WSJ: Utility Industry Ratchets Up Its War on Solar

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Many U.S. states are considering dialing back solar-power incentives amid growing pressure from local electric utilities, potentially dealing a blow to the companies that install home solar systems around the country.More than 900,000 homes across the U.S. are equipped with solar panels, with most of those homeowners able to sell any excess electricity their houses generate back to the utility, helping reduce the cost of home solar panels by up to 30%. But the price solar customers get paid for that extra renewable power through so-called net metering is starting to fall, as several states, including Nevada and Hawaii, have slashed their solar subsidies.Utilities in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, Utah and many other states are currently proposing measures that include changing their net metering programs or raising the monthly fees charged to home solar users for hooking their equipment to the power grid. The utilities argue that the ever-smaller base of traditional power customers shouldn’t get stuck paying all the costs of maintaining the grid.“What is in danger of being overlooked is the harm inflicted on the 96% of our customers who do not have solar,” said Donald Brandt, chairman and chief executive of Arizona Public Service Co., which wants the state regulator to change its solar payment scheme. “This is about a sustainable model for both rooftop solar and the electricity grid, but it’s also about basic fairness for customers.”Overall, two dozen states are weighing changes to their incentives for rooftop solar power and other renewable-energy policies, according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, which tracks such policies. Incentive payments have been the backbone of home solar firms’ business model.In Nevada, which ranks eighth in home solar adoption in the U.S., SolarCity Corp. and Sunrun Inc. pulled up stakes in December, laying off hundreds of employees after the state abruptly ended generous incentives for homeowners with solar arrays on their rooftops.The state’s largest utility, NV Energy Inc.—a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc.—had been richly rewarding homeowners for the excess electricity their rooftop panels generated. Nevada regulators voted to replace that program with one that pays a mere fraction of what homeowners had come to rely on.“Issues in Nevada and other states were simmering before, but now they’re boiling,” said Shawn Kravetz, a fund manager at Esplanade Capital in Boston who invests in solar companies.A bright spot for the industry is New York, where regulators adopted a new set of policies last fall that include paying homeowners high retail power rates for excess electricity coming from their rooftop solar panels.Full article ($): Solar-power incentives for homeowners shrink as local utilities pressure state regulators WSJ: Utility Industry Ratchets Up Its War on Solarlast_img read more

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Budding Movement Against Coal Expansion in Japan

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From SNL:Activists gathered outside Japan’s Embassy in the U.S. to protest against the country’s support for domestic and overseas coal projects with more protests planned in Tokyo and Jakarta. “Groups will continue to put pressure on Japan to end its fossil fuel financing in the lead up to Japan hosting the G7 summit in May,” a statement from Friends of the Earth said.From Politico:Some environmentalists, including the Sierra Club and Greenpeace, have singled out Japan and plan to protest outside the Japanese embassy in Washington today at noon, calling on Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to reject financing for a coal plant in Indonesia. The delayed 2,000-megawatt Batang coal plant project is supposed reach financial close in a week and Japan’s Bank for International Cooperation — the Japanese version of the Export-Import Bank — is expected to extend its support. Japan’s continued backing of coal projects violates the spirit of both the Paris climate agreement and an agreement among OECD countries to cut international financing for coal projects that will take effect next year, Sierra Club’s Nicole Ghio told reporters on a conference call.From Friends of the Earth:As Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe visits the U.S. this week, activists rallied outside the Japanese Embassy earlier this afternoon to highlight the growing concern and international pushback against Japan’s increasingly isolated support for domestic and overseas coal projects. Protests will also take place tomorrow in Tokyo and Jakarta to demand that Japan stop financing coal projects in Japan, Indonesia, and around the world. Protesters at each event will deliver a letter with these demands signed by over 220 groups from 43 countries, including Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Myanmar, and  South Africa. Groups will continue to put pressure on Japan to end its fossil fuel financing in the lead up to Japan hosting the G7 summit in May.Despite many countries shifting away from these unprofitable coal projects, including OECD coal finance restrictions, Japan has continued to move backward by supporting both domestic coal projects and financing some of the most controversial coal projects around the globe. One of those projects, the Batang coal-fired power plant, has been plagued by human rights abuses. Despite this, as the April 6 deadline to secure financing for the project gets closer, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation — JBIC — is once again considering financing the project.Full item: Activists protest Japan’s controversial coal financing during Prime Minister Abe’s visit Budding Movement Against Coal Expansion in Japanlast_img read more

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Op-Ed: How to Win a Court Case on ‘What a Reasonable Cost of Carbon Should Be’

first_imgOp-Ed: How to Win a Court Case on ‘What a Reasonable Cost of Carbon Should Be’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享John Abraham for The Guardian:In Minnesota, an administrative hearing resulted in a judicial recommendation that will have impacts across the country. It was a case argued mainly between environmental groups and energy producers regarding what a reasonable social cost of carbon should be.How was this case won? Well certainly it helps to have science on your side. Without that, even the most expensive expert witnesses struggle. But Peabody’s scientists made errors that were easy to identify and point out to the Judge. Furthermore, the Judge was smart, quickly able to see through nonsense non-science.We also showed that the experts for Peabody relied extensively on non-peer-reviewed reports, blog sites, and think tanks to support their conclusions (paragraph 359 in the report). The peer-reviewed scientific literature is the best source for accurate climate science information. In other areas, the Peabody experts used scientific papers that we showed were incorrect.I hope that this case will serve as a standard for other utility commissions as they work through the complex issues of the cost of carbon pollution. I also hope that the high standards of science used in Minnesota will be reflected in other areas where similar cases arise. You can’t just bring in some contrarian scientists to make unsupported statements that minimize the costs of climate change.Full item: Peabody coal’s contrarian scientist witnesses lose their court caselast_img read more

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A One-Two-Three Market Punch Against Texas Coal-Fired Generation

first_imgA One-Two-Three Market Punch Against Texas Coal-Fired Generation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享SNL:The state supplied 25% of U.S. wind power in 2016, and wind capacity in the state is expected to reach 25,500 MW by 2019. Along with abundant supplies of low-priced natural gas, all that wind has helped depress energy prices in Texas: despite having, by far, the highest energy usage per capita in the nation, Texas enjoys energy prices per MWh among the lowest of any state.As the Luminant retirements indicated, low wholesale power prices are driving coal generators out of the market. Exacerbating that trend, the wind boom is expected to be followed by a solar boom in the Lone Star state: In its most recent long-term scenario, ERCOT said between 14,500 MW and 28,100 MW of solar capacity could be added to the system by 2031. Through September, Texas had generated about 17% of its electricity from wind in 2017. Developers have already signed interconnection agreements for another 8,655 MW of new wind, plus 2,050 MW of new solar installations, in ERCOT.For coal plant owners, low natural gas prices and high wind penetration “have been like a one-two punch,” says Chen-Hao Tsai, senior energy economist with the Jackson School of Geosciences at the University of Texas, Austin. “If solar really takes off as ERCOT predicts, that will replace a good amount of generation from conventional generators during the daytime. I would consider that the third punch.”More ($): Wind booms, coal suffers, in oversupplied Texas gridlast_img read more

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U.K. Company in 300-Turbine U.S. Wind Project for Northern Indiana

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:A British-based energy company is working on plans for a wind farm with perhaps more than 300 turbines in parts of three northern Indiana counties.Officials with Renewable Energy Systems are looking at locations in Cass, Fulton and Miami counties for the project.Company development director Brad Lila tells the (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune that plans are in their early stages and possible placement of the turbines hasn’t yet been decided. Factors include property owner participation, topography and transmission grid capacity.Aaron Ault of a Fulton County property rights group opposing the project says allowing the wind farm would be a permanent mistake that would hurt property values and cause noise problems.Cass County Commissioner Ralph Anderson says the project would help with energy production and boost the county’s property tax base.British Company Planning Northern Indiana Wind Farm U.K. Company in 300-Turbine U.S. Wind Project for Northern Indianalast_img read more

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AC Energy Plans to Sell Coal Plants in Philippines, Boost Renewables Investments

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:MANILA—AC Energy Inc, part of Philippine conglomerate Ayala Corp, on Monday said it could sell a stake of up to 50 percent in its coal-fired energy unit, using funds from the deal to boost its renewables business in Southeast Asia.AC Energy is in talks with potential partners that could be interested in taking a stake in its wholly-owned AC Thermal unit, company officials said, although they declined to identify would-be investors or give any indications on price.“We cannot go on record with respect to valuation,” AC Energy President and CEO Eric Francia said in an email to Reuters on Monday, declining to comment on local newspaper reports saying the sale may raise up to $1 billion.AC Energy’s assets are 80 percent thermal and 20 percent renewable, with a total value of 135 billion pesos ($2.6 billion), according to a recent CLSA report. Its thermal assets include the 632 megawatt GNPower Mariveles coal plant, a partnership with Aboitiz Power Corp’s subsidiary Therma Power and Power Partners, and the 552 MW GNPower Kauswagan, in which it has an 85 percent economic stake.The company expects to expand its overall energy capacity to more than 5,000 megawatts by 2025 from 1,600 MW currently. Following its acquisition of Salak and Darajat geothermal assets in Indonesia in 2017, AC Energy is assembling a portfolio of renewable energy assets in the region this year, including a 75 MW wind project in Indonesia and over 300 MW of solar projects in Vietnam.More: Philippines’ Ayala Looks To Sell Big Stake In Coal Unit, Turn To Renewables AC Energy Plans to Sell Coal Plants in Philippines, Boost Renewables Investmentslast_img read more

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FERC orders construction halt at Atlantic Coast Pipeline

first_imgFERC orders construction halt at Atlantic Coast Pipeline FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享WV Public Broadcasting:Federal regulators halted all construction of the 604-mile, interstate Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) following a federal court’s ruling this week that invalidated two major federal permits. The Friday evening decision comes just a week after regulators issued a similar stop work order for another major interstate natural gas project, the Mountain Valley Pipeline.On Aug. 6, the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the National Park Service (NPS) acted in an “arbitrary and capricious” manner when it granted the ACP pipeline a right-of-way permit to cross under the Blue Ridge Parkway. The court also said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service did not do enough analysis to ensure the protections of five endangered or threatened species and vacated the pipeline’s “Incidental Take Permit.”In a letter to pipeline officials, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said without these permits, construction of the ACP could not continue.“In light of this development, Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC (Atlantic) has not obtained the rights-of-way and temporary use permits from the NPS needed for ACP to cross certain federally owned lands and lacks an Incidental Take Statement for the project,” the letter states.The move comes a week after FERC issued a stop work order for the 300-mile Mountain Valley Pipeline. In that case, the 4th Circuit invalidated two federal permits authorizing construction inside Jefferson National Forest because the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service did not conduct enough environmental analysis. FERC said until those approvals are re-issued, construction must stop.In the letter sent to ACP officials, the agency noted the Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service would most likely issue new permits, but FERC could not predict when that may happen. The ACP is a project of Dominion Energy. The $5.5 billion pipeline would transport natural gas from central West Virginia to the eastern portions of Virginia and North Carolina.More: Feds halt construction of Atlantic Coast Pipelinelast_img read more

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Get High on Mt. Rogers, Virginia’s Highest Peak

first_imgHorsin' Around in the HighlandsIf you haven’t checked out our July 2013 road trip issue, be sure to get on that now. If you have already, you’ll know that summiting Virginia’s highest peak is on the list of things to do in the southwest Virginia region. At 5,728ft, Mt. Rogers is an unassuming summit that, despite lacking an epic view at the top, is home to a very lush spruce-fir forest (go there in the winter time and it will feel like Narnia). This “unassuming summit” looks a lot like the summit trail leading up to it, with the exception of a few U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey markers bolted into the rocks. That doesn’t mean Mt. Rogers isn’t worth going to, as it is the only high peak east of the Mississippi that doesn’t have a paved road leading to it.To get there, park at Elk Garden (2-mile hike) or Massie Gap (for a longer 4-mile hike) and take the Appalachian Trail to the spur trail leading to the summit (which is roughly one mile). If you want to do an overnighter, Thomas Knob Shelter is off another short side trail near the A.T. and with two floors, a picnic table, a privy and a water source, that’s about as close as you can get to a 5-star hotel in the highcountry.If you want a full-on camping experience without the convenience of the shelter, check out the saddle in the land that spreads beneath Mt. Rogers. It’s known as Brier Ridge, and there’s a good reason for that (if bushwhacking, wear long pants or be prepared for some pain). Cut down the saddle and find a flat, brier-free area to stake a tent. The boulder fields that spot Brier Ridge are great for exploring after you’ve set up camp and offer a perfect place to watch the setting sun.And if none of that was enough to persuade you to hop in your car and head to southwest Virginia, then there’s only one more thing that might do the trick: there are wild ponies in the highlands..lots and lots of wild miniature ponies.Check out my hike in the Mt. Roger National Recreation Area.* Note, some early footage is from an earlier hike closer to Damascus,Va. headed northbound (and Mt. Rogers-bound) on the A.T.Hiking in the Highcountry from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.last_img read more

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Tom’s Cabin

first_imgPhoto Courtesy of Dave DeBaeremaekerI was a graduate student in Louisiana, where I hoped to become the writer I’d dreamed of being. But after moving to the bayou, all I could write about were the Blue Ridge Mountains. So I came back to visit my friend Thomas and his wife Amanda in Asheville, the home of one of my writing heroes: Thomas Wolfe.Much of Wolfe’s autobiographical fiction is about a young man struggling to leave his hometown, a city clearly based on Asheville. Wolfe spent his twenties longing to get out of the mountains. I’d spent my twenties longing to get back in.Thomas and I took a tour of the Thomas Wolfe House—the Old Kentucky Home—in downtown Asheville, and after the tour, I found Thomas standing in front of a photo of Wolfe taken during the summer of 1937 beside a cabin in nearby Oteen. At the cabin, he entertained a steady stream of celebrity hounds while writing a story entitled “The Party at Jack’s,” which would eventually be folded into You Can’t Go Home Again when the novel was published after his death. The story was based on a real party Wolfe had attended years earlier in New York.“Where was the cabin?” Thomas asked.“I’m not sure,” I said. “But I’ve heard it’s still there.”Half an hour later, we were driving up and down Swannanoa River Road in Oteen. One of the volunteers at the Wolfe Memorial had given us a few landmarks for the cabin. “There’s supposed to be some posts to drive between,” he’d said. “It’s up a dirt road, right near the recreation park.”Soon we were heading uphill on what seemed to be a long-forgotten gravel drive. The road opened to a clearing atop the ridge, and a small log cabin sat before us. We parked and stood in the hot afternoon sun, wondering if we were trespassing and, if so, what would happen to us if we were caught.A plastic tarp covered the cabin’s roof. Vines crept up the sides and tree limbs disappeared into the eaves. The front door was padlocked, and the bright sunlight made it impossible to see anything through the windows. When we walked around back, we stumbled upon a sign that had been yanked out of the ground and left behind: it read “Tom Wolfe’s Cabin.” Like the cabin, the sign appeared forgotten. It made me wonder if Wolfe’s return to Asheville had been forgotten as well.The Old Kentucky Home in downtown Asheville will always be remembered and celebrated not because Wolfe lived there, but because he wrote about it and immortalized it. He never wrote about the Oteen cabin, and while he lived there he wrote about a party in New York City.As Thomas and I climbed into the car and bumped back down the gravel road, I found myself wondering if Wolfe needed to leave New York to see that party clearly enough to fictionalize it. Similarly, I’d often wondered if he’d had to leave Asheville to create Altamont. It wasn’t his current location that concerned Wolfe while he was writing; it was his memory of it that mattered.Once I was back at my desk in Louisiana, I didn’t have to step over a babbling stream to hear it. I didn’t have to stand on a ridge to feel the breeze coming up from the valley below. I realized that I didn’t have to be inside the Blue Ridge Mountains to write about them. They were already inside me, and that was good enough.last_img read more

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Fridays on the Fly | The Mysterious Musky

first_imgThe musky is the heavy metal of flyfishing.“It’s a badass fish,” says fly fishing guide Matt Miles. “They’re mean. They’re extremely tough to catch. They’re almost impossible to figure out. They’ll scare you half to death when they eat. I’ve seen a 38-incher come out of the water three of four times during a fight.”Known for small stream and wild brook trout, the Blue Ridge is certainly a strange place to find a game fish that can reach upwards of four feet. Musky are closely related to northern pike and are native to the upper Midwest and Great Lakes region. The federal government began stocking Virginia rivers with musky in the 1930s, but the state did not begin managing the population in earnest until 2000. Changes in the stocking strategy have allowed musky populations to thrive in Virginia, especially on the New and James rivers.Joe Williams, a fisheries biologist for the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, has been managing the musky population in the New River and small lakes of southwest Virginia for the past 20 years. He said musky are reproducing naturally on both the James and New, prompting him to decrease his stocking numbers by nearly 80 percent.“The musky is more of a cool water fish,” he said. “They’re not native to Virginia, but they do well here. We’ve got a lot of cooler water creeks and springs that feed the [New] River so they thrive out there.”Miles has seen this boom first-hand. Originally from Lynchburg, Va., he moved to Colorado to become a fishing guide before returning to his native waters and starting his own guide service (mattmilesflyfishing.com). He puts clients on trout, smallmouth bass and land-locked stripers, but musky have held a special place in his heart since he first caught one on the fly.“I made maybe 50 casts and the fish didn’t follow,” he recalled. “Instead, he came directly off the bottom and out of nowhere. The fish literally ate the fly five feet from the boat. I had actually turned my head to say something to my buddy rowing and I just caught the flash out of the corner of my eye and was able to set the hook.”One is immediately shocked at their size: who wouldn’t want to fight a 40-pound fish on a fly rod? But that is not the only thing that draws anglers to go after musky. They are as elusive as they are menacing, a challenge all too familiar to the fly fisherman.“They’re mysterious. That’s what drives me to fish for them,” said Miles. “It’s such a challenge, trying to catch one of the hardest fish there is in fresh water.”Casting for musky on the fly is not your typical outing: it requires the biggest rod you can buy, the biggest fly you can tie, and the heaviest line you can throw. While 12 wt. rods and 10-inch hot pink streamers on sinking line may not appeal to the conventional fly fisherman, they are essential if targeting musky, an activity not for the faint of heart. Musky are notorious for their huge mouths of sharp teeth – they are known to eat ducklings off the water surface – powerful runs and spectacular aerial displays, but what defines this warm water trophy the best may be its erratic behavior. Miles has seen musky attack a fly immediately and without warning, but he has also seen a musky follow a fly all the way to the boat and not eat it.“I’ve never seen a fish put forth the effort they do and not eat. Never,” he said. “I’ve never seen a fish travel as far as they will following a fly and not eat the damn thing. Trout won’t do it; bass won’t do it. That’s the craziest thing about it.”This can make fishing for them frustrating, but frustration is not a stranger to the fly fisherman.“If we were going fishing to catch fish, we would not fly fish. We would do it an easier way. It’s kind of fitting to go after a musky with a fly. It’s kind of the hardest thing you can do.”Muskie Fishing from Summit Publishing on Vimeo.Where to FishNew RiverThe lower New River in southwest Virginia and West Virginia is the best option for musky in the area. The state record musky was pulled out of these waters in 2007.James RiverThe upper James River above Lynchburg is not quite a big a river as the New, but is rapidly gaining a reputation as a musky fishery of equal production.Shenandoah RiverThe VDGIF stocks both forks and the main channel of the Shenandoah, adding an intimidating predator lurking just under the surface of one of the East’s most beautiful rivers.Cave Run Lake The “Musky Capital of the South” is located just east of Lexington, Ky. and is famous for its large fish and consistent feeding action. The 54-inch state record was caught here in 2008, but you can also fish the tailwaters.Melton Hill LakePart of the Clinch River system in Tennessee, Melton Hill Lake is nearly 5,500 acres of prime predator habitat. The tailwaters are another great option, and a 50-inch limit is a testament to the behemoths that lurk there.last_img read more

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