In Ohio, Utility Company That Argues for Bailout Is Blinded by ‘Willful Refusal to Face the Facts’

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Jon Chavez for the Toledo Blade:FirstEnergy remains firm that the plan, while raising customers’ bills in the first few years, eventually will save customers about $560 million by the time it expires.Opponents, who have been increasing steadily and now includes consumer advocates, FirstEnergy competitors, large Ohio manufacturers, consumer groups, and environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, insist the plan won’t save customers money but rather will cost them between $3 billion to $4 billion by 2024.FirstEnergy, the opponents contend, will keep charging the fee for eight years because the four plants will remain uncompetitive by using high-cost fuel to make electricity.The difference in whether the plan would cost or save customers money is based on projections of whether the wholesale prices of electricity will stay low or soar in the next eight years.If they stay low, the opponents say FirstEnergy will have taxpayers subsidizing its aging, noncompetitive plants. If the prices rise, the owner of Toledo Edison says customers will save money.The PUCO has not put the plan on its agenda to make a decision. The panel meets each week.FirstEnergy has asked for a decision by the end of March because that is when it readies for a power auction at which it purchases power for the summer months.In the meantime, both sides are taking their cases to the public.The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a Cleveland group that favors transition to greener energy sources, issued a report last week that says the plan will cost consumers $4 billion, essentially backing what the public watchdog agency, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, has said.David Schlissel, an energy analyst and co-author of that study, said, “We’re looking at the facts, but FirstEnergy sees these facts and their plan is to avoid them.”Utility executives are insisting that the four plants will become more competitive as environmental regulations and other factors drive up power prices over the length of the plan. FirstEnergy contends that mandates for cleaner energy, a drop in oil prices, abundance of natural gas leading to the digging of fewer wells, and rapidly changing technology likely will lead to a volatile energy market over the next decade.“We do continue to project that power prices are going to rise in the years ahead,” said Doug Colafella, a FirstEnergy spokesman. “We stand firm in our projections.”FirstEnergy maintains that energy volatility, should it occur, would make power generated by 40-year-old Davis-Besse and 56-year-old Sammis plant more economical.However, Mr. Schlissel said the argument is a red herring.The report indicates that abundant natural gas from shale in Appalachia and elsewhere is pushing energy prices down as more electricity is generated by gas-fired plants. Also, renewable wind and solar energy generation is increasing, and the Great Recession stymied economic growth and energy demand for the foreseeable future.Mr. Schlissel said natural gas prices have gone down, helping to lower electricity generation prices. He said of the utility, “They see it going way high. But it’s a fantasy or willful refusal to face the facts.”New projections, he said, say natural gas will stay at $2 per 1,000 cubic feet through 2018 and that is going to keep coal and nuclear plants unable to compete cost-wise with cheaper natural gas-generated electricity. “Instead,” he added, “they’re looking for a way to shift the cost to customers.”Full article: TV ads duel over power rate proposal In Ohio, Utility Company That Argues for Bailout Is Blinded by ‘Willful Refusal to Face the Facts’last_img read more

Coal Port-Expansion Sponsor in Washington State Puts Project on Hold

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Associated Press:The sponsor of a proposed Washington state coal port for shipments of the fuel to Asia is suspending work on an environmental review because of a Native American tribe’s concerns that the project could hurt its fishing rights.SSA Marine, which retains a 51 percent ownership of the project, said Friday it was halting the environmental review while it waits for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to make a decision on the treaty rights of the Lummi Tribe.The Puget Sound port just south of the U.S.-Canada border would accommodate almost 60 million tons a year of coal and other commodities.Coal companies hope exports to Asia will shore up their industry, which has been battered by competition from cheap natural gas and more stringent restrictions on pollution caused by burning the fuel. Construction costs for the Gateway Pacific Terminal have been estimated at $700 million.The Lummi Nation has pressed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to deny the project’s permit because it would disrupt the tribe’s fishing practices. The proposal also has met strong opposition from environmental groups worried about the greenhouse gases and other pollutants produced by burning coal.Cloud Peak Energy bought a 49 percent stake in Gateway Pacific six months ago. The Wyoming company paid $2 million up front to SSA Marine and agreed to cover up to $30 million in permitting expenses, hoping to capitalize on the port to serve growing coal markets in Asia.The deal also included an option for the Crow Tribe to take a 5 percent stake in the port. Cloud Peak plans to build a major mine on the Crow Tribe’s southeastern Montana reservation and planned to move up to 18 million tons of fuel through Gateway Pacific.But the international coal market is experiencing a sudden and drastic decline. Cloud Peak last month took a $58 million loss on its investments in coal export projects including Gateway Pacific.Full article: Backer of proposed coal port stops work amid Lummi Tribe concerns Coal Port-Expansion Sponsor in Washington State Puts Project on Holdlast_img read more

Rail executives plan for long-term decline in coal demand

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Absent orders from the president and his administration or the U.S. Congress, it is unlikely new coal-fired power plants will be built in the United States, a railroad executive said June 13.CSX Corp. is doing “everything we can” to work with coal miners and power plants, the company’s Executive Vice President and CFO Frank Lonegro said at a transportation conference in New York City, but the company still views the U.S. coal sector as being in long-term decline.“Our job is to optimize the bottom line, and that business is really good for us,” Lonegro said. “So we want to stay in that business as long as we possibly can.”The company currently holds a “stable” outlook for domestic utility coal demand. That outlook, Lonegro said, is based on no “real major plant closures in the next couple of years” affecting CSX.At the same conference, Union Pacific Corp. Executive Vice President and CFO Robert Knight said that after watching coal rapidly fall from around 50% to around 30% of the share of U.S. power generation, the railroad is expecting that share to now hover around the high 20s to 30s in the long term.“Yes, there’s probably going to be more downward pressure. There’s going to be some retirements of some utility units. How much coal that means does or does not move in our franchise remains to be seen,” Knight said. “So it feels—I’m not going to call out that it’s stable as a definitive term, but it feels more stable certainly than what we’ve experienced.”More ($): Rail exec: Coal stable, but new plants unlikely without help of Trump, Congress Rail executives plan for long-term decline in coal demandlast_img read more

Renewables top coal as Germany’s largest electricity source

first_imgRenewables top coal as Germany’s largest electricity source FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Renewables overtook coal as Germany’s main source of energy for the first time last year, accounting for just over 40 percent of electricity production, research showed on Thursday.The shift marks progress as Europe’s biggest economy aims for renewables to provide 65 percent of its energy by 2030 in a costly transition as it abandons nuclear power by 2022 and is devising plans for an orderly long-term exit from coal.The research from the Fraunhofer organization of applied science showed that output of solar, wind, biomass and hydroelectric generation units rose 4.3 percent last year to produce 219 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity. That was out of a total national power production of 542 TWh derived from both green and fossil fuels, of which coal burning accounted for 38 percent.Green energy’s share of Germany’s power production has risen from 38.2 percent in 2017 and just 19.1 percent in 2010.Bruno Burger, author of the Fraunhofer study, said it was set to stay above 40 percent this year. “We will not fall below the 40 percent in 2019 because more renewable installations are being built and weather patterns will not change that dramatically,” he said.The wind power industry produced 111 TWh from combined onshore and offshore capacity of just under 60 GW, constituting 20.4 percent of total German power output. Wind power was the biggest source of energy after domestically mined brown coal power which accounted for 24.1 percent.More: Renewables overtake coal as Germany’s main energy sourcelast_img read more

U.S. coal exports down sharply in second quarter compared to 2018

first_imgU.S. coal exports down sharply in second quarter compared to 2018 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):U.S. coal exports were roughly flat in the second quarter compared to shipments made in the prior period but remained down 18.1% compared to the second quarter of 2018.About 23.2 million tonnes of coal were shipped from U.S. ports in the second quarter of 2019, nearly flat compared to 23.1 million tonnes of coal shipments in the prior quarter and down significantly from 28.3 million tons of coal exports in the second quarter of 2018. Exports heading to India, the sector’s largest customer, were down 24.6% year over year and 16.9% quarter to quarter.The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently projected annual coal exports would sink by about 15.6 million tons to 100 million tons this year. Exports are expected to fall further to 90.4 million tons in 2020.European steelmakers have struggled in recent months, leading to lower demand for U.S. metallurgical coal, Seaport Global Securities LLC noted in an Aug. 13 analyst note. Ports in the Netherlands, a typical point of entry for shipments heading to customers throughout Europe, took about 6.7% less coal from ships originating in the U.S.Foresight Energy LP President and CEO Robert Moore said the netbacks on export tons are falling compared to the levels seen before and the company is evaluating options to move coal back into domestic markets. “We are shipping coal everywhere that we can find a home for it. I mean, we’re moving coal into South America. We’re moving coal into Asia. We’re still moving coal into Europe,” Moore said. “If these export markets aren’t there, then we’re poised to take domestic share. And that’s what we’re going to do.”The president and CEO of another Illinois Basin producer, Alliance Resource Partners LP, said Alliance was prepared to capture domestic business from higher-cost producers by either selling at a lower price or working out a deal to sell its coal to its peers to fulfill contracts of higher coal producers if export markets do not improve. “I’m not counting on the domestic market mix changing and I’m not counting on the domestic market growing,” said Joe Craft. “I’m just saying, we can absorb. If there’s no export market or the export market stays flat, there are opportunities for us to sell coal domestically that would be more attractive than selling into the current price curve for [the European coal price benchmark] API2.”More ($): U.S. coal export volume sank 18.1% in Q2’19 compared to year-agolast_img read more

Offshore wind prices continue downward trend in U.K.

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:The cost of offshore wind in the U.K. could soon drop below the level where renewable developers get compensated to add capacity in the latest round of an auction that has subsidized the industry.Developers have submitted proposals in the so-called “contracts-for-difference” auction to win fixed prices for power produced from green sources. The result is due on Sept. 19. If the wholesale rate is at a higher level than the contract, generators pay the difference back, lowering costs for consumers.Iberdrola SA’s Scottish Power Renewables unit has submitted a bid for its 1.4-gigawatt East Anglia Three project, off England’s east coast. East Anglia One, which this week started to generate electricity from the first of its 102 turbines, won a similar auction in 2015, with a price of 119 pounds ($147) per megawatt-hour.This latest round could see bids less than half of that, according to an executive at the company. The slide in prices highlights how rapidly offshore wind has transformed from a niche technology to a core part of the global push to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.“It’s going to be at a price that’s cheaper than anything we’ve seen before in the U.K. and probably at a price sitting below the government’s own projections,” said Jonathan Cole, managing director of Iberdrola’s offshore wind business.The government’s reference price is in the range of about 48 pounds to 51 pounds per megawatt-hour for the time frame of the auction that covers the three years through 2025. Cole declined to say what the company bid.More: Offshore wind-power prices are plunging Offshore wind prices continue downward trend in U.K.last_img read more

Dog days of summer

first_imgThis time of the year, something happens to my dog. Now, she’s never been the most energetic pup on the planet, but she’s typically pretty active and is always up for an adventure, be it hiking along the river or chasing a neighbor’s cat. But something’s gotten into her lately — for the past couple of weeks it’s been a challenge to get her beyond the air-conditioned comfort of home.Sadie’s exercise used to consist of ten-mile runs over mountainous terrain. Sure, she’d lollygag on the steepest climbs and cut all the switchbacks, but like me, she loved the feeling of running free in the woods. Anytime she saw me lace up my running shoes, she’d follow me around like I had a choice cut of sirloin in my pocket.Over the years, she’s slowed down, much to my dismay, and she officially retired last spring when the vet diagnosed arthritis and prescribed anti-inflammatories. But she’s still been an outdoorsy sort of pooch. I mean, she has to be, right? We live in the mountains of Asheville, run trails and drive a Subaru, so that makes us an active family. An energetic dog is part of the mix. An accessory, like the roof rack and the Chacos.Apparently Sadie isn’t aware of her prescribed role in the family – or maybe she just doesn’t care. She still rises at dawn with me, but now when she sees me grab my sneakers, her big move is from the bedroom to the kitchen. After breakfast, she retires to the living room, where she settles beneath the ceiling fan and awaits my return. Now and then she wanders over to the door and looks out. Checks her bowl to see if some Alpo has magically appeared. Sometime mid-afternoon, she might mosey out to the front porch to see what’s going on in the neighborhood, then she returns inside, this time back to the bedroom for her afternoon siesta.Now don’t get me wrong – she’s not completely slothful. She does raise her head to glance at me as I enter or exit a room. And sometimes she even picks up a bone to gnaw on for a few minutes before slumber beckons again. But for the most part, she appears determined to conserve her energy and to get those much-needed twenty hours of beauty sleep. The pattern that began in May will no doubt continue through September, when cool breezes once again grace our home.As I prepare to go for what will undoubtedly be a sweatfest of a run in 90-degree heat, I take another look at Sadie. She does look awfully relaxed as she reclines on the cool tile of the kitchen floor. Maybe she’s onto something.last_img read more

Totally Trivial With Melody Walker and Jacob Groopman of Front Country

first_imgMelody Walker and Jacob Groopman are grabbing attention everywhere they go.  Along with their progressive bluegrass band Front Country, they have garnered gold in band competitions at both Rockygrass and Telluride, Melody’s debut record, Gold Rush Goddess, was named one of the top 50 records of 2012 by No Depression, and Melody won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest in April of this year.That is a nice collection of kudos for a couple of musicians who have been on the scene for just a couple years.Melody and Jacob, who live in Northern California and hail from San Francisco and Richmond, respectively, can be found recording and playing as a duo when not on the road with Front Country.  Just this week, they set out from California on a two month tour that will take them all over the country.  Jacob and Melody are touring in support of their new release, We Made It Home.BRO recently caught up with Jacob and Melody to get Totally Trivial.BRO – One thing you can get in NorCal that you can’t get in Richmond?Jacob – Seriously amazing authentic dim sum.  I never even knew about this until I moved out to California.  In Richmond, we didn’t even get a sushi place until I was in high school.  Of course, I’ve not lived in Richmond for almost 15 years, so maybe there is some dim sum there now.Melody – Poison oak.  Y’all have poison ivy over there, but apparently the rash is the same, so . . . .BRO – One thing you can get in Richmond that you can’t get in NorCal?Jacob – Great Civil War history!Melody – All kinds of weird Southern foods that don’t even exist on the West Coast.  What is creasy salad?  Chitlins?BRO – In five words or less, finish the following statement – “Winning the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest was better than . . . . “Jacob –  . . . not winning!Melody – . . . getting tarred and feathered.BRO – Most recent song that you heard and immediately had to listen to again?Jacob – This is random, but it was a song by a UK artist named Goldfrapp.  I was in our neighborhood record store, heard it, and had to go home and find it.  The album is called Tales of Us.Melody – I do this all the time, but most recently it was “Gone and Back” from Alaskan songwriter Anna Lynch.  She released it as a teaser for her new album, and you can listen to it here – It’s super catchy and has this cajuny swing that makes me want to dance.BRO – Favorite guilty pleasure while on the road?Jacob – White Cheddar Cheez-Its.Melody – Chex Muddy Buddies.  But we do not give in to these pleasures anymore.  Why, you got some?BRO – Last movie that made you cry?Jacob – Forrest Gump.  It’s the only move that’s ever made me cry.  “I miss you, Jen-nay!”Melody – It doesn’t take much.  I guess Gravity got me for a second, even though that movie was stupid!BRO – Most played song on your iPod?  You proud of that?Jacob – I have no idea.  It might be “Bubbles,” by Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, and Zakir Hussain.  I can’t get enough of that song and I am very proud.Melody – I’ve worn out Graceland – the whole album – pretty good on road trips over the years.  It never gets old and always puts a smile on my face.  That’s basically like musical heroin.  I will never quit you, Paul.BRO – What state do you anticipate driving through least on the big tour?Jacob – Nebraska, because it NEVER ends.  This time, though, we’re actually stopping for a gig in North Platte so maybe I’ll change my tune.  Texas is also really large.Melody – Sorry, Nevada, but it’s always you.  There no gig here and you not very scenic on I-80.BRO – Favorite tune on the new record?Jacob – I’m a big fan of how “Betelguese” came out.Melody – I like “O Heartbreaker” because it’s really a pop song snuck onto a folk record.BRO – If you could have just one guest sit in on the big tour, it would be . . .Jacob – Tim O’Brien.  One day it will happen.Melody – David Rawlings.  Sorry Jacob.Melody and Jacob will be racking up some serious miles in the car over the next couple months.  If you get a chance, catch them when they hit a town near you.  For our Colorado readers, the duo will be in Carbondale, Longmont, and Boulder by the end of this week.  Jacob and Melody will be in the Southeast by the end of November, hitting Washington, D.C., Richmond (VA), and Johnson City and Knoxville (TN).For more info on tour dates and how to get your hands on the new record, check out  Also, be sure to listen to “We Made It Home” on this month’s Trail Mix.last_img read more

July Letter from the Editor: The Big Five Things That Will Save the Planet

first_imgThere are a lot of eco-friendly lists out there, especially fluffy, feel-good suggestions for greening your life by changing light bulbs. In this issue, we provide 10 ways you can really, actually, truly make a difference. None of them are easy, but all of them have an added bonus: they’re good for you. Healthier personal choices lead to a healthier planet. If you want to step up your green game, here’s how you can help save the planet:Support renewable energy. Even with the recent boom in natural gas, fossil fuels won’t last much longer, and they’re doing irreparable damage to the planet’s health and our own. Without renewables, our species doesn’t stand a chance. Vote with your dollars, too. Switch to socially and environmentally responsible mutual funds and investments, especially ones that support solar, wind, geothermal, and tidal energy. Demand that your schools and employers—and your government—do the same. Divestment campaigns are taking place at university campuses across the country, and representatives on both sides of the aisle support ending fossil fuel subsidies.Buy less stuff. Spend your money on what matters most: nutritious food, clean water, and a healthy lifestyle enjoyed with family and community. What else do you really need?Protect public lands. Wild places aren’t just for the animals, nor are they simply playgrounds for wealthy recreationists. They are essential to all of our health. Public lands protect drinking water for most of the Eastern U.S., and they are essential to sustaining healthy soil, air, and food for everyone.Eliminate plastics. It’s not just BPA to worry about. The replacements for BPA are just as toxic. Virtually all plastics are potentially poisonous. Plastics are made from petrochemicals—your plastic spoon and water bottle are basically congealed oil. Most of the synthetics used in plastics production have never been tested for human safety, and the few that have are endocrine-disrupting, estrogenic, and potentially carcinogenic.Eat a local, organically grown, mostly plant-based diet. Sound too radical? It’s what human beings have been eating for at least two million years. Our caveman ancestors mostly gathered fresh fruits, vegetables, roots, and nuts for their calories; meat provided less than 15% of most Paleolithic diets. And our agrarian ancestors were all organic farmers who ate what was in season. Only in the past 50 years have we shifted to an industrial diet of processed foods and factory-farmed meats, and as a result, one-third of the world is obese and even more are suffering from dietary diseases.It comes down to this: prioritize health over cheap crap (whether plastics or fast food or fossil fuels), and you’ll save the planet, money, and lives—including your own.last_img read more

Trail Mix: Going Outside To Play With Ha Ha Tonka

first_imgFor years, I believed the guys in Ha Ha Tonka had named their band after their hometown in Arkansas.Boy howdy, was I wrong.A fan of the band since I first heard Death of a Decade, the group’s 2011 release, it was only recently that I learned that, in fact, they were not named after their hometown. Best I can tell, there isn’t even a town in Arkansas called Ha Ha Tonka.Instead, the group’s moniker comes from Ha Ha Tonka State Park, a gem of an outdoors destination in the band’s home state of Missouri (not Arkansas). Midwest fans of this magazine, if they haven’t already, should check out the caving and climbing, fifteen miles of trails, lake, and stone ruins of an early 20th century castle built by Kansas City businessman Robert Snyder, that can be found in the park.Ha Ha Tonka is out on the road now to celebrate the release of their brand new record, Heart-Shaped Mountain. I recently caught up with the band’s bass player, Lucas Long, to chat about what he and his mates in Ha Ha Tonka do when they have the chance to go outside and play.BRO – How do you work on outside time when you are on the road?LL – Day off/shits off. We try to take advantage of whatever natural wonders there are to be had on off days.BRO – Other than the obvious – tent, sleeping bag, etc. – what is your must have piece of gear when you head out camping?LL – My Black Diamond head lamp. I take it everywhere with me.BRO – I hear you do a bit of road cycling. Finish this sentence in five words or less. When I put on lycra, I look . . . LL –  . . . good.BRO – Favorite trail food?LL – Beef jerky. If there’s not protein, it’s not for me.BRO – During a visit to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, what is a must visit site?LL – The natural bridge is just gorgeous. Just pick a direction and start walking. You’ll find some beauty.BRO – Most harrowing outdoor experience?LL – A buddy and I tried to back country bike to a mountain peak outside of Sisters, Oregon. We thought we would be back to the car in twelve hours. Three days later, we emerged on the other side of the mountain and hitchhiked back to town.BRO – Favorite sippin’ drink for around the campfire?LL – Buffalo Trace. Whiskey always tastes good, but it’s even better when taken outdoors.Ha Ha Tonka is soaking up all the musical revelry that is SXSW this week. The band will be all over Austin for the next few days before heading to the Pacific Northwest and gigs in Washington and Oregon and then shows in California and Nevada.For more information on Ha Ha Tonka and future dates, check out the band’s website. Cruise over to Bloodshot Records for information on how to grab a copy of Heart Shaped Mountain.And be sure to take a listen to Ha Ha Tonka’s “All With You,” along with other brand new tracks from artists like Colin Hay, Sunny Sweeney, Will Johnson, The Kernal, and many more on this month’s Trail Mix.Featured image by Jason Gonulsen.last_img read more