As Colorado’s Coal Industry Fades, Small Towns Grasp for Hope

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Colorado Public Radio:The unemployment rate is among the lowest in the nation and the population along the Front Range is booming. It’s easy to see the impact of a strong economy in Denver. Construction cranes are up all over the city and it’s harder than ever to find affordable housing.But it’s a different story in many parts of western Colorado.Many rural communities on Colorado’s Western Slope are struggling to survive. The loss of coal jobs is forcing many there to make tough choices.The shrinking started in the mid-1980s, when most of the uranium jobs went away. More recently, the New Horizon coal mine closed earlier this year, and the Tri-State Power Plant is set to shut down by 2022 at the latest. When that happens, Epright expects to lose another 100 students. It could also mean the loss of 70 percent of the area’s tax base.“It’s definitely one of those important things of trying to find something to stabilize our community,” he said.Case is also looking for stability. She works as a substitute teacher and her husband is a mechanic. But they expect his job to end next year and substitute teaching doesn’t pay well.“They can keep me busy, but you to raise a family, you can’t raise a family as a substitute teacher,” she said. “Everybody’s depressed. They know what’s going to happen but we don’t know exactly when, and I try not to think about it because I’ll  just sit down and cry.”While Case has some time to figure things out, many other don’t. Changing industries in coal counties like Montrose and Delta have left a ticking timer behind.Some are looking at tourism and agriculture as possible ways to attract and keep people in the Western Slope. But will that be enough?  More: Losing Jobs In Colorado’s Coal Country, What’s Next? As Colorado’s Coal Industry Fades, Small Towns Grasp for Hopelast_img read more

Coal Output Continues Downward Trend

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):U.S. coal production is down for the second straight quarter and average employment held flat compared to the prior period, according to an analysis of preliminary first-quarter data available from federal regulators.Coal companies have been finding opportunities in export markets in recent months, but continue to face a declining domestic customer base that has been hesitant to buy much coal, at least at the prices companies are seeking. While the export opportunities appear to have given a boost to the balance sheets of the parts of the sector that have reported earnings so far, coal volumes fell about 3.1% as average coal employment ticked up less than one-third of a percent in the period.Mines reporting data so far produced 186.6 million tons of coal in the first period, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of available data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, down from 192.7 million in the fourth quarter and down from 195.2 million tons from the same mines in the year-ago first quarter. The analysis excludes historical mine production and employment data for mines that did not yet have first-quarter data available. Mines reporting so far in the first quarter accounted for about 96% of reported coal production and about 98% of reported employment in the fourth quarter of 2017.While an aging coal fleet continues to dwindle and high utility stockpiles leave many power generators with the option to delay coal purchases, seaborne buyers of coal have created an outlet for some producers to pull tons out of the domestic market. Companies reporting earnings so far have touted success in both thermal and metallurgical coal markets abroad.Metallurgical coal markets tend to be more volatile and as a swing supplier, the U.S. traditionally supplies the market when prices go higher. Seaport Global Securities analyst Mark Levin recently said that for this cycle, much of the lowest-hanging production fruit has been picked at U.S. coal operations that have ramped up or recovered from production issues last year. While new projects are under development, he noted that greenfield development, even for high-margin metallurgical coal mines, has been “relatively sparse.”More ($): Early Data Hints At Coal Volume Decline, Flat Employment In Q1’18 Coal Output Continues Downward Trendlast_img read more

‘Baseload’ renewables coming to Australia

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Australia is currently experiencing an unprecedented boom in solar and wind energy investments, both in terms of capacity and dollars. It will likely take the country to a 33 percent share of renewables as early as 2020.But there is another fascinating development taking place–as more and more wind and solar is added to the grid, the shape of their output is also changing, and in a way that should give confidence about a clean energy future based around a high level of variable renewable energy sources.Two significant trends that are emerging: the first is the offering of “firming contracts” to those looking to source a significant amount of their supply from wind and solar, but wary of wholesale price risks when the sun don’t shine and the wind don’t blow. The second is the development of projects that do much the same thing but this time by the physical combination of wind, solar and some form of storage at the one site, or nearby. Proposals and projects are now emerging across the country.One of the first “solar firming” products came from TFS Green, who helped put together a package for ERM Power that takes the risk out of contracting with a solar farm. This is a product that simply seeks to manage the risk from variable solar output by providing price swaps. It allows a solar plant to provide a customer with a firm price for a flat load.Roger Price, the CEO of Windlab, also talks of fully dispatchable renewables–or, to borrow the parlance of the coal lobby, “baseload renewables”, with the Kennedy Energy Park inland from Townsville. The first stage of this project is being built now, combining 43 MW of wind, 15 MW of solar, and 4 MWh of Tesla battery storage. “It’s the perfect match,” Price says. “You get solar in middle of the day, the wind resource picks up as the sun starts to set, blows through night, then drops after the solar” emerges for the morning peak.And, of course, there is the Kidston project in North Queensland, not far from Kennedy, where Genex Power is looking to combine 270 MW solar and 250 MW of pumped hydro, with maybe 6-8 hours storage, and then add 150 MW wind power for good measure.More: The changing shape of wind and solar in Australia’s grid ‘Baseload’ renewables coming to Australialast_img read more

German transmission operator 50Hertz begins planning for 100% renewable energy grid

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享OffshoreWind.biz:German transmission system operator 50Hertz has launched an economic and climate initiative aiming to draw 100 per cent of the electricity delivered from renewable sources by 2032.50Hertz supplies eastern German states and the city states of Berlin and Hamburg with electricity. The TSO is in charge of developing and operating the offshore transmission grid in the German Baltic Sea.Currently, the company’s share of renewable energy in the mix is 60 per cent. It has launched the new initiative under the slogan: ”From 60 to 100 by 2032: for an economy with prospects”.To achieve this, 50Hertz will utilise new approaches to system operation, carry out consistent digitisation of the integration of an increasingly volatile electricity supply, and participate in innovative models of sector coupling to generate heat and produce hydrogen from “green” power.50Hertz CEO Stefan Kapferer said: “The transformation of our electric power supply has entered a new phase. Today’s parallel existence of a conventional fossil generation system and an energy system based on renewable sources is coming to an end. Wind and solar energy must be able to provide ancillary services in the future. We are determined to drive this transition forward, but now with new and full speed. This way, 50Hertz sends a clear signal, not only regarding climate policy, but also and especially to industry policy makers: more and more companies know that renewables are the future, and they want to align their energy supply accordingly. We want to and will support this process.”[Adnan Durakovic]More: 50Hertz goes all-in on renewables German transmission operator 50Hertz begins planning for 100% renewable energy gridlast_img read more

Final testing under way at expanded Hornsdale big battery in Australia

first_imgFinal testing under way at expanded Hornsdale big battery in Australia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:The Tesla big battery at Hornsdale in South Australia is entering the final testing of its expanded capacity, and is achieving some significant new records and milestones that would be expected when the world’s biggest lithium ion battery gets even bigger.The Hornsdale battery set a world record for a lithium-ion battery installation when it was installed in late 2017 with capacity of 100MW/129MWh. It has played an important control in providing frequency control and emergency back-up – both critical in helping keep the lights on during major network problems – as well as doing the normal storage thing of energy arbitrage, buying at the lows and selling at the peaks.It is now being expanded to a capacity of 150MW/194MWh, and is adding new services, particularly synthetic inertia, that will allow it to replicate more of the services once exclusive to fossil fuel generators in South Australia, and allow the grid to take another important step towards the shift to the state government target of “net 100 per cent renewables.”The expanded Hornsdale Power Reserve (its official name) is owned by the French renewable energy developer Neoen and located next to the 315MW Hornsdale wind facilities, and got the OK to connect last month. It is now going through testing that allows it to progress through various “hold points” that it can straddle once the market operator is satisfied with the outcome.On Tuesday, in the latest series of tests, the Hornsdale battery did a rapid 270MW flip – from charging at 120MW to discharging at 150MW. It appears to have flipped between the two on several different occasions – at least one of which had an immediate impact on the wholesale price of electricity, pushing it down to the peppercorn price of just above $8/MWh.Those 270MW flips – from the level of discharge to the level of charge – are likely a world record in both speed and extent of the change. And it’s this flexibility of the big batteries such as Hornsdale, and others at Dalrymple North, Lake Bonney, Gannawarra and Ballarat, that is particularly attractive to project owners and valuable to AEMO, the market operator.[Giles Parkinson]More: Tesla big battery sets new record as testing for Hornsdale expansion enters final stagelast_img read more

Kudzu Jesus Debunked

first_imgThe entire country is a-twitter with news that a hot-dog stand owner outside of Raleigh has discovered the image of Jesus in a telephone pole overtaken by kudzu. A number of news outlets have carried the story, turning the Kudzu Jesus into an overnight sensation.Oddly enough, this isn’t the first Kudzu Jesus to be found in Raleigh, North Carolina. In 2009, believers spotted a similar structure just outside of downtown. The double-sighting is a bit worrisome. I’ll have to check my scripture, but I think that means this latest Kudzu Jesus is actually the Kudzu Jesus Second Coming, which would kick off the End of Days. Is it simply a coincidence that the Kudzu Jesus Second Coming is spotted within months of the proposed apocalypse (set for some time in October, I believe)?As all good Southerners know, kudzu will somehow play a role in the end of the world. Ever since kudzu was introduced in the ‘30s, it has been slowly trying to take over the Land of Dixie. It’s like a really slow version of eminent domain. After humans are long gone, planet Earth will be overrun by cockroaches and kudzu.But fret not, apocalypse-fearing Southerners. The Kudzu Jesus has been debunked! Yes, the plant/pole looks like Jesus, but it’s not real kudzu. It’s trumpet vine, a cheap kudzu look-a-like, according to some local folks who can tell the different between kudzu and trumpet vine.  Given that this is the first reported sighting of a Trumpet Vine Jesus, I don’t think we have much to worry about. Although, I do foresee a few goth-rock bands adopting the name Kudzu Jesus in the near future.last_img read more

Festival Gear for Good Times

first_imgPacking the right gear can make or break your festival experience. Load the car with these new essentials and you’ll be the envy of tent city.1. Sierra Designs DriDown Cal 30A sudden storm can quickly turn your unattended fest gear into a soggy mess. Reduce the risk by investing in the extremely lightweight Cal 30. It’s made with Sierra Designs innovative DriDown filling—fluffy 800-fill goose down treated with a hydrophobic polymer to keep moisture to a minimum. While not completely waterproof, the bag dries much faster than normal down and maintains better loft in humid conditions. Plus, at little more than a pound and extremely compact, it will quickly become your mainstay bag for any adventure.$419. sierradesigns.com2. Outdoor Research Growler ShirtStay comfortable and look great during long days of fest sweating in the Growler—a casual, short-sleeved shirt made with a performance-minded moisture-wicking nylon fabric to help you keep cool when the peak summer humidity becomes unbearable.$75. outdoorresearch.com3. Klean Kanteen Steel PintHelp make garbage cans overflowing with plastic beer cups a thing of the past. The Steel Pint from Klean Kanteen holds 16 ounces of your favorite ale, and when not in use, you can attach it to your belt with the convenient rubber ring and carabiner. Many regional festivals, including FloydFest and the Festy Experience, are including one of these cups with the price of admission—a noble effort to reduce the sizable footprint of multi-day events.$10. kleankanteen.com4. Eagles Nest Outfitters TwilightsDon’t stumble back to a dark campsite. Twilights deliver convenient illumination with a string of bright LEDs that will run for three straight days on two AA batteries.$20. eaglesnestoutfittersinc.com5. Patagonia Advocate StitchA lightweight slip-on that’s made for busting out your best dance moves, the vegan Advocate Stitch is a minimalist shoe that covers feet with a breathable microfiber, while a super-grippy recycled sole offers plenty of traction for long walks between stages. Available in styles for both men and women.$70. patagonia.com6. Alite Designs Mantis ChairLugging a large clunky camping chair around festival grounds is no fun, but you can take the Mantis from tent city to the main stage with no hassle. The nylon-seated chair has an extremely innovative collapsible pole design that offers simple set up, and it packs down to not much more than a handful—not bad for a chair that can hold someone weighing up to 250 pounds.$120. alitedesigns.com7. Jetboil Flash StoveLooking for an easy, no-hassle portable stove for the next overnighter? The Flash is an all-in-one burner and cooking vessel that lights with the click of a button. Two minutes later, you’ve got boiling water for coffee or food.$100. jetboil.comCheck out the rest of our Outdoor Festival Guide!last_img read more

Best Mountain Town Video Series: Part III

first_imgBest Mountain Town Series: Part III from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.Fayetteville, W.Va., won Best River Town in this year’s Mountain Town poll. From whitewater rafting to creek boating and even fly fishing, this little town has A LOT of river action. Check it out!To read about the other mountain towns included in this year’s poll, check out the article in our November issue or online here. To see parts I and II of the Best Mountain Town Video Series, check out our BRO-TV feed.Thanks to David Fusilli with Demshitz for providing additional video footage.Soundtrack provided by The Kalob Griffin Band out of Philadelphia. Check out their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds to learn more about this “Pennsylvania raised band of country-fried rock n’ rollers.”last_img

Easton Outfitters Empowers Adventurers with New Tents for Summer

first_imgBased in Salt Lake City, Utah, Easton Outfitters (part of Easton Outdoor division) just introduced its new tent lineup for summer 2014.Since 1922, Easton, a leader in precision-built outdoor equipment, has been dedicated to engineering the best technical gear for the serious user. And at its core is Easton’s proprietary manufacturing of high-strength, lightweight, aluminum and carbon fiber tubing. Easton’s exclusive components enable cost savings to deliver maximum value with elite level products.Their priorities are reliability and affordability in this year’s offering, thanks to a team of engineers looking to maximize efficiency of materials without sacrificing internal space or strength of the shelter — which range from cavernous family shelters, to re-engineered ultra-lights with carbon fiber frames, to the introduction of their Syclone composite tent poles.Easton Cache 4P (MSRP $349)Easton Cache 4P (with open annex)(low-res)Perfect for campers with a long activity list and a lot of gear, the Cache™ 4P tent is a basecamp/family style tent with huge livability and tons of pockets and loops to keep organized and make life easier.  The unique pole design delivers a large footprint, excellent stability, and near vertical walls.  This unique geometry offers huge internal space.  Dual doors make access quick and easy.  The available Annex™ vestibule (sold separately) attaches to either door and offers extra storage and covered living space.Syclone composite tent poles featured in Easton Slickrock and Easton Torrent tentsEngineered from top-grade composite materials with multi-directional wound construction, Easton’s new Syclone tent pole is the most resilient tent pole ever developed.  Syclone poles are 80% more resilient to failure and bending than aluminum in wind and flex-testing.  Lab tests and in-field results reveal the amazing performance features that allow the Syclone poles to flex further than both carbon or aluminum and return to their original shape while still offering needed structural support.Easton Slickrock 2P & 3P, (Starting at $299)Easton Slickrock is a lightweight, three-season backpacking series that offers tons of living space with amazing stability and wind resistance.  The unique asymmetrical pole design enhances the internal living space and features Easton’s brand new Syclone composite pole technology.  Slickrock is the perfect combination of lightweight stability that delivers awesome features for maximum value.Easton Kinetic Carbon 3P (MSRP $499)Easton Kinetic Carbon 3PKinetic Carbon 3P delivers best-in-class space to weight ratio with an amazing one- pound per person.  Kinetic Carbon 3P represents the re-birth of the award-winning Easton Kilo 3P tent, offering a more usable internal living area and 33 percent more vestibule space.The new Kinetic Carbon 3P has more of the space you like while keeping the minimal weight and stability you love.“A lot of design and technological advancements have gone into the new line of spring and summer products,” said Rich Packer, Easton Outfitter’s National Sales Manager. “However, with our own proprietary materials and craftsmanship here at Easton, we’re able to keep prices down in order to cover a larger segment of the end-user looking to outfit them with highly technical gear without breaking the bank.”image002last_img read more

Mountain Mama | Fear, Flowers and Favorite Rivers

first_imgThey say that courage isn’t the absence of fear, rather it’s staring fear in the face and doing precisely the things that, in equal measure, give your life meaning and terrify you. A good dose of fearlessness is required to live the best possible life. And yet, every time I go a month or two without getting in my kayak, my head churns over all the reasons I shouldn’t paddle anything hard.  This past weekend I was cursed with a particularly overactive imagination. I thought about a recent conversation when a friend asked me whether I had a will. I don’t.Of course I should. I’m a lawyer, I know all the ways an estate can get hung-up. I have a four-year old who depends on me. On the way to the put-in of my favorite Class IV run, one question looped in my head. What happens to my four-year old if anything happens to me on the river?I needed a break from my son and craved a day of being something other than a mom. My son started every sentence with mommy and it grated on me, just hearing that word and his need for my help and attention. Now that I had that break I so dearly needed, I nearly talked myself out of paddling before we even got to the put-in. Even felt like a bad mom for wanting time to myself and wondered if he was still crying to the sitter over my departure.20160225_183723The water was so crystal clear. Even from my vantage point at the put-in, I could count the rocks on the riverbed, some ten feet underwater. The river turned just out of sight, where the real action begins.Something about the verdant moss combined with the opaque emerald water beckoned me so I ignored the nagging voice that was saying I should prioritize time with my son, especially now when he still like to hang out with me. I had the chance to paddle with two of my favorite people on a river that I hadn’t been on for four years. The first drop was followed by half a dozen more, the frothy whitewater a cold splash of reality. I was alive in the moment, studying the precise fold of a wave, the angle to boof a rock. The energy between us was palpable after every drop. I recognized every rapid, knew with certainty the ways in which the run could go wrong. I felt a few inches behind where I wanted to be, just off enough to keep me humble and aware. Everything else fell away, all my responsibilities and endless to-do lists. I stopped thinking about my son, worrying I wasn’t doing my best as a parent.Before the biggest rapid, we eddied out and my friend told me the line. After the first drop, grabbing the eddy on the right was optional.“So will you get the eddy?” I asked. Whenever I feel uncertain, I cling to a plan.She responded off-handedly. “It all depends where I am after the first drop. If it makes sense, I’ll go into the eddy. If not, I’ll angle right and paddle hard through the second drop.”That’s when in sunk in that the antidote for fear is softening to the opportunities that present themselves, about remaining as open as possible. I exhaled and then kayaked with purpose.After the first drop the rest of the rapid opened up, and I could see precisely where I wanted to be. I was rusty, so still fought the pushy whitewater to stay on line.I smiled a big, toothy grin, unable to contain the moment.We paddled the rest of the river, happy to be together again, the three of us, in this place, one that resonates within each of us as sacred. I didn’t even flip upside down, much less come close to needing a will in place. And when I did get home, my son greeted me with a bouquet of flowers, one that he picked out especially for me. “These are beautiful, mom. Like you,” he said. I pulled him into a hug, his body folding into mine and inhaled him, which smelled all the sweeter to me after getting on the river.[divider]More from BlueRidgeOutdoors.com[/divider]last_img read more