FirstEnergy CEO Says He’s Not Interested in Moving Away from Deregulation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享By Bob Downing in the Akron Beacon Journal: Energy efficiency, renewable energy and retiring coal-burning plants will be key tools as FirstEnergy Corp. moves toward producing cleaner energy, said President and CEO Charles E. Jones.But coal remains a key part of the company’s plans, he said Tuesday in response to a question at the company’s 33-minute annual meeting in the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.He also said in a media interview that FirstEnergy is unlikely to rely heavily on cleaner-burning natural gas and that the company has no interest in re-regulating Ohio’s utilities and moving away from deregulated utilities.The Akron-based energy company has pledged to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by at least 90 percent below 2005 levels by 2045.Such a reduction is “attainable … but it’s not a slam dunk,” Jones said.At present, one-third of the electricity produced by FirstEnergy for its 6 million customers in Ohio and five other states results in no carbon dioxide emissions. That includes three nuclear power plants, two hydro plants, seven wind facilities and two solar installations.The company cannot eliminate coal as a fuel source right now without hurting the power system’s reliability, Jones said.The company has been shutting down old, dirty power plants and is also relying on cleaner-burning scrubbed coal and super-efficient plants, he said.“It will take time and patience to get there,” he said of future closures of coal-burning plants.In April 2015, FirstEnergy shut down three old coal-fired power plants in Cuyahoga, Lake and Ashtabula counties, an action that required $1.2 billion in new transmission lines to move electricity into Northeast Ohio.FirstEnergy stockholders are firmly opposed to the financial risk-taking that would be involved if the utility switched from coal to natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shales, he said.Natural gas prices fluctuate greatly and stockholders are strongly against taking on such financial risks, he said.FirstEnergy is proceeding to seek a rehearing before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio on its Electric Security Plan to save its old uneconomical power plants, Jones said.FirstEnergy is seeking a change that provides price stability for customers without a Purchased Power Agreement or federal approval.A schedule for that new request that would create new delivery surcharges for customers has not been released, but a decision is likely months away.The company was pleased when the PUCO approved that initial plan last March that would have had customers subsidizing the Sammis coal-fired plant and Davis-Besse nuclear plant.The company initially said the arrangement would hike the average residential electric bill for its 1.9 million customers in Northeast Ohio from $96 to $99.25 a month. Later the company said the bills would drop because it is costing less to produce electricity.FirstEnergy said the deal also negated the need for $4.1 billion in new electric transmission lines that would have been paid by its Ohio customers.In April, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ruled that the deal’s Purchased Power Agreement violated federal law, and that triggered the company’s new request on May 2 to the PUCO.Jones noted that subsidiary FirstEnergy Solutions will also be offering Sammis and Davis-Besse into this month’s PJM Interconnection capacity auction. That could provide future operating revenue for those troubled units, he said.Full article: http://www.ohio.com/business/firstenergy-reiterates-its-reliance-on-coal-alongside-green-initiatives-at-annual-meeting-1.683475
Commentary: Trans Mountain Financial Problems Are Kinder Morgan’s Issue, Not Canada’s FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享National Observer:In an unusual action for a Sunday afternoon, on April 8, 2018, Kinder Morgan Canada Limited (KML) issued a press release announcing it had taken the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project hostage. The company said it was suspending “all non-essential activities and related spending” on the project.The demands? Meet two conditions by May 31 or Trans Mountain’s expansion would die. The two conditions? Final clarity on its ability to construct the project through B.C. and adequate protection of KML shareholders.Kinder Morgan’s fanfare announcement is a cover-up. Trans Mountain pipeline expansion lacked commercial viability from the get-go. It has required government supported handouts at every stage of development. Kinder Morgan has put very little shareholder capital at risk. It has always looked to others— the shippers, Canadian investors and Canadian taxpayers — to do so.Upside potential with none of the downside risk is a sweet deal. The Texas-based company — forged from the executive ranks that ran Enron — wants to keep it that way.Kinder Morgan’s shareholders have almost nothing at risk — somewhere around $200 million. Sure, project spend to date is $1.1 billion but Kinder Morgan has confirmed these costs are reduced by $210 – $220 million through the Firm 50 Fund granted to the company in an unprecedented [National Energy Board] approval in 2011. Further, the early termination clause 5.4(b)(i)(A) in Kinder Morgan’s contract with long-term take or pay shippers means oil companies pick up 80 per cent of costs. So, Kinder Morgan’s shareholders are exposed to only about 20 per cent of the $900 million — or roughly $200 million.For Kinder Morgan to proceed it will likely want Ottawa to protect its shareholders from exposure beyond what they now have at stake. The “adequate protection of shareholders” Kinder Morgan seeks, when Kinder Morgan has almost no skin in the game, is a very expensive proposition for Canadian taxpayers on a go forward basis.More: What’s Behind Kinder Morgan’s May 31 Ultimatum? Follow The Money
Coal company in India seeks bids for solar power FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Clean Technica:A major coal mining company in India has issued a tender to develop solar power projects worth 150 megawatts of capacity. The tender will be awarded for engineering, procurement, and commissioning work, in addition to 10 years of operations and maintenance contract.Singareni Collieries Company Limited (SCCL) is among the largest coal mining companies in India after the behemoth Coal India Limited. SCCL is predominantly operational in the state of Telangana in southern India, and claims to own reserves of 9 billion tonnes of coal.The company is planning to set up 150 megawatts (AC) of solar power projects across Telangana in order to meet its green energy goals. It has thus contracted services of the Solar Energy Corporation of India (SECI) to host this auction on its behalf. The bids will thus be adjudged on a per megawatt basis, i.e. cost of the erection and maintenance of the projects.The auction comes months after the company announced plans to set up a total of 550 megawatts of solar power capacity. The company had estimated the cost of development of this capacity at around Rs 2,475 crore ($360 million), with annual savings of Rs 24 crore ($3.50 million).The 150 megawatts of capacity will be spread across five sites, with the capacity of each project varying from 10 megawatts to 50 megawatts. The auction is open only for Indian companies, which includes Indian subsidiaries of foreign companies.The tender document does not mention how the power generated from these projects would be used. It is possible that SCCL would use this power for captive use, or enter power purchase agreements with willing buyers at a later stage.More: Indian coal mining company tenders 150 megawatts of solar
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:The African Biofuel and Renewable Energy Co (Abrec), which promotes renewables and energy efficiency across the continent, has awarded the contract to build Guinea-Bissau’s first large-scale PV plant to state-owned Chinese hydropower business Sinohydro.The China International Contractors Association said the project was tendered along with two 1MW hybrid solar-diesel plants in Gabu and Canchungo by Abrec in March 2019.The solar asset, planned for Gardete near the city of Bissau, will sell power to national utility EAGB under a long-term contract. The West African Development Bank is backing the project with a $42.9 million loan.Guinea-Bissau relies on fossil fuels and solar has seen limited development, with the exception of rural electrification initiatives. The nation has one of the lowest electrification rates in Africa, as well as electricity prices among the highest on the continent. As a result, around 95% of the energy consumed in Guinea-Bissauan households comes from biomass.The African Development Bank recently stated Guinea-Bissau has only 11MW of installed power generation capacity, almost all of it thermal generation. “Real capacity is only 8MW, only 5MW of which is available 24 hours per day due to the maintenance required and the inability of the electric power utility to obtain the necessary fuel,” a report by the bank said. The planned solar plant in Gardete would almost triple Guinea Bissau’s power generation capacity as a result.[Emiliano Bellini]More: Solar project to more than double Guinea-Bissau generation capacity Chinese firm Sinohydro to build first large-scale solar plant in Guinea-Bissau
France’s ADEME, Japan’s JERA team up to develop 2GW of floating offshore wind capacity FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享OffshoreWind.biz:Japanese utility JERA, French state-owned investment company ADEME Investissement, and Ideol have teamed up to develop commercial-scale floating offshore wind projects.The parties agreed on the key terms for the establishment of an investment vehicle dedicated to the financing of the development phase of at least 2 GW of projects using Ideol’s Damping Pool technology.According to the three companies, this is planned to be done during the next five years.“We do believe that floating offshore wind is on its way to confirm its potential and become a substantial contributor to achieving future climate goals,” said Arnaud Leroy, CEO of ADEME and president of ADEME Investissement. “This partnership aims at financing first commercial scale projects and at supporting Ideol’s technology as both will contribute to accelerate the competitiveness of floating offshore wind.”The Damping Pool is a ring-shaped floating foundation that Ideol developed and patented and Bouygues Travaux Publics built. It is being used for the Floatgen floating wind project which comprises a 2 MW Vestas V80 turbine installed offshore France. [Nadja Skopljak]More: New French and Japanese co-op targets floating wind projects
The Southeast is at a crossroads: open up its waters to oil drilling or shift its focus to renewable offshore wind energy. Which way will the political winds blow? Two regional experts offer their insights.Offshore OilGasoline prices have been rising, spurred by higher demand for crude oil worldwide and instability in the Middle East. We should address this situation by producing more oil here at home, instead of relying heavily on foreign oil imports.Some opponents of domestic oil production claim that resources in the U.S. are too scarce to make development worthwhile. But a recent study by the energy consulting firm ICF International estimates that development in federal waters offshore of Virginia could produce more than half a billion barrels of oil and more than 2.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Those estimates translate to enough oil to fuel all the cars in Virginia for more than 4 years and enough natural gas to heat all the homes in Virginia for more than 11 years.Those numbers are probably low, if you consider that original estimates for what experts thought would be produced in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska were greatly underestimated. New technology available today can provide better estimates of resources that exist in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. Unfortunately, the only data available now is from seismic testing and exploratory actions taken 30 years ago and through outdated methods. (Think of a Polaroid snapshot compared to high resolution x-rays.)Recently, the Obama administration announced it would consider allowing new seismic and geological/geophysical testing off the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. This is an encouraging step, but we should note that the federal government does not generate this data. Seismic companies do. And they generally do that on a speculative basis, hoping to sell the data to companies looking to purchase leases in an area. With no lease sale scheduled anywhere off the Atlantic seaboard now, and thus no potential customers, seismic companies have little incentive to gather new data.We can and should improve our energy efficiency and develop more alternative and renewable energy sources; the U.S. oil and natural gas industries are leaders in both areas. Our own government experts say we will continue to rely on oil and natural gas for a majority of our energy for decades to come. Ignoring the benefits (job creation, energy security, and deficit reduction) of safely developing our vast domestic reserves of oil and natural gas will make our current energy challenge even greater.Michael Ward is the executive director of the Virginia Petroleum Council. Offshore WindI firmly believe in developing offshore wind energy, so it might surprise you that I started my career at one of the largest oil companies in the world, drilling offshore wells in the United States and Africa. I’ve always been a numbers geek, and with two engineering degrees and an MBA, I’m also a fiend for data. My transition into green energy entrepreneur didn’t spring from vague hippie ideals but from time in the field and from crunching numbers. So, why do I support offshore wind?First, some common-sense basics: offshore wind energy is clean, domestically available, and won’t run out. The machines used to harness wind cost money, but wind will always be free. This makes wind a stably priced energy source, whereas the cost of coal, oil, or gas is hard to predict over two years, let alone twenty.Let’s put these benefits into perspective. Within fifty miles of the North Carolina coast are a whopping 297,000 megawatts of untapped wind energy. Even providing for restrictions such as shipping lanes or paths for migrating seabirds, 55,000 megawatts are still available. This amount alone can provide enough power to cover over 130% of North Carolina’s electricity demand. Just 8,000 megawatts would supply about 20% of that demand.All of this potential translates into jobs—lots of them. Remember those 8,000 offshore megawatts? Estimates from the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) predict that this amount of development would create 33,000 construction jobs and 6,400 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. New Jersey, Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Rhode Island have already taken aggressive steps to attract this new industry.Using fossil fuels for energy comes with a host of costs that don’t show up on our monthly bill. But we’re still paying for them—in the public health, environmental, even military sectors. These costs act as a built-in subsidy for fossil fuels, making them appear less expensive than they are. Let’s also note that costs of renewables are trending down while the costs of fossil fuels are trending up.No energy source is perfect, and all present challenges. I’m not naïve enough to believe that we can or even should eliminate fossil fuel use in my lifetime. But I do believe that we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and build a clean energy future. Recognizing the potential of offshore wind energy and other renewables can help make this future possible.Brian O’Hara is the president of the North Carolina Offshore Wind Coalition.Join the energetic debate at blueridgeoutdoors.com
Dear Mountain Mama,This weekend I paddled a Class III stretch of river for the first time. One of our friends flipped at the top of a rapid. He tried to roll his boat, but after three attempts he bailed and swam the rest of the rapid. The more experienced paddlers raced after him, his boat, and his gear. At the take out, the others started heckling the swimmer and finally he yanked off his bootie and then chugged a beer out of his nasty river shoe. My stomach churned at the prospect of drinking a mixture of beer, foot funk, and river water. What’s this all about and will I be taunted to into consuming alcohol out of disgusting river gear if I continue to kayak?Thanks, Grossed OutDear Grossed Out,Congratulations on paddling your Class III stretch of river Grossed Out. Now that you’re officially an intermediate paddler, you’re subject to the unofficial kayak rule of the bootie beer. Consider it a rite of passage.The unofficial beer bootie rule requires that if a kayaker bails from her boat, she’s obligated to chug a beer from the footwear of a fellow kayaker. Not to be confused with a “beer booty,” which the Urban Dictionary defines as “a girl that is so ugly that you must be completely wasted to have any relations with her.” That comes later in the festivities, way after all the requisite beer booties have been consumed.Turns out that your friend actually got off lucky by drinking the beer out of his own booty. Typically, paddlers take pains to identify the oldest, most rank fungal-infested bootie to serve up the beer. And in the Southeast it isn’t uncommon for moonshine to be used instead.Some say the tradition is a penance for a swimmer risking his friends’ safety, as they chase the swimmer, his boat, and gear down the river. Others maintain that the ritual is good karma. Those who don’t do it after a swim risk upsetting the river gods and many say the river gods won’t be as forgiving on the swimmer next time.And Grossed Out when the time comes for your first beer bootie, remember that using footwear with holes is entirely unacceptable. So is spilling.Cheers!Mountain Mama
Chances are, even if you’re not familiar with Bronze Radio Return, you’ve heard one of the band’s songs. The ubiquitous “Shake, Shake, Shake” from the 2011 album of the same name has reached ears around the world, thanks to placement in TV shows and commercials, including a global campaign for the Nissan Leaf.“There was a day and age when that was viewed as selling out, but in the current climate of the music industry, it’s a vehicle that works well,” says band front man Chris Henderson.Despite using mainstream outlets, the sextet’s celebratory roots-based sound comes from a pure place. The group’s name was derived from a bronze-colored radio that Henderson listened to in his father’s art studio in Maine. It’s where he heard many forms of traditional American music, including blues, jazz, and country. When the band formed, they realized similar influences informed the sound they were crafting.“Essentially it’s the return of all of our bronze radios,” Henderson explains. “It’s those early influences and how they shape the way we still look at music.”Henderson formed the group back in 2007 after attending the Hartt School of Music, a well-respected conservatory in Connecticut. The band includes Rob Griffith on drums, Craig Struble on banjo and harmonica, bassist Bob Tanen, keyboardist Matt Warner, and Patrick Fetkowitz on lead guitar. They deliver colorful folk rock with an alternative edge, highlighted by joyful harmonies and anthemic hooks similar to Mumford and Sons. Banjo rolls keep pop melodies grounded, while the best energy often comes from the band members stomping and clapping in unison.“The chemistry comes from spending long hours together—both in the van and on stage,” Henderson adds. “In addition to playing music together, we listen to music together and all have open minds. We work together as democracy and stay open to each other’s ideas.”The group has earned plenty of fans on the road through relentless touring. In addition to high-energy club shows, the group has opened for the likes of John Mayer, Grace Potter, and Michael Franti and Spearhead. But unlike many young acts of the day, the members of Bronze Radio Return also enjoy crafting new work in the studio. The band’s third full-length album, the recently released Up, On & Over, was made during a five-week retreat to the foothills of the Blue Ridge. The group likes solitude when recording, and they found it at White Star Sound, a studio located on a historic farm in Louisa, Va., just outside of Charlottesville. Tucked down several miles of dirt road, the studio offered little to do but work on the record, play ping pong, and drink whiskey. In the remote setting the band stayed focused and knocked out 15 new songs, including the uplifting front porch-flavored lead single “Further On.”The new song has already found a home on TV, used during the PGA Tour’s national ad campaign that featured Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson. But the plan is to get this new material out to people night after night on the road. The band will embark on a national tour this fall that starts with two dates at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion on September 21 and 22.“We just want more ears on the music,” Henderson says.You can stream a track from Bronze Radio Return as part of our July Trail Mix Free Music Playlist.Syndicate’s New GrooveThis month North Carolina roots rock favorites Acoustic Syndicate will release their first new album in nearly a decade. Rooftop Garden marks a steady comeback for the band that dominated the regional club and theater circuit in the early 2000s but called it quits in 2005 so brothers Bryon and Fitz McMurry and their cousin Steve McMurry could focus on different work, including managing the family’s farm in Cleveland County, N.C. Gradually, in the past few years, the band has started playing an increasing number of shows, and with the recent addition of dobro ace Billy Cardine, the group has found new momentum. The album’s lead single, “Heroes,” has a familiar Syndicate sound—driving rock rhythm, intricate banjo rolls and soaring harmonies that highlight the chemistry of familial bonds. With the new release, the band has plans to tour extensively this fall, including a top billing at the Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain, N.C., on October 18.
Last week our travel editor took another turn in front of the camera to talk about her Live Outside and Play project now that she is three months into life on the road.To follow along in her adventures, check out the Live Outside and Play blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds.To watch the whole video featured in the news bit, click here.
Last week, I made a pit stop at my parents’ place in northern Virginia.Maybe it was the nostalgia I felt from being in my old room, but not an hour had passed after my arrival before I found myself digging through the boxes I’d piled into my minivan months ago. Bad idea.Shoes. Blankets. Plate sets. Linens. It’s a slightly claustrophobic feeling, to see all the stuff that you own sitting unused in a mess of platic bins and trash bags. Looking at my van parked in the back of my parents’ yard, sagging with the weight of my possessions, I felt much like a ship’s anchor had been chained to my ankle, keeping me rooted to that minivan full of crap. I wonder if other people feel the same way every time they enter their storage shed, their dusty garage filled with rusting bikes and unassembled furniture, still in the box it was bought in. Surely I can’t be alone.We really don’t need a lot to be happy and function comfortably. I think I always knew that, but like many, I was stuck in a rut. I hung on to things I didn’t need or rarely used or had some faintly good memory from. Being a woman of words, I keep nearly every letter, birthday card, scrap of paper, and sticky note. I have boxes upon boxes devoted to my favorite books, most of which I’ve read only once. And the National Geographic issues. Don’t even get me started. Two boxes alone are dedicated to those glossy magazines. Embarrassingly, I think I’ve only read cover-to-cover less than half of those I’ve saved.Even now in the Jeep I find myself hanging on to weird things like business cards from people I have no recollection of meeting and miscellaneous parts to things I might need, but likely won’t ever use. One of the three trunks I’ve been towing around with me is actually a dedicated “junk trunk” (and yes, there is a lot of junk in my trunk). Spare cables, scissors, cordelette, camo duct tape, you name it, it’s probably in there. It’s like the transient version of a junk drawer.Am I a hoarder-in-the-making?As I sat in my crammed minivan last week staring at those stacks of unread NatGeos, I was certainly beginning to think so. But the fact of the matter is, the more time I spend away from that stuff, the more I want to auction off everything I own, down to the very last measuring cup (those are superfluous anyway – I’m more of an eyeballer). I’ve spent the past 100-some days of my life operating perfectly well on a few Eddie Bauer outfits, a pair of flip flops and my purple Montrail Mountain Masochists, one bowl, one spork, one mug, one pot, and one pan. Who’s to say I can’t continue to do so once this year-on-the-road is over?Aside from holding on to material items, I’ve also recognized a few other things I used to do that I’m not entirely proud of, like …using too much water.Really, three showers per week should be a universal standard (it’s also about the max my Roadshower can handle). And enough already with running the faucet while you swish around toothpaste-water in your mouth. Simply put, using that much water to rinse something as small as your mouth is downright ridiculous.wasting electricity.Does every light in every room really need to be on?throwing away leftovers.I have lower standards these days. As long as there’s not another life form growing on it, it’s good in my book.overeating sweets.If you don’t buy cookies at the grocery store to begin with, you can’t have cookies at 11 o’clock at night.buying things with packaging.I hate packaging. Period. When you don’t have a trash can to hide the waste you produce, you realize just how much garbage you make in a given day. Side note – California-based photographer Greg Segal’s “7 Days of Garbage” project is pretty mind-blowing if you haven’t seen it yet.grabbing too many handfuls of t.p.T.P. Toilet paper. Wiping your bum doesn’t require a wad the size of a child’s pillow. Spare a square.not reusing plastic bags.Plastic bags of any kind. Trash bags, Ziploc bags, grocery bags. You can and should reuse all of these. It’s not a one-and-done kinda deal.All in all, I’d say that the best thing I’ve taken away from these past few months on the road has been eliminating these non-essentials and simplifying my life, even if it’s just one baby step at a time.So let’s hear it!How do you try to minimize your lifestyle?