FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Los Angeles Times:With the nation’s electricity production shifting to cleaner sources of power, U.S. coal consumption is declining. But here’s a problem: As major coal-mining companies watch their sales diminish domestically, they are struggling to find export markets in which they can continue to do business.And what have we really gained if coal that the U.S. doesn’t use just gets shipped to other countries for them to burn?That’s the question that needs to be answered as officials consider a proposal to build a new coal port in Oakland as part of the conversion of a decommissioned Army base. There are a lot of problems with the proposal, which we’ll get to, but just from an environmental standpoint, it is a bad idea.The proposal arises from the redevelopment of the decommissioned, 330-acre Oakland Army Base at the foot of the Bay Bridge. The California Capital and Investment Group, with which the city of Oakland contracted in 2012, proposed to build a 30-acre Oakland Bulk and Oversize Terminal to handle alfalfa, grain, potash, wind turbine parts and other products. Chief Executive Phil Tagami wrote in a December 2013 newsletter that the developers’ plans did not include “the pursuit of coal-related operations at the former Oakland Army Base.”Yet reports surfaced in early 2015 that coal was indeed part of the mix, which the developers had kept secret to avoid public opposition. How much coal? Estimates run as high as 10 million tons a year, which is about five times the combined volume of the state’s other coal docks in Long Beach, Stockton and Richmond. The coal could end up being shipped via open-top rail cars, a practice that, without mitigation (such as spraying the load with a chemical sealant), can spread more than 600 pounds of coal dust per rail car over the course of a 400-mile trip. Coal dust, which causes black lung disease among miners, contains lead, mercury and other elements that can be toxic even in light concentrations, and is linked to heart and respiratory diseases.The coal would come from mines in Utah, where four counties and the state government have concocted a scheme to take $53 million in federal mine lease-fees — money meant to support infrastructure and other public projects in communities affected by mining on public lands — and invest it in the Oakland port project. The goal is to provide a link to foreign markets for the Utah coal. Note that with the exception of port jobs in Oakland — which would exist no matter what products were to be shipped — the only thing California gains from this project is an environmental headache.The port developers say they will use covered rail cars and covered facilities in Oakland, but environmentalists are right to be skeptical given the lack of transparency so far, and the fact that open-top rail cars are the industry standard. The most likely path is through the Donner Pass north of Lake Tahoe to Sacramento, across the Central Valley to the port in West Oakland, where the overwhelmingly low-income residents already suffer from elevated cases of asthma and other pollution-related ailments.That’s just the kind of information that should be included in the project’s environmental impact report, but because coal was supposedly not being considered when the report was done, that impact was not assessed.That’s absurd. The city of Oakland should order a supplemental environmental report and, if the deleterious effects of the project are as bad as expected, the city should pull the plug.This is a project that would harm the local environment — and the global environment as well. If we need to wean the world from coal, why would Oakland build a dock to export it?Full item: If coal is too dirty for the U.S., why would Oakland build a dock to export it to Asia? Editorial: A Shady Utah-California Coal-Export Scheme
On Earnings Calls, U.S. Utility Execs Talk Now of Transition FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享SNL:When power generators talked about coal on second-quarter earnings calls, many were talking about moving away from the fuel, an S&P Global Market Intelligence review of recent earnings reports found.While the coal sector has enjoyed a lift from improvements in international demand for metallurgical coal, U.S. producers have historically played a somewhat limited role as a swing supplier to global markets. Without new coal power units, mining companies could be left competing over a reduced pool of customers as plants retire due to age or other factors.On earnings calls, power executives can often be found touting a transition to other forms of energy as a positive economic and environmental shift. More: ($) Power executives talk coal transition; several seem excited to continue
How Puerto Rico Can Rebuild Its Electricity System FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Politico:Months after Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico, most of the island’s population is still without power, an unprecedented outcome for a territory in the world’s most advanced nation. The destruction is so great that Puerto Rico effectively needs to rebuild its electric power system from the ground up, an overhaul that will cost billions of dollars.The storm’s devastation is tragic, but it also provides a rare chance to reimagine the Puerto Rican power system, currently so expensive and unreliable that it has become a major obstacle to the island’s economic growth. Instead of rebuilding its current system, based heavily on outdated oil-burning plants, Puerto Rico should take advantage of the island’s geographic position, recent technological advancements and billions of dollars in federal funding to rebuild its future around renewable energy. Such an overhaul would deliver cheap, reliable energy to Puerto Rico’s residents and businesses for a generation. Puerto Rico should not pass up this opportunity.Until the system’s failure during Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico obtained approximately 48 percent of its electric power from oil-fired power stations, 33 percent from natural gas, 17 percent from coal and the balance, about 2 percent, from wind and sun. Burning oil is one of the most expensive ways to generate electricity, costing 15 to 20 cents per kilowatt hour. It’s so expensive that no other state or territory uses oil as its main source of power. Consequently, Puerto Rico’s electricity prices are a whopping 80 percent to 100 percent higher than those of the rest of the country, which imposes extra costs on businesses and consumers, curtailing growth on the island.The island could dramatically reduce its electricity costs by switching its power sources from oil to solar and wind. In Puerto Rico, the sun shines an average of 7.44 hours per day and the trade winds are plentiful, making the island perfectly situated to obtain its energy from renewables and cutting electricity costs by up to 80 percent. In the Caribbean, wind and solar power are the least expensive ways of generating electricity, costing as little as 3 to 5 cents a kilowatt hour. Hawaii used to be in the same position as Puerto Rico, generating expensive electricity from oil, but it recently invested in an all-renewable system, which is set to be completed in 2045.The benefits would touch every corner of the island. Lower energy costs would cut power bills for Puerto Rico’s citizens, who are some of the poorest people in the U.S., and give them extra money to spend on restaurants and retail outlets. It would also attract more businesses to the island, where stratospherically costly and unreliable power supplies are a major disincentive to economic development. Clean air would also improve the island as a tourist destination, providing another boost to its struggling economy.Solar power could also increase the resilience of power supplies in Puerto Rico. Rooftop and land arrays near users would minimize the need for long-range power lines, which are inevitably damaged in the Caribbean’s frequent storms. Short low-voltage power lines can even be buried underground, making them immune to storm damage. Because solar and wind power must be stored for use when neither is available, storage capacity is needed to smooth out power fluctuations, an argument that critics often use against renewables. But recent technological improvements have enabled cheap, easy storage of solar and wind power, an approach now being used in Hawaii. California is also following this model as it pushes hard toward an energy system dominated by renewable power. Tesla recently supplied the world’s biggest lithium-ion battery to South Australia to smooth out its intermittent wind power, and it has publicly offered to do the same for Puerto Rico.Critics argue that renewable energy is very capital-intensive relative to fossil fuels, imposing huge upfront costs on states and territories. But these capital costs are manageable since wind and solar power have no subsequent fuel or operating costs. Building a solar or wind power station is like prepaying your electric bills for the next quarter-century: You pay everything upfront and then enjoy a financial respite for the life of the plant. Any extra capital costs will be recouped from fuel savings.In addition, Puerto Rico has a ready source of funds to rebuild its power system: the federal government. The Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies are likely to distribute billions of dollars of aid to the island in response to the hurricanes. If the funding is properly structured, Puerto Rico could invest that money in renewables, modernizing its failing power system without imposing huge costs on the cash-strapped island, which, due to its huge debt levels, is unlikely to be able to raise the necessary capital in financial markets.A smart administration could even leverage the resources of the federal government to jump-start this energy transformation, providing Puerto Rico with a grant or loan to finance the new power system. On November 28, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced a bill to do just that, calling it a “Marshall Plan” for Puerto Rico. If congressional Republicans reject his proposal, they could instead encourage independent power producers to set up new power stations by providing favorable tax treatment for their earnings, such as a tax exemption for the first 10 years.The entire cost of the project would be around $10 billion, a large amount but relatively small compared with the $100 billion losses from Hurricane Maria. After all, Puerto Rico must spend billions of dollars to replace its destroyed power system anyway. Investing in renewables would not only provide affordable power to Puerto Rico but also provide security against future storms that inevitably, and increasingly, batter the islands and would make the island a model for successful next-generation technologies.More: How to fix Puerto Rico’s power system
Congressional Democrats seek changes in restructuring agreement for Puerto Rico utility FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bond Buyer ($):Thirty-six Democratic members of Congress are asking Puerto Rico’s legislature to reject a May 3 proposed agreement for restructuring $8 billion in debt issued by the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA).The agreement “would increase prices by up to 21%” and it’s “highly unlikely PREPA will be able to completely offset the legacy debt charges,” resulting in “considerably higher electricity rates for decades to come,” said the letter signed by four senators and 32 House members.House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva of Arizona spearheaded the letter which was signed by three senators seeking the Democratic 2020 presidential nomination — Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.Tom Sanzillo, who last month criticized the deal as too generous to bondholders, said in an email he welcomed the congressional opposition to the deal.“There is a growing concern expressed now by Congress but also from labor and business and community that this deal is wrong for Puerto Rico, said Sanzillo, director of finance at The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA). “As the consensus about the problems with the deal grow, we think it may make it less likely that it is approved. The debate is taking place in public opinion, in courts, in legislative halls, in the houses of finance on Wall Street and the energy companies involved. We expect that if a response is made on the merits that it will be disapproved.”PREPA agreed to the May 3 Restructuring Support Agreement in a multiparty deal involving the Financial Oversight Board, the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (“AAFAF”), the Ad Hoc Group of PREPA Bondholders, and Assured Guaranty Corp.More ($): Congressional Democrats urge Puerto Rico lawmakers to reject PREPA debt deal
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Albuquerque Business First:A massive wind farm is another step closer to powering eastern New Mexico.Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy broke ground on the Sagamore Wind Project — a 522-megawatt wind farm across 100,000 acres — in Roosevelt County on Monday, the company said in a news release. The nearly $900 million project will power close to 194,000 typical homes annually, employ 400 workers during the build-out and create 20 to 30 full-time positions. The wind farm is expected to be in operation by the second half of 2020, according to a release.“This is a historic investment for Roosevelt County, but its benefits reach far beyond,” David Hudson, president of Xcel Energy – New Mexico, Texas, said in a statement. “We’ll see a significant economic boost to the New Mexico economy through increased jobs, royalty payments to landowners and more revenue for county and school budgets. And for the next 25 years, Xcel Energy customers in both New Mexico and Texas will benefit from lower fuel costs, since our fuel source is the free and abundant wind of eastern New Mexico.”North Dakota-based Wanzek Construction will be the builder on the project, which will use 240 turbines from Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems.In May 2017, Xcel announced it would invest $1.5 billion in New Mexico and Texas over the next three years to support long-term growth in the area, with the bulk of the money going to new substations and transmission lines, according to previous Business First reporting. Xcel spent nearly $500 million with its vendors in New Mexico and Texas in 2017.[Ron Davis]More: Xcel breaks ground on massive NM wind farm Xcel begins construction of 522MW wind farm in New Mexico
Companies increasingly looking to add storage to wind projects FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The scope for adding batteries to wind projects is expanding around the world, building on the considerable momentum that already exists for hybrid solar-plus-storage plants.In the U.S., solar-plus-storage is an increasingly mainstream proposition for large-scale renewables developers. In Europe, the pairing of batteries with utility-scale solar is still less common, though a peek at the mid-term development pipeline suggests that’s about to change.Wind-plus-storage has been a rarer beast in global markets, but projects in Italy, Japan, the U.S and elsewhere indicate a shift in the way developers are thinking.The U.S. has seen a flurry of wind farm repowerings over the past few years, and such project upgrades will be increasingly common in Europe as Germany’s first subsidized wind farms see their payments come to an end this year. As projects are re-engineered, the option of adding batteries will hold interest for many developers.“If you were to repower a wind project, you would have to look at the option of storage — you’d be foolish not to,” said Jake Dunn, commercial lead for Vattenfall’s innovation team on the sidelines of the recent Energy Storage Summit in London. Sweden’s Vattenfall has completed both wind-plus-solar and a wind-plus-storage projects in the U.K.One of the most obvious benefits of co-locating wind, solar and/or storage is the ability to take advantage of — and maximize — existing grid infrastructure. “You already have the land and you already have the grid connection, so planning is that much easier,” said Dunn.[John Parnell, Karl-Erik Stromsta]More: Storage hybrid plants getting more attractive for maturing wind and solar markets
South Korea’s Green New Deal a ‘stunningly ambitious’ transition for coal-dominated country FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Channel News Asia:When South Korea’s Democratic Party, under the leadership of President Moon Jae-in, romped to a comprehensive victory in national elections last month, it signaled overwhelming confidence in the incumbent government during a period of crisis.In effect, it also endorsed Moon’s newly launched climate change policy, which he has dubbed South Korea’s Green New Deal, echoing language used in Europe and the United States for a transformative agenda to shift away from damaging fossil fuels.It puts the country, which is currently the seventh biggest carbon polluter in the world, on a crash course with a painful, controversial but necessary overhaul of its energy systems. The action plan that the government announced in March – including a large-scale investment in renewable energy, the phasing out of coal operations and financing, a new carbon tax and a target of zero net emissions by 2050 – is at odds with much of the existing infrastructure and policies.Achieving these goals for South Korea will be a more challenging task than in many other nations trying to make similar changes to their power production, according to leading regional energy expert, Melissa Brown.“Generally speaking at a diplomatic level, you have a very comfortable embrace of green themes, green topics and the trappings of deep environmentalism. (But) the reality of the ground normally doesn’t match. It’s been a point of contention in Korea,” said Brown, the director of Energy Finance Studies, Asia at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. “When we talk about the Green New Deal and trying to redirect Korea, it can seem a stunningly ambitious exercise.”South Korea relies on coal for about 44 per cent of its power needs presently. The non-nuclear renewable sector, including wind and solar is underdeveloped and accounted for less than 2 percent of production in 2018.[Jack Board]More: South Korea’s Green New Deal ‘stunningly ambitious’ for one of region’s top polluters
Typical.Don’t let the title of this week’s blog fool you. I’m terrible with math. It took three attempts at Calculus in college to get the “B” I needed to major in history. My 7th grade step-daughter Emma has given up on asking me for help with her homework. My blank stares and heading to the laptop to Google for answers has left us both frustrated.However I am quite talented at keeping up with numbers when it comes to my running. For better or worse I am adamant about keeping up with: pace per mile, miles per day, miles per week, miles per month, miles per year, total running time per day/week, total ascent (descent not so much) and even my core work has the same number of sets and reps. My speed workouts are accurately logged for pace per mile and compared vehemently to previous efforts. Since the day I started running, I’ve tracked just about every number there is to keep up with for running and recorded all this information in my log books.Quite often all this number tracking can be helpful, especially if you use the information as a barometer to gauge how you are progressing with your training plan. Sometimes however this knowledge can backfire if you just go strictly by the numbers. Like all endurance sports there are other variables to consider when training. A six mile tempo run on a cool, dry day is usually easier or faster than the same workout in August here in NC. Trying to knock out a tough workout on tired legs will usually yield poorer results than when you are better rested. Other factors are proper fueling, nutrition, daily stress, footwear, and sometimes you can just have a rock solid run or an “off” day. There are many outliers to consider when tracking all your numbers so use this information smartly.My former coach used to give me workouts that stressed learning how to achieve maximum pace and still finish a speed workout strong. A sample workout would be 10 minutes hard, 3 min rest, 15 minutes hard, 5 minutes rest, and finish with 10 minutes hard. I’d report back my pace per mile and round up or down the minutes to the nearest mile or half mile increment. So the workout to me looked like 1.5 miles hard, 3 min rest, 3 miles hard, 5 minute rest and 1.5 miles hard. We had a nice tug of war with my strategy and my need to know my exact pace per mile. Eventually he gave up and knew I was going to do it my way. I felt more comfortable with our strategy if I knew my numbers.For some runners all these numbers can be too much and can actually create more stress. However most runners that I know love to talk about how many miles they just ran, the pace per mile, the total climb for the run, how many calories they burned and how many beers they can now consume for their effort. To prove my point, just look at all the running blogs out there now. Some of the numbers being tracked looks like that confusing Calculus equation in college that can take a while to crack.
If you don’t already know, at Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine we have something called the RoadShow. This is where we pack up the sweet vinyl-wrapped BRO Subarus and go to really fun events and festivals across the Blue Ridge. Yes this place is torture to work for.This weekend was The Festy Experience on the grounds of Devils Backbone Brewery in Nelson County. I got to work the Blue Ridge booth for about two hours on Friday, and then was off the clock until Saturday morning. Party time, excellent!A few of my friends also happened to be festying and we all grabbed a few brews and found our ways to the stage. Trampled By Turtles, The Infamous Stringdusters, and more rocked out until midnight with foot stomping bluegrass tunes, to slow sing along jams. Despite beers being $6, I managed to get a good buzz going and was right at the front of the stage singing along with my friends. The way the stage is set up, and the amount of good people who attend, the Festy is a recipe for a great time.By the time my buddy and I set up our tent around 12:30am and got to bed, 7am came all too quickly. I had to help out with our annual Blue Ridge Burn trail run held on a great trail network close to the Festy grounds. We had almost 200 runners this year, and all proceeds were donated to the Southern Environmental Law Center. The run went off smoothly, no one got too lost, and the event was injury free. Success.The Festy Burn Experience from Summit Publishing on Vimeo.After working the BRO booth another hour or two, I hit the road and headed to Stokesville Campground for the Shenandoah Mountain Bike Festival. This event has been happening for over 15 years, and centers around two big trail work sessions and lots of great riding. The drive was beautiful and the roads seemed made for my trusty 1981 Toyota pickup. Yes that was a shameless plug for my awesome vehicle.The bike festival was a blast, and I got to catch up with a bunch of friends I had not seen in quite a while. After a delicious burrito group dinner the festivities began with mini bike slalom, dance parties, jumping kegs on bikes, and a big bonfire.The morning brought groggy heads, rain, and the cold. Luckily after a few hours of hydrating and cleanup the skies broke and we were able to get out for a 4-hour ride. We rode all of Narrowback Ridge, which is currently undergoing some amazing trail work by the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition and Trail Dynamics. After the ride I said my goodbyes, hit the road, and came home to a big plate of lasagna. My girlfriend is a keeper.Hundreds of good people, two amazing festivals, one unforgettable weekend.
“If I start pointing my paddle frantically in one direction it means paddle that way fast,” instructed Ben Moore, our SUP guide, as we stood on the banks of the James River.A crew from Appomattox River Company had rolled into Richmond, last Thursday, for a little whitewater paddle-boarding with Ben Moore and Mitch Davis of Riverside Outfitters. Ben, a BIC SUP and Werner Paddle Pro, had been after me for a while to get on the James River with him and experience the SUP life in downtown Richmond. I’d gotten home the day before from a two week road trip, fishing from Louisiana to Tennessee. I was a little whupped, but the prospect of paddle-boarding with the guys from work got me psyched.Eleven of us met at Riverside Outfitters around 12pm. RO has a cool little outdoor recreation compound in Richmond from which they stage rafting, climbing, biking, kayaking, paddle boarding, etc trips throughout the area. Ben and Mitch informed us we’d paddle the Wetlands to Reedy Creek section. It’s got some very friendly Class I and II rapids that are perfect for the first time whitewater paddle-boarder. After a short bus ride and a concise, informative safety talk from Ben, we found ourselves standing on some Jackson Kayak SuperCharger SUPs in the middle of the James River. Fall colors were in effect.On the water we got comfortable on our boards, playing paddle board chicken and a few other games geared towards acclimating us to our water legs. The first stop was a little ripple above the Powhite Bridge. I tried to surf it and ended up in the drink. I was all smiles though.“This is just good clean fun!” I found myself exclaiming, over and over to anyone that would listen.The water is cool right now, so it’s important to layer up in proper clothing. My Immersion Research paddling jacket was on point. I was also psyched I got to test out my Astral Hiyak Shoes/ Booties, which look a lot like the old Air Jordan’s of my youth.After the surf session, we headed down river towards Choo-Choo Rapids. Choo-Choo would be our first real test. A solid Class 2 with some decent water running through it, we were all determined to stay on our feet through the whole thing. Ben and Mitch deftly navigated the James River on their BIC SUP boards, showing us the lines and making sure we stayed safe. After a brief snack, and talk / scouting of the rapid, we boarded up and headed into the whitewater one at a time. Every one did awesome! It was such a blast. Guys were hooting and hollering all the way through the little wave train that followed Choo-Choo. I grabbed some shots of all the guys running it, then loaded up and headed in myself. It was a wild, fun ride!Following Choo-Choo Rapid we ran Mitchell’s Gut and a few other small ripples. By the time we got to the take-out sign everyone was laughing and talking about doing it again. Coming into the take-out channel, you just start to see signs of downtown Richmond. Buildings loomed on the horizon towards the Lower James section, a more difficult run. The James River in Richmond is a true gem of urban water. There were times I completely forgot we were in the capital city. It was a fantastic way for us, as co-workers, to share in a exhilarating experience.“I want to bring my wife down here!”, “I want to come back before winter and do it again.”, “How much does this cost if I come back next week?” The boys were psyched.The crew at Riverside Outfitters is awesome. These guys and gals carry a lot of passion for the James River scene in Richmond. They are advocates, ambassadors and die-hard users for and of this amazing resource. We were all impressed, both with the quality of the instruction and the joyful bliss of RVA SUP. Ben and Mitch were top notch guides. They’ll not only guide you safely down the river, but they’ll lead you to love that same river for all that it brings to the city.I’m primarily a kayak angler, though I’ve paddled some whitewater in WV from a kayak. My wife is the real whitewater star, having competed professionally for a good period of her life. I was thankful for getting to experience just a tiny taste of the river that shaped her upbringing in the paddling world. I had been a little skeptical of the river SUP thing, but no longer. It was so effortlessly smile inducing, which is how I measure fun activities, that I know I’ll be back at it very soon.When I got home, bursting with enthusiasm and appreciation my wife smiled (and always the pragmatists) said, “Good, I’m so happy for you! Sounds like you found your path to enjoying whitewater. Now I don’t have to worry about rescuing you from a kayak.”Rivers have been tied to human exploration for as long as we’ve traveled this planet. Floating these rivers is intrinsic to our nature. We have so many beautiful stretches of flowing water in this country, in the southeast. Get out there. Explore. Tune in to the wilderness outside and your wild inside. The James River in Richmond gives you a beautiful opportunity to get a taste of that wilderness at the doorstep of urban civilization. It’s a true gift.I love fishing from my kayak, but I’m grateful to have found a new way to appreciate the river’s bounty. Put whitewater paddle-boarding on your radar.