On the Blogs: D.C. Pension Fund Is Latest to Divest From Fossil Fuels

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Zahra Hirji for InsideClimate News:The District of Columbia Retirement Board (DCRB) spent the last few years quietly selling off $6.5 million in oil, natural gas and coal investments, amounting to a mere one-tenth of 1 percent of the organization’s total holdings, but made the public announcement at a press conference on Monday.While other American cities including San Francisco have pledged to clear their pension funds of fossil fuels, Washington D.C. may be the largest fund in the nation to complete this step, though the amount divested was small. The DCRB joins more than 500 cities, philanthropies, universities and other organizations worldwide with assets totaling more than $3.4 trillion that have divested from at least some fossil fuels or pledged to do so.“This is a decision that is morally and ethically the right thing” from a climate perspective, said D.C. council member Charles Allen at a recent press conference. “It is also financially the right thing,” he added.Some of the companies culled from the D.C. pension fund include Peabody Energy and Arch Coal, which both filed for bankruptcy this year, as well as ExxonMobil Inc., an oil giant being investigated by several attorneys general for possibly misleading the public and shareholders on the business risks associated with climate change.Washington D.C. Pension Fund Announces Full Fossil Fuel Divestment On the Blogs: D.C. Pension Fund Is Latest to Divest From Fossil Fuelslast_img read more

Colorado City Contemplates Closing Coal-Fired Plant a Decade Ahead of Schedule

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Denver Post:One of the nation’s last coal-fired power plants in the middle of a city may shut down a decade sooner than planned as Colorado Springs leaders contemplate climate action and urban revitalization along a creek.This is happening as residents of Colorado Springs (pop. 465,000) increasingly raise concerns about sulfur dioxide (SO2) and other pollution. On Thursday, residents pressed state health officials to reject a proposal to declare the 80-year-old Martin Drake Power Plant “in attainment” of federal air quality standards for SO2, a toxic gas that mixes with other pollutants and hangs over the city against mountains, with the potential to cause asthma, heart disease and other lung problems after even brief exposure. Colorado Springs Utilities plant operators this year deployed “scrubbers” to clean emissions, and federal Environmental Protection Agency overseers this week said average monthly SO2 emissions decreased to 31 tons a month, down from 330 tons a month in 2015.But Colorado air quality control commissioners voted 8-1 against re-designating the 80-year-old Martin Drake Plant as a facility in compliance with federal air quality requirements, acknowledging public health concerns and calls for cleaner air.The air concerns coincide with brainstorming by the Colorado Springs council members and developers about using the site of the Drake plant, downtown along Fountain Creek, for green space and a museum celebrating the Olympics. For years, Colorado Springs has served as the home of the U.S. Olympic Committee and a training center for athletes.City council members have directed the municipal utility to analyze possibilities for ramping up the 2035 date for closing the plant to 2025, council president Richard Skorman told The Denver Post. And council members are mulling possibilities for shutting one of the two remaining generators in the plant sooner, by 2023, Skorman said.“Some of us would like to move it just because it is a huge blight on the downtown environment,” he said. “We have the ability to create a great green-way connection down there. … If we could move it out of downtown, we could use that site for urban redevelopment.”More: Colorado Springs still rolls coal in heart of city, but may shut Drake plant by 2025 as residents fume Colorado City Contemplates Closing Coal-Fired Plant a Decade Ahead of Schedulelast_img read more

More renewable energy records set in Europe

first_imgMore renewable energy records set in Europe FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Quartz:This week, two of the biggest economies in Europe set new records for clean energy.The U.K.’s electrical grid has not burned any coal for about 1,000 hours so far this year. Though it’s just a symbolic achievement, the pace at which the UK is reaching such figures shows the pace of the energy transition. In 2016 and 2017, the comparable figures for the full year stood at 210 hours and 624 hours, respectively.There are two reasons for the shift: a carbon tax on coal has made cleaner natural gas more attractive, and subsidies for solar and wind power have ensured wider deployment of new clean-energy technologies.Germany’s case has been slightly different. Though it began pushing for renewable energy much earlier than the U.K., its gains have been slower. The coal lobby in Germany is a lot stronger than in the U.K.But as the costs of renewable energy have come down, change is finally showing. In 2018 so far, coal generated about 35.1% of the country’s electricity. In comparison, renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and biomass, generated about 36.5%. At the half-year mark, it’s the first time in Germany’s history that renewables sources have generated more electricity than coal.The pace of change is expected to accelerate. The European Union is tightening its emissions-trading scheme, which is raising the price of carbon. Large producers of carbon dioxide are being incentivized to move away from fossil fuels. As well, the cost of energy storage is coming down, allowing countries to add more intermittent solar and wind power.More: Europe keeps setting clean-energy recordslast_img read more

Utility executives push transition from coal to cleaner energy sources

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享E&E News:Patti Poppe used to drive around with an “I ‘heart’ COAL” bumper sticker, but now the CEO of Michigan-based CMS Energy Corp. is eager to talk about phasing out the fossil fuel. “There’s no room, in my opinion, for coal-fueled generation in a clean and lean future,” Poppe said.CEO Curt Morgan of Texas-based Vistra Energy Corp. loves coal-fired generation but sees economic and climate headwinds. He expects a rash of U.S. coal plant closures over the next two decades. “I think gas will be the companion technology along with renewables,” Morgan said.And CEO Mauricio Gutierrez of NRG Energy Inc., whose fossil fuel portfolio includes a stake in a carbon capture project, emphasizes a belief that the U.S. power industry is “going to be low carbon” even if some coal may remain on the grid as technology evolves.The three chief executives — as well as CEO Pedro Pizarro of California’s Edison International — recently spoke with E&E News while in Houston, where they attended CERAWeek by IHS Markit. In separate discussions, the executives described the economics, technology and trends driving the electricity sector in a greener direction.They illustrate how power companies aren’t waiting for Congress or the White House to deliver a new energy policy initiative or a federal Green New Deal. They’re preparing for a cleaner energy mix.“While they’re discussing it, thinking about it, arguing about it in Washington, D.C., I can speak for our team,” Poppe said. “In Michigan, we’re going to be doing what it takes.”More: As D.C. dawdles, CEOs shift power companies to green Utility executives push transition from coal to cleaner energy sourceslast_img read more

Australian batteries pushing coal out of frequency control market, saving customers money

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:The growth in number of big batteries in Australia’s main grid is displacing coal generation as a provider of frequency control and ancillary services (FCAS) markets, and helping reduce overall costs, according to the Australian Energy Market Operator.In its latest Quarterly Energy Dynamics report, AEMO says batteries have increased their share of key FCAS markets from 10 per cent in the last quarter of 2018 to 17 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, thanks to the recent addition of the Dalrymple battery storage plant in South Australia and the Ballarat battery storage facility in Victoria. Another interesting development is the increased share in the FCAS market for demand response services, which has upped its share from just under 10 per cent a year ago to 15 per cent now.That gives a 35 per cent share to “new technologies” and has in turn eaten into the share of the traditional coal generators, which have fallen from near 45 per cent to around 28 per cent.This – along with increased supply from hydro generators, including the Wivenhoe pumped storage supply in Queensland – helped overall costs fall by around 33 per cent from the last quarter to $36.4 million. Most of the cost reductions occurred in the contingency raise section of the FCAS market.AEMO notes that both pumped hydro and batteries have increased the amount of charging and pumping during the middle of the day, especially during the solar noon, soaking up the sponge of high solar output.Interestingly, batteries have also found a profitable new market during the morning (meeting early morning demand around 06:00-07:00), with both pumped hydro and batteries increasing generation during the evening peak.More: Big batteries displace coal, and lower costs in frequency markets Australian batteries pushing coal out of frequency control market, saving customers moneylast_img read more

Temporary closing of Wisconsin coal plant likely saving money for Dairyland Power’s customers

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享La Crosse Tribune:Dairyland Power Cooperative took its coal-fired power plant in Genoa offline at the beginning of June to avoid fuel shortages caused by the lack of barges carrying coal up a flooded Mississippi River. Instead, the La Crosse-headquartered cooperative is purchasing electricity from the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc. market to make up for the power normally produced by the plant in Genoa, said Phil Moilien, Dairyland’s vice president.At face value, buying power from the grid could be cheaper for Dairyland than running its coal plant.Dairyland’s 345-megawatt coal-fired power plant is one of 17 coal plants in Wisconsin. At 50 years old, it’s the eighth oldest coal-burning power plant in the state.Since the Genoa plant, situated along the Mississippi River, gets its coal solely by barge, Moilien said, Dairyland made the decision to temporarily halt operations “not because we are out of coal, but to ensure we have enough coal for the summer months.”However, Dairyland reported to the U.S. Energy Information Administration that its fuel cost $27.28 per megawatt-hour in 2017. And it costs about $17 per megawatt-hour to run the power plant, based on EIA modeling. Altogether, that’s a combined cost of about $44 per megawatt-hour to produce electricity at a coal-fired power plant such as Dairyland’s.By comparison, it costs about $32 per megawatt-hour to buy power from the grid, according to MISO market figures from June 2018.More: Dairyland Power took its coal plant offline because of flooding, but it could be saving money buying power from the grid Temporary closing of Wisconsin coal plant likely saving money for Dairyland Power’s customerslast_img read more

Moody’s: Climate change poses rising risk to significant portion of U.S. nuclear fleet

first_imgMoody’s: Climate change poses rising risk to significant portion of U.S. nuclear fleet FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Nuclear operators should expect to face growing credit risk associated with climate change over the next 10 to 20 years, Moody’s said in an Aug. 18 report, suggesting operators should install upgrades to protect their facilities from looming threats.Reactors that are exposed to increased flood risk can make incremental investments to “bolster their flood barrier or redirect runoff to protect critical structures,” Moody’s analysts wrote, noting that the rating agency incorporates such actions into its credit analysis as a form of risk mitigation.Flooding represents a primary concern for nuclear projects, as plants located near large bodies of water are vulnerable to flooding and storm surges, increasing the risk that equipment could be damaged. Approximately 37,000 MW of nuclear capacity in the U.S. has elevated exposure to flood risk, according to the report.“Nuclear power reactors are some of the most hardened industrial assets in the [U.S.], but they still face rising climate risks, especially if they look to extend their operating licenses for another 20 years,” Moody’s analyst David Kamran, an author of the report, said in an email.Increased heat and a depleted water supply are also expected to be factors, with parts of the Midwest and southern Florida facing the highest levels of heat stress and Western states, primarily California and those in the Rocky Mountain region, likely to face the greatest reduction in water availability. Some 48,000 MW of nuclear capacity will be impacted by the increased exposure to combined rising heat and water stress, according to the report.“Growing heat stress across parts of the Midwest and southern Florida can have an adverse impact on nuclear plant operations by reducing a plant’s cooling capacity,” Moody’s said in the report. “The power generation process creates steam, which is cooled, condensed into liquid water and reused.” Should the temperature of the water that will be cooled or the discharge water be too high, a nuclear plant can be “forced to curtail production or shut down temporarily,” Moody’s added.[Fotios Tsarouhis]More ($): Moody’s warns nuclear plants face growing climate risklast_img read more

Road Warriors

first_imgPlan your next big adventure and travel in style with these road trip essentials.1. Carhartt Acadia JacketFor every road trip adventure, one thing is certain: you’re gonna get rained on. When the skies open up in the middle of your hike, make sure you’re wearing the waterproof Acadia. The ripstop nylon is durable but lightweight; it can compress into a fist-sized ball that’s barely noticeable in your pack. Though it’s waterproof, it still breathes, keeping water out while allowing body heat to escape. $84. carhartt.com2. Revo WindspeedThe lightweight, scratch- and impact-resistant polarized lenses on these titanium-framed shades, make them not only the most stylish glasses for travel but also up to the rugged task of hitting the road. $209; revo.com3. PrincetonTec ByteThe best travel headlamp is one you pack down at the bottom of your bag until you need it. Meet the Byte. It’s just 5 ouncesand rings in cheap. $16; princetontec.com4. Tern Eclipse S11itIt’s a bike in a box. But not some chintzy little toy bike. This aluminum framed cycle moves into James Bond (or at least Portland hipster) territory with 24-inch wheels, disc brakes, and an internal 11-speed Shimano Alfine hub. All that weighs in at 32 pounds and packs down small enough to cart around the world. $2,300; ternbicycles.com 5. Gregory Savant 58The ultimate travel backpack needs to serve double duty as both pack and suitcase. The Savant does just that thanks to easy-to-access compartments for travel, and an advanced suspension system ideal for true backpacking when you reach your destination. $199; gregorypacks.com 6. Goal Zero Guide 10 Adventure KitElectronic devices die at the worst possible time. But simply stuff this palm-sized pack in your pocket and you can either use the four AA batteries directly or charge up through a USB plug on the pack. Then charge the batteries back up with the solar panel. $160; goalzero.com 7. Redington Crystal Waters SkirtThe skort is the apparel of choice for active women these days, and this one gives all the benefits of both skirts and shorts underneath without looking like it belongs on a road bike racer. $70; redington.com 8. Boardworks Badfish Stand-Up Paddleboard The good news when it comes to inflatable SUPs is that it’s easy to take them anywhere. The bad is they usually lack guts. Not so in the latest from Boardworks. This inflatable uses a new multi-chamber inflatable technology (MCIT) to create a board that’s more rigid and features tapered rails for better handling. That’s something you won’t find in those other blow-up dolls. $1,500; boardworkssurf.comlast_img read more

Hot Gear for Cold Weather: Mizuno Breatho Therm

first_imgMizuno Breatho Therm pants and crewWhether you’re a runner, biker, climber, paddler or snowsports enthusiast, you need a breathable layer that’s lightweight and moisture-wicking. Mizuno’s Breatho Therm running crew and pants wicked away body moisture on long trail runs in sub-freezing temperatures. Even after several hours of sweat, the crew and pants were dry and featherlight. Mizuno built these threads specifically for runners, but the crew and pants worked equally well on the slopes and on the rock. We even wore them underneath a waterproof shell while paddling downriver. The material is tough and durable; even after months of heavy use, there’s not a loose seam or any sign of wear.$60 crew; $60 pants. mizunousa.comlast_img read more

Josh Ritter: Win Tickets to Asheville Show

first_imgIn January of 2002, I was 29 years old, the father of a wonderful two year old son, and – suddenly – facing a divorce.I didn’t set sail on the S.S. Matrimony just six years before looking to sink it, but I found my ship floundering on the rocks and myself a crew of one. I found that I could handle being single, but I loathed time without my son. The transition from full time to part time dad was not an easy one, and those hours that used to be filled with playtime with my son were, early on, long and empty.I sought solace in a number of places; I rediscovered my love of the outdoors, I grew a wildly unkempt beard – by God, I didn’t have anyone around to tell me to shave!! – and I bought a mandolin.My history with musical instruments was spotty at best. I was a fairly good drummer, but those fourth grade sax lessons turned out poorly, and my one attempt at a stringed instrument – the guitar in eighth grade – didn’t stick. But I had purpose and I had time. Soon after receiving my Breedlove Quartz OF mandolin, I found that the occasional good notes, typically lost amidst a myriad of bad ones, allowed me to wile away hours when my son wasn’t around.Never before had music been so important in my life.Recently, I heard a fantastic interview with singer/songwriter Josh Ritter on a local NPR radio station.  Ritter was chatting about his recently released record,The Beast In Its Tracks, a collection of tunes he wrote during the time his own marriage to fellow musician Dawn Landes was falling apart. As I listened to Ritter discuss his emotions during his own divorce and the inspiration for these songs, I felt a kindred spirit with him.Sure, I was a fledgling mandolin picker and no critically acclaimed songwriter. I plunked through “Old Joe Clark” and “Turkey In The Straw” and jammed with my good buddy Jason Collier near the A.T. south of Waynesboro instead of writing brilliant songs and performing them in front of adoring crowds. But the spirit in our two endeavors was the same. We both found peace and catharsis in music.Josh Ritter will be passing through Asheville next week, where he will be sure to play some tunes off of The Beast In Its Tracks. I’d like give you a chance to be at The Orange Peel on Monday, May 13th, to take in the show. Take a shot at the trivia question down below and email your answer to [email protected] I will pick a winner from all of the correct answers received by 5 P.M. tomorrow – Thursday, May 9th.As you are working up your answer, make sure to take a listen to “Joy To You Baby” on this month’s edition of Trail Mix.Question – What spectacularly famous, rabid St. Bernard chasing, haunted car driving, fire-starting, Maine residing horror writer called Josh Ritter a “gifted novelist” following the release of Ritter’s first novel, Bright’s Passage?last_img read more