FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Public News Service:The West Virginia Legislature has passed a 40 percent cut in thermal coal severance taxes, despite Revenue Department predictions that it would do little to change steam coal’s steady decline.The long-term outlook is no better, said Carey King, a research scientist and assistant director of the University of Texas’ Energy Institute. King said thermal coal, used to generate electricity, has a lot stacked against it. Natural gas is likely to stay cheap and renewables will continue to drop in price, while demand for electricity is flat.King said most coal plants are old, and the cost of a new plant is too big to risk. “‘Big’ means over a few billion dollars,” he said, “and when you don’t have electricity demand increasing, it is hard to commit to large electricity-generation projects, but much easier to commit to smaller projects – like natural gas, wind and solar – and in addition, they’re cheaper, anyways.”The coal industry has argued that lower taxes and less environmental regulation would prompt a boom in mining jobs. According to the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, about 8 percent more coal miners are working now than two years ago, although many are producing metallurgical coal for making steel, not thermal coal.Critics have argued that even eliminating severance taxes would not make Appalachian steam coal competitive with coal from mines in the western United States. David Schlissel, director of resource planning analysis for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, said another trend is emerging that will help renewables at the expense of all fossil fuels – huge, grid scale batteries and pumped storage.“And it’s a real game-changer, will be storage,” he said. “There are plans for substantial amounts – California definitely, and New York, I think, is still talking about it. And storage will make it increasingly difficult for coal and natural gas to compete.” He said storage will make the electric grid more reliable, even as it shifts to intermittent sources such as sunshine and wind. As more storage comes online, its price will fall, he said, much like the price of renewables.More: Despite state tax cut, bleak long-term outlook for WV steam coal Experts say state tax cut plan won’t help West Virginia steam coal producers
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Indiana’s Lake County is exploring changes to its land-use rules that could pave the way for the first truly large-scale solar farms in the state and some of the largest in the Midwest.The Lake County Council on April 14 approved a resolution for the county’s Plan Commission to consider amendments to the local zoning code to allow for large-scale solar projects. The council must vote again to give final approval to the proposed changes, which mark an important step in a mounting initiative to unlock the potential of solar power in a state that has no renewable energy purchasing mandate.Historically reliant on coal, Indiana’s utilities plan to shutter more than two-thirds of the state’s coal-fired generating capacity in the next two decades, including more than 7,500 MW in the next 10 years, a recent S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis found.“We build projects where there is a strong solar resource, access to the transmission grid, supportive landowners who want to participate in a solar project, and customer demand,” Ben Lambrecht, a spokesman for Chicago-headquartered renewable energy developer Invenergy LLC, said in an email. “All of these exist in Indiana.”The Lake County resolution was sparked by Invenergy’s proposed 200-MW Foundry Works Solar Energy Center. More than 10 times the capacity of the state’s largest operating solar project, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, the $200 million project, located near Eagle Creek Township in northwestern Indiana, would create hundreds of construction jobs and funnel more than $100 million into the local economy in coming years through property taxes and payments to landowners. It is slated to begin construction in 2022.Invenergy and other solar developers have lined up roughly 100 proposals, some coupled with big batteries, grid operator data shows. Half of the solar projects, combining for around 7,300 MW, would interconnect to the Midcontinent ISO, the wholesale transmission operator that covers the largest swath of the state. The other half, offering nearly 8,800 MW, are in the PJM Interconnection, which covers parts of Indiana served by American Electric Power Co. Inc.[Garrett Hering]More ($): Developers pitch 16 GW of solar in coal-fueled Indiana Solar developers see profitable potential in coal-reliant Indiana
Alliant to close one coal-fired power plant in Iowa, convert a second to gas FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Des Moines Register:Alliant Energy will close its Lansing coal-fired power plant in northeast Iowa over the next two years as it shifts to more solar, wind and other renewable energy sources. Retiring the Lansing plant is part of a broader goal to eliminate all coal from Alliant’s power generation system by 2040, the company said Thursday.The Wisconsin-based investor-owned utility, which serves 490,000 customers in Iowa, including in Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Iowa City and Ames, announced broader sustainability goals in July. They include a plan to cut in half carbon dioxide emissions over the next decade and to reach “net-zero carbon dioxide emissions” from electric generation by 2050.“We have some really good options to continue back-filling the fossil fuel plants that we close with a combination of storage, solar and wind,” said Terry Kouba, president of Alliant’s Iowa energy company, Interstate Power & Light. Adding more renewable energy generation in Iowa “benefits customers, the communities we serve and the environment,” Kouba said.Alliant said it’s operated the 275-megawatt coal-fired generation plant in Lansing for 72 years and employs 26 people there. Retiring the plant “allows the company to avoid significant investments that would otherwise be required to comply with changing environmental regulations,” Alliant said. A utility spokesman said the company faced capital investments and other costs that total $150 million.Alliant also said Thursday it will transition its Burlington plant to cleaner-burning natural gas next year. “Once complete, the facility will use less water and have significantly reduced carbon emissions,” the company said.Alliant plans to add up to 400 megawatts of solar energy-generation in Iowa over the next three years. With the added solar investment, nearly half of Alliant’s Iowa energy generation will come from renewable energy, the company said. Alliant has solar farms in Dubuque, Marshalltown and Cedar Rapids, along with its wind farms.[Donnelle Eller]More: Alliant plans to close coal-fired power plant in Lansing as it shifts to renewable generation
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ReNews.biz:ScottishPower Renewables has achieved what is believed to be a global first by using energy from an onshore wind farm to re-energise part of the power grid, known as “black start”.The successful project, at the 69MW Dersalloch windfarm in South Ayrshire, proves wind power can restore a blacked out section of the transmission network.The project brought together SPR and Siemens Gamesa to deploy the latest technology at the wind farm. SPR and SGRE worked in collaboration with SP Energy Networks on grid interactions and the project also received part-funding from the Scottish Government.“Black start” restoration is often reliant on traditional fossil fuels like coal and gas. It describes the procedure used to restore power in the event of a total or partial shutdown of the electricity transmission system.SPR said using renewables to do this was not just an “extraordinary achievement, but a pioneering world first that has the potential to transform how power could be restored to the network”.The company used “grid-forming” technology called virtual synchronous machines (VSM) to regulate the frequency and voltage of the power from the turbines – essentially forming a stable network island – to keep the electricity system stable and balanced. The technology was then used to integrate that supply with the grid and restore the part of the system that had been blacked out.More: SPR delivers ‘black start’ from onshore wind Scottish Power shows black start capability of wind power in world-first demonstration
Columbus Whitewater Park, Chattahoochee River, Columbus, Ga.The About section on this video’s YouTube page says it was posted on May 26, but I’d be willing to bet this is footage from May 25, the first day the new, man-made whitewater rafting course running through uptown Columbus, Ga. on the Chattahoochee River. Also evident by the amount of spectators that can be seen on the far bank and heard in the background – mainly going “oh, no.” This is river carnage of the first degree with novices in the fore of the boats, and guides in the back who I doubt have had much time to prep for the first day on the water – which appears to be raging. The 2.5 mile project took 13 years and $24.4 million to make and just look how these people abuse it.It’s only funny because no one was hurt, so don’t feel bad about LOL-ing.
Trail Days 2013 in Damascus, Va., was an awesome time, despite the rainy weather and hiker parade accident. Best of luck to all the current thru-hikers: keep on keepin’ on baby.
Dear Mountain Mama,During this season where the buzz is all about the attitude of gratitude, I am struggling. My kids have been cooped up in the house by the early arrival of darkness and the frigid temperatures. I am surrounded by whining voices demanding new toys, computer games, and ski trips.Any tips for an appreciation make-over for my kids? Yours,Can’t Handle the Whining————————————————————-Dear Can’t Handle the Whining,Gratitude can be difficult to come by in the never-enough culture in which we reside. This time of year we’re bombarded with gift-lists and new products, cleverly advertised to make us think we “need” them.As a parent, I can relate to feeling overwhelmed. But that doesn’t mean I let myself off the hook for cultivating an example of gratitude for my son.Most mornings I woke to his cries way before the sun has graced the day. As I rubbed my eyes, I’d think, “I didn’t get enough sleep.” All morning long I glanced at the clock and thought, “We don’t have enough time.” As I packed our lunches, there was always something I forgot to pick up at the store and I thought, “We don’t have enough food.” A never-ending to-do list would loop through my head as I thought, “I didn’t get enough accomplished.”My two-year old son started constantly asking for more of everything. He said, “Mama, more, more, please” (which actually sounds like, “mama, moo, moo peas”). His constantly asking for more almost sent me over the edge, until I realized he was only reflecting my own attitudes about deprivation and never having enough.The realty is even as a single working mama, we have enough of all the important stuff – we have enough love, enough wonderful people, enough time outdoors, and enough food. We are blessed with a warm house with enough toys and art supplies and instruments to keep ourselves amused all winter long. We are fortunate to live in a wonderful, supportive community.I made a commitment to change my viewpoint from scarcity to abundance, a promise I have to renew several times a day. Now when I wake up, I hold my son in my arms and we look out the window. We look for the sunrise and talk about the clouds. He claps his hands as he shouts, “Sun!” as it appears over the horizon.Starting the day like that sets the tone for appreciation. When we are stuck in traffic, we talk about the golden leaves swirling in the breeze. When we walk at night, we look for the moon and when we find her, we greet her as if she was a long lost friend.I still get stressed out and thoughts of not having or being enough return. The other day the car wouldn’t start. A bag of groceries fell, and I watched as my big splurge, a pint of blueberries, rolled across the parking lot. I cursed as I thought about not being able to run the other errands on my to-do list. My son tugged at my leg and pointed up toward the sky, “Mama, cloud.”I looked up at the Carolina blue sky at white, fluffy clouds. Simply taking a couple minutes to marvel at the world with my son transformed the moment and averted a mama meltdown.Instead of stressed to the max, I felt lucky to have a son who connects with the natural world. We set about the task of gathering the groceries. A nice guy jump started my car. It’s amazing how exuding an attitude of gratitude sends out a message to the universe that we are willing to receive her gifts.Can’t Handle the Whining, next time your kids are driving you crazy, distract them with nature. Show them the sky. Give them a rock. Dance in the rain. Over time, your kids will return the favor and remind you to appreciate just how luck we are to live in this amazing world.This November, remember to marvel!Mountain MamaGOT A QUESTION FOR MOUNTAIN MAMA? SEND IT HERE
I do most of my drinking in my house. Or out in the middle of the woods. Or on the beach. Or at the playground while I’m watching my kids. Or sitting on the back of a pickup truck in a field somewhere. Or on a ski lift. Point is, I don’t go to bars that often. I have nothing against bars—I met some of my best friends in bars. But who has the time to visit the local watering hole, what with all the playground watching/skiing/sitting on back of pickup trucks that I do.The only thing I really miss by not frequenting bars is the chance to drink super local beers that aren’t distributed much further than my hometown. Beers like Pisgah Pale Ale. Pisgah Pale (or P-Squared, if you like) is one of the beers that has helped propel Asheville to Beer City fame over the last several years, but it’s typically only found on draft. Occasionally, you can find a big bomber of Pisgah Pale, but most of the time, you have to belly up to the bar to drink it.Until now.Pisgah Brewing is set to release their flagship Pisgah Pale in cans. Can you hear the angels singing? I can. Distribution will still be centered around Asheville and the surrounding towns, but if you’re willing to make the trip, you can take sixers of Pisgah Pale home with you (hint: it’s totally worth the gas money) starting January 10th.Wait, that’s today! Happy Pisgah In the Can Day!
If you’re looking to buy local and keep your dollars in Southern Appalachia, dozens of outdoor gear manufacturers are now based in the Blue Ridge region. Here are 14 of our favorites…1. Eagles Nest Outfitters Jungle Nest HammockAssembled and distributed from home base in Asheville, NC, the JungleNest Hammock NoSeeUm mesh netting is an insect defense so fine (pun) that you can enjoy a worry-free hammock experience, nestled down in sturdy 210D Nylon Taffeta Ripstop material capable of holding up to 400 pounds.One of the most convenient features is the organizer pocket/tote that hangs outside the hammock for storage purposes and then swallows the hammock when you’re ready to pack up—a built-in dual function that keeps you clutter free and close to your essentials while removing the chance that you’ll ever lose your hammock tote. Its full-length smooth-gliding zipper entry and glow in the dark zipper pull make access easy and convenient. $100; eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com2. Misty Mountain Cadillac Quick Adjust Women’s HarnessWeighing in at only 19 ounces, the Cadillac Quick Adjust harness has six 7” gear loops and four easy-to-reach 1” quick-adjust buckles on the waistband and leg loops, conveniently adjustable with one firm pull—easy to put on and remove. The heavy-duty waist band with its reinforced, abrasion-resistant nylon exterior and 3/16”polyethylene foam-laden interior feels durable and secure – not to mention comfortable – with the rear Hypalon patch for added back support while resting in the harness, although the waistband may ride up onto the ribs of shorter torsos.The sculpted leg loops are wide in the back and narrow in the front and insides, fitting to the contour of the legs and maximizing mobility without pinching or bulkiness. $125; mistymountain.com3. Fits Socks Medium Hiker CrewThis sock retains its tightness and shape, with the cross-stitch on the deep heel pocket keeping the sock “locked” in place. With 70% Merino wool for cool season warmth and dryness and a medium weight design that puts the cushioning where it counts (foot, ankle, and lower calf), the Medium Hiker Crew provides maximum foot support on the trail with minimal bulk. $21; fitssock.com4. Farm to Feet Mahtomedi Nordic Knee HighHere is a 58% Merino wool compression knit sock with hidden nylon plaiting for better durability as well as smoothness. Coupled with complex Nordic patterns and great arch support, these socks are both fashionable as well as comfortable. $24; farmtofeet.com5. Watershed Drybags Ocoee Duffel BagWatertight below 300 feet, this submersible bag’s ZipDry® seal is 100% guaranteed to keep water out. Strong and durable, it also conforms to the shape of your contents, making it easy to stash in less than spacious conditions. The Ocoee is durable and flexible even in freezing temperatures, although the seal does require lubrication from time to time to keep it in top condition. $93; drybags.com6. Recover Brands HoodieThis cozily warm yet lightweight hoodie comes in both zip-up and pullover styles and is made from 100% post-consumer plastic and post-industrial cotton. The non-pilling exterior and super soft fleece-like interior are made from a 50/50 cotton-polyester blend and the front sports an eco-trendy Recover Brands logo, making this hoodie at once a comfortable and attractive fit.$35; recoverbrands.com7. Dirtball The 50 JacketNot only is The 50 Jacket a product of fifty recycled water bottles and recycled polyester, but it is also itself fully recyclable, with customers able to turn in their worn out jackets in exchange for a discount on their next Dirtball purchase – a closed-loop manufacturing process that saves three gallons of crude oil per jacket. Designed and produced within a 250-mile radius of headquarters, this eco-friendly black jacket is the first of its kind on the market. $175, dirtballfashion.com8. Astral BrewessFashionably as well as practicably contoured with a rockered toe and step-down heel, this comfortable minimalist shoe comes in blue-black and maroon-gray and includes alternate shoelaces. The highly durable, water-resistant mesh-top Cordura™ fabric has two drain ports on each side to release water diagonally and two flushports in the heel to dispel water and silt, preventing sloshing noises or waterlogged toes. The G-14™ rubber compound on the outsole is completely slip-resistant, reinventing the concept of balance and traction on slippery surfaces. $100; astraldesigns.com9. Bedrock Sandals Syncline 2.0This minimalist sandal gives you all the good feelings of going barefoot without the pain: the textured ballistic footbed keeps your foot from slipping around in the sandal, while the dense weave of the 8mm Syncline Sole by Vibram (a 2 mm upgrade from the Earthquake 2.0) takes care of traction and sharp rocks.The sandal almost feels like it’s not there it’s so lightweight (4.2 oz. each), but at the same time it looks and feels durable with the corded toe straps, military-grade webbing, and innovative strapping system. The sole is lock stitched to the footbed and comes with a lifetime guarantee. $74; bedrocksandals.com10. Liquid Logic Remix XP 10This well-received crossover kayak is rated for Class III – IV boating due to its speed and maneuverability. Its deployable skeg feature and special design contouring makes it great for tracking in flat water as well. It is a stable kayak, with 105 gallons of volume, a 10 foot span, and up to a 300 pound weight limit, yet it remains remarkably easy to roll.$1,000; liquidlogickayaks.com11. Yama Mountain Gear SwiftlineThe best feature of this two-person, two-pound hybrid tent with two side entries and a two-trekking pole setup is the facility with which the outer walls can be tucked up during good weather and quickly released in the event of a downpour. The Swiftline will be available late this fall or early next year. $430; yamamountaingear.com12. Tsuga OasisThe Oasis gravity-fed filtration system works with a Sawyer hollow fiber membrane with .1 micron-sized pores to ensure that no bacteria, protozoa, or cysts are able to pass through into the three-gallon capacity chamber. It’s compatible with nearly all other water filters, too. Simple to use and store, this half-pound Tek Air 200 TPU Nylon water filter bag produces 10-12 gallons of purified water in an hour and folds up neatly into a 2”x10” tube when you’re finished with it. $100; www.tsuga.us13. Sylvan Sport GO-EasyThis multi-purpose utility/camping trailer is lightweight and fully customizable with add-ons such as a cargo deck, a front storage pod, and the handy-dandy Roost Explorer – a two-person camping pod. The GO-Easy can hold up to five bikes and four kayaks or a combination of both, and is capable of hauling outdoor gear and equipment (4-wheeler, mower, etc.) up to 325 pounds on its powder-coated steel frame. $1,995; sylvansport.com14. Lightheart Gear SoLong 6 TentThis roomy tent still keeps the weight minimal (1 lb. 14.6 oz.). The double stitched Sil-Nylon tent comes with a ridge pole which fastens to the top of the tent, creating—in conjunction with the six stakes and two adjustable tent/trekking poles (stakes and poles not included)—45” of head room over the 100”x55” of floor space. While not a freestanding tent, setup only takes about three minutes and the tent material gives zero hassle, making it easy to fold and stuff back into the tote. $298; lightheartgear.com
Overall, people are excited for the new outdoor opportunities while others voiced their concerns about its effects on the area. Eastern Carolina is expanding space for outdoor adventure! In a press release, Greenville City Council announced that they recently bought land that they say will give people more access to outdoor recreational activities. The city was able to buy the property for $89,000 less than what it was appraised at. Mayor P.J. Connelly posted to Facebook over the weekend to break down the city’s recent purchase of more than 160 acres of land near the Tar River. Over the past few years, more and more iconic outdoor heros have been highlighted for their “dirtbag” living, making the idea of “van life” and staple in outdoor culture. With word spreading, #vanlife has blown up in the past few years, causing certain states to feel overwhelmed and dirtbagging to become threatened. Not all dirtbags are the same though. Some do it for fun and adventure while others do it to save money while working jobs in pricey locations. Considering there are many different reasons for people to practice the van lifestyle, bigger cities are experimenting with creating safe lots and selling overnight parking passes to businesses. Marc Peruzzi said for Outside, “Those kinds of initiatives will help, but a lot more needs to be done because the interest in car camping is surging. “ Greenville Purchases Land to Bring More Access to Outdoor Recreational Activities Cities and towns across North America are responding to the rapidly increasing numbers of people sleeping in their vehicles in restricted areas without having to pay for the privilege. Now, enforcement on historically ignored restrictions of where you and your vehicle can sleep is in play. Many places have made laws that decrease the amount of land available for parking and sleeping while others are starting to charge people. According to Connelly’s post, the general location is on the north side of the river if you’re heading north on Greenville Boulevard toward the Pitt County Fairgrounds. Connelly said the first phase of the development is for outdoor activities, such as running, hiking, biking, or even camping. He said there are also plans for a canoe or kayak launch in the lake for direct access to the Tar River. Many of us want to do the environment good but are unsure how to do so properly. For example, when you recycle plastic water bottles, you need to remove the cap and the plastic ring thats left behind. You’re also not supposed to recycle disposable coffee cups at all. There is a thing plastic coating that prevents leaks making it that the cups can’t be recycled as paper or plastic. People also tend to ignore the importance of washing things before you recycle them. Anything left in the containers can contaminate other recyclables and cause a pest outbreak in recycling facilities. One of the best things you can do is avoid purchasing plastic and disposable products. The National Waste and Recycling Association advises people to throw waste in the trash if they have any doubts about its recyclability. New Laws Targeting Vehicle Camping Could End Dirtbagging You’re Probably Recycling Wrong .