that they are not logging enough miles to get the outcome they expect. I’m not advocating that grinding out more miles is simply the answer for everyone but in many cases this is the key component that is missing.I guess I should not be so shocked when almost every major running periodical gives training plans to run your fastest 5k to marathon distance with a sparse mileage plan. The fast food, faster technology, faster everything even has cemented a place with running. What these cookie cutter plans offer is getting the most while doing the minimum, boasting instant success! I’m just amazed that there is not more information about running more miles not less to eventually become a faster, stronger runner. I know that finding the time to do more running can be the main deterrent but if you want it badly enough you can get creative and work it into your schedule. You may have to drop that spin class or day of paddling for a period of time. I know runners who do all sorts of crazy things to get the miles needed to be successful which can involve a headlamp and a forgiving spouse. I also know runners who complain that they will never PR again but run only 3 days a week.I’m a huge advocate of adding an extra a run or two per week to improve your running performance. If you fall into the category of running less than seven days per week and you want to get better then an extra run or two should improve your running. On the flip side this needs to be done smartly to avoid injury. You need to pay attention to how you are feeling and keep a good descriptive running log for feedback. By slowly ramping up your mileage you will see the benefits down the road.Most runners who are pretty serious already crank out the long runs and the speed workouts each week. However a lot of runners including myself do not like the recovery runs or mileage sandwiched in between the epic more fun stuff. These runs are often not as glamorous as that Tuesday night track workout. This is also the main reason why these miles are often neglected. However this is where you pick up the extra benefit of more training time on your feet. These added miles will build your overall fitness and endurance. The effects of added miles take longer for some and needs to be followed by a good taper leading up to your goal event. How much will you improve also depends upon your biomechanics and physiology but overall an improvement should be seen.So if you are looking for a magic bullet to get faster than look no further to adding some slower mileage to your weekly plan. You’ll probably curse this training tip now but reap the rewards later. The choice is yours, accept the status quo or get out there and hit the trails.last_img read more