IEEFA Report Sees $4 Billion Hit to Ratepayers in Ohio FirstEnergy Bailout FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Dan Gearino for the Columbus Dispatch:A new report says consumers would pay an extra $4 billion if regulators approve a profit guarantee for FirstEnergy, a forecast that is at odds with the company’s assertion that the plan would lead to a net savings of $560 million.The report is from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a Cleveland-based research group that tends to support clean-energy policies.“Rather than drag Ohio’s economy down with an additional $4 billion in unnecessary expenses, the state should recognize that markets are changing, support the development of cleaner, modern and more efficient resources,” said Sandy Buchanan, the group’s executive director, in a statement. She added that the state also should have a plan to help workers displaced by the changes.The profit guarantee would cover some of FirstEnergy’s power plants, providing additional income at times when the market price of electricity is low.The PUCO hearing did include testimony from parties that say FirstEnergy’s forecast likely is incorrect. This includes the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, which commissioned its own study showing that consumers would see their costs increase the same amount shown in this new report, $4 billion.The different projections are a key part of the case because FirstEnergy is seeking to show that the plan is in the public interest. According to the company, consumers will see a small increase in their electricity bills in the plant’s first few years, followed by a decrease in later years, leading to a net savings.The contrast in the forecasts results from differing views about whether the electricity market will soon recover from years of oversupply and low prices. FirstEnergy’s estimates are based on the idea that prices will recover much more quickly than the institute, and others, are expecting.Full article ($): FirstEnergy profit guarantee would cost consumers billionsDarren Sweeney for SNL:Ohio ratepayers will pay approximately $4 billion under FirstEnergy Corp.’s plan to have Ohio customers subsidize four “unprofitable” power plants, a research group said in an independent analysis.The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, or IEEFA, released its report, “A $4 Billion Bailout in the Buckeye State: FirstEnergy’s Plan Will Cost Customers for Years to Come,” just a few weeks after the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio wrapped up hearings on proposed income guarantees from FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities and American Electric Power Co. Inc. subsidiary AEP Ohio. AEP Ohio is the trade name of Ohio Power Co.“The goal of FirstEnergy in putting forth this ratepayer-subsidized plan is to prolong the life of outdated plants in Ohio, put customers on the hook for the escalating costs of these plants and ensure future profits for FirstEnergy shareholders,” IEEFA Executive Director Sandy Buchanan said in a Feb. 8 news release promoting the study. “The PUCO should reject it.”The report was commissioned by David Schlissel, IEEFA’s director of resource planning, and Cathy Kunkel, an IEEFA energy analyst. It details the “financial and market risks” tied to the power plants at the center of FirstEnergy’s proposal — W.H. Sammis, Davis-Besse and Ohio Valley Electric Corp. assets Kyger Creek and Clifty Creek.FirstEnergy agreed to reduce its proposed income guarantee for the power plants to eight years from 15 years, cut its ROE to 10.38% and promised at least $100 million in customer credits. The retail rate stability rider, if approved, would run from June 1, 2016, through May 31, 2024. (Case No. 14-1297-EL-SSO)FirstEnergy’s Ohio utilities will buy the power from the FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. and Ohio Valley Electric plants and then sell the output into PJM Interconnection LLC wholesale energy and capacity markets, with customers receiving rate credits or charges to offset power purchase costs. The company has said “customers are projected to save more than $560 million over the plan’s eight-year term as retail power prices increase over time.”“FirstEnergy is using greatly inflated forecasts of future natural gas prices and PJM electricity market prices to justify its proposal,” IEEFA said in its study. “FirstEnergy’s proposal — under an uninflated, reasonable natural gas price outlook — would in truth result in a net cost to ratepayers of approximately $4 billion, rather than the net $561 million gain that the company promises.”IEEFA argues that its forecast is “far more probable” based on recent economic trends and market conditions, such as a “precipitous decline in natural gas prices”; the increased competition from renewable energy resources; “substantial declines” in the power generated at the coal units in the PPA; steep declines in energy market prices; “flat or relatively flat growth in electric demand in PJM”; volatile capacity market prices; and the “potential for higher operating costs and/or declining operating performance as the PPA coal-fired units age.”Full article ($): Group calls FirstEnergy’s Ohio PPA plan ‘$4 billion bailout’ in analysis
Administration Considers Easing Cleanup-Bonding Restrictions on 3 Recently Bankrupt U.S. Coal Giants FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享SNL:Limits on coal company self-bonding will be reconsidered by the Trump administration and possibly rescinded or revoked, the U.S. Department of Interior wrote in a recent report.Interior highlighted potential reversals of Obama administration initiatives in a report responding to an executive order calling for a review of actions that potentially burden domestic energy. One of its targets is an Obama-era policy advisory issued August 2016 in response to bankruptcies of three major coal firms holding approximately $2.5 billion of unsecured or noncollateralized self-bonds guaranteeing reclamation of mined lands. The policy urged discretion and to not accept new or additional self-bonds for any permit until markets reach an equilibrium.All three of those coal companies have now completed bankruptcy restructurings, and Interior said it will reconsider the scope of its U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, or OSMRE, policy advisory and revise or rescind it “where appropriate.”Opponents of the practice worry the public could get stuck with cleanup costs if a company becomes insolvent.More ($): Trump administration giving self-bonding at coal operations another look
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Mining Journal:The Presque Isle Power Plant is on track to close in 2020, officials say. The closing date of the coal-fired plant was confirmed at the Upper Peninsula Energy Summit Wednesday at Northern Michigan University.The facility will be replaced by two new natural gas-fueled power plants in Marquette and Baraga counties to be owned and operated by Upper Michigan Energy Resources Corp. The plants were approved by the Michigan Public Service Commission in October. The $275 million project will be capable of generating a combined 183 megawatts of power and both plants are expected to be completed by the middle of 2019.MPSC Chairwoman Sally Talberg said three new natural gas pipelines were also approved in the Upper Peninsula. Two of the pipelines will feed the new UMERC generation facilities, Talberg said, with a third project consisting of a 43-mile natural gas pipeline, to be operated by Semco Energy Gas Company, between Wells Township and Marquette, which was approved by the MPSC in August.She said the pipelines, because they would be looped — which means two or more pipelines running parallel to each other — would also address vulnerabilities in natural gas service in the U.P. and could also encourage economic development.More: Energy Summit: Officials Talk Plans and Improvements Michigan’s Presque Isle Coal Plant to Close in 2020
Norway sovereign funds dumps coal-heavy PacifiCorp bonds FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Norway’s central bank, which manages the country’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund, has sold its holdings of bonds issued by PacifiCorp, a U.S. utility owned by Warren Buffett, in its latest round of ethical and environmental divestitures.Norges Bank said it has excluded PacifiCorp from the portfolio of the Government Pension Fund Global, widely ranked the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, because the company derives more than 30% of its business from coal.The central bank also placed PacifiCorp’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway Energy and fellow subsidiary MidAmerican Energy Co. under observation, meaning they could also be excluded from the fund’s portfolio in the future.As of the end of 2017, the Norwegian fund owned $164 million in bonds in Berkshire Hathaway Energy, $129 million in PacifiCorp, and $33 million in MidAmerican, according to the Financial Times.Norges Bank also excluded Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association Inc. from the fund’s portfolio over coal use.More ($): Norway’s sovereign fund ditches Warren Buffett-owned utility over coal use
Thailand plans 1GW of floating solar generation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:State-run utility Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT) is planning to facilitate 1GW of hybrid floating solar-hydro projects across eight dams throughout the country. Thepparat Theppitak, deputy governor, power plant development and renewable energy, EGAT, announced the plans at the ASEAN Solar + Storage Congress & Expo in Manila, the Philippines, organised by Leader Associates.The first two projects, located in the Northeast, are already in the development phase, including 45MW(AC) of contracted capacity at Sirindhorn Dam, with a commercial operation date expected in 2020. A second 24MW(AC) project at Ubol Ratana Dam is due to come into commercial operation in 2023.Theppitak told PV Tech that building of the first project should get underway in January next year. The plans also complement the fact that Thailand already has a hydropower plan and the country wants to have a test bed for floating PV, he added. EGAT sees a potential water surface area of 16km2 across the eight dams earmarked for this first phase.The Thai government is also working on tests for battery energy storage with two big projects standing at 22MWh and 16MWh capacity being used for frequency regulation and to enhance system flexibility. Moreover, Theppitak suggested that once battery costs come down far enough, EGAT will also consider having batteries at the hybrid floating solar-hydro projects.Franck Constant, president of PV developer and investor, Constant Energy, said that the announcements showed perhaps the most prominent change in the Thailand renewable energy space over the last year – the fact that a state-run utility like EGAT is starting to buy into new energy solutions like storage and floating solar.More: Thailand utility eyes 1GW of floating solar on hydro dams, pilots energy storage
The paddling world is easing its collective hangover this week. Gauley Fest 2018 has come to a close. Although, there will be more whitewater releases on the Gauley through the end of October. Each year on the third Saturday of September, thousands of whitewater enthusiasts from all over the country converge on Summersville, West Virginia and the Gauley River. They come to celebrate the dam releases that create a free-flowing Gauley and a whitewater playground.Gauley Fest is American Whitewater’s largest public outreach event of the year. Now in its 35th year, Gauley Fest started as a celebration of the derailment of a hydro-electric project that would have disrupted the flows on the Gauley River. It acts as a showcase for American Whitewater as well as many of the countries top whitewater vendors. It’s also a massive party and arguably the largest paddling festival in the world.This time around there was an additional element that made it extra special. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.“The National Wild and Scenic Rivers System was created by Congress in 1968 to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational values in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Act is notable for safeguarding the special character of these rivers, while also recognizing the potential for their appropriate use and development. It encourages river management that crosses political boundaries and promotes public participation in developing goals for river protection.”Needless to say – we think it’s pretty great. American Whitewater celebrated by throwing a 60’s themed dance party and raising funds for their river conservation and access works throughout the nation.We didn’t get on the river this year but on our way out of town, we were able to quickly top on Summersville Lake and take a short paddle. We love this area of West Virginia. Between the lakes, rivers, gorges, and mountains it really is an outdoor playground. We’re looking forward to being back later this fall for Bridge Day.Next up we’ll be doing a series of trash cleanups in North Carolina. On Wednesday, September 19th, we’ll be in Brevard running our 2nd annual Pisgah National Forest Trash Cleanup. The following day, September 20th, we’ll be in Asheville for our first ever French Broad Litter Floatilla. Then finally next weekend we’ll be in Asheville for the Asheville Van Life Rally. If you’re in the area you’ll have plenty of time to see us._____________________________________________There is one way for this tour to be a reality, our sponsors! Sending a thank you shout out to our title sponsor Nite Ize, and all of our other awesome sponsors that make this happen: Crazy Creek, National Geographic, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, Lowe Alpine, Old Town, Leki, HydraPak, UCO Gear and Wenzel. If you like the gear that keeps us groovin’ click here to enter for a chance to win
By signing up to participate in the “Gear Up Giveaway” you agree to receive information from Elevation Outdoors and our sponsors. Learn more about our favorite GEAR this year, HERESign up for your chance to win our Gear Up Giveaway with a total package value over $1100!!Prizes include an ENO Doublenest Print Hammock + Atlas Straps, an IceMule Jaunt Cooler, Mountain House Classic Bucket, Phoozy XP3, 3 Landmark Project Beanies, a GoSun Solar Phone Charger, a Watershed McKenzie Handlebar Bag, a Big Agnes Big Six Camp Chair and a Sweet Protection Switcher Helmet. First Name: Last Name: Email*: Phone Number: Address*: City*: State*: ALAKAZARCACOCTDCDEFLGAHIIDILINIAKSKYLAMEMDMAMIMNMSMOMTNENVNHNJNMNYNCNDOHOKORPARISCSDTNTXUTVTVAWAWVWIWYZip Code*: I certify that I am over the age of 18.* denotes required field Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 Midnight EST on December 16, 2019 – date subject to change. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mis-transcribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and their promotional partners reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before December 16, 2019 – date and time subject to change. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received. One entry per person or two entries per person if partnership opt-in box above is checked.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials announced that all park areas, except the Foothills Parkway and the Spur, will close at noon on Tuesday, March 24 through Monday, April 6, in a continuing effort to support federal, state, and local efforts to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The park will continue to assess changing conditions in our region and work with local communities to extend or terminate closures, as appropriate to ensure the health and safety of our visitors, employees, volunteers, partners, and local residents. Despite park efforts over the last week to comply with the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) guidance for social distancing, approximately 30,000 people entered the park daily resulting in congested conditions at popular locations such as Laurel Falls, Newfound Gap, and Cades Cove. Visitors from across the country have flocked to the area due to Spring Break, wildflowers, and warm weather conditions. This two-week park closure allows the park to support local efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. During the closure period, visitors can experience the park using digital tools including our social media platforms and website where near real-time views can be seen via park webcams at https://www.nps.gov/grsm/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm. Park rangers can still help answer questions via email or phone during business hours at (865) 436-1291, (828) 506-8620, or e-mail us. The NPS is working with federal, state, and local authorities to closely monitor COVID-19 and adjusting measures to control its spread. We will notify the public as we are able to resume operations and will provide updates on our website at www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/conditions.htm and social media. All access to the park, including trails and roads, will temporarily close in alignment with efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 across the region. This includes Executive Order 117 issued by NC Governor Roy Cooper, Executive Order 17 issued by TN Governor Bill Lee, Executive Order 6 issued by Principal Chief Richard Sneed of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Indians, Graham County travel restrictions, Pigeon Forge, TN Safe-at-Home Advisory, and requests to close or partially close the park received from Swain County, Sevier County, and Bryson City, NC.
By Dialogo October 03, 2011 Colombian authorities have scored notable successes against one of the country’s most powerful drug traffickers, Daniel “El Loco” Barrera. The latest victory came in mid-September, when four different networks were targeted in Bogotá, Cali, Barranquilla and Villavicencio. Those coordinated operations netted 36 suspects, including “four big shots,” said the head of Colombia’s National Police, Gen. Oscar Naranjo. Police also seized 21 light aircraft and submarines used to transport drugs to Central America. Police spokesmen acknowledged that they got help from an informant, but some independent analysts — noting the scale and reach of the police successes — suggest that either the informant is highly placed or that the intelligence penetration is broader than just one informant. El Loco, who remains at large, is the most notorious of a new generation of Colombian traffickers vying to replace the North of Valle and Cali cartels, both of which were successfully dismantled by authorities. The heart of El Loco’s organization is in Colombia’s eastern plains, but his networks are spread nationwide and he transports cocaine along both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, the Colombian police said. El Loco’s cartel has been one of the most aggressive in using semi- and fully submersible drug submarines to move loads of drugs by sea. Without sonar radar, the subs are hard to detect. Naranjo exuded confidence when talking to reporters about the September operations and claimed that the capture of El Loco — who he said was working with Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel — was all but inevitable. Panama busts major cocaine operation Colombia isn’t the only country that’s seen recent success in fighting transnational drug cartels. In neighboring Panama, that country’s drug prosecutor, Javier Carabello, announced that a major cocaine trafficking organization had been broken up, resulting in the arrests of 80 Panamanians and Colombians across the country. Carabello said the group was led by alleged Colombian drug trafficker Jorge Indalecio Marmolejo and reportedly moved more than 18 tons of drugs in the past year and a half through the Caribbean. But even though Central American governments are making inroads against drug traffickers, the challenges remain overwhelming. Those challenges were outlined by Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, who — in a recent interview with BBC — warned about the expansion of Mexican drug cartels into his country. Colom said Los Zetas controls “seven or eight provinces — 35 to 40 percent of our territory.” Independent observers agree. Samuel Logan, a regional security analyst, said Los Zetas and other cartels control the northern third of Guatemala. One of the biggest concerns are the alliances that are forming between transnational drug cartels and the street gangs, or “maras”, that sell drugs at the retail level as well as carry out robberies, kidnappings and extortion. Carlos Menocal, Guatemala’s interior minister, said the cartels are supplying the maras with more modern weapons. In September, he was quoted in a report by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars as saying that “two and a half years ago, we could tell that the maras were still using makeshift rifles. Now they use AK-47s, Galils, AR-15s, machine guns with laser visors, plus 9mm and .40-caliber brand new guns.” Authorities estimate that 1.2 million to 1.8 million weapons are in use in Guatemala, according to the report. In opinion polls ahead of the Sep. 12 presidential election, Guatemalans indicated that they too are worried about crime and violence. That’s not surprising, given that 41 percent of the more than 6,000 killings last year were linked to drug trafficking, said Colom. The homicide rate is about 41 per 100,000 inhabitants, though the World Bank reported this summer that in the northern region of Petén, the rate is between 80 and 90 per 100,000. Homicide rates are also skyrocketing in neighboring countries. Honduras is on track to end 2011 with a murder rate of 86 per 100,000 inhabitants, while El Salvador is heading for a rate of 72 per 100,000, according to new studies. The National Commission for Human Rights in Honduras reported in September that in the first half of 2011, the country had an average 20 homicides a day. Many are related to drugs. Ramón Custodio López, the country’s national commissioner for human rights, said the 2011 estimate represents a significant rise in homicides over 2010, when the rate was 77 per 100,000. The homicide rate also is rising in El Salvador, which reported nearly 2,900 murders in the first eight months of 2011. August was especially brutal, with Salvadoran police recording 391 killings that month. On top of the worsening news about crime and violence, regional governments are also examining a new report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), which warns that the use of amphetamine-type stimulants (ATSs) such as meth and ecstasy is surging around the world — but particularly in Southeast Asia, West Africa and the Americas. The report warned that the growing trade in such drugs and the high profits they bring will add more threats to health and security. It said that ATSs now rank as the world’s second-most widely used type of drug after cannabis — surpassing even heroin and cocaine. While the use of cannabis, heroin and cannabis remained largely stable between 2005 and 2009, seizures of ATS drugs and the discovery of clandestine laboratories indicate a rapid increase in these narcotics around the world, according to the UNODC report.
By Dialogo March 08, 2012 The head of the U.S. Southern Command, General Douglas Fraser, predicted on March 6 that the Armed Forces will continue to play a key role in the fight against organized crime in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador, in response to “alarming increases in murders and brutality.” “We expect militaries in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador will continue to be called upon to play an important role in domestic security matters in the coming years,” Fraser said in testimony to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee. The Military commander recalled that according to UN figures, Central America has become the most violent region in the world, and within the region, Honduras is the hardest hit. In 2011, San Pedro Sula in Honduras “overtook Ciudad Juarez as the most violent city in the world, with 159 homicides per 100,000 residents,” Fraser noted. In view of the “rising wave of violence,” the resources and capabilities of local police forces are outmatched, and consequently, “these countries view their militaries as the only entities capable of responding to these threats,” he judged. The head of the Southern Command said that due to the magnitude of the problem, “in the immediate future, we will focus our efforts on strengthening the security capacities of our partners in Central America.” Fraser recalled that since January, the United States has been coordinating what is known as Operation Martillo [Hammer], an exercise to fight drug trafficking along the Central American coasts that has been joined by the countries of the region and several European ones. The results of that operation “can be amplified by aligning our air and maritime focus with complementary land (…) activities conducted” by the Central American countries, Fraser added.