Editorial: ‘Dereliction of Duty’ by Public Officials Who Fight Solar

first_imgEditorial: ‘Dereliction of Duty’ by Public Officials Who Fight Solar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享George Ochenski in the Missoulian (Montana):From all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, one would think the economies of western coal-producing states are on their death bed. But most of the fear-mongering, threats of imminent societal collapse and, of course, demonizing the environmentalists and/or President Obama for coal’s collapse are coming from the coal industry and its political puppets. Then there’s the other side of the coin – in which the latest data shows renewable energy such as solar and wind are now not only outpacing coal jobs, but continuing to create an expanding base of new jobs.In its newly released Solar Jobs Census, the Solar Foundation reports that the solar industry added jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, growing 20 percent for the third straight year with another 35,052 jobs last year. With a total of an estimated 208,859 jobs, solar now surpasses those employed in the coal industry.Those jobs include project development, sales and distribution, but the greatest growth sector was in installation which, in and of itself, employed a whopping 77 percent more than the coal industry. It’s equally important to remember that 83 percent of the jobs were newly created, with installation accounting for 65 percent of that new job creation.The upshot is that the solar industry alone added two gigawatts of energy to the grid, coming in third behind natural gas and wind. A gigawatt is 1,000 megawatts and depending on where in the country it’s used will power between 750,000 and a million homes.To put that in perspective, Colstrip 1 and 2, the 40-year-old coal-fired generating plants most likely to be shut down as the nation and region move away from coal power, produce 358 and 307 megawatts respectively, barely a third of solar industry’s output. Moreover, unlike the hundreds of millions of dollars it has been estimated will be required to clean up Colstrip’s toxic ash ponds and the already significant groundwater pollution they have caused, there’s not likely to be any huge pollution clean-up costs associated with new solar energy production.Moreover, as the world and nation decry the latest terrorist attacks in Brussels, the security of centralized generation and the national electrical grid increasingly comes into question. And on this count, there is no comparison between the long-term security of diversified local distributed power compared to the exceedingly complex and vulnerable national grid.While it is true that most rooftop solar installations will not supply all the power a home needs all the time, it’s also true that homeowners are highly unlikely to find a terrorist on their roof trying to blow up their solar panels. Hence, as solar steps up, our nation becomes more, not less, secure in its electrical energy supplies.Then there’s the added benefit of “home-grown” solar power production in raising energy consumption awareness. Those with rooftop solar panels are very much aware of how much energy they produce and, in many cases, will seek far greater energy conservation efforts than simply plugging into the grid. It’s not just cost benefits, either, but the satisfaction and security of energy self-sufficiency and what clean and sustainable power means to future generations.While financial advisors increasingly warn against investing in coal mining or generation, the latest projections on the growing solar sector estimate that solar may eventually produce a whopping 38 percent of the nation’s electrical energy supply. In other words, solar is growing and, given that the price of solar panels continues to decline, is likely to become even more affordable and popular in the future.As those of us in the Western states realize, we have a lot of sun and wind, which is why the West is now leading the nation in transitioning to clean energy, with solar rooftop panels being routinely installed on new homes rather than as an afterthought. And that says nothing about the new industrial-scale solar installations currently being sited on relatively small parcels of private lands that feed into the traditional grid.Given this good news and undeniable trend, with all its ancillary benefits, it’s puzzling why so many politicians in Montana and the West continue to hang on to the polluting past of coal power. Instead of lamenting coal’s continuing and unavoidable demise, they would serve their constituents far better by embracing the future of clean distributed solar energy and using their powerful positions to remove barriers, provide incentives and ensure its continued expansion. To do less is simply a dereliction of duty.New solar jobs far outpace coallast_img read more

India seeks bids for solar-wind-battery system

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Mercom India:The Solar Energy Corporation of India Limited (SECI) has issued a tender for the development of 160 MW of solar-wind hybrid power project with battery energy storage system (BESS) at Ramagiri, located in Anantapur district of Andhra Pradesh.The scope of work includes the design, engineering, supply, construction, installation, testing, and commissioning of the projects. Apart from these, the successful bidder will also be responsible for 10 years of operations and maintenance (O&M) services.The project is being developed under the ‘Innovation in Solar Power and Hybrid Technologies Project’ and SECI has applied for financing from the World Bank. A part of the grant will go towards the Ramagiri project.Of late, hybrid tenders as well as tenders coupled with BESS component have gained traction in the country.The Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) recently announced a new wind-solar hybrid policy that aims to provide a framework for the expansion of grid-connected wind-solar hybrid systems in the country. The ministry later amended the policy to remove the word ‘battery’ from the relevant clauses in order to broaden the definition of the term “storage” and facilitate the growth of the sector. In its notification, the ministry said that it realizes that initially the word ‘storage’ was defined only in terms of battery storage, which restricted other forms of storage such as pumped hydro, compressed air, and flywheel.More: SECI issues 160 MW solar-wind hybrid tender with battery energy storage system India seeks bids for solar-wind-battery systemlast_img read more

Colorado co-op could save big by buying more renewables

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Denver Post:Tri-State, a Westminster-based electric power cooperative whose members have pushed for more use of renewable energy sources, could save more than $600 million through 2030 if it did just that, a new report says.Declining costs of wind and solar power give Tri-State Generation and Transmission an opportunity to cut costs for its members and blunt the expense of reducing emissions from coal-fired power plants, according to the study released Thursday by the Rocky Mountain Institute, an independent think tank and research organization that focuses on ways to make the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.Tri-State, which supplies electricity to associations in New Mexico, Nebraska and Wyoming, gets about half of its power from coal-fired plants. The Rocky Mountain Institute’s report says only one of the five coal-fired plants used by Tri-State and studied by the institute is more economical than the current costs of wind and solar power.Tri-State’s production costs are generally higher than bids for wind — $11 to $18 per megawatt hour — and comparable to solar bids — $23 to $27 per megawatt hour, according to the report. Mark Dyson, a principal at the institute and a co-author of “A Low-Cost Energy Future for Western Cooperatives.”, said the figures factor in transmission expenses.“Even if they don’t shut down coal plants, they can still save money by not running coal-fired facilities as much and just buying renewables in this region,” Dyson said.The Durango-based La Plata Electric Association is one of Tri-State’s members that wants to see less coal and more renewable energy in the mix. “What we’re seeing at La Plata is that the prices of renewables are declining. We want to see more of a renewable mix in the energy supply,” said Mike Dreyspring, the association’s CEO. “It’s as much about the economics as anything.”More: Tri-State could save $600 million by boosting renewable energy use, report says Colorado co-op could save big by buying more renewableslast_img read more

Texas munis say Gibbons Creek coal plant to remain offline this summer

first_imgTexas munis say Gibbons Creek coal plant to remain offline this summer FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Houston Chronicle:Gibbons Creek Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant about 20 miles from Bryan near College Station, put the state’s grid operator on notice that the plant will not operate this summer. The closure reduces the state’s already tight power reserves and is sparking forecasts of higher electricity prices.The Texas Municipal Power Agency, a group comprising the cities of Bryan, Garland, Denton and Greenville, owns the plant and notified the Electric Reliability Council of Texas that it will suspend operations of the 470-megawatt plant through at least the summer. The move follows the shutdown last year of three coal plants with a combined generation capacity of more than 4,000 megawatts — enough to power at least 800,000 Texas homes — by Vistra Energy of Irving.The loss of Gibbons Creek will cut the projected power reserve margin from the already record low of 8.1 percent to 7.4 percent, just over half of ERCOT’s reserve margin goal of 13.7 percent. The reserve margin measures additional power supplies available to meet unusually high demand, fill in for generators that break down unexpectedly, or both.Coal-fired power plants have shut down in Texas and across the nation in recent years as they were undercut by cheaper natural gas and the rapidly falling cost of renewable energy, such as wind and solar. For the past two years, Gibbons Creek has operated as a “peaker plant,” dormant except during the scorching summer months when demand soars, supplies dwindle and prices spike.In recent years, however, additional supplies from other sources, particularly wind, have moderated the summer price spikes that made it worth the cost of keeping peaker plants ready to go into operation. Peaker plants now face the growing likelihood that they may never be called upon to produce power, even as they maintain and staff them.More: Another Texas power plant is mothballed, raising concerns over reserves and priceslast_img read more

Israel cuts plans for 4,860MW of new gas-fired power plants

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Times of Israel:The Energy Ministry on Sunday asked the National Planning and Building Council to slash its plans for new gas-fired power stations by more than half in a move welcomed by both the Environmental Protection Ministry and civilian campaigners for more renewable energy.The ministry asked the planners to strike off four projects being designed, with a combined output of 4,860 Megawatts (MW).Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said these could be taken off the agenda, because with advances in technology, Israel is now in a position to increase its targets for renewable energy, mainly via solar power.With plans to add more than 12,000 MW of capacity from renewable sources to the energy system — plus 2,200 MW of storage — by 2030, the planners need to ensure that 4,000 MW can potentially be made available via new gas-fired power plants, with the aim that only 1,400 MW will actually be needed, the ministry said.In June, Steinitz increased targets for the percentage of Israel’s electricity that is to be produced from renewable sources from 17 percent to 30% by the end of the decade, with the remaining 70% to come from natural gas.The four planned stations to be taken off the list are Mevo’ot Gilboa (Gilboa Foothills) south of the northern city of Afula, Sagi 2000, west of Afula, Zvaim near Beit She’an in the northern Jordan Valley, and Hartuv in the Beit Shemesh area, northwest of Jerusalem. The ministry also intends to freeze planning of new stations for areas not yet zoned appropriately and will give preference to new plants to be built close to existing infrastructure.[Sue Surkes]More: Government seeks to nix half of planned gas power stations as renewables rise Israel cuts plans for 4,860MW of new gas-fired power plantslast_img read more

Turning Back

first_imgTwo experienced backpackers, Ryan Baxter and Tyler Wilkerson, met at Caves Cove in blowing snow and single-digit temperatures to embark on a six-day, 72-mile winter Appalachian Trail thru-hike of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.But this isn’t the story of how these two gents braved the forces of nature and succeeded. In fact, the plan failed. Miserably. Instead, this is the story of a successful failure: how careful planning and strategy can be applied to disaster and still result in triumph.“Sometimes you have to define success in different ways,” Ryan said. “In this case we succeeded in making it out of the woods with all of our digits intact.”The ingredients in the recipe for disaster began to stir together almost immediately. First the snow started to fall. As night fell, the snow began falling heavier and faster than expected. At their campsite, they used trekking poles and guylines to set up a tarp over bivy sacks for their minimalist shelter.Fool Proof Survival Tips“We knew we were getting weather. We didn’t expect we were going to get as much weather as we did,” Ryan said.Temperatures never once climbed above freezing and would not rise above 18 degrees for the rest of their hike. Because the temperatures were so low, it took much longer to boil water than it normally would. By morning, they were already low on fuel.Over a foot of snow slowed their progress. That afternoon they reached Russell Field and assessed their situation. Should they press on to Newfound Gap, some 17 miles away, and hope to resupply or bail out there?  Or should they turn back?Thanks to prior planning, they knew that cell signal was available at Russell Field and they called the ranger station. Bad news: every route, including Newfound Gap, was closed, except for the road to their starting point at Cades Cove.Had they gone out with planned escape routes but no communication plan, they may have continued on, hoping the snow was over, only to find themselves deep in the wilderness, with diminishing fuel, and approaching escape routes where they would find little help due to closures.Using cell phones, they were able to call Ryan’s wife, who came to pick them up at Cades Cove. They successfully completed their (failed) journey. No harm, no foul, no lost digits, limbs, or lives. Baxter and Wilkinson are even planning another attempt this winter. Why?“No bugs, no people. The solitude on a winter backpacking trip cannot be matched the rest of the year. There’s no life out there except for your own. Most of the vegetation is toast. Most of the critters that are out there may be moving around a little bit, but for the most part are hunkered down for the winter, so you get a much different feel for that environment.”No trip is perfect, but thorough planning can ensure your chances for completing the hike—or just surviving disaster. For two skilled, goal-oriented backpackers, turning back made this snow-shortened trip a surprising success.The Little Tips That CountKeep your fuel canister in your sleeping bag to regulate its temperature.Put boots in a stuff-sack at night will keep them from freezing badly overnight.Always bring an extra set of keys. Baxter lost his car keys in the snow at Mount Rogers. He spent the next two days getting out of there.Keep your water bottle in your sleeping bag with you at night to ensure you have liquid hydration in the morning.If you can bear the weight, snowshoes are always good to have as backup on winter expeditions. Had Ryan and Tyler had them, they would have expended far less energy struggling with footing in deep snow.Ryan’s Winter-trip Must HavesDown BootiesDown JacketBalaclavaGaitersSoft-shell/Windproof Pantslast_img read more

Trailer Tuesday: REEL – A Day on the River

first_imgREEL Trailer from The Fly Fishing Film Tour on Vimeo.Today’s trailer comes courtesy of The Fly Fishing Film Tour, which we attended at the Virginia Military Institute back in February. We had a blast and the films are awesome.The F3T will be coming through Charlottesville, Va. on Sunday, April 28 at the Paramount Theater and is sponsored by Natural Retreats.If you want free tickets, we are giving a couple away on our Facebook Page, so check it out. We will also have a booth set up at the showing so swing by to talk fishing, pick up a magazine and get a BRO sticker. See you there.REEL – A Day on the River follows two guides as they fish the Upper Delaware River in the Western Catskills and is one of only a couple of films on the tour to concentrate on the East (Coast, that is. Thai One On goes way farther east to Bankok. One other East focused film is Urban Lines, a film discussing fly fishing the tidal waters of the Potomac River in downtown Washington, D.C. from our March cover artists TwoFisted Heart Productions). The film is simple, elegant, and beautifully shot with gorgeous scenery and narration by guys who have lived and breathed the river for a lifetime. All about the connection between fly fishing, nature, and man, REEL explores the depths of what it means to be a fly fisherman, and what we have to do to preserve our most precious resources.last_img read more

The Forgotten River: Rescuing the Anacostia River in D.C.

first_imgJorge Bogantes Montero has just led us a short distance into Pope Branch Park, a tiny splotch of forest sheltering a tributary that feeds the Anacostia River, which slices through the nation’s capital and is arguably one of America’s 10 most polluted urban waterways. Although the forest looked and sounded healthy—crickets sang, the nearby creek burbled—mostly what we saw was ivy. It blanketed the vegetation, the ground, everything, weakening tree bark, out-competing native plants for sunlight, and ultimately degrading the ecosystem upon which the river depends. It had to go, and this group of hardy volunteers was teaming up to make a small dent. I admired their pluck but, gazing at the sea of green, did not envy their enormous task.Like many urban rivers, the vast, 176-square-mile Anacostia River Watershed has been hammered by human encroachment. But the so-called “forgotten river” is suffering more than most, and its prodigious filth has become something of a legend in the D.C. area. The man-made insults include wholesale colonization by numerous invasive species, rampant stormwater runoff funneled by thousands of acres of concrete and asphalt, toxic chemicals disgorged by farms and factories, trash carelessly tossed, trees shorn from now-eroding riverbanks, wetlands drained and shriveled, and raw human waste leaked from decrepit sewage systems.It didn’t have to be this way. The formerly untouched watershed, which feeds the iconic Potomac River and encompasses most of the eastern half of the District of Columbia and large parts of two adjacent Maryland counties, has a tragic history. The once-pristine, fish-filled Anacostia helped sustain the Nanchotank Indians until the early 17th century when Europeans arrived and began decimating the area’s dense forests to make way for tobacco and other cash crops. Since then, the river has slowly succumbed to creeping urbanization and everything that goes with it, resulting in a degraded watershed that reflects its former glory like a shattered mirror reflects a beauty contestant.Hamid Karimi, deputy director of the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), wants to change that. He spearheads the District’s part in the Anacostia Watershed Restoration Partnership (AWRP), an unprecedented, multi-jurisdictional, all-hands-on-deck effort to make the watershed fishable and swimmable again. The partnership has its roots in a 1987 agreement among various local, state, and federal agencies. The resulting Anacostia Watershed Restoration Committee set some pollution-reduction targets, but many of them were missed. By 2006, everyone knew that a more comprehensive approach was needed.Thus the AWRP was born. Its goals, which are nothing if not ambitious, include cutting pollutants of all sorts, revitalizing fish populations, restoring wetlands, increasing biodiversity, reforesting denuded slopes, and—perhaps most important—helping the locals understand their part in all of this.Karimi’s immediate objective is more modest: he just wants to take his children canoeing on the river without them contracting some exotic disease.“If my kids fall in, I don’t want to worry about their health,” he said. “What fun is that?”Such worries are understandable. One look at the trash-laden water, one whiff of the fetid stench emanating therefrom, and it’s easy to write off the entire area as a no-go zone. You might as well tell little Johnny to play on the train tracks.But this ugly facade disguises hidden potential. For all of its flaws, the river is home to a surprising variety of wildlife, including bald eagles, great blue herons, red foxes, and even a few hardy fish.“It’s still a major resource, but it could be used a lot more if it were protected and promoted,” Karimi said. “In the past, the river has been perceived as a liability. We are trying to develop it into an asset.” The issue is how to accomplish this when so many government entities have a vested interest in the outcome. After all, there’s no point in the District cleaning up its part of the river if the feds ignore theirs just upstream. It has to be a collective effort. But that’s easier said than done in an age of warring government fiefdoms.This explains Karimi’s excitement about the AWRP, which to his knowledge is the only watershed restoration plan in the country that encompasses so many local, state, and federal agencies. Progress since the group’s formation has been spotty but real.For example, stormwater runoff is the largest source of diffuse pollution fouling the river. To help curtail the flow, the District has installed more “green roofs” on its buildings in the past two years than any other North American city. Unlike regular roofs, the green variety features grasses and other plants that soak up rainwater, which otherwise would bounce off and wash all manner of street crud right into the Anacostia. Another prong of the District’s stormwater management plan is aimed at new developments and substantial redevelopments; these are now required to capture a large majority of the runoff from their properties before it can enter the watershed.Karimi cites other signs of improvement too, including the District’s five cent charge for plastic bags in retail stores (also implemented by the state of Maryland), which has been credited with eliminating about 50 percent of the bags that end up in the river; passive trash facilities that sweep detritus from flowing water; combined sewer tunnels that help contain overflow; reinforced riverbanks; and measurable progress in restoring many of the river’s 13 major tributaries, including Pope Branch.Perhaps as a sign of such progress, the river is now part of the Captain John Smith water trail system. Established in 2006 as the nation’s first all-water national historic trail, it covers some 3,000 miles throughout the greater Chesapeake Bay watershed and more or less traces routes the colonial-era icon took from 1607 to 1609.Given what has been accomplished so far, Karimi said he is cautiously optimistic about the future.“Although the Anacostia has a lot of issues and there is much more to be done, it’s still beautiful, even now,” he said.last_img read more

Get Out: The Southwest Virginia Outdoor Expo Sept 13

first_imgWith 19 counties, 54 towns, and 4 cities, there is an outdoor experience waiting for everyone in Southwest Virginia. The Southwest Virginia Outdoor Expo on Sept 13 &14 will be a weekend full of outdoor adventure with events for everyone from the novice nature-lover to the more advanced folks who are looking for that next adrenaline rush.sponsored-eventThis event, put on by Appalachian Spring, is the first of its kind in Southwest Virginia and will raise awareness of the diverse outdoor recreation opportunities that are abundant across the region. Spend the first day learning about new destinations to hike, bike, kayak, rock climb, or try something new with the many other activities the region provides. Local businesses, clubs, and outdoor organizations will be on hand to share information to help get you out on your next outdoor adventure. Book an off-site trip on Sept. 14, 2014, to explore somewhere new with your family or friends by joining a guided excursion.For more information and to learn how to participate in the expo, check out www.swvaoutdoorexpo.com. You can also connect with us on Twitter @AppSpringSWVA #SWVAOutdoorExpoAppalachian Spring is a new Southwest Virginia community development and outdoor recreation initiative. See this video to learn more.SWVAOutdoorExpoDATElocation.Spearhead Trailslast_img read more

Weekend Picks: Dig the Du “Dirty Duathalon” in Hendersonville

first_imgGet ready to get messy! The 4th annual Dig the Du “Dirty Duathalon” in Hendersonville, North Carolina winds through grassy fields and thick forests in this off-road race on Sunday, October 12.dig-the-du2The combination biking and running race begins at 10:30 a.m. on private land at the Sky Valley Farm. The day begins with a 2.5 mile run through the farm’s fields and service roads, continues as competitors hop on their wheels for a 12 mile mountain bike ride, and concludes in a final 2.5 trail run back to the farm. The Dig the Du race is the perfect opportunity for anyone interest in multi-sport and off-road courses, or more highly trained athletes looking to get off the streets.dig-the-du-mapOn the same afternoon, kids can have their own duathalon experience! After the main race, all youngins ages 6 to 13 are invited to participate in the Kids Du Too, a mini-version of the full Dig the Du. Kids will get their little hearts pumping in a 1 mile run followed by a 3 mile bike and a final 1 mile run. Watch your kids get outdoors and try something new.Racers will walk away with special race t-shirts and awards, as well as a belly full of food and Sierra Nevada beer.The Dig the Du and Kids Du Too Diathalons will benefit the OpenDoors’ Llewellyn Perry Scholarship Fund, named for the late grandmother of the Perry family who own Sky Valley Farm and generously open their land for the event. Funds will help raise tuition and tutoring money for underpriviledged children in the area.Hurry to join the Dig the Du Duathalon or the Kids Du Too! Registration closes on October 8th, and the race is capped at 350 participants. Competitors can register either individually or as part of a 2 to 3 person relay team. Run, bike, and run your way to plenty of outdoor fun.last_img read more