Archive : December, 2020

Editorial: Federal Coal-Lease Reform Is Overdue

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Seattle Times:Obama administration’s decision to stop issuing new coal leases as the federal government’s entire coal program is reviewed makes good business sense.The moratorium, announced last month by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, is part of a plan for the Bureau of Land Management to undertake a detailed environmental-impact statement.The business of taking coal off public land has not had a close look in more than three decades. The leasing price is put at about a $1 per ton, with another $1.50 for royalties. Coal buyers pay 20 to 40 times that amount.Meanwhile, the expense to society for the cost of massive carbon emissions can run $70 per ton, paying the growing bill for sea-level rise issues and for health impacts like asthma and environmental effects.The coal industry slid into its economic downturn as once lucrative international markets skittered away from using vast quantities of coal. Natural gas is replacing coal in domestic markets. The subsequent bankruptcies of U.S. coal companies reveals another flaw.Companies have been allowed to self-finance for environmental restoration and cleanup. Now the companies are broke, work remains to be done and promissory notes are virtually worthless. In bankruptcy court, they have a value of 15 cents on the dollar — and get in line to collect it.Playing fast and loose with commodities on public lands goes back to the grazing and mining interests President Teddy Roosevelt went after. The topic is as fresh as the standoff on the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.The executive branch has the tools it needs through past legislation, including the Mineral Leasing Act, and the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.The coal industry has gamed the system for decades. Secretary Jewell has some dutiful members of Congress, including Cantwell and Washington Sen. Patty Murray, expecting a serious review of the environmental impacts and a decent return for the Treasury.Editorial: Lease moratorium: Coal industry was due some lumps Editorial: Federal Coal-Lease Reform Is Overduelast_img read more

Illinois A.G. Weighs Action Against State Natural Resource Office for Slack Enforcement of Mine Oversight

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Associated Press via Midwest Energy News:Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office is considering legal action against the state’s natural resources agency for what prosecutors call a failure to follow the terms of a court-brokered plan to toughen oversight of coal mines.The tougher regulations were part of broader reforms touted with much fanfare two years ago by the administration of former Gov. Pat Quinn. They followed criticisms by environmentalists who alleged the state Department of Natural Resources was too cozy with mining companies and other businesses it regulates.The rules included a requirement that regulators provide earlier notification of new mine applications and that mine permit applicants be available to answer questions at public hearings. But two years later, the new rules have not been enacted, and the resources agency now wants to package the new rules with other pending changes that some environmental groups say actually weaken public participation.”It is frustrating that the new rules are not yet in place,” said Ann Spillane, Madigan’s chief of staff. “It is past time for the department to stop delaying the implementation of new rules and to fully comply with the court order by allowing meaningful public participation.”The threat of renewed legal action comes as the coal industry is battling economic and political challenges that threaten many jobs in central and southern Illinois. The DNR is now overseen by the administration of Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, a former venture capitalist who defeated Quinn, a Democrat, in 2014 after the new regulations had been announced.The state has 15 pending requests for new mines, permit revisions or renewals that could be affected by the new requirements, government records show.The reforms adopted by the DNR in 2014 settled a lawsuit by Madigan, a Democrat, over the agency’s 2007 approval of a surface mine near the central Illinois town of Banner amid resident complaints about potential threats to their water supply. IDNR eventually rejected the permit, but Illinois prosecutors continued to press their case against the agency, resulting in a March 2014 consent agreement in Sangamon County Circuit Court.The head of the DNR at the time called the reforms “the most recent steps to further restore the integrity of this agency and allow for more public participation as we work towards becoming a national model for transparency.”Since then, the Illinois Coal Association has petitioned the DNR to revise the so-called Banner rules to better address industry concerns — including a change that would only allow state hearing officers, not citizens, to question mine applicants at public hearings.Full article: Illinois AG mulling legal case over delayed coal mine rules Illinois A.G. Weighs Action Against State Natural Resource Office for Slack Enforcement of Mine Oversightlast_img read more

Tata Power Plans $5 Billion Investment in Renewable Energy

first_imgTata Power Plans $5 Billion Investment in Renewable Energy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ET Energy World:Tata Power Co., one of India’s largest private power utilities, is planning to invest as much as $5 billion to ramp up its renewable capacity fourfold, according to its top executive.The 103-year-old power utility plans to increase its clean-energy capacity to 12,000 megawatts by 2028, Chief Executive Officer Praveer Sinha said. That would require an investment of as much as 40 million rupees ($594,000) a megawatt, he said. According to Bloomberg calculations, that works out to a total investment of as much as 360 billion rupees.“Renewables is our big space. This is something that we want to go big in,” Sinha, who took over as CEO on May 1, said in an interview in Mumbai. “The bulk of the increase will come from solar. It will be utility level large projects as well as residential and commercial rooftops.”The company has said previously it expects as much as half of its capacity to be based on non-fossil fuels by 2025 compared with about 30 percent now. The green push comes amid a global shift away from dirty fuels and a drive by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to more than double India’s renewable power capacity to 175 gigawatts. It will also help Tata Power, part of the country’s top conglomerate, reduce dependence on its coal-based plants, the biggest of which has long been a drag on its earnings.The utility expects to soon break even on its flagship 4,000-megawatt Mundra power plant, once described as an albatross around its neck as the high cost of imported fuel and capped tariffs pushed it into losses for years. In the quarter ended March, Tata Power posted better-than-expected profit on one-time gains due to a reversal of impairment charges on Mundra.He ruled out a stake sale in the Mundra power plant that was earlier being planned, but said negotiations were on with state governments—buyers of electricity from the plant—to allow surplus power to be sold at market rates.More: Tata Power Plans $5 Billion Push To Boost Renewable Energy Capacitylast_img read more

Ethiopia moves forward with 520MW geothermal project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:An Ethiopia-incorporated energy company is looking for contractors for the first phase of a long-term geothermal development programme with a total capacity of 520 MW.Tulu Moye Geothermal Operations Plc (TMGO) is inviting expressions of interest (EoI) from parties ready to participate in the 50-MW Phase 1 of the Tulu Moye project in the Eastern Rift Valley, Ethiopia. The selected contractor will be tasked with delivering a fully functional geothermal power plant and the associated steam field gathering system.Expressions of interest can be submitted by April 24, 2019.The news about the launch of the EoI was announced by the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), which in August 2018 awarded a grant to TMGO to coordinate a feasibility study. The company is owned indirectly by Meridiam Infrastructure Africa Fund, which in turn is managed by Paris-based asset manager Meridiam and Reykjavik Geothermal Ltd.Phase 1 is planned to be completed and begin commercial operation in December 2021. The entire project has a power purchase agreement (PPA) in place with Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP). The scheme is divided into four phases, with the fourth one being the largest with a capacity of 270 MW.More: EoI launched for phase 1 of 520-MW geothermal project in Ethiopia Ethiopia moves forward with 520MW geothermal projectlast_img read more

South Carolina utility looks to close the books on its coal generation

first_imgSouth Carolina utility looks to close the books on its coal generation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The State:Santee Cooper plans to shut down one of its two remaining coal-fired power stations in the next decade and cut about 200 jobs as the state-owned utility moves to eliminate coal as an energy source altogether, company officials said this week.Many workers whose jobs would be cut during the next 10 years will be offered other positions at Santee Cooper, which will rely increasingly on solar power and energy efficiency to help transition the company away from coal, said Mark Bonsall, the company’s new chief executive.Bonsall’s plan to eliminate coal-fired generation comes at a time of uncertainty about the power company’s future. Gov. Henry McMaster is pushing to sell Santee Cooper to help pay off the debt the company incurred from a nuclear construction project failure that soaked ratepayers for billions of dollars. Santee Cooper and partner SCE&G quit the nuclear project two years ago.It was unclear what impact plans to eliminate coal would have in swaying legislators to keep the company as a state-owned utility or sell it to an investor-owned energy company. No decision would be made until next year, at the earliest.Company executives declined to say which of Santee Cooper’s remaining coal plants would be the first to go, but will provide more details of their plan during a Wednesday morning meeting with coal plant workers. The company’s two coal-fired power stations are in Georgetown south of Myrtle Beach and at Cross on Lake Moultrie, near the company’s headquarters in Moncks Corner. Much of Santee Cooper’s power is supplied by nuclear and natural gas, in addition to coal.“It [coal] doesn’t make any sense either economically or environmentally,’’ Bonsall said in an interview with The State. “It’s nice to be able to move in directions that are good all the way around.’’ After one of the two remaining power stations is shuttered, the company will study when to close the other facility. “Eventually it will all be phased out,’’ he said.More: Coal jobs being cut at Santee Cooper as utility moves to shutter power plantslast_img read more

Study shows renewables cheaper than fossil fuels across Middle East, North Africa region

first_imgStudy shows renewables cheaper than fossil fuels across Middle East, North Africa region FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Abandoning fossil fuels for electricity generation by 2030 would save money for countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), according to new research into renewable energy in the area.A feasibility study of 100 percent renewable electricity systems across MENA found that relinquishing fossil fuels in favor of generation based mainly on solar and wind could help cut costs by between 55 percent and 69 percent compared to a business-as-usual scenario. The study, published last month in Energy Strategy Reviews, is believed to be the first to look at how renewable energy generation might meet hourly loads across MENA.The study looks at several scenarios, including establishing fully renewable electricity grids independently in most MENA countries, or having the whole area interconnected by high voltage DC transmission links. A third scenario looks at the effect of adding loads from seawater desalination and the industrial gas sector onto a MENA-wide interconnected electricity system.The researchers estimated the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) arising from fully renewable electricity systems would vary between €40.30 and €52.80 ($43.53 and $57.04) per megawatt-hour, depending on the scenario. The estimated business-as-usual LCOE is €118.60 per megawatt-hour, and that’s without including the cost of greenhouse gas emissions.Unsurprisingly, the most expensive scenario was the one without interconnections between countries. Evening out supply and demand with a MENA-wide transmission network would cut LCOE from €52.80 down to €48.30 ($52.16) per megawatt-hour, the study found.Importantly, though, the research also showed that coupling the desalination and industrial gas sectors to renewable energy generation could cut LCOE even further, reducing it by 17 percent compared to simply having an interconnected grid. The integration would be achieved using power-to-gas technology, with 90 percent of electrical energy generation coming from onshore wind and large-scale PV.[Jason Deign]More: Study: Middle Eastern countries would save money by ditching fossil fuels in power mixlast_img read more

Vistra to retire 6,800MW of coal generation capacity in Illinois and Ohio by 2027

first_imgVistra to retire 6,800MW of coal generation capacity in Illinois and Ohio by 2027 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Vistra Corp. will retire more than 6,800 MW of coal-fired capacity in Illinois and Ohio by 2027 and add more than 900 MW of new solar and energy storage capacity in Texas, the company said Sept. 29.Vistra also released its first-ever climate report announcing a new goal to cut its carbon dioxide emissions 60% by 2030, up from 50%, relative to a 2010 baseline and set a new long-term goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, up from a previous target of cutting emissions 80% by midcentury.Specifically, Vistra subsidiary Luminant Generation Co. LLC will retire the 585-MW E.D. Edwards plant by 2022, a move which had been announced previously; the 1,185-MW Baldwin Energy Complex and 1,002-MW Joppa plant by 2025; and the 1,108-MW Kincaid, 1,020-MW Miami Fort, 615-MW Newton and 1,300-MW W.H. Zimmer plants by 2027. A small gas-fired unit at the Joppa plant will be retired as well.“In the case of our Midwest coal fleet, the challenging economics do not support the incremental capital that would be necessary to comply with the environmental rules,” Vistra Executive Vice President and CFO David Campbell said Sept. 29 on a call with investors. “Vistra is also committed to leading the effort to combat climate change, and meaningfully reducing our greenhouse gas emissions and the accelerated retirement of these coal plants supports this goal.”Campbell said the newly announced plant closures will bring Vistra’s total coal and gas retirements announced or implemented since 2010 to approximately 19,000 MW, with 16,000 MW in retirements announced or implemented in the last four years. Coal-fired generation is now expected to account for less than 10% of Vistra’s portfolio by 2030 while renewable and storage resources are projected to account for 20% by the same year, Campbell said. Continuing to own and operate some coal-fired capacity in the MISO and PJM Interconnection regions through the generators’ remaining useful lives will provide incremental free cash flow that allows Vistra to offset its asset closure obligations, Campbell said, citing up to $165 million in expected closure obligations for 2020.In a Sept. 29 news release, Vistra also announced six new solar projects and one new battery storage project with more than 900 MW of combined capacity in Texas as part of a newly launched “Vistra Zero” portfolio totaling approximately $850 million in capital investments. Those seven projects will be located throughout the Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc.’s expansive service area, with about 5% of the capacity located in the south zone, approximately 23% in the west zone and 72% in the north zone, Vistra said.[Zack Hale]More ($): Vistra net-zero pledge includes coal plant retirements, solar additionslast_img read more

Battle the Bearwallow Beast

first_imgClaw your way up Bearwallow Mountain this Saturday: the Bearwallow Beast 5K race in Gerton, North Carolina, is one of the region’s toughest. Runners climb steep asphalt, gravel roads, and singletrack trail to the summit. It’s one of the most rewarding finishes in the South: beer and bluegrass, along with breathtaking views, await the finishers atop Bearwallow.Bearwallow Mountain is one of the crown jewels of the Hickory Nut Gorge, and its summit will be forever protected thanks to efforts of the Carolina Mountain Land Conservancy. Support their work in safeguarding Appalachia’s mountain treasures by joining the fun this weekend. You don’t have to be a runner: everyone is invited to join the mountaintop festivities, which include bluegrass hoedowns, local food and beer, and raffle. Festivities begin at 1:30; the race takes off at 2 p.m.last_img read more

Weekend Pick: Myrtle Beach Marathon

first_imgThe 17th annual Myrtle Beach Marathon is this Saturday, February 15, at 6:30 a.m. If you’re looking for a flat and fast 26.2 miles then this is your race! With a beautiful course that follows along the awe-inspiring Atlantic Ocean, you’ll wind your way through the famous Million Dollar Mile. This is a perfect course for your friends and family to get involved.The entry fee for the marathon is $125. The Runner’s Expo, which is at the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, is where you’ll be able to collect bibs, t-shirts, and race info. It’ll be open on Thursday from 5-9pm and Friday from 11am-9pm.For those looking to run a little less, there are a number of options. On Friday, there will be a Neon Night 5K and Ripley’s Family Fun Run. The Dasani Half Marathon takes place on Saturday, starting at the same time as the full.All participants can enjoy a post-race party at the House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach where there will be free food and refreshments from 5-7pm. Tickets for guests and non-participants are $20. Awards and trophies will be available for pick-up at this event.The Myrtle Beach Marathon, and all associated events, are produced entirely by volunteers. On race weekend, more than 1,000 volunteers are needed to aid participants in many different ways from registration, shirt hand-out, water, food and aid stations to the finish line. All volunteers receive a free Volunteer T-shirt, free entrance, food and beverage at one of the two post race parties, and the grateful thanks of the Marathon Committee and all participants. If you would like to volunteer and help us make this a memorable event for all participants, please click here. We are constantly updating and adding new volunteer opportunities.last_img read more

Music Fest: Getting Down at the South Hill Snowdown

first_imgSouth Hill Banks playing at the South Hill Snowdown at the Broadberry – photo by Shannon McGowanMaybe it was the bear and raccoon jamming on banjos in the ad that got you to the South Hill Snowdown. Or maybe you’re an avid folk/bluegrass lover, and the headliner Railroad Earth grabbed your attention. Or maybe you live for a merry and bright Christmas party and wanted an excuse to wear some funky festive outfits.James Justin and Co playing at the South Hill Snowdown at the Broadberry – photo by Shannon McGowanThe South Hill Snowdown is a music event held in Richmond, Va., around the winter holidays. The first annual Snowdown was held last month. It came about when Lucas Fritz, co-owner of the Broadberry in Richmond, started kicking around ideas with the guys in South Hill Banks.  “We had met earlier in the year to start brainstorming some ideas for a fun winter themed event they could be the host band for. After a number of bands and concepts, we ended on the South Hill Snowdown – an indoor/outdoor winter wonderland experience,” says Fritz.Ticket-holders entered the Broadberry and could already hear the sweet sounds of classic folk music playing behind the main doors. Once inside, they stood presence of the most decked out halls you’ve ever seen.Lights were strung in every direction, the menu screen displaying animated snowfall, garland and sparkles galore, and the craziest decoration of all: multiple fully-decorated Christmas trees hanging from the ceiling.We asked Fritz how they got the trees got up there. “Magic!” he replied. “Just kidding: a little sweat, a ladder, some para-cord, and lots of balance.”Muther Goose playing at the South Hill Snowdown at the Broadberry – photo by Shannon McGowan“I’ve been to many shows at the Broadberry and have enjoyed them all. But these decorations truly made me like the venue more than I already did,” says Silas Frayser, a local RVA singer and songwriter with a deep love for folk / blue grass music. “You could tell that hard work went into it all.”Muther Goose playing at the South Hill Snowdown at the Broadberry – photo by Shannon McGowanThe main stage stood in the front of the room with the illuminated Broadberry sign shining above the bands. If concertgoers needed some fresh winter air, a set up was placed outside where bands played acoustic face-to-face with the crowd, under the cozy glow of more festive lights and decorations.“What made this event so special were all the bands chosen,” continues Frayser. I have always loved Railroad Earth but found each of the acts to be impressively creative and fun. Props to whomever picked the bands.”Railroad Earth playing at the South Hill Snowdown at the Broadberry – photo by Shannon McGowan“Having the room packed when Railroad Earth took the stage was really exciting,” says Fritz. “The view from the back, where I was, with the trees and lights and the band on stage was pretty special for me.Hackensaw Boys playing at the South Hill Snowdown at the Broadberry – photo by Shannon McGowanEach band offered something unique to the folk/bluegrass sound of the night, ranging from soft songs that would be perfect to listen to next to the river, to songs that you can’t help but get up, dance and yell, “Yeeeeeeew!”The music started around 3pm and kept strong until 1am. As the night grew, so did the crowd, along with their festive holiday spirit. Everyone certainly lived up to the standards the fabulous decorations had set. It looked like every character from every Christmas movie decided to have their family reunion at the South Hill Snow Down. But instead of singing Christmas carols, they are stompin’ and hollerin’ right along with the folk music.Everyone involved, including Fritz, deemed the event a huge success and are looking forward to next year’s South Hill Snowdown. The only scoop for next year’s plans we could get out of Fritz was, “I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you…” You can find more shows at the Broadberry and updates on more pictures from the South Hill Snowdown on their website and facebook page.Colin & Caroline playing at the South Hill Snowdown – photo by Shannon McGowanlast_img read more