Push to Make Georgia Power More Solar-Conscious FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Russell Grantham for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:Georgia Power drew fire this week from critics who want the utility to retire its old coal-fired plants and ramp up efforts to add more solar power and other renewable energy.Every three years, the Atlanta-based electric utility sends updated plans to the Georgia Public Service Commission on how it expects to meet future power demands in the state for the next two decades, and what types of power plants it expects to build or retire.Over the next few months, the PSC is expected to hold more hearings and decide whether Georgia Power, a regulated monopoly, needs to revise the 1,500-page plan to win approval.Such decisions will eventually affect customers’ power bills for years to come.Georgia Power has asked to shut down a total of four coal- and oil-fired units at two plants near Albany and Savannah while at the same time adding 525 megawatts of renewable power by 2019.Those moves would shift Georgia Power’s fuel mix from solar, wind and other renewables to 10 percent by 2020, from 7 percent currently. Hydropower accounts for the bulk of its renewable power.Advocates said Georgia Power is moving too slow to retire five coal-fired power plants, which produce more carbon dioxide and other pollutants than other types of power plants.The move to keep the plants going will likely saddle ratepayers with hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs to comply with tighter pollution rules, one critic said.Other critics told regulators that they want Georgia Power to invest more in solar power generation capacity and other renewable energy, such as biomass power plants and wind energy.Emory University student Zola Berger-Schmitz asked why Georgia Power can’t aim to generate 3,000 megawatts of electricity from solar and wind power, about triple what’s in operation or on the drawing boards.Such decisions “will affect our generation more than any other,” she said.Hearing: Critics want less coal, more solar in Georgia Power’s future
Tennessee-based Mission Coal files for bankruptcy protection FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Mission Coal filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday with the US Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Alabama, according to court filings.The Kingsport, Tennessee-based company, which produces and markets mostly metallurgical coal, was formed in January through a reorganization that combined and consolidated the operations of Seneca Coal Resources and Seminole Coal Resources.Mission Coal has two deep mines and one surface mine in West Virginia and one deep mine in Alabama with coal qualities varying between low-volatility, mid-volatility and high-volatility coal. Through Sunday, the company had spent roughly $28 million upgrading the mining complexes, according to the filing, but “despite favorable market forces and commodity pricing,” Mission was unable to maximize the value of their operations.Mission has roughly $175 million in debt, including $104 million outstanding under a first lien secured term loan and $71 million outstanding under a second lien secured term loan. As of Sunday, the company’s total cash balance is about $55,000, and does “not have readily available sources of additional financing,” according to the filing.The company said an asset sale through the Chapter 11 process will maximize the ultimate realized value for its stakeholders and its aim is to “conclude negotiations with all key stakeholders, propose a Chapter 11 plan with the support of as many of [the] other stakeholders and creditors as possible, and comply with milestones provided in … debtor-in-possession financing to expeditiously and efficiently execute a sale of Mission Coal’s assets.”More ($): U.S. coal miner Mission Coal files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
Endesa to shutter two of its Spanish coal-fired power stations FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Spanish utility Endesa plans to close two of its coal plants in Spain, representing around two-fifths of its coal-fired generating capacity in the country, the company said on Friday.As companies globally move towards a lower carbon economy, Endesa’s Italian parent company Enel, is phasing out coal-fired power plants and focusing on electricity grids, renewable energy and its retail business.“We will present the application shortly because we do not plan to carry out the necessary investments to comply with European regulations,” an Endesa spokesman said. The European Union set new standards on resources and emissions for combustion plants last year, requiring expensive technological upgrades.Spain’s Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez signaled his intention to go green when he took power in June, bringing together energy and environment into one ministry, which is now working on a new law on climate change. A working draft for the new law includes plans to raise the share of renewable sources in the energy mix to 35 percent by 2030.The plants in Teruel in the country’s north-east, which has a capacity of 1,101 megawatts (MW), and Compostilla in the north-west, with a 1,051 MW capacity, are due to close in 2020.More: Endesa to close two Spanish coal plants in 2020
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Engineering & Technology:A report published by Global Energy Monitor cautions that upbeat building spree of US oil and gas pipeline systems may stand on a frail financial fundament, which could see previous turmoil return while bearing considerable risk for investors’ rate-of-return as climate-change consciousness and regulation is expected to increase pressure on fossil fuels.North American overexpansion of oil and gas systems would bear “high leverage and unrealistic expectations,” the authors of the report say, warning that signs of increased risk are looming on the horizon of the present building boom systems.The pace of the global pipeline building is stated to have tripled since 1996. The US is one of the most aggressive builders of oil and gas pipelines systems and its pace appears unprecedented: worldwide it owns 51.5 per cent of all projects in pre-construction or construction stages. The report argues that investors in the booming expansion of oil and gas infrastructure would steer for a similar shock (as experienced some years earlier in the coal mining sector) as “boom-fueled optimism runs into climate realities and fiscal limits”.Ted Nace, co-author of the report and executive director at Global Energy Monitor points out that “enthusiasm [is] spilling out of the fracking boom [and] has fostered unrealistic expectations of expansion in midstream oil and gas infrastructure. Investors are setting themselves up for disappointment.”Three areas would be particularly vulnerable in the U.S. to present pipeline expansion concentration, including ‘Permian Basin of Texas and New Mexico’, ‘the Marcellus and Utica shale formations in Appalachia and the Midwest’, and the ‘Canadian tar sands of Alberta.’ The decision by the Canadian government last year, to commit C$5bn (£2.9bn) to acquire the Trans Mountain Pipeline would add extra fuel to the fire.More: North America’s oil and gas pipeline boom could signal meltdown Report warns that oil, gas pipeline boom poses serious financial risk for investors
This contest has ended, but…Read an article or two about Fly Fishing here!ORCheck out this Hop and Vine Prize Pack Giveaway!
I feel like I can safely say that most everyone who reads Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine probably has a few aches and pains. We spend quite a few days on the trail, riding our bikes, running, and more, so our muscles really take a beating. This is why I was pretty excited to have the new Moji 360 Massager arrive on my doorstep.Moji specializes in keeping people active and pain free. They offer a variety of products all aimed at muscle recovery such as massagers, heat packs, and ice packs. The 360 Massager is their take on a do it all type of massager that can be used on legs, neck, back, and more. As you can see in the video the massager is a good size and with the multiple steel ball sizes you can really work the kinks out.I have been using this before and after rides pretty religiously. You can really go to town without a fear of the Moji breaking or failing. I feel more comfortable on my bike than before using the Moji, and it really helps me loosen up after long rides. I haven’t just been using the Moji after workouts though. I have started working the Moji into my everyday lifestyle. So much so that it sits under my coffee table within easy reach. Much of my time is spent at a desk so after a long day in the office it really helps with my lower back pain. I also find the smaller balls work great for neck pain as well!If you’re looking for an affordable solution to those aches and pains I would start with the Moji. At $50 it’s fairly priced and the construction is really high quality. A lot of my cycling friends have used it and I haven’t heard a complaint yet. If you want a better idea of the 360 be sure to watch the video below!$49.95; gomoji.com
The New River Gorge has seen a summer of unusually high water levels, which has been a blessing for the normally dry rafting season.“Five feet is the new zero,” a friend told me as we put on at Cunard last Tuesday.The river flowed big and brown below the concrete ramp and pods of commercial rafts floated swiftly along. Eager faces peered beneath matching helmet rims, wide-eyed and ready for a dose of wet and wild adventure.I reminisced on my brief time here as a raft guide and the newness I experienced every day I guided a crew down the Gorge. Although I’ve paddled the New more than any river, there was always a lump in the back of my throat before I entered the Keeneys, an unpleasant churning in my stomach as I dropped behind Thumb and cruised through Double Z. What if I didn’t hit my line? What if someone in my raft fell out? What if I fell out? There’s a heady weight of responsibility that goes with raft guiding, and I never once considered my boating abilities above the unharnessed power of that river. Last week proved to be no exception.About a year ago I hit the plateau. Adventurers of every breed have heard of this phase. I had grown comfortable kayaking the rivers I knew and set aside any desire to push my skills to the next level. Between finishing college and finding a job, life simply “got in the way” of my paddling. In all reality, that was probably just an excuse. Now that both of those “life issues” have been resolved though, the boating bug has reclaimed its grasp.Not having paddled anything substantial in over a year, the thought of kayaking the New at record high water levels for August was exciting and nerve-racking all in the same breath. The river was at six feet, which was low considering I had completed two weeks of guide training at flows ranging from eight to eleven feet. That, however, was two springs ago. Nonetheless, I found myself at the Cunard put-in, slumped over in a yellow Mamba I had borrowed from ACE Adventure Gear. I stared at the surging waters and whirlpool-like eddy lines, questioning whether or not those weeks of training would kick in.When I slid from the ramp into the river, the nerves immediately shrank away. With each stroke forward came a rejuvenated familiarity with the rapids. I remembered why I loved the New River Gorge so much. More specifically, I remembered why I loved kayaking so much: because it’s F-U-N. I couldn’t help but smile as I bobbed up the crests of waves and smacked down into the troughs again. The world’s finest amusement park could not replicate such an exhilarating ride.By the time we reached the take-out at Fayette Station, I was nowhere near ready to part ways with the New. I hiked my boat up to the top of the last rapid just so I could run it one final time. I sensed both a deep feeling of satisfaction and a gnawing hunger for more as I shed my wet gear and stowed my boat.That gnawing hunger for more lasted all of 24 hours, after which it sputtered out and all but died when I was informed of a death. Just minutes after I had run my second lap down Fayette Station, a 16-year-old German exchange student was upstream in Middle Keeney. He had been pulled unexpectedly from the safety of the raft by a powerful wave. His exciting vacation had suddenly taken a dangerous turn. It’s unclear as to whether or not he tried to swim back to the boat, but the unrelenting force of six feet of water pulled him downriver and through a sieve known as the Meat Grinder. He was pinned underwater, helpless to the crushing brutality of the river’s flow. The guides worked quickly to extract his body and pull him ashore. They administered CPR until rangers from the National Park Service arrived to take the boy to Plateau Medical Center in Oak Hill, W.Va., where he was pronounced dead shortly before 4 p.m.This tragedy serves not only as the first fatality of the 2013 rafting season, but also as a stark reminder of our place among the natural world. Rivers do not see gender or color or race; they cannot discriminate against the weak, or distinguish the young from the old. As paddlers, we must be wary that the river will continue to flow downstream with us or without; we can either fight the current or ride the tide. Adventure sports are inherently dangerous, but so too is the commuter’s drive to work and the worldly traveler’s flight overseas. We must not be paralyzed by this fear of the unexpected, however, for the unknown can bestow upon us an unbounded future.With every life the river takes comes the raw remembrance of my own imminent death. I’ve seen the power of the river, looked it square in the eye and begged for mercy. Despite this, I cannot help but be emboldened to continue seeking experiences that force me to be in the present. Although this 16-year-old boy lost his life to the river, hundreds of others, myself included, lived to see another day. The pain and sorrow caused by this boy’s (and every paddling victim’s) untimely death will not fade quickly, but I urge paddlers not to retreat from the river’s edge. Instead, charge forward and embrace the mysteries of this world one stroke at a time.
Dear Earth Talk: What are “dirty fuels” and why are they so called?— Bill Green, Seattle, WAThe term “dirty fuels” refers to fuels derived from tar sands, oil shale or liquid coal. Just like their more conventional fossil fuel counterparts such as petroleum and coal, they can be turned into gasoline, diesel and other energy sources that can generate extreme amounts of particulate pollution, carbon emissions and ecosystem destruction during their lifecycles from production to consumption.“Because tar sands [have] more sulfur, nitrogen, and metals in [them] than conventional oil, upgrading and refining [them] causes a lot more air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” reports the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a leading environmental non-profit. “On a lifecycle basis—that is, extraction all the way through combustion—tar sands cause about 20 percent more global warming pollution than conventional oil,” adds NRDC. “Oil shale and liquid coal are even worse, causing nearly 50 percent more global warming pollution and over double the lifecycle emissions of conventional oil…”In North America, the majority of such fuels come from Canada’s vast boreal forest, to where tens of millions of birds flock each spring to nest. “Tar sands oil development creates open pit mines, habitat fragmentation, toxic waste holding ponds, air and water pollution, upgraders and refineries, and pipelines spreading far beyond the Boreal forest,” reports NRDC. “This development is destroying habitat for waterfowl and songbirds that come from all over the Americas to nest in the Boreal.”Beyond impacts at the extraction sites, dirty fuels cause pollution problems all down the line. For this reason, environmental leaders are opposed to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline which, if approved and built, would transport tar sands fuels through the Midwestern U.S. to refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.“Refinery communities like Port Arthur, Texas…are already unable to comply with their air pollution regulations, so dirtier fuel is the last thing they need in their refineries,” adds NRDC.And while dirty fuels may reduce our reliance on foreign oil, they won’t help reduce gas prices as they are so expensive to produce that gas prices would have to be higher than they already are in order for them to be profitable. “They also can’t help with stabilizing gas prices in the case of a disruption to oil shipments because each new tar sands project requires huge infrastructure and capital investments, so it takes years for new tar sands projects to come on-line—it’s not as though there is loads of spare tar sands oil just waiting to be put through the pipelines,” says NRDC’s Elizabeth Shope.“The fact is, we don’t need these fuels,” she adds. “We can reduce oil consumption by increasing fuel efficiency standards, and greater use of hybrid cars, renewable energy and environmentally sustainable biofuels. What’s called ‘smart growth’—how we design our communities—is also a very important element in meeting our transportation needs.“North America stands at an energy crossroads [and] we now face a choice: to set a course for a more sustainable energy future of clean, renewable fuels, or to develop ever-dirtier sources of transportation fuel derived from fossil fuels—at an even greater cost to our health and environment.”For more information, contact nrdc.org.
I’m not a prepper by any means. I have a close relative who has generators, canned food, guns and ammo stashed at a cabin in the mountains of West Virginia just in case the shit hits the fan (according to him, the apocalypse could be started by anything from zombies to democratic socialism). But I take a slightly different approach to planning for the future. Basically, I don’t plan. Ask anyone who’s ever been on an adventure with me and they’ll tell you, I’m generally not prepared. I’ve been caught deep in the backcountry on long rides without tubes; been stuck in the wilderness in the middle of the night without food or a headlamp. In short, I’m an idiot who basically relies on good fortune and the kindness of strangers. I’m more likely to have a beer stashed in my backpack than a knife or waterproof matches.The first step to recovery is recognizing you have a problem.My lack of preparedness is a problem that I’m trying to address. Enter Mountain Hardwear’s new Micro Thermostatic Hybrid Jacket. This is a super-light, super-packable jacket with just a hint of Thermal Q. Elite insulation to maximize warmth to weight ratio. Technically, this is a midlayer designed to be worn beneath a shell, but it’s so light, I’ve started throwing it in the bottom of my pack every time I walk into the woods. What’s more, the jacket is so damn comfortable, I actually want to wear it. The thing feels like the silky edging on a baby’s blanket. You know what I’m talking about? I throw it on if the slightest breeze kicks up, just because. It’s so comfy and, dare I say, fashionable, I end up wearing the Micro Thermostatic Hybrid around town. Show me any other emergency jacket you’d feel comfortable wearing to the coffee shop?I wish it were waterproof, but then it wouldn’t be so light and comfortable. Sigh. I guess we have to make compromises in life.Luckily, I haven’t had to pull the jacket out in a legit emergency situation, but it’s comforting to know that it’s there, in the bottom of my pack if the shit ever hits the fan. Probably wouldn’t do much against a zombie attack, or democratic socialism for that matter. But I guess I’m more worried about hypothermia anyway.Mountain Hardwear; $155
I lot of people ask us about cooking in the van. Feeding ourselves is high on the list of things we like to do. While we definitely eat less in the van, I don’t think we eat less fancy. We are lovers of food and we’re not going to let the lack of oven, running water, countertops, or kitchen utensils slow us down.Our tools.Honestly, we don’t have much. We use:two burnertwo cast ironsspatulaone knifesmall cutting boardcrazy creek tabletwo platessome silverwareJetboil (for coffee and the times we want Mountain House)strainerThese few things can get us by for just about every meal we want to cook. The magic is in the cast irons. Once these babies are seasoned, you barely need any other cookware. They will grill, sear, slow cook, scramble, toast, and so much more. Now it’s time to get creative!Our favorite meals.Hamburgers with a veggie sideThese are the easiest, and it feels like a gourmet meal every time we make it. We have two burgers sitting in the cooler right now waiting to be grilled up for dinner tonight. And broccoli.Ingredients:Hamburgers– we get two at a time because we are working with a cooler. It has incredible cooling power, but we don’t want to chance it with raw meat. Whole Foods will make patties for you at their meat counter or you can grab two pre-made ones so it’s easy to transfer straight to the cast iron without having to form the patties and touch raw meat in the back/side/front country.BunsCondiments (always in our cooler)Pickles (always in our cooler)Side veggie (brussels, broccoli, carrots, sweet potato fries)Cooking Instructions:Throw two burgers on one cast iron with fat of your choice, cut the veggies and cook those on the second cast iron, also with a fat of your choice, salt and pepper.Burgers will need to be flipped after 6-7 minutes on low heat. Don’t touch them until then, letting them sear with keep in the flavor.Flip, cook other side, and also throw the buns on for a little toasting. It might be the magic of the cast iron, but usually, everything is ready around the same time. ENJOY.Chicken QuesadillasWe love mexican food, and these few ingredient quesadillas are a go to.Ingredients:*1/2 jar salsa (make another round later with the other half!)1/2 can of refried beansShredded or ground chicken (we eat a lot, .75lb for a meal)Tortillas (or chips if you just want to dip)Hot Sauce(easier option) Don’t use any of these ingredients and make a Chicken Fajita Bowl Mountain House and put it in a toasted tortilla!Cooking Instructions:Combine refried beans and salsa in cast iron- LOTS OF FAT OF CHOICE.Brown chicken in other cast iron.Add chicken to refried beans/salsa mixCrisp tortillas on newly empty cast ironBuild your quesadillas!*You can add so many things to these- including cheese which would make it a true quesadilla. You could also add peppers, avocado (add at end), onion, really whatever you have in the van that might go bad soon.Breakfast ScrambleThis is my favorite meal, every morning gets a good breakfast whether it be at 5 am before a hike, or 11 am after sleeping in. You MUST have a big breakfast. Every breakfast is a combination of different ingredients with eggs on top. A lot of the time it includes left overs.Ingredients:EggsSausage (precooked)PeppersOnionsSalsaLeftovers(easier option) grab a Breakfast Skillet from Mountain House and you only have to boil water.Cooking Instructions:Put fat of choice and veggies (always salt+pepper) in cast iron first, let them cook.Add eggs on top and scramble in pan.Pile eggs on top of bread or tortilla from night before, be full for hours.Tips and Tricks:Four months of cooking on a two burner has left me with a few insights on how to make things go more smoothly when cooking without power or running water.Try to minimize dishes as much as possible. If you can eat directly from the cast iron, why get a plate dirty?I’ve mentioned ‘fat of choice’ a few times. We are fat proponents, it helps keep us full, and young. We’re talking about GOOD fat, not vegetable oil. We use ghee most of the time because it’s shelf stable, stable at high temperatures, comes in a sturdy jar, and lasts a long time. It’s clarified butter, and it’s delicious.Keep your raw meat in the bottom of your cooler (hopefully in a dry bin if you have it), it’s the coldest and safest place for it.Cast irons are so wonderful because you don’t have to wash them. Scrape it out and put it away for next time. Grab some pot holders so they’re easy to handle.For sugars (tomato sauce), acids (lemon juice), soap, and water out of your cast iron. It will ruin the season and you won’t be able to clean it as easily. Use something like this, or a strainer, for pasta and tomato sauces.If you like the gear we’re reppin’, or what we’re wearing, check out some of the sponsors that make this tour possible: La Sportiva, Crazy Creek, National Geographic, RovR Products, Sea to Summit, Mountain House, LifeStraw, and Lowe Alpine.