FERC Intercedes in Proposed Bailout of Ohio Utilities FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Dan Gearino for the Columbus Dispatch:Federal regulators dealt a blow to Ohio utility profit guarantees on Wednesday, saying the plans cannot go into effect until after a review of whether federal rules are being violated. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission asserted its authority in a pair of orders, finding that the plans are not valid unless American Electric Power and FirstEnergy apply for, and receive, approval from the agency.The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved the eight-year profit guarantees late last month, allowing Columbus-based AEP and Akron-based FirstEnergy to receive benefits for selected power plants that might otherwise close.Until Wednesday, it was not known whether the federal commission would intercede.A key issue in the federal complaint is whether AEP and FirstEnergy customers are “captive,” in that they have no choice but to cover costs related to the plans. The PUCO and the Ohio companies said customers are not captive because they continue be able to choose an alternative provider in the state’s open market.The federal commission disagreed, stating that “AEP Ohio retail ratepayers are nonetheless captive in that they have no choice as to payment of the non-bypassable generation-related charges” embedded in the profit guarantees. Opponents of the plans say that wording shows that the Ohio companies are facing a highly skeptical audience in the federal commission, as opposed to the more friendly panel in Ohio.Full article: Federal agency says it must OK profit guarantees for AEP, FirstEnergy
On the Blogs: Solar Battery Systems Gain Traction in New U.S. Markets FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The first quarter of 2016 saw 18.3 megawatts of grid-interactive energy storage installed in the U.S., up 127 percent year-over-year and marking the largest first quarter in the history of the nation’s energy storage market, according to GTM Research’s Q2 2016 U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report. Historically, California has dominated residential energy storage deployments in the U.S. In Q1 2016, however, GTM Research observed growing deployments in a number of emerging state markets across the U.S., including Kentucky, Nevada, Utah and Vermont. While these individual markets are still quite small, collectively they accounted for the largest share of residential energy storage deployments in Q1 2016, surpassing even California and Hawaii. Energy storage system vendors are beginning to expand into “nontraditional” markets where few, if any, deployments have occurred before. Activities in these new markets speak both to customer interest and improving economic cases for storage. It’s unlikely that any of these state markets will come close to rivaling states like California or Hawaii in the near future, but nevertheless we’re witnessing an expansion of energy storage influenced by factors including new business cases for behind-the-meter storage.In particular, interest in aggregation of behind-the-meter assets is growing. Several U.S. utilities have already partnered with energy storage system vendors to pursue business models that offer the opportunity to leverage a fleet of residential energy storage systems to provide grid services. Green Mountain Power in Vermont begun shipping Tesla Powerwalls early in 2016, offering the option for customers to allow utility access to the systems in exchange for electricity bill credit; Green Mountain Power plans to utilize these storage systems to reduce capacity and transmission costs, as well as to provide energy arbitrage. Additionally, Sunverge has partnered with Glasgow Electric Plant Board in Kentucky to explore opportunities to leverage residential storage to provide services to the grid. Sunverge and SunPower are also working with Con Edison in New York to deploy residential storage as part of a virtual power plant trial project within the New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) program with the goal of exploring a new business model for utilities.Full item: The Growing Opportunity for Residential Energy Storage in the US
Canada, Netherlands, U.K. Join List of Countries Turning Against Coal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Power Magazine:The Netherlands, a country that recently commissioned three state-of-the-art coal plants and has been reluctant to close them, on October 10 moved to phase out coal power by 2030. Meanwhile, the U.K. and Canada this week jointly urged other nations to drop coal from their power profiles.The countries are part of a growing list that have vowed to phase-out or cut-back coal-fired power generation. As part of a coalition agreement reached on October 10, Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right government promised to phase out coal generation in the nation by 2030. But the agreement also binds the government to set a carbon floor price to cut carbon emissions by 2030 as well as to back stricter measures that would enable the European Union (EU) to meet targets under a 1.5-degree-C global warming scenario.Significantly, it imperils three 2015-commissioned coal-fired power plants, which have already been struggling economically. The plants’ owners, which include Engie, RWE, and Uniper, have separately noted that falling demand, low wholesale prices, and a surge of renewable energy capacity have rendered coal power unprofitable.A report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) last year documented how the three utilities had logged impairments worth billions of euros on the new power plants, concluding that political and market trends would drive valuations even lower.The Dutch government’s announcement on October 10 “highlights the risk of investing in either new or existing coal-fired power, and the lesson is clear: National coal phase-out plans such as this, combined with the rise of renewables and the impact on demand of improved efficiency, put old electricity-production models at risk,” IEEFA said in an update.Coal plants in Europe are also burdened with meeting stricter new air pollution limits for large combustion plants, which will require utilities to invest in new technology to retrofit coal plants, limit operations to 1,500 hours a year, or shutter facilities by 2021, it noted.More: The Netherlands to Quit Coal Power; UK and Canada Champion Global Transition Away from Coal
Coal price collapse putting severe pressure on Indonesian mining companies FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:The global collapse in coal prices this year has dealt a particularly heavy blow to miners in Indonesia, the top exporter and one of the largest producers of the fuel.Bonds from the country’s financially weak miners have suffered more than peers elsewhere in Asia due to a lack of diversification and state backing that many competitors enjoy. Prices of thermal coal — the kind burned by power plants — have slumped about 33% this year, and at least four U.S. firms have gone bankrupt. As some lenders look to stop financing coal power plants and investors are under more pressure to “go green,” companies that mine or use coal are left with fewer funding options.“Among the Indonesia coal names, some are facing severe stress,” said Bharat Shettigar, head of Asia ex-China corporate credit research at Standard Chartered Plc. “If prices stay depressed for the next 12 to 18 months, there could be restructuring of some U.S. dollar bonds in the Indonesia coal sector.”Bonds sold by Indonesia coal miners Geo Energy Resources Ltd., PT ABM Investama and PT Bumi Resources have slumped in the past six months.Geo Energy Resources, which has operations in Kalimantan, faces a potential early redemption of its bonds in April 2021 if it fails to meet certain minimum coal-reserve conditions. That will be a “crucial liquidity point” for the company, according to Trung Nguyen, analyst at Lucror Analytics.ABM Investama was cut to B+ by Fitch Ratings earlier this year, reflecting its weakening business profile due to the loss of coal mining contracts with one of its customers, while Bumi Resources’ first-half net income fell by 47%.More: Collapse in coal prices spurs distress for Indonesian miners
Dear Mountain Mama,My motto is “work hard, play hard.” I put in long hours at the office, but come Friday evening my car is loaded. Whether it’s biking, kayaking, climbing or skiing, I put in full days. But as I start to near 40, I find myself increasingly injury prone.Any ideas for the best way to cross train so I head into my weekends strong?Thanks,Weekend Warrior—————————————————————————————Dear Weekend Warrior,Cross training and rest, in equal measure, are vital for you, Weekend Warrior. From the sounds of it, you like intense exercise. Consider checking out the CrossFit program, designed to be a functional, meaning that many of the movements are the same actions your body will encounter in the outdoors.The work outs are constantly varied. Every day the Workout of the Day (called the WOD) is written on the whiteboard. One day the work out might be lifting weights, jumping onto a box, and climbing a rope as many times as you can for 15 minutes. Another day the workout might consist of running, push-ups, and squats. Unlike the traditional gym model of machines and repetitive, isolated exercises, CrossFit keeps the work outs interesting and challenging. And grandparents do exactly the same work outs as Olympic athletes, using appropriate weights and an individualized intensity level.Weekend Warrior, you will get sweaty, tired, and sore. You may even throw-up. But you’ll never get bored. And the best part with CrossFit is that the work outs are only one hour and rest days are encouraged.Here’s to squatting, lifting, running, rowing, and stretching well into your forties and beyond! Mountain MamaGOT A QUESTION FOR MOUNTAIN MAMA? SEND IT HERE
Photo Courtesy of Will VanlueIn late May, representatives from the Bend, Oregon-based Deschutes Brewery will visit Asheville, North Carolina for the second time. The purpose of the trip will be to determine wether or not Asheville will become the site of a new East Coast distribution hub for Deschutes, one of the nation’s largest craft breweries.Despite Deschute’s size and national popularity—famous for brews like the Black Butte Porter and the Mirror Pond Pale Ale—it does not currently distribute to much of the Southeast.According to a report published by the Asheville Citizen-Times, the new brewery could have an annual output as high as 200,000 barrels and employ upwards of 200 individuals year-round.While Asheville is high on the brewery’s list of potential sites, it is not the only location being considered.“We’re looking at a number of locations in a number of states,” Deschutes owner Micheal LaLonde told the Citizen-Times. “We’re looking in North Carolina, we’ve looked in Virginia, we’ve looked in Tennessee, as well as South Carolina.”LaLonde says brewery officials have visited both Charleston and Greenville, South Carolina.Like many other craft breweries around the country, Deschutes places a high emphasis on the outdoor lifestyle. Their original Bend brewery overlooks the wild and scenic Deschutes River and is accesible by way of the Deschutes River Trail.“We’re looking for great culture, a lot of outdoor activities — a place where employees who live here in Bend would love to go and move to an East Coast location,” LaLonde told the Citzen-Times. “We think that’s really important so we can continue to develop a culture similar to the one in Bend, with the same values and mission.”
Centrally located in the Mid-Atlantic region, Stafford is within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population. For those coming from further out, three major D.C. Metro Area airports allow for easy access to the area. Get on the Potomac by way of the recently opened Widewater State Park. Located on a peninsula where Aquia Creekand the Potomac Rivermeet, there are two canoe-kayak launches open for use. Hike the trail for views of the water and enjoy a picnic outside. More trails and amenities to come. This season, Hoover will be jumping into the backwaters and creek arms of the Potomac River where the tidal influence makes the fishing experience more fun and challenging, and the fish tend to be bigger and more tenacious. Retired U.S. Navy officer Chad “Knot Right” Hoover, founder and president of Kayak Bass Fishing, chose Stafford, Va. as a Trail Series destination for several reasons. Once the end of the Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac Railroad line, Aquia Landing Park is the perfect place to launch from the beach and spend all day reeling in your catch. National Attention For some inland fishing, look no further than Stafford’s lakes. In addition to several native species, Lake Mooney is stocked with largemouth bass, channel catfish, red ear sunfish, and bluegill. Fish Curtis Lake from the water or use the public fishing pier on the shore. The Kayak Bass Fishing Trail Series Tournament will be coming to the area in June of 2020 and 2021. Between 150 to 250 anglers in the Mid-Atlantic Region and beyond will compete on the Potomac River to qualify for the regional finals and the series championship. “It offers lots of access, world class fishing, ever changing conditions, and the opportunity to experience more than just great fishing,” he said. “There is proximity to so much water and diversity that makes Stafford a great destination for a Kayak Bass Fishing Trail event for years to come.” Once you get off the water, explore all of the historical attractions, beautiful parks, art exhibits, excellent golf courses, and outdoor recreation in one of Virginia’s fastest growing counties. Several marinas in the area also offer access to the waterways and supplies to stock up on. With so many ways to fish in Stafford County, do your research and come up with a plan before your visit so you have the most successful strategy out on the water. Crow’s Nest Natural Area Preserve on Accokeek Creek provides another access point for fishing in the area. In addition to the ADA-accessible canoe-kayak launch, there are several miles of hiking trails that give you views of the landscape and wildlife. Stafford County will also be featured in upcoming episodes of Kayak Bassin, a nationally televised show featured on the World Fishing Network and the Sportsman Channel. Hoover, host of the show, takes a deep dive into adventures off the beaten path where power boats can’t reach with valuable tips and tricks for anglers of all abilities. Fishing in Stafford County has caught the attention of anglers on the national scene. Visit tourstaffordva.com/fishing/ for more information on fishing and booking tournaments in Stafford County. Discover the hidden gems that are Stafford’s rivers and lakes when you book your next fishing trip to Virginia’s coast. Stay Awhile Head out on the Rappahannock from the Historic Port of Falmouth or Little Falls Boat Ramp. Depending on your desired trip length, you can take the river all the way down to the Chesapeake Bay. Take a trip to Government Island, which once provided Aquia sandstone to the White House and U.S. Capitol, and learn the rich history of the area on the trails throughout the park. Located just 25 miles north of Stafford County, take the day to see the sights in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. Or visit George Washington’s Boyhood Home from ages six to 22 and the place from which the “chopping of the cherry tree” tale originated. Bordered by the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers, Stafford County, Va. offers a variety of fishing for anglers of all styles and abilities. From the exciting top water action for tidal largemouth bass to the thrill of catching a Northern Snakehead, see for yourself why Stafford is unique. “The great thing about this area is that it’s got all these little reservoirs everywhere,” Hoover said. “You’ve got world-famous Potomac River fishing, you’ve got this emerging snakehead trophy fishery, and then you’ve got proximity to a lot of other really cool stuff. It’s a really affordable place to stay in a relaxed kind of country setting when you don’t want to be around the hustle and bustle of D.C. And really, there’s just great fishing everywhere!” At the Stafford Civil War Park, you can learn about the importance of the region in the 19th century. Head to the Riverside Center for the Performing Arts, a Broadway-quality dinner theater and performing arts center, for a dazzling show. If you have never considered fishing from a kayak, Hoover will show you how it is done. The Stafford episodes will begin airing in 2020, reaching 45 million households and thousands of viewers online. Kick back and relax at one of the four breweries and two wineries in Stafford. Locals and visitors will enjoy their daily and weekly events no matter the season. Take your pick of places to stay for a good night’s rest before another day of adventure.
Latin America and the Caribbean reacted immediately to the crisis in Haiti with an outpouring of aid to Haitian and foreign victims of the quake, many of whom were from the Americas. The region is sadly too familiar with the devastating effects of earthquakes, hurricanes and floods. These natural disasters, which span national boundaries to affect neighboring countries, destroy the lives and the livelihoods of thousands of people each year and hamper the future development of an entire region. The shared commitment to save lives and provide disaster relief to the poorest country in the Americas brought together the nations of the Caribbean, Central America, South America and the United States. Sending aid to the earthquake victims in Haiti became a common cause, a mission of unity that spanned continents in a large-scale humanitarian assistance operation of unprecedented proportions. In addition to the current disaster relief efforts to assist Haiti, several countries in the Western Hemisphere have made longstanding commitments to the beleaguered Caribbean nation. The United States had been an active partner with Haiti long before the tragic quake, responding to the country’s needs through the U.S. Agency for International Development. The U.S. military supported disaster relief missions in 2008 after a series of storms hit Haiti, and U.S. forces are once again providing humanitarian assistance to Haiti through Operation Unified Response. Several Latin American countries are also involved in the development and security of Haiti, working alongside the Haitian government and the United Nations mission in the country, MINUSTAH, established in 2004 and with staff from 47 nations. MINUSTAH includes forces from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay. Brazil leads the military command of the mission with a contingent of more than 1,900 troops. Venezuela and Cuba have also made contributions to the Haitian earthquake relief effort. The following is a summary of relief contributions to Haiti from the Caribbean, Central America, South America and the United States, with personal accounts of losses suffered, aid provided and efforts undertaken to restore hope for the Haitian people. By Dialogo April 01, 2010
By Dialogo May 14, 2010 Panamanian police forces have obtained access to the database of the Colombian intelligence service DAS in order to monitor the entry of Colombians into Panama and control crime, Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli declared. “We’re now connected to the DAS (secret service) database in Colombia. I told the (Colombian) ambassador (in Panama, Gina Benedetti), ‘Look, ma’am, either you let us connect, or I’m going to have to impose visa requirements on Colombians,’ and now they’ve given it to us,” Martinelli declared in an interview with the Telemetro television network. The connection will provide “access to the database of everyone who has committed a crime in Colombia” and will enable immigration agents to detect them when they try to enter Panama, Martinelli said. In recent weeks three corpses cut into pieces have been found in Panama, which the authorities attribute to a struggle for control of the drug routes from Colombia to North America, leading Martinelli to announce a new “war without quarter” against organized crime. In Panama there are “whole families dedicated to laundering money,” and the police are “infiltrated by drug-trafficking elements,” Martinelli affirmed. He also said that he hoped that “the democratic forces in Colombia are not dismantled and the forces of evil do not start to prosper” as a result of the upcoming Colombian elections, in an apparent allusion to his desire that the next president maintain incumbent Álvaro Uribe’s actions against organized crime.
By Dialogo August 06, 2010 Colombia’s President-elect Juan Manuel Santos will take over the Andean nation’s highest office more popular than the incumbent leader credited with a dramatic fall in violence, an opinion poll showed on Friday. Colombia is much safer than when outgoing leader Alvaro Uribe took power in 2002, thanks to his U.S.-backed offensive against leftist guerrillas. His success against rebels and drug lords kept him popular and brought an uptick in investment. Santos — who takes office on August 7 and heads Uribe’s ‘U’ Party — will become president with 76 percent of Colombians rating him as favorable — one percentage point above his predecessor and Colombia’s most popular leader in history. “We’re in the honeymoon phase because when there’s a change of government and a well-received government ends, that generates a lot of optimism in people,” said Jorge Londono, head of Gallup, which published its poll in local media. Former Defense Minister Santos — who won the most votes in Colombia’s history in June — has broadly pledged to keep up the security and pro-business policies of Uribe and has benefited from the president’s strong rural support. When Uribe came to power for the first of his two terms, Marxist guerrillas controlled large swathes of territory and could carry out attacks in major cities — including a strike on the presidential palace in 2002. But eight years later, the rebels are hemmed in to remote, rural areas of Latin America’s No. 4 oil producer — and that has opened up new parts of the country to increased economic activity, improved Colombia’s image and kept Uribe popular. The Gallup poll — which interviewed 1,200 people across five big cities from July 16-24 — found 52 percent said the country was getting better, versus 41 percent who said the same in February this year. As Uribe prepares to step down, 80 percent of Colombians approve of the job he is doing. Speculation is rife about his political future post-presidency. Half of Colombians said the country would continue getting better at the start of Santos’ administration. Santos will inherit a feud with Caracas — which has hurt trade worth billions of dollars a year — over accusations by Uribe’s government that Venezuela harbors Colombian guerrillas — charges that saw President Hugo Chavez break ties.