Long-Secret Report Shows How Utility Knew 18 Months in Advance of Multibillion-Dollar Nuclear Plant ‘Fiasco’ It Wants Its Customers to Pay For

first_imgLong-Secret Report Shows How Utility Knew 18 Months in Advance of Multibillion-Dollar Nuclear Plant ‘Fiasco’ It Wants Its Customers to Pay For FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享(Columbia, S.C.) State:S.C. lawmakers Tuesday urged state regulators to block SCE&G from charging its customers any more for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project, a day after the release of a report that diagnosed critical problems at the construction site about 18 months before its abandonment.That report, completed by Bechtel Corp. in February 2016, shows SCE&G and the state-owned Santee Cooper utility were warned the Fairfield County venture suffered a host of problems, including flawed construction plans, faulty designs and inadequate management of contractors.Lawmakers who read the lengthy report Tuesday say it confirmed that SCE&G – and not its ratepayers – should shoulder any future costs.Kirkman Finlay, R-Richland, who is on a S.C. House committee investigating the nuclear fiasco.Finlay and others say the S.C. Public Service Commission, the state board that has OK’d nine SCE&G rate hikes since 2008 for the nuclear project, should reject any further V.C. Summer-related rate-hike requests from the utility.SCE&G customers already have paid $1.7 billion toward the failed project. In August, the Cayce-based utility filed – then withdrew – a request to charge customers at least another $2.2 billion to shutter the project.However, the Bechtel report could undermine any efforts by SCE&G to recoup those costs.More: Long-secret report could save SCE&G’s customers billionslast_img read more

PacifiCorp looks to keep coal plant data permanently private

first_imgPacifiCorp looks to keep coal plant data permanently private FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:An electric utility is asking a Washington state judge to permanently block the public release of some economic information it provided to state regulators about its coal-burning units.The Sierra Club says the public should have clear information about the financial risks of operating coal-burning power plants. It filed a public records request seeking information that PacifiCorp blacked out in a coal analysis the company provided to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission this summer.In July, PacifiCorp won a temporary restraining order to prevent state regulators from releasing that information publicly. A Thurston County Superior Court judge is scheduled Friday to hear whether to make that injunction permanent.The utility, based in Portland, Oregon, completed a unit-specific analysis on the costs of retiring its coal-burning units — at the request of Oregon state regulators — but redacted some information it said was confidential and “commercially sensitive.”“This is a partial analysis that doesn’t provide a complete picture of whether or not a coal unit should be retired early,” said Bob Gravely, a PacifiCorp spokesman. He said releasing the information could do real harm because it can be misconstrued and distort the market. The utility provided the redacted information to those who signed non-disclosure agreements, he added.The Sierra Club says that there’s a strong public interest in the information, that it is not a trade secret and that the utility hasn’t met its burden to prove that disclosing it would result in harm to the company.More: Utility asks judge to block release of coal plant factslast_img read more

U.S. coal companies battered by investors in 2019, leading sector index drops 53%

first_imgU.S. coal companies battered by investors in 2019, leading sector index drops 53% FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):A stock index of U.S. coal companies headed into the last full day of 2019 trading at half the level seen at the beginning of the year as unease around the future of coal counterbalanced the sector’s pivot to cleaner balance sheets and shareholder return programs.While stocks in the S&P 500 increased 28.5% year-to-date as of Dec. 30, the SNL Coal Index dropped 53.5% over the same period. A challenging market, environmentally conscious investment initiatives and coal company-specific challenges drove many U.S. coal stocks down throughout the year despite a supportive presidential administration and industrywide efforts to avoid debt and approach growth cautiously.Shares of thermal coal producer Foresight Energy LP, which was recently removed from the New York Stock Exchange, lost nearly all of its value this year as the company struggled to make a debt payment. Contura Energy Inc. was declining steadily through the year but saw its share price get cut in half after announcing third-quarter earnings results.Many companies in the coal sector went through a bankruptcy reorganization in the last five years or so, emerging with billions of debt wiped from their balance sheets. Companies such as Peabody Energy Corp., the largest coal company in the U.S., have seen their stock price fall despite buybacks and other attempts to satisfy shareholders.U.S. coal companies are unlikely to get much relief soon, particularly in domestic markets. The fuel’s share of U.S. electricity generation has already dropped from 45% in 2010 to a projected 25% in 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Analysts with Moody’s Investors Service and Morgan Stanley & Co. LLC recently projected that coal’s share of generation could go as low as 11% or 8%, respectively, by 2030. [Taylor Kuykendall]More ($): Coal stocks value halved as broader market shone through 2019last_img read more

Poland planning to speed coal plant closures, replace capacity with nuclear and renewables

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Poland wants to speed up phasing out coal and spend billions to build renewable and nuclear power infrastructure to address challenges related to climate change and ensure stable power supplies, the government said on Tuesday.In an update of its energy strategy by 2040, the climate ministry said Poland plans to invest 150 billion zlotys ($40 billion) to build its first nuclear power plants, with 6-9 GW of capacity eventually. The first 1-1.6 GW facility would be up and running by 2033.It also plans to build 8-11 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind capacity by 2040 with investment estimated at 130 billion zlotys. The development of renewable and nuclear energy facilities will create 300,000 jobs, it said.Poland has been the only European Union state to refuse to pledge climate neutrality by 2050, with the ruling Law and Justice party saying that it needs more time and money to shift its economy from coal to cleaner energy sources. But rising carbon emission costs, the European Union’s ambitious climate policies and the coronavirus outbreak are forcing Warsaw to speed up its energy transformation.In the updated energy strategy, which still needs to be approved by government, the climate ministry said that coal’s share in electricity production will fall to 37%-56% in 2030 and to 11-28% in 2040, depending on the carbon emission costs. In November 2019 Poland had expected the share of coal at 56%-60% in 2030 and at 28% in 2040.Following the announcement, shares in Polish utilities jumped on the view that these companies would benefit from phasing out coal more quickly.[Agnieszka Barteczko]More: Poland to accelerate coal phase-out, spend billions on renewable and nuclear energy Poland planning to speed coal plant closures, replace capacity with nuclear and renewableslast_img read more

Mystery Mountain

first_imgFor centuries the Brown Mountain Lights have intrigued, haunted, and perplexed those who have witnessed the strange and inexplicable lights hovering over the long, broad peak of Brown Mountain in Burke County, N.C. One of the earliest recorded sightings of the lights was by Geraud de Brahm, a German engineer who explored the region in 1771. Since then, thousands of people are believed to have seen the lights, and countless legends have attempted to explain what many scientists and geologists could not.However, a recent study of the lights led by scientist Josh Warren has produced a compelling new explanation that he believes could help finally solve the mystery.Warren believes that a number of unique environmental factors specific to the region surrounding Brown Mountain all coalesce to trigger the phenomenon. He argues that the Brown Mountain Lights are likely a form of plasma naturally produced by the mountain. Plasma is the product of high-level energy being added to a gas, ripping electrons from atoms to produce a swirling, luminous mass of free-floating electrons.The study gained acclaim within parts of the scientific community and was hailed by the U.S. Naval Physics Laboratory.While Warren acknowledges that he has yet to fully understand and predict exactly what causes the lights to happen on some nights and not others, he has discovered several factors that he believes increase the likelihood of seeing the lights.One factor is the amount of activity in the magnetosphere, the magnetic field that surrounds earth. Like the northern lights, the Brown Mountain Lights are the product of something that is cosmically oriented. “Brown Mountain is one of those spots that conducts a lot of energy. Because of that, sometimes we get to see these remarkable little anomalies that illustrate just how strange and powerful our universe really is.”In essence, the mountain might be acting as a large conductor of electricity.  When the lights appear, they are accompanied by electromagnetic interference.He wasn’t the first to come to this discovery.  In the 1970s, a research group comprised of scientists from the Oak Ridge Laboratory studied the lights and came to the same conclusion: “It appears the mountain is able to store up small electrical charges up to a critical point when they then discharge. The end result is a natural phenomenon that produces an effect very similar to ball lightning.”The mountain is composed of alternating layers of conductive rocks like magnetite and non-conductive rocks (like quartz), magnifying the mountain’s potential to store electrical charges. Add higher water tables after a period of rain and the electric current becomes that much stronger.During his research, which consisted of hundreds of visits to the area over several years, Warren found that the lights were seen most often in September and October. He hypothesizes that the release of tannic acids by freshly fallen leaves increases the level of electrolytes in the water and makes it more electrically conducive.Autumn’s larger temperature differential between day and night also squeezes rock layers and increases electrical discharge. Smoke from wood-burning fires can also fuel the lights.Once the lights appear, Warren said they begin to move parallel along the shelves of earth where the charges originate and also rise straight up into the air. The way the lights move and react still remains unexplained.“They could rise due to their own heat, a sort of Jacob’s Ladder effect, or it could be that they are at times even more influenced by charges in the atmosphere,” Warren said.Warren’s next step is to record the mountain for 24 hours a day with a video camera so that they can study where the lights are most likely to occur.“I can give you a handful of variables that will increase your chances of going there and seeing the lights, but the mystery of Mother Nature is the very reason why this is so challenging,” Warren says. “There are only a handful of places on the earth that seem to consistently produce these kinds of effects. We are very lucky to have one right down the road.”Blue Ridge Outdoors Travel Editor Dustin Zarnikow ventured up to see the Brown Mountain Lights first hand, read his account and hear an interview with a witness.Light ShowsHere are the best places to view the Brown Mountain Lights:Wiseman’s View OverlookFive miles south of Linville Falls on Kistler Memorial HighwayLost Cove Cliffs OverlookMilepost 310 of the Blue Ridge ParkwayBrown Mountain OverlookHighway 181, 20 miles north of Morgantonlast_img read more

Blind Faith

first_imgTim Willis’ life hangs by a string — a blue shoestring wrapped around my index finger. “It’s like a leash, and you’re my seeing-eye dog,” Tim says, pinching the other end of the shoelace and wiping sweat from his sightless eyes. I’m Tim’s guide runner this morning on a six-mile loop around his neighborhood. By tugging on the string, I signal to Tim which direction he needs to turn. We wind through subdivision streets for the first few miles, then cross a major four-lane highway. “Step up,” I shout, pulling the shoestring tight. Without breaking stride, Tim leaps over the cement curb and back onto the sidewalk.Tim’s high school coach developed the shoestring technique so that Tim could run cross-country. Fifteen years later, Tim became one of the world’s fastest blind runners. Our six-mile run this morning is the first of two workouts he has scheduled for today. Tim has been consistently putting in 70 miles a week to prepare for his third straight Paralympic appearance.“When I lost my sight, I decided that’s all I would lose — and nothing more,” he explains. As a child, he was diagnosed with Coats’ Disease, a retinal blood vessel disorder that gradually occluded his vision. By age 10, he was completely blind in both eyes.But that didn’t stop him from wrestling in high school or running in college. He competed in Division I cross-country for Georgia Southern University and won the  World 10K Paralympic Championships. He currently holds 13 national records and two world records, including a blistering 32:27 personal best in the 10,000 meters.“Let’s pick it up a bit,” Tim says, four miles into our loop. We’re already running six-minute miles, but Tim wants a little more tempo this morning. I open up my stride and try to hang with him.Without sight, Tim’s other senses are sharpened. He hears approaching cars several seconds before I do. He smells flowers in neighborhood yards and identifies my deodorant by brand name. He even knows when I’ve missed a turn.“I think we were supposed to make a left on that street back there,” he observes, only a few yards after I pass it.Tim has run this same six miles with dozens of different guides over the past 15 years. When he can’t find a guide, Tim gets in a treadmill workout or runs hundreds of laps by himself around his small, grassy front yard.“I usually run the yard at night so my neighbors don’t think I’m crazy,” Tim says.He holds my elbow as we cross the four-lane highway again. Once we’re back in the subdivision, I pull on the shoestring, and we veer left up a steep hill. I call out potholes, storm drains, overhanging limbs and cars parked in the road. He puts his complete trust in me — a stranger he has never seen — to guide him through the bumpy boulevards and crowded, curb-cluttered streets.We finish the final two miles of the loop at a pretty good clip. Tim hopes the speed work at the end of his runs will improve his kick, which faltered in the final laps of the 10,000-meter run in the last Paralympics. He and a Mexican runner broke away from the pack early, and Tim took the lead midway through the race. But with six laps to go, the Mexican caught him. Tim couldn’t hold the pace in the final mile and ended up with a silver medal.Afterward, we cool down with a few 100-meter strides at the park near his house. The basketball rims are busted, and the ball field behind the playground is now a parking lot. But Tim still remembers what the park looked like before he lost his sight. The 29-year-old runner still sees the world through a 7-year-old’s eyes.We stride back and forth, side by side, across the old ball field. For a few seconds, I close my eyes and run in the dark with him. Instantly, I’m lost and frightened and vulnerable. It feels like I’m about to collide with a tree or a telephone pole any moment. Five seconds feels more like five minutes, and the slender shoelace becomes my lifeline. Finally I snap open my eyes, flooded now with safe, secure sunlight.For the rest of the workout, I’m not sure who’s guiding who. Tim seems to know every contour and crevice of the field. His eyes may not work, but he still can see —  with his feet, his skin, his ears, his memory. We run a couple more strides together, the blind leading the blind, the blue shoestring hanging loosely between us.The U.S. Association of Blind Athletes is always looking for guide runners: usaba.orglast_img read more

Weekend Getaway: Fayetteville, West Virginia

first_imgPhoto courtesy of Molly at Wilderness AdventureFrom its endless list of adventure activities to its parking lots full of roof-racks, Fayetteville, West Virginia never struggles to keep busy. And why should it? With miles of climbing, boating, and exploring, one would have to try hard to not have a good time in Fayetteville (really hard). And to put that into perspective, here are the top 5 reasons why Fayetteville, WV should be on the map for your next weekend getaway:(In no particular order)1.     ClimbingA climber’s dream. The New River Gorge spans for miles and miles giving access to world class climbing. Grab your guidebook, trad rack, and a few buddies and prepare to be entertained from dawn to dusk (and through the night if you pack right…) Check out a New River Gorge classic at the Bridge Buttress located underneath one of the longest arch bridges in America. And with the American Alpine Club (AAC) building a huge number of donation based campgrounds, finding a place to crash next to the rock shouldn’t be a problem.FayettevillePhoto courtesy of Molly at Wilderness Adventure2.     Whitewater BoatingWhat may seem as a strong climbing culture in Fayetteville, the way of life is equally rivaled by boaters. Whitewater kayaks, hard-tops, and rafts, if it can float, it can be found on the water. Nothing gets the heart pumping like being pulled down a current into huge drops propelled by the force of the raging river. So much energy, commotion, and chaos, and you’re riding right on top of the everlasting stampede of water buffalo. Coordinate your schedule accordingly and visit during the 2 months (Sept. Oct.) of Gauley season when the dam is released and hold on for the ride of your life. Guaranteed to cleanse the work week right out of you.GauleyPhoto courtesy of Molly at Wilderness Adventure3.     Local DiningWhat’s a weekend getaway without a good meal? In Fayetteville the options for local, unique, and delicious dining are many. Whether you prefer the slightly upscale and established Mexican-fusion food of DiOGi’s, or the climber’s diet of cheap burritos at the Burrito Bar, Fayetteville has just the right menu for any pallet. A must-go breakfast spot in town is the Cathedral Café, (an old church converted into a nestled café, stained-glass and all) for some fair-trade coffee and a great meal to start the day.4.     AtmosphereI doubt a traditional movie theater would ever survive in Fayetteville, it is an adventure town. Gear shops, out-of-town license plates, and shuttle buses; every corner of Fayetteville is built with an adventure lifestyle in mind. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the town’s dentist climbing some vert or the local taxidermist shredding the gnar-gnar. As a result, a lot of like-minded thinkers head to Fayetteville which brings in a lot of climbing buddies, friendly waitresses, and a welcoming atmosphere.5.     AdventureFayetteville is double the dose of the doctor recommend adventure. Go in with a plan or don’t, Fayetteville will take you in, chew you up, and spit you out with a few scrapes, bruises, and memories to last. Whether it is standing on top of the world via rock face, taking a splash down the Gauley, or bungee jumping off the New River Gorge Bridge, Fayetteville is no stranger to fun.Get outside, go to Fayetteville, and play-Bradlast_img read more

December Issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Out Now!

first_imgDecember means one thing around here: snow and snowsports. Ok, that’s two things, but they go hand in hand.We are proud to put out another great issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine to kick off the winter season in the Blue Ridge. This month’s issue is packed with everything you need to make this winter the best ski season ever. We kick things off with our cover story on the best backcountry boulevards in the region. The Southeast is full of country roads and highways that are perfect for some nordic ski fun, no matter your ability, and we have your guide to the four best. Speaking of skiing, editor at large Graham goes on a solo backcountry adventure on West Virginia’s North Fork Mountain, and finds that going it alone has it’s ups and downs.The Millennial Generation gets a bad rap, but not in this issue, as we profile eight up and comers in the Blue Ridge who are chasing adventure and protecting our outdoor playground with youthful stubbornness. We also give you a guide to the best places in the East to spot wild ponies and elk, and take a look at the hottest trend in biking: epic gravel grinders.In this issue, our experts from the University of Virginia and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy debate the issue of building more wind farms in Appalachia. We interview Olympic ski hopeful and Kentuckian Jay Panther on his chances of making it to Sochi, Girls at Play founder Anna Levesque on her inspiration, and some of the best regional musicians on their favorite albums of the year.Our issue also includes our Gear of the Year spread featuring the latest and greatest outdoor apparel and equipment perfect for the holiday season.And don’t forget about our Annual Snowbound Resort Guide featuring what’s new for the 2013-2014 season at the Southeast’s best ski resorts. If you are contemplating a ski trip this summer, this is your best resource for deals and beta.We hope you enjoy this issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors!FeaturesMy Fellow MillennialsBackcountry BoulevardsGravel GrinderEssaysGoing SoloSaluda, N.C.: The Next Great Mountain TownDepartmentsSALT: New Long Distance Hiking LoopWind Energy in Appalachia?The Roundup: Wild Ponies and ElkGear of the YearGirls at Play Founder Anna LevesqueOlympic Hopeful Jay PantherDixie Picks: Best Albums of 2013last_img read more

Virginia Is For Adventure Lovers Giveaway

first_imgEnter our Virginia is for Adventure Lovers Giveaway for your chance to win a weekend getaway, gear and more!Grand Prize from Natural RetreatsThe grand Prize from Natural Retreats includes:A three-night stay for two at Natural Retreats Meadow Lane Lodge Bed & Breakfast in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.A half-day guided fishing trip at Meadow Lane on the Jackson RiverA kayaking trip for twoPersonal Concierge and Outfitting ServiceFirst Prize from Albemarle AnglersAlbemarle Anglers in Charlottesville, Virginia provides the first prize:A Fishpond Encampment Lumbar PackEnter below for you chance to win:This giveaway is now closed! Thanks to all who entered and good luck!Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 noon EST on February 15th, 2014. One entry per person. One winner per household.  Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United  States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older.  Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled,  mis-transcribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable  network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer  transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of  processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the  sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, Natural Retreats, Albemarle Anglers, and the Virginia Tourism Corporation reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information  and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their  sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry  process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes.  Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating  sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies  shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from  acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash,  or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of  the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to  allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater  value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply.  Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors  office on or before February 28th, 6:00 PM EST 2014. Winners will be contacted by  the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7  days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of  winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.last_img read more

Rock Star: 15-Year-Old Laura Ragora Notches One of the World’s Toughest First Ascents

first_img15-year-old climber Laura Rogora recently first ascended La Gasparata in Collepardo, Italy. Rated at 14c/d, this climb is considered to be one of the hardest first ascents by a female climber. She managed to complete this climb within four days of being at the crag.Earlier this month the young Italian climber ascended impressive climbs in Oliana, Spain, including two 5.14b’s and one 5.14c.This is not the first time Rogora has made headlines. In 2016, Rogora became the first female Italian athlete to climb a 5.14d sport climb at the age of 14, and she later placed third for lead at the International Federation of Sport Climbing Junior World Cup.You can watch Lora send her first 5.14d herelast_img read more