Texas regulators reject AEP’s Wind Catcher project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Texas dealt a potential death blow to what would be the largest-ever U.S. wind farm: American Electric Power Co.’s $4.5 billion Wind Catcher project.The Texas Public Utility Commission on Thursday unanimously rejected the project as proposed, saying it doesn’t offer enough benefits for ratepayers as currently structured. American Electric said it was evaluating its options.“Looks like curtains to me,” said Paul Patterson, an analyst at Glenrock Associates LLC. “Almost everyone was opposed to this. Barring any big concessions from AEP, it looks to me like it’s dead.”The denial could spell the end of American Electric’s ambition to make one of the largest renewable energy purchases ever by a U.S. utility company. The rejection comes as utility owners including Xcel Energy Inc. and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. have been seeking state approvals to charge customers for renewable energy projects that have become more competitive with electricity produced by fossil-fuels.“We’re extremely disappointed in today’s Public Utility Commission of Texas decision rejecting our Wind Catcher proposal,” Melissa McHenry, an American Electric spokeswoman, said in an email.The project that Invenergy LLC is developing in Oklahoma needs approvals from both Texas and Oklahoma to move forward, American Electric’s Chief Executive Officer Nick Akins said Wednesday during an earnings call with analysts.American Electric’s proposal tapped a financial model that utilities have long used to build nuclear, coal- and natural gas-fired plants: by tacking costs — plus a profit — onto customers’ bills. The company asked regulators in four states for permission to use the strategy for a sprawling project almost twice the size of Singapore.“The costs are known,” DeAnn Walker, chairman of the Texas commission, said Thursday at a hearing. “But the benefits are based on a lot of assumptions that are questionable.”More: Largest U.S. wind farm dealt potentially fatal blow in Texas Texas regulators reject AEP’s Wind Catcher projectlast_img read more

S&P: Like utilities, smaller coal consumers also seeking other options

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Coal consumption by U.S. commercial and institutional customers and other industrial sectors has been sharply declining in recent years, echoing a drop in overall demand for thermal coal.Industrial customers and places such as universities and hospitals that burn coal to create their own heat and power are relatively small market segments, especially compared to the 665 million tons consumed by the electric power sector in the U.S. in 2017. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported just 1.1 million tons of coal were consumed by commercial and institutional customers in 2017 while 33.3 million tons were consumed by “other industrial sectors.” That category excludes cokemaking facilities, which buy a high-quality, higher-margin grade of metallurgical coal used to make steel.Those two slivers of the U.S. coal market are on a trajectory of decline similar to the fall in overall thermal coal demand. Where the metallurgical coal market is exposed to volatile ups and downs based on global demand, other industrial, commercial and institutional coal consumers are subject to a market where environmental pressure, alternative fuel sources and the state of the economy have reduced the appeal of coal.In 2001, other industrial sector consumers used 65.3 million tons of coal to fire boilers across an array of industries that require large sources of heat or power to run their own operations. That number fell by nearly half in 2017, and the trend appears to have continued in 2018. In the first three quarters of 2018, the non-cokemaking industrial sector consumed 23.3 million tons of coal, down from 24.9 million tons of coal in the same period the year before.Commercial and institutional coal customers in the U.S. consumed about 5.1 million tons of coal in 2004, the highest level since the start of this century. Since then, the segment’s coal consumption has plunged, falling 79.3% by 2017 to 1.1 million tons. That figure was likely even lower in 2018, as the most recent EIA data shows 720,000 tons of consumption from that customer group in the first three quarters of the year compared to 771,000 tons in the first three quarters of 2017.More ($): Not just power: U.S. coal consumption in smaller domestic markets also shrinking S&P: Like utilities, smaller coal consumers also seeking other optionslast_img read more

Peabody, Arch form joint venture for their Powder River Basin coal assets

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A new joint venture rolled out by two U.S. coal giants will consolidate mining assets that produce more than a quarter of all the coal produced in the United States.Several industry observers have long called for the consolidation of the U.S. coal industry to help miners compete with the natural gas and renewable energy sectors. Peabody Energy Corp. and Arch Coal Inc. announced June 19 that they are merging their Powder River Basin and Colorado assets into a joint venture of mines that produced 26.5% of the coal produced in the U.S. in 2018.The joint venture will combine the operations of five of the 10 most productive coal mines in the nation, including the two largest: Peabody’s North Antelope Rochelle mine and the adjacent Black Thunder mine owned by Arch. Those two mines alone produced about 169.5 million tons of coal in 2018, accounting for about 22.4% of U.S. coal production. Both companies had announced they were scaling back production at those mines.In a note to investors, B. Riley FBR analyst Lucas Pipes called the deal “highly positive for both companies” given the current low-price environment for coal. Thermal coal producers, particularly those in the Powder River Basin, have struggled with depressed pricing due to cheaper natural gas and an oversupply of coal production. Cloud Peak Energy Inc., a pure-play Powder River Basin coal producer that was recently forced to file for a bankruptcy reorganization due to weakness in Powder River Basin coal demand, is expected to sell its three mines in the region.“Thermal coal markets have been intensely competitive in recent years and are almost certain to remain so,” Eaves said. “Given that market outlook, it’s essential that we take every step possible to increase efficiencies, drive down costs and reduce our future capital requirements. It’s hard to envision a better opportunity to achieve such reductions, or a better fit quite frankly, than Arch and Peabody’s western coal assets.”The new joint venture is expected to unlock synergies with a pretax net present value of about $820 million, with an annual average of $120 million in joint venture synergies over the initial 10 years. Peabody will own 66.5% of the joint venture, while Arch will own the remaining 33.5%. The mines are being operated independently until the transaction is closed, which could be a “multi-month process,” Kellow said.More ($): Peabody exec: ‘Stars have aligned’ for major consolidation of U.S. coal assets Peabody, Arch form joint venture for their Powder River Basin coal assetslast_img read more

Coal-fired electric generation in Spain falls to record low levels

first_imgCoal-fired electric generation in Spain falls to record low levels FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享El País:It is not raining, there is less wind and the reservoirs are drying up. Summer is not a good time of year for renewables, and so the chimneys in the coal-fueled power stations of Spain should be belching out smoke right now as usual. And yet the use of this highly contaminating fossil fuel has hit a historic low. Not since the first official records began in 1990 has coal constituted such a small percentage of the electricity mix on mainland Spain.According to data from the Spanish Electric Network (REE), the use of coal to generate electricity has never been lower than the months of May and June this year. In May, coal-fired power stations contributed just 1.7% to electricity on the Spanish mainland and 2.1% in June. With the inclusion of the Canary and Balearic Islands, Ceuta and Melilla, the percentage rose marginally to 2.3% in May and 2.5% in June, with May 8 the day the least coal-fired electricity was used – just 1.5%, a figure not recorded since 2011.The coal power station As Pones in A Coruña is the biggest in Spain but according to its owner, utility company Endesa, it has spent entire weeks idle since April. “This has never happened before,” says a spokesperson.For a power station using imported coal, this lack of activity was not part of the government’s vision. Like the rest of the power stations that burn imported coal in Spain, it had undergone decontamination modifications in order to continue to operate beyond 2020, according to EU regulations. In fact, the government’s current plans envision all power stations using imported coal continuing to operate for the next 10 years.But a number of factors are contributing to coal-generated electricity’s demise in Spain and in several other European countries too. On the one hand, the price of emitting CO2 in the European coal market is very high and now stands above €26 per ton released into the atmosphere. As coal power stations are the worst culprits, they are the most heavily penalized. Though natural gas power stations also release CO2, the emissions are less than half those of coal. In fact, natural gas is picking up the slack from the coal industry in Spain, which means the combined systems that have been underused for years are now feeding into the national grid at historic highs.More: Spain turns its back on coal, as use of the fossil fuel falls to historic lowslast_img read more

U.K. universities sign first-of-a-kind wind driven power purchase agreement

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Guardian:Twenty of the UK’s leading universities have struck a £50m deal to buy renewable energy directly from British windfarms for the first time.The collaborative clean energy deal will supply electricity from wind farms across Scotland and Wales to universities including Newcastle University, University of Exeter and Aberystwyth University.The landmark deal, known as a “power purchase agreement” or PPA, is the first time that public sector energy users have clubbed together to buy clean electricity.The PPA was arranged by deal brokers at The Energy Consortium and Squeaky Clean Energy to fix the price of renewable electricity from a portfolio British windfarms for the next 10 years. The universities will be guaranteed clean energy by the windfarm owner, Norwegian energy giant Statkraft, which will issue certificates matching the output of the windfarms.Richard Murphy, the managing director of The Energy Consortium, said the “groundbreaking deal” would help universities reduce their carbon emissions and save money by accessing the power purchase market for the first time. Murphy said that collaborative energy purchase deals mean that even small institutions are now “able to navigate a previously inaccessible market” too.More: UK universities in landmark deal to buy energy direct from windfarms U.K. universities sign first-of-a-kind wind driven power purchase agreementlast_img read more

Nice Bud: The Hop Bar

first_imgHere’s a crazy trend beer lovers should look into: The Hop Bar. Asheville Brewing Company has jars of fresh, dry hops (Cascade, Chinook, Citra, Amarillo) sitting on their bar. Order a beer and for an extra dollar, the bartender will stuff a mesh tea infuser full of the hops variety of your choice and let you dunk and soak away. Because, you know, ABC’s Shiva IPA isn’t hoppy enough.I actually saw a dude do this at Brevard Brewing last Fall. He asked the bartender for a handful of hops and crushed them into his beer. A few minutes later, he proclaimed it to be good. When I saw it, I remember thinking, “that’s kind of stupid.”To me, it’s kind of like ordering sushi from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, then dousing it with salt.  The brewmaster has specifically chosen 69.5 IBU’s for his IPA, and I see no reason in throwing that beer out of balance by adding hops after the brewing process. I’m pretty sure the guy working the tanks in the back knows more about beer than I do.And yet, I am totally psyched about this Hop Bar at Asheville Brewing because I’ve never seen a f$%*ing hop before. The hop is a foreign, magical thing to me. Tasty, necessary, but typically shipped in from the West Coast (though some intrepid brewers here in the South have started growing their own) and handled behind the scenes. And now there’s a jar of them sitting on the bar down the street? And I can pick one up for a dollar and drop it in my beer? It’s like the magician is unveiling the secret behind his best trick.Asheville Brewing is the first brewpub I know of that has a Hop Bar in the South, but I’m sure the trend will catch on with breweries near you soon. In the meantime, stop in at the brewery’s Coxe Avenue downtown location, dunk the dank in your beer, and let us know what you think.Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.comlast_img read more

Trail Mix: Judah and the Lion, Kids These Days

first_imgEmerging folk-pop trio Judah & the Lion played its first show in front of a crowd of thousands. The gig was a student showcase at Nashville’s Belmont University, where the three band members met and started playing together back in 2011.“It was nerve-racking to play in front of that many people at our first show, but it definitely helped us get started,” says guitarist and lead vocalist Judah Akers. “Nashville can be intimidating, but it’s also really inspiring.”Despite the well-known competitive music landscape in its home city, Judah & the Lion has quickly become a Nashville breakout act, earning fans with an uplifting acoustic sound that blends high-paced strumming and huge hooks. Potential anthems pile up on the band’s debut full-length album, Kids These Days, which just came out in September.A Tennessee native, Akers got his start playing in worship bands, but he eventually started writing songs with plenty of crossover appeal. They were fully realized when he met his bandmates: mandolin player Brian Mcdonald and banjo plucker Nate Zuercher. The group’s 2013 EP Sweet Tennessee reached number two on the Bluegrass Albums Chart, but on the latest album, the band explores new sonic territory.“Now you can have a mandolin and a banjo come through a huge sound system and have it received well,” says Mcdonald. “With the new record we’re taking it to the next level by adding synth keyboard and Moog bass. It’s become a cool combo and something that’s kind of new.”Made with producer Dave Cobb, who’s worked with Jason Isbell and Shooter Jennings, Kids These Days is full of foot-stomping Americana that’s propelled by youthful positivity. Standout songs “Twenty-Somethings” and “Rich Kids” celebrate underdog millennial ambition, while “Mason-Dixon Line” is about a Southern boy’s wide-eyed journey to big cities up north.“We wanted to write about our community here in Nashville and what people our age are doing,” says Akers of the album’s theme. “It’s about being full of life, being true to yourself and not really worrying about that next step or having your whole life figured out. Even though a lot of people are telling us the music industry isn’t as good as it once was, we’re pursuing our dream.”This month the band will embark on its first headlining tour up the Eastern Seaboard and into the Midwest. Southern dates include stops in Asheville, N.C., Knoxville, Tenn., Rocky Mount, Va., and Vienna, Va.Halloween ShowsIf you’re looking for ear candy this Halloween, there are plenty of big shows happening around the region on October 31.The Avett Brothers ExploreAsheville.com Arena, Asheville, NCNow touring with an expanded seven-piece line-up, the Avetts will start a big two-night stand in downtown Asheville on Halloween night. uscellularcenterasheville.comYonder Mountain String BandJefferson Center, Roanoke, VaThe Colorado jamgrassers have a revised roster—sans former de facto front man Jeff Austin—and now touring with mandolin player Jake Jolliff and fiddler Allie Kral. The Halloween show will feature support and an inevitable sit-in from regional hero Larry Keel. jeffcenter.orgBela Fleck & Abigail Washburn with Del McCoury & David GrismanLisner Auditorium, Washington, DCBluegrass royalty comes together for a big night of picking. Banjo master Fleck will perform a duo set with his wife, fellow banjo player and songstress Abigail Washburn. Add to that a rare combo performance by high lonesome hero with Del McCoury and mandolin innovator David Grisman. lisener.gwu.eduRay LaMontagneTivoli Theatre, Chattanooga, TNThe Grammy-winning folk rocker is touring full force behind his latest album Supernova. chattanoogaonstage.comThe New Deal & ConspiratorVariety Playhouse, Atlanta, GAA jamtronica lover’s dream is going down in the ATL with a set from Disco Biscuits offshoot Conspirator and a rare headlining show from The New Deal. variety-playhouse.comlast_img read more

The Last Howl? New Poll Reveals Overwhleming Support for Red Wolf Recovery

first_imgMost North Carolinians support the effort to recover the native red wolf, according to a new poll conducted by Tulchin Research. 73% percent of North Carolinians said they support red wolf recovery, and over 80% believe the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should make every effort to help the endangered red wolf population recover and prevent its extinction.Local support for the red wolf recovery program is critical. Sixty percent of registered voters in North Carolina’s Albemarle Peninsula—which includes the red wolf recovery area—support red wolf recovery, and 77% said they support helping endangered species by recovering them in their native habitat.“This poll shows that North Carolina residents across the political spectrum support red wolf recovery and want the agency to step up and save the species,” says Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife. “The Red Wolf Recovery Program was once a bold and effective conservation effort, restoring red wolves back to the wild after very nearly going extinct. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to do all it can to recover the red wolf before it disappears from the wild once again.”Next month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is expected to announce its decision on the future of the Red Wolf Recovery Program, the only effort to restore red wolves into the wild in the United States.Over the past few years, the agency has all but abandoned the program, eliminating the red wolf coordinator position at Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and sharply increasing red wolf removal from the wild at the request of a few private landowners in the red wolf recovery area. In 2014, FWS issued its first-ever lethal take permit for red wolves, and allowed a landowner to kill a mother wolf believed to be nursing. Today, fewer than 60 red wolves remain in the wild.last_img read more

Trail Mix – Rod Picott

first_imgRP – It’s a song that came right out of a health scare I had last winter. In some ways, it’s a song about self-loathing, which is of course not exactly a fun place to put yourself as a writer, but it’s an accounting of my life in a philosophical sense. I was asking myself tough questions, not necessarily finding any answers, but asking important questions and facing the facts with a killer’s dead eye. It was cathartic and a bit scary, but I needed to look at the math of myself at that moment, so I got out the calculator and started adding. I was lucky enough to catch up to Rod to chat about politics (almost), swinging a hammer, and the brand new record. BRO – We are featuring “Ghost” on this month’s Trail Mix. What’s the story behind the song? Armed with his voice, a guitar, and a harmonica, Picott stripped these songs to the bone, adopting a warts-and-all approach to the recording that makes the songs nearly visceral for the listener. RP – Ha! Fitting in many ways, isn’t it? Where has the truth gone? I believe it’s been on vacation a bit too long. I think it’s on an extended golf trip. Sometimes you have to feel the music to really hear it. RP – Indeed I did. Right out of high school, I went into construction. I sanded drywall that first day of work. At the end of the day, my fingertips were literally bleeding. Not red and sore. Bleeding. I remember saying to myself, “I am not doing this.” Then, of course, I spent the next twenty years as a drywall finisher and hanger. I took pride in my work and was very good at a very tough job. I did take some satisfaction in doing a good job, but there’s no question that writing a good song is far more satisfying. There is a moment when you write something that really works and you feel almost blessed. After all these years, I still can’t quite explain how it works. It’s still magical when a song comes together. It’s creation, something that exists that didn’t exist when you woke up that morning. That’s some kind of magic. There’s a power in these songs, and Picott’s raw performance, that makes this a stand out record for 2019. Rod will continue singing his truths and shaming those devils along the road throughout the end of July and August. You can hear him on WFMU in Nashville this Saturday and then around the Southeast until mid-August, when he’ll be heading north to Canada for a run of gigs. BRO – Your voice, a guitar, and a harmonica. Any trepidation at stripping these songs down so deeply as you went into the studio?center_img RP – We have slightly different skills. Slaid is profoundly talented with melody and structure. He’s always challenged me to keep digging for small musical details that make a song sing and phrase gracefully. I’ve challenged him with a sense of the cinematic and I’m vigilant about who a character is, where they are from, and how they would speak. We are very hard on each other and pull no punches, but it’s all for the sake of the song. We always put the song first. Every details is about making a better song. He’s my favorite co-writer and one of the smartest people in my orbit. He once changed an entire engine in his van the day before he left for a tour. He built his own A/C unit. Slaid is an anomaly and an outlier. That was the approach singer/songwriter Rod Picott took as he headed into the studio to lay down the tracks for his latest record, Tell The Truth & Shame The Devil, which dropped earlier this month. BRO – I have been a fan of Slaid Cleaves for years. How does writing with him affect you as a songwriter? And be sure to take a listen to “Ghost,” along with new tunes from Hackensaw Boys, Grant Farm, and Amanda Anne Platt & The Honeycutters on this month’s Trail Mix. BRO – I read that you used to work in construction. More satisfaction in finishing a building or crafting a song? RP – Absolutely. It was a real challenge, but it was one I embraced. I wanted to try to make an album that sounded exactly like the live show, but I was also challenging myself to be as brutally honest and raw as possible. I did have some trepidation. The critics have been kind to me over the years, and Tell The Truth And Shame The Devil is a different beast. It’s more confessional, more personal, and less narrative than my past work. I wanted the listener to feel that they were with me in the very moment of the recording. That’s why we didn’t wipe the recording clean. We left all the dirt on there. Slaid Cleaves and I always give each other short reviews of each other’s work. “Well, I don’t know how you did it, but you did.” That was his review of the new album. High praise from a man of few words. For more information on Rod Picott, his new record, or when he hits a stage near you, please check out his website. BRO – Man. I want to ask a political question based on the new record’s title. Should I?last_img read more

In Colombia 4,136 Children Left Illegal Armed Groups In The Last Ten Years

first_imgBy Dialogo November 13, 2009 In Colombia, in the last ten years, 4,136 minors broke ties with illegal armed groups of leftist guerrillas and extreme right-wing paramilitaries, according to a report issued by the state Institute of Family Welfare (ICBF). The figure was made public by the state entity as part of the commemoration in Bogotá of the tenth anniversary of the program serving children who have broken ties with the internal armed conflict that has plagued the Andean nation for more than four decades. The institute’s task basically consists in providing psychosocial care to the minors in order to heal the wounds left by the war and in providing support for their primary and secondary education, and even for higher education. For its part, a report by the Colombian police indicated that according to estimates by non-governmental organizations, between 8,000 and 13,000 children and adolescents are members of illegal armed groups. The document explains, nevertheless, that “determining exact figures is complicated to the extent that cases of illicit recruitment cannot be pinned down, given the lack of police reports and the low profile of the guerrilla groups in this activity.” For its part, a study of the illicit recruitment of minors published in 2008 by the Maya Nasa Foundation in conjunction with the Vice President’s Office and the ICBF indicated that in Colombia, between 15 and 20% of the members of illegal armed groups are children. According to this study, the principal group responsible for recruiting minors is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, a Communist guerrilla group). The document also reveals that the principal tasks assigned to children in the rebel group are those of highest risk, like the manufacture and use of explosives and antipersonnel mines, as well as making up the first security ring around the group’s camps and in its armed encounters.last_img read more