Editorial: Legal Machinations on Clean Power Plan ‘Beside the Point’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Delaware County (Pennsylvania) Daily Times:The legal machinations may be beside the point.While efforts to stall the Clean Power Plan are disappointing and counterproductive, market forces and technological advances may ultimately render them meaningless.That’s because the transition to more climate-friendly methods of generating power is already well under way. Energy producers are saying goodbye to coal-burning plants in favor of cleaner – and, most importantly, cheaper – technologies like wind, solar and super-efficient generators that burn natural gas.Bottom line: A spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, the largest trade association of electricity providers, said the Supreme Court’s decision “doesn’t really change anything.”It is heartening that, along with new auto-industry fuel standards, that one of the biggest generators of greenhouse gases, the utility industry, is sprinting in the direction of cleaner energy.This is what was needed all along — not just a political action or a legal decision, but a business mindset that recognizes that new, more efficient ways of generating power are not just good for the environment, but for the bottom line.Editorial: Utilities move toward cleaner energy
NextEra: Solar, wind and storage will be ‘massively disruptive’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Only one day after the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) projected that coal’s decline will slow, gas will dominate the future energy mix and that wind will peter out after the PTC ends, one of the nation’s largest and arguably its most successful power companies has a very different forecast for the future.In NextEra Energy’s fourth quarter results call, CEO Jim Robo dropped another bombshell, with his statement that solar and wind plus storage will be cheaper than coal, oil or nuclear, that this will be “massively disruptive to the conventional fleet” and that it will provide opportunities for developers well through the next decade.Robo’s exact math is that even after the federal tax credits expire, wind will be 2 – 2.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, large-scale solar will be 2.5 – 3 cents, and storage will add .5 – 1 cent. This would put these resources slightly below the current cost of natural gas-fired generation, without the uncertainty around fuel prices that is inherent to gas.These comments came as NextEra announced a strong fourth quarter and full year 2018, including growing renewable energy development. NextEra Energy Resources, the company’s competitive power arm, put 326 MW of solar online, including 125 MW of distributed generation. This represents a more than 50% growth on 2017 installation levels, but the company is just getting started.NextEra already holds contracts for 1,773 MW of solar projects expected to come online in 2019 and 2020. Underlying the uncertainty around project development, it says that it could put anywhere from around 900 MW to 3.3 GW online over the next two years. Beyond that, NextEra also has 1,521 MW of solar projects which are slated to come online after 2020.The company’s energy storage development is also growing. While the company’s 37 MW of deployments in 2018 was only 23% larger than 2017, NextEra also has 50 MW of batteries planned for 2019-2020, and 415 in the post-2020 timeframe.NextEra also put 1.4 GW of new wind projects online in 2018, and the company notes that it had the biggest year for origination to date, adding 6.5 GW of wind and solar projects to its backlog. But while wind is going to boom in the 2019-2020 period, NextEra is looking at a longer runway for solar. In particular, NextEra CEO Robo states that “IRS start of construction guidance on solar ITC positions us well for substantial solar and storage growth well into the next decade”More: NextEra: solar and wind plus batteries will be “massively disruptive” to conventional generation
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Caixin Global:The price of solar power has become lower than grid-supplied electricity in hundreds of cities across China, according to a new study, marking an important inflection point in the country’s deployment of renewable energy.The paper, written by researchers in both China and Sweden and published Monday in the British peer-reviewed journal Nature Energy, concludes that 344 prefecture-level Chinese cities can now deliver lower electricity prices from solar photovoltaics than from the grid, without relying on government subsidies. Solar prices in nearly a quarter of those cities can also compete with coal-generated power, according to the study.The findings suggest that solar generation across China is approaching grid parity, the critical point at which a new energy resource costs the same or less than grid-supplied conventional energy forms like fossil fuels. Previous studies suggested that grid parity for solar power in China might be years away from becoming a reality.After years of rapid growth, China’s solar industry has been consolidating since June last year, when the government pulled the plug on its generous subsidies program in a bid to curb excess capacity and wasted investment. Nonetheless, China remains the world’s largest generator of solar power and installer of solar panels.More: Solar power now cheaper than grid electricity across China, study finds Study finds solar power competitive with grid electricity across China
Blackjewel agrees to pay back wages to coal miners in Kentucky FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:Coal miners who blocked train tracks in Kentucky demanding to get paid for the coal they mined will benefit from a federal deal with the bankrupt company.Agreements filed in U.S. District Court this week will pay out nearly $5.5 million in back pay to miners from Blackjewel LLC’s eastern mines. The checks from over the summer bounced when workers tried to cash them, prompting several miners in Kentucky to protest by blocking coal shipments in Harlan County.The agreement involves a separate entity, Blackjewel Marketing and Sales Holdings, paying the bankrupt company $5.47 million to issue paychecks to employees, the Bristol Herald Courier reported. Blackjewel owned mines in Kentucky, West Virginia, Wyoming and Virginia.“I feel relieved to finally be getting the pay that I worked for, which is what all of us miners wanted,” former Blackjewel miner Collin Cornette said in a text message to the Associated Press. “The protest made people realize that working Americans — when united — can be a powerful force.”Blackjewel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on July 1. It agreed to pay its workers following the sale of two mines in Wyoming last week.“Payroll checks are expected to be issued this week,” Blackjewel attorney Stephen Lerner wrote in a Wednesday email to the Bristol Herald Courier. They will cover unpaid wages earned between June 10 and July 1, according to court documents.More: Attorney: Blackjewel miners to receive back pay this week
New York’s latest round of state-backed renewable energy projects average $18.59/MWh FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:New York State governor Andrew Cuomo has revealed the winners of the third tender conducted by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which amounted to 1,278MW of new large-scale solar, wind, and energy storage projects across the state – and all delivered at stunningly low prices.The new slate of renewable energy projects – some of which are expected to break ground as early as late-2020, and all of which are expected to be completed by 2024 – include 17 new ground-mounted solar projects totaling 1,090MW, and 40MW of battery storage projects.Additionally, three existing wind farms will be repowered leading to an increase in new renewable capacity of 35.8MW, while a development of a new 145MW wind farm was also awarded a procurement contract.The 21 projects are expected to generate over 2.5 million megawatt-hours of renewable energy each year – enough electricity equivalent to powering over 350,000 homes and enough to reduce emissions by more than 1.3 million metric tonnes annually, itself the equivalent of taking nearly 300,000 cars off the road every year.Importantly, bid prices for this third round of procurement included project bid offers 23% lower than bids received three years ago. The weighted average award price for this third solicitation is $US18.59/MWh of production over the 20-year term of the awarded contracts.[Joshua Hill]More: New York state announces nearly 1.3GW of low-cost new renewables, storage
Schlumberger exits shale sector, sells U.S. fracking assets to Liberty Oilfield Services FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Schlumberger has become the biggest oil-service industry player yet to abandon frack work in North America, a sign that activity in the U.S. shale patch may never revisit previous highs.The provider of drilling and oil-production equipment agreed to sell its U.S. and Canadian fracking business to smaller rival Liberty Oilfield Services Inc. After similar exits over the past few years by Baker Hughes Co. and Weatherford International Plc, Halliburton Co. is now the sole global provider of well completions for shale, and even Halliburton has said it’s looking overseas for better growth.For Schlumberger, the world’s top oilfield-services company, the deal is a massive reversal from its North American buying binge over the past few years, which added frack-sand mines, artificial-lift technology and Weatherford’s frack fleet. For Liberty, meanwhile, buying Schlumberger’s OneStim unit in exchange for a 37% stake in the company means the oilfield contractor will more than double the size of its frack fleet in a market that has sidelined three-fourths of U.S. crews this year.OneStim helps customers extract oil and gas from shale wells by blasting water, sand and chemicals underground to release trapped hydrocarbons. When combined with horizontal drilling, fracking launched the shale boom more than a decade ago. But now an historic crash in oil prices along with a glut of fracking gear has triggered a crisis that’s driven some frackers into bankruptcy.The combination with OneStim, which is expected to close in the final three months of this year, will make Liberty the second-biggest U.S. fracker with 2.3 million horsepower, according to Citigroup Inc.Schlumberger’s sale comes less than three years after it acquired Weatherford’s fracking unit for $430 million. Liberty said Tuesday it plans to scrap 1 million horsepower — essentially the former Weatherford fleet — amid an industrywide glut. As shale explorers heeded investor calls to rein in spending, fracking demand has dwindled. Beginning late last year, frack providers took the unusual step of scrapping much of their idle equipment.[David Wethe]More: Shale loses another global giant after Schlumberger’s frack sale
For over 20 years, trail lovers have been working to protect Rocky Fork, the largest remaining unprotected tract in the southern Appalachians. Located in the Bald Mountains of eastern Tennessee, Rocky Fork is a privately owned 10,000-acre tract bordering two national forests and includes ten miles of the Appalachian Trail. It stands out as some of the most important wildlife habitat in the eastern U.S., home to a healthy black bear population, some of the finest waters that remain for the native Appalachian brook trout, and more species of salamanders than Great Smoky Mountains National Park.Triple Falls on Rocky Fork CreekSaving Rocky Fork has not been easy. Two previous attempts failed, in 1997 and 2001. Three years ago, in 2006, Rocky Fork again was placed on the market, and when ridge-top development loomed large as its likely fate, long-time Rocky Fork advocates scrambled into action to create widespread public awareness.The Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy, based in Asheville, N.C., stepped in, along with help from The Conservation Fund and Appalachian Trail Conservancy. Over the next three years, outdoor enthusiasts and local citizens worked shoulder to shoulder to protect Rocky Fork. Lobbying for public funding were Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and Representative David Davis from Tennessee, and Representatives David Price and Heath Shuler from North Carolina. Assisting with private funding were key philanthropists who presently prefer to remain anonymous.Rocky Fork View near ATFinally, on December 15, 2008, the hard work paid off: Rocky Fork was purchased for nearly $40 million by The Conservation Fund and U.S. Forest Service. Much work still remains, as The Conservation Fund must now acquire funding for its reimbursement, in order for the final transfer of land to proceed. But for now, trail lovers are celebrating the permanent protection of a pristine mountain wilderness.
It was almost 10 o’clock on Saturday morning. The sky was a deep turquoise-blue, practically cloudless, and the golden-red leaves on the trees rustled in the gentle autumn wind.I’d just pulled into Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort for their Freefall Festival, a three-day event celebrating mountain biking, craft beer, and good music. In addition to representing the magazine at the festival, I would also be joining forces with Snowshoe employee Melissa Dobbins to host a 5-mile hike for one of the Live Outside and Play meet-ups.For those of you that were unaware, I have been hosting a meet-up at least once a month since I hit the road in May. These meet-ups are designed to be free and open to the public with the aim of introducing new people to the magazine, the project, our sponsors, and the local businesses I work with to host the event.In the past five months my meet-ups have included an 8-mile trail run in Damascus, Va., a 5-mile sunset/night hike outside of Brevard, N.C., a SUP float in Folly Beach, S.C., a yoga session in Fayetteville, W.Va., a SylvanSport Go demo in Floyd, Va., an ENO slackline competition in Ocoee, Tenn., and most recently this 5-mile hike up to Snowshoe’s Cheat Ridge fire tower.I’m always a little nervous before these meet-ups, mainly because I fear the worst: no one shows.Per one of last week‘s blogs, you’re well aware that my time on the road has been speckled with flaky friends. That’s totally fine – occasionally, I’m the flaky friend. But the point of these meet-ups is to meet new faces. I can’t do that if no one shows. Granted, this is the first year the magazine has started hosting events like this, so I haven’t been expecting large turnouts. In my eyes, a successful meet-up can be as few as two people.Which, is precisely the number of folks that showed up on Saturday morning.On the lift down to the lake depot though, I couldn’t care less who or how many people showed up. The fall foliage was in full-swing and the day was proving to be a perfect combination of cool and sunny. It’d be a perfect morning for a fire tower hike, even if it was just Melissa and I.A friendly couple who owns a vacation house over the valley were the only folks who came at first. While I was relieved that they had heard about the hike via social media and had actually followed through with it, a part of me was still bummed. Really? Only two people out of the 155,000+ online fans we had between Snowshoe and Blue Ridge Outdoors? What gives?As I was walking down to the beach though, a man in a bucket hat came up to me asking where the geocaching trail was. I quickly steered him away from partaking in the short trail, telling him that he should join us, instead, for a 3-hour hike up the ridge. He and his wife agreed and before long, the 7 of us began our trek up the mountain.It was awesome to simply go for a walk in the woods. Sometimes (maybe due to my total dislike of hiking) I get caught up in adrenaline sports like kayaking and mountain biking and climbing. I live for that rush, for feeling borderline entirely out of control. But hiking is very methodical, very grounding. I should do more of it. Still, there were times during our hike when I looked on in envy as riders came flying down the trails we were slowly trudging up. By the time I was standing atop the fire tower, soaking in the 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains, it didn’t matter how I got there. All I cared about was that I was there.Waves of red, gold, and green greeted our eyes. We could see the runs of Snowshoe, the lake, a puff of gray smoke in the distance from the Cass Scenic Railroad. It finally felt like fall, and I was glad that I could share that beautiful day with people who were as amped to go outside and play as I was.###To cap off the day, we headed back down the mountain to watch an awesome live performance by G. Love and Special Sauce and Slightly Stoopid. Thanks to Melissa and the folks over at Snowshoe for hosting us this weekend and to all of the other locals and businesses that have helped me to put on these meet-ups in the past!If you haven’t already, stay connected with the project by following the Live Outside and Play Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter feeds. That way, you’ll know when and where the next meet-up is happening.
See that little baggie right there? That’s hop hash—a super concentrated form of hop resin.Sweetwater Brewing down in the ATL used bricks of that hop hash in its new double IPA called, originally, Hop Hash. What does hop hash do to an IPA, you ask? It jacks it the hell up. Like hop steroids. Like a hop Red Bull. Like hop epo.Hop Hash has a pungent nose—like you’re trapped inside a grapefruit scratch and sniff sticker—and a flavor profile that’s equally as strong. It’s bitter, juicy, with a bit of sweetness that tries in vein to balance it all out. Not that you want this beer to be balanced. This isn’t an entry level beer. If you’re trying to get your Bud Light-drinking friend into craft beer, keep on cruising down the aisle until you reach the hefeweizens.Hop Hash is a double IPA—strictly hop head territory—so you’re only going to pick this bottle up if you’re looking for a palate wrecker. Hop Hash weighs in with a whopping 100 IBUs, making it one of the most bitter beers in the South. (Side note: Delaware-based Dogfish Head just released their 120 Minute, an imperial IPA that’s considered one of the hoppiest beers in the world, if you’re into that sort of thing).Sweetwater tried out the hop hash method last spring with their limited release, Johnny Hash, and the brewery and their fans loved it so much, they brought the method back for this brand new year-round beer. Right now, Hop Hash is one of my favorite IPAs. Careful, though, the beer is 7.8%, squarely in “double” IPA territory, so if you drink four, in like an hour, you might regret some of the decisions you make. So I’ve heard.Oh, and if Sweetwater sends you a little baggie of the hop hash in the mail, don’t snort it. It burns. Not that I would try snorting hops. Again, that’s just what I’ve heard.
An Atlanta man has drowned kayaking in Linville Gorge.Saturday night, William Halliburton, “Burton” Greer was found on the Linville River near the Pinch-In Trail on the western side of the gorge. The trail is located off Old North Carolina 105. WSOCTV reports that A team of about 50 emergency responders from multiple agencies worked nearly six hours in the dark to get to them. The difficulty of accessing the river in Linville Gorge makes rescue efforts a challenge.Greer’s kayak became lodged on a rock, just downstream from a Class IV rapid. A group of kayakers who found Greer attempted to resuscitate him but were too late. He was pronounced dead at the scene. According to family, Greer knew WNC rivers well, reports the Citizen-Times.Usually a shallow river system, heavy rains bring kayakers from all over the region to challenge Linville Gorge’s rapids.This is the second kayaking death this year, following the passing of WNC kayaking legend, Maria Noakes.