Study: Midwest generation can be carbon-free by 2050

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享MPR News:A group of utilities, state regulators and environmental groups released a report Tuesday showing it’s possible — with existing technology — for electricity generation in the midcontinent to be carbon-free by 2050.Relatively speaking, the electricity sector has done better than other parts of the economy in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Still, in 13 states looked at by the Great Plains Institute, 77 percent of the electricity comes from coal and natural gas. So, how do you get from 77 percent to zero?“Essentially that means more wind, more solar, more energy efficiency,” said Franz Litz, a program consultant with the Great Plains Institute. “It also means really thinking hard about those existing nuclear plants, which don’t have air emissions and could be an important part of the mix when we get out to 2050 and need to be generating our electricity without putting carbon into the air.”Litz says the models the group used didn’t try to guess on what types of new technology might be available by midcentury. The point was to show that decarbonizing is possible with existing technology.But the economics of transitioning away from fossil fuels for electricity generation is where it gets complicated and uncertain. For example, the report says the system will probably need to keep using natural gas — only with carbon capture technology, in which waste carbon is stored and prevented from escaping into the atmosphere.But James Gignac of the Union of Concerned Scientists, one of the groups that participated in the report, says we shouldn’t start building a bunch of natural gas plants. “It’s really critical right now that the power companies, utilities and stakeholders take a hard look at the economics of investing in natural gas, especially compared to the cost decline in what we’re seeing with renewables and storage,” he said.More: Study: Carbon-free electricity possible by 2050 Study: Midwest generation can be carbon-free by 2050last_img read more

Wyoming moves forward with self-bonding limits

first_imgWyoming moves forward with self-bonding limits FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Casper Star Tribune:Wyoming’s largest coal mines would effectively be banned from self-bonding if the proposed rules that passed an advisory board Wednesday make it through one more round of public input and onto the governor’s desk.At a sparsely attended meeting in Casper, citizen members of the Land Quality Advisory Board voted 4-1 to require strong credit ratings for companies that want to self-bond. The credit rating would determine whether a company is financially healthy enough to guarantee millions of dollars in cleanup costs without securing a form of insurance. Wyoming has the largest open surface coal mines in the country and the money required to return those mine sites to open prairie or ranchland someday is significant — both as a potential risk to the state and as a cost carried by companies in a difficult coal market.The state is also proposing that mines have at least five years of production remaining in order to qualify for self-bonds, and that even companies that qualify for self-bonds hold a percentage of their reclamation obligation in more secure channels so the state has faster access to cash if a company dissolves.Under the new rules, the massive mines in Wyoming that produce about half the country’s thermal coal are less likely to become a state liability if companies bust, regulators say. Kyle Wendtland, administrator of the state’s Land Quality Division, said the credit rating would give Wyoming foresight into the projected financial health of mining firms. Credit ratings also consider the market and using them would hopefully mitigate the financial and environmental risk to the state posed by a firm heading for insolvency.“You have to consider the physical size of the mines in Wyoming. Nowhere else in the country are they talking about $250, $350 million liability,” he said. ‘Wyoming is not a bank. We’re not in the business of bankrolling reclamation … If you cannot make that minimum, self-bonding just isn’t the right choice.”The Land Quality Advisory Board’s Wednesday decision kicks the proposed rule changes to the Environmental Quality Council – a board of seven that is appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Wyoming Senate. If that board approves of the changes, the new rules will be sent to the governor for final approval.More: Despite coal pushback, rules limiting self-bonding advance in Wyominglast_img read more

Washington utility pledges 100 percent clean energy by 2045

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Lewiston Tribune:Spokane-based Avista Utilities announced Thursday it is committing to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045 and to have a carbon neutral supply of electricity by 2027.The company serves customers in eastern Washington, northern Idaho and northeastern Oregon. According to information on the Avista website, about 60 percent of the power now used by its customers comes from clean, non-carbon emitting sources.“Avista has always been committed to balancing reliability and affordability while maintaining responsibility for our environmental footprint, and our actions demonstrate these values,” said Avista President Dennis Vermillion in a letter to customers. “Just in the last three years, we’ve implemented three renewable energy projects on behalf of our customers. Our Community Solar project in Spokane Valley, Wash., the Solar Select project in Lind, Wash., and the Rattlesnake Flat Wind project in Adams County, Wash., together have allowed us to add to the clean electricity we already provide, meet the energy needs of our customers without increasing bills, and drive economic vitality in these communities.”The move was praised by the Sierra Club, although the environmental group noted that a bill pending in the Washington Legislature would require utilities in the state to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045.“Clean energy is getting cheaper and more reliable with each passing month, putting a fossil fuel-free future within our reach. While a bill about to pass the Washington Legislature will already require Avista Energy to move away from coal and fracked gas by 2045, it’s good news that the utility intends to extend the benefits of clean energy to its Idaho customers as well,” said Zack Waterman, director of the Idaho Chapter of the Sierra Club.Last month, Idaho Power, the Gem State’s largest utility, pledged to move to 100 percent clean power by 2045 by moving away from coal and relying on hydroelectricity, solar and wind power.More: Avista Utilities unveils goal to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2045 Washington utility pledges 100 percent clean energy by 2045last_img read more

Illinois co-op says closing 170MW unit at Marion coal plant will save $125 million over 10 years

first_imgIllinois co-op says closing 170MW unit at Marion coal plant will save $125 million over 10 years FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Southern Illinoisan:Southern Illinois Power Cooperative plans to retire its largest coal-fired generator as early as this fall, a move that is expected to save $125 million over a decade.President and CEO Don Gulley said the tentative decision is the result of analysis and negotiations that have been ongoing since late 2019. Gulley said SIPC utilized outside consultants to help it perform a comprehensive review of operations and determine the best path forward. The decision to close Unit 4, as it is known, was based on two primary factors, he said: sustained low energy prices in the wholesale power market, and increasingly costly environmental regulations for coal-fired generators.SIPC is a generation and transmission cooperative located on the shores of Lake of Egypt that provides wholesale electric power to seven member distribution cooperatives, and the city of McLeansboro. It is jointly owned and governed by the distribution cooperatives, which are: Egyptian Electric Cooperative Association; Clinton County Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Monroe County Electric Co-Operative, Inc.; SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Southern Illinois Electric Cooperative; Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Clay Electric Co-operative, Inc.“It was — and is — a difficult decision,” Gulley said. “But my responsibility is to ensure the long-term viability of SIPC to benefit our member-owners, which ultimately benefit those 80,000 members. And the savings of $125 million over the next 10 years is significant and important to those 80,000 members.”The tentatively approved plan is awaiting final regulatory approvals, expected by late July. A formal board decision is to follow.Unit 4 was constructed in the late 1970s. It would take an investment of about $20 million in order for it to meet federal and state environmental requirements for coal ash and wastewater disposal over the next three to five years, Gulley said. That financial requirement was a piece in the equation, though Gulley said the primary driving factors behind the decision are the more competitive energy prices on the open market and a need to diversify SIPC’s energy sources. Currently, coal-fired generation accounts for more than 90% of its portfolio.[Molly Parker]More: Southern Illinois Power Co-op plans to shutter its largest coal-fired unit this falllast_img read more

Puerto Rico regulators back renewable energy transition, reject utility’s gas-heavy proposal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority will be required to acquire thousands of megawatts of renewables and storage in the coming years, according to a Monday order from the island’s energy regulators that also rejected many natural-gas additions included in the utility’s integrated resource plan.In its IRP filed last year, state-owned PREPA presented a preferred scenario that included 1,800 megawatts of solar PV and 920 megawatts of energy storage additions in the coming five years, plus eight minigrids that could be isolated to power certain sections of the island if the electricity system is disrupted.The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau this week presented a modified plan that included a mix with an even higher proportion of renewables: at least 3,500 megawatts of solar and more than 1,300 megawatts of storage by 2025.Regulators rejected PREPA’s $5.9 billion plan for its minigrid transmission system, with plans to establish a new proceeding to optimize distribution and transmission spending and analyze potential cheaper resiliency options. The bureau also wants PREPA to hold off on many new gas additions, calling for “limited replacement” of older units through a competitive procurement process that considers a wide range of resources.Taken together, the order significantly revamps the utility’s plan, prepared by Siemens, which many environmental and clean energy groups had criticized as too reliant on natural gas. Regulators framed their decision on the utility’s IRP as a “no-regrets” approach to Puerto Rico’s electricity transition.In addition to relying on more renewables, the proposal from regulators will cost less, around an estimate of $13.8 billion compared to about $14.4 billion for PREPA’s preferred plan.[Emma Foehringer Merchant]More: In blow to natural gas, Puerto Rico regulators affirm solar-centric grid overhaul Puerto Rico regulators back renewable energy transition, reject utility’s gas-heavy proposallast_img read more

A Tale of Two Trails…or How to Experience the Same Trail in Two Very Different Ways

first_imgLast weekend Mark and I decided to get away for a couple of days. We had heard that the Highlands area was gorgeous and are always up for exploring a new trail, so we decided to hit the Bartram. We packed the Subaru with running gear and set off after work on Friday. Turns out that one of our friends, Matt Kirk (holder of the South Beyond 6000 and Mountains-to-Sea Trail speed records) was doing the same thing. Our weekends on the trail would turn out to be vastly different, though. While we had planned a relaxing weekend at a B&B with a little bit of running thrown in for good measure, Matt was after yet another FKT, this time attempting to run the entire 110 miles of the Bartram Trail.The first thing that Mark and I did upon arrival in Highlands was to check into The Inn at Half-Mile Farm. Turns out that we had arrived just in time for evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, so we helped ourselves to wine and baked brie and relaxed on the Adirondack chairs by the lake. I’m guessing that Matt must’ve been on the trail by then, enjoying a late afternoon snack of gels and electrolyte drink.Later that evening, feasting on a dinner of red snapper basted with lemongrass-infused coconut milk and mango-cardamom tofu at Cyprus, we happened to run into a mutual friend who told us of Matt’s epic run on Bartram. We found out that he was expected to be at the trailhead nearest us at 6am and decided that it might be cool to go out to meet him there. Once back at the cozy inn, however, we second-guessed that decision. Waking in the early morning darkness, we reminded ourselves that we hadn’t thought to pack headlamps or cold-weather gear. Firing up the gas logs in our fireplace and pulling up the quilt, we decided that it really made more sense to get a few extra hours of rest. We later learned that Matt had gotten a bit more shut-eye than he’d intended as well, although his respite came in the form of impromptu naps on the cold hard ground rather than in a cushy king-sized bed. I’m guessing that he also missed out on chocolates on his pillow.Around 9am, when Matt was miles down the trail and had undoubtedly already digested his pre-dawn breakfast of gels and electrolyte drink, we made our way over to the dining room where we chowed on BLT frittatas and fresh-squeezed o.j., thinking all the while how much Matt would have appreciated that meal. Once we got to the trailhead, the sun was bright overhead, the sky was crystal clear, and we enjoyed panoramic views of mountains as far as we could see. It was a glorious day for running, especially exploring a new trail.For the next five hours, we followed the ridgeline, cranking up hills and coasting down, pausing to soak up the views and snap a few pictures here and there. Occasionally we saw Matt’s footprints in the dirt and wondered how he had been feeling at that spot, over twenty-four hours into his run. Hitting the most heinous steep and rocky stretches on tired legs (we had gone about ten miles at that point), we dared not compare our fatigue to Matt’s, knowing that he had already traveled 80+ miles over the same terrain.We finished our run mid-afternoon, once again returning to the B&B just in time for afternoon snacks, this time goat cheese-stuffed mushrooms and smoked salmon. Poor Matt, we thought. He’s probably still out there, choking down yet another gel with a Gatorade chaser.Later that evening we learned that Matt had finished his epic journey at sunset, completing the entire 110 miles in 31 hours, 55 minutes. He’s only the second person to accomplish this, following in the footsteps of Denise Davis, who set the bar back in 2010. After traveling less than a quarter of the distance they covered, I can attest to the impressiveness of this feat.Now the question remains — if we had it all to do over, which weekend would we choose? Mark and I enjoyed delicious cuisine and definite luxury (did I mention the jetted tub?) with some scenic runs thrown in, while Matt pushed his body and soul to the brink of exhaustion and back in order to achieve a big goal. Just goes to show, there’s more than one way to experience a trail.Tale of Two TrailsFor more details on Matt’s epic run, visit his blog at http://matthewkirk.blogspot.com/last_img read more

Country’s Top Trail: New River Gorge’s Endless Wall

first_imgThe 2.4-mile Endless Wall Trail in West Virginia’s New River Gorge was named the top trail in the country by USA Today. The hike was one of 20 nominated by a panel of experts and then voted into the top spot by the public.The trail passes through forestland lush with hemlocks and other trees, crosses the Fern Creek and then meanders along the edge of the cliff, offering stunning views of the New River 1,000 feet below.The trail was pioneered by rock climbers in the 1980s before the land was a national park unit.The trail is named after a three-mile-long unbroken section of exceptionally hard sandstone cliff that is one of the Gorge’s most popular climbing features. Climbers use the trail to access climbing routes along the cliff, and they have installed rappel anchors and ladders in order to better access the bottom of the cliff line because there is no other way to walk from the top to the bottom.The Endless Wall Trail beat out several more well-known trails out West such as the Bright Angel Trail in Grand Canyon National Park and The Narrows in Zion National Park.Read the full story here.last_img read more

Fridays on The Fly: Carpé Diem

first_imgPhotos by Danny Reed of Crooked Creek Holler For all of you anglers who have yet to dabble into some carp fishing on the fly—this one’s for you.  I’m telling you, it is so worth it.  There are a TON of great places across the southeast where you can get into these crazy-fighting, awfully-ugly, bottom-feeding suckers.  Folks also say that freshwater carp fishing can be a wonderful preparation for any saltwater bone fishing or other types of fishing where you’re continuously sight-casting to super spooky fish.What sparked my carp-hunting adventure was an event held this past weekend that I had the pleasure of attending and competing in called the 3 Rivers Carp Cup held by 3 Rivers Angler in Knoxville, TN.  This was the 4th annual Carp Cup and one of the most successful as far as fish caught, attendees and undeniably perfect weather.11710006_822161134533070_4900950158630629436_o This was my first time ever fishing for carp so I was lucky enough to land a spot on a team with two experienced carp fishermen and good friends of mine; Danny Reed of Crooked Creek Holler and Tim Stephens the King of PBR.  Without these two, I would have literally done everything wrong.  From trout setting to quick stripping, none of this is allowed when fishing for carp.Some of the tips they enlightened me with were:1. Dead drifting.  Carp aren’t going to chase a fly down and if you don’t get in right in front of them, you’ve got no chance.2. Do NOT let the carp see you before you see it, otherwise sayonara sucka!3. If you’re going to miss, miss short- otherwise, again, these spooky fish are outta there.4.  You always need to have fried chicken on the boat, it’s a serious juju situation and if the juju is off, the universe will not allow you to catch a fish.5. Carp have a very subtle eat, so “sets are free” was one of our boat mottos and we stuck to it.  If you feel anything, SET.  (I personally set on 3 trees, 10 grass patches, 2 logs, and 3 rocks and I somehow managed to lose only one fly.  Pretty dang good if you ask me.)All in all we had a really good day and hooked into a bunch of fish from blue gill, to a baby striper hybrid, at least a dozen smallies, and last but not least one beautifully ugly carp.Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.19.23 PMI’ve now fished for and to over a dozen species and I’d say the carp could definitely give a false albacore a run for its money on who fights harder.  This fish did not want to give up and did everything it could from wrapping the oars to nose diving under the boat and running a good 40 yards with an epic bend in the 8wt before I finally managed to tire him out and with the help of my teammates land my very first carp on the fly!It was a truly epic experience and for all anglers who are questioning whether this weekend’s road trip to target carp on the fly is worth it, I’m again reinforcing the fact that it is absolutely, undeniably, enthusiastically SO worth it.  I’m insisting that you go and give it a try.  You will not be disappointed.last_img read more

Wildfire Update: More than 40,000 acres on Fire in Western North Carolina

first_imgLast week, we reported on the growing severity of wildfires blazing in Western North Carolina and surrounding states like South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia.Unfortunately, those fire continued to grow over the weekend and have now reached nearly 40,000 acres in Western North Carolina alone.Many of these fires are not only believed to be the result of human activity, but are reportedly being set intentionally by arsonists.While it’s extremely troubling to see so many acres of cherished land burn, it’s also hazardous to the health of residents. Many if the states with fires burning have warned citizens of unhealthy air quality.What follows is a real time list of fires burning throughout these five states, the amount of acres to which these blazes have reportedly spread, suspected causes, and key information about burn bans and public land closures.Keep in mind that the dry conditions that have facilitated this historic weather event are persisting, and as a result these numbers are constantly changing and often growing. Check back for updates.Western North Carolina WildfiresTellico FireAcres: 13,676Containment Level: 39 percent contained Party Rock FireAcres: 3,457Containment Level: 15 percent containedscreen-shot-2016-11-10-at-9-51-12-amLake Lure/Chimney Rock Area. Photographer last week by Michelle Schwartz.Maple Springs FireAcres: 7,179Containment Level:15 percent containedBoteler FireAcres: 8,695Containment:37 percent containedSouth Mountain State Park FireAcres: 2,850Containment Level: 15 percent contained Ferebee FireAcres: 3,175Containment Level: 3,175 Additional Wildfire Info Immediate Forecast: No rain is in sight for Western North Carolina’s immediate future. Fire caution and safety is of the utmost importance right now.Public Lands Closed: The Appalachian Trail from Rock Gap to the Nantahala River, Chimney Rock State Park, Rumbling Bald Climbing Access Area, South Mountains State Park, portions of Joyce Kilmer-Slickrock Wilderness.According to press release issued by the USFS the following trails are closed: Wesser Creek, Chunky Gal from Glade Gap to Tusquitee Gap, Whitewater Falls, Foothills from NC Hwy 281 to the Bad Creek access (detour maps are posted at trail junctions), and the Appalachian Trail from the Nantahala River at Wesser south to Rock Gap Trailhead on FR 67.Suspected Causes: According to USFS, the majority of the wildfires in WNC are the direct result of humans, and the state has even pointed to arson as a major factor in many of these dangerous and destructive wildfires.Burn Bans: All 1 million acres of the Pisgah and the Nantahala National Forest are under a strict no burn ban.North Georgia WildfiresRock Mountain Fire (Rabun County)Acres: 4,000Containment: 10 percent containedRough Ridge Fire (Fannin County)Acres:  nearly 20,000Containment: 20 percent containedAdditional Wildfire Info Suspected Causes: Many of these fires are being labeled as human caused, and, like the fires in North Carolina, arson has been established as a contributing factor in some of the North Georgia wildfires.South Carolina WildfiresPinnacle Mountain FireAcres: 2,312Containment: 25 percent containedscreen-shot-2016-11-11-at-9-00-20-amAdditional Wildfire Info Public Land Closures: Table Rock State Park along with portions of the Foothills Trail.Burn Bans: The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) has issued a burn ban on the 33,000-acre Jocassee Gorges area in northern Pickens and Oconee counties, and the South Carolina Forestry Commission has expanded its burning ban from five Upstate counties to all 19 Piedmont counties.Tennessee WildfiresFlippers Bend FireAcres: 1000 Containment: 90 percent containedPoe Road FireAcres: 550 acresContainment: 40 percent containedMowbray FireAcres: 750 acresContainment: 50 percent containedAdditional Wildfire Info Public Land Closures: Citico Creek Wilderness in Cherokee National ForestVirginia WildfiresRaven Rocks Fire (Jefferson National Forest)Acres: 2,500 acresContainment: 60 percent containedMcAfee Knob FireA small brush fire in a hard to reach area near McAfee Knob Fire has been contained.Additional Wildfire Info Burn Bans: There is a temporary restriction of open fires on the Clinch Ranger District of the George Washington and Jefferson National ForestsSuspected Causes: Dry conditions and possible arson in areas.last_img read more

Talks on the Cherokee People at Brasstown Bald this Summer

first_imgFor more information on Mr. Warren, visit www.medicinebow.net, and check out his books at www.secretsoftheforestbook.com.  More on the Location: Join Cradle of Forestry Interpretive Assosication in America at Brasstown Bald for summer talks on the Cherokee people and their incredible history with author Mark Warren! Mr. Warren owns and runs Medicine Bow Wilderness School in the southern Appalachians and has taught survival courses to thousands of schools and groups all over the southeast for the past 45 years. He has also written extensively for such magazines as Mother Earth News, Blue Ridge Highlander, and Georgia Backroads.  Brasstown Bald is a location that CFAIA manages for the U.S. Forest Service, near Hiawassee, GA.  It is the highest point in Georgia. The address is 2941 Highway 180 Spur, Hiawassee, GA 30546  June 26 at 11:00 am – The Ancient Ways of the Cherokee July 27 at 1:00 pm – The Cherokee of Southern Appalachia August 15 at 11:00 am – The Ancient Ways of the Cherokee The calendar of talks by Mr. Warren will be:last_img read more