Trump Tariff Decision Deals a Blow to U.S. Solar FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg News:In the biggest blow he’s dealt to the renewable energy industry yet, President Donald Trump decided on Monday to slap tariffs on imported solar panels.The U.S. will impose duties of as much as 30 percent on solar equipment made abroad, a move that threatens to handicap a $28 billion industry that relies on parts made abroad for 80 percent of its supply. Just the mere threat of tariffs has shaken solar developers in recent months, with some hoarding panels and others stalling projects in anticipation of higher costs. The Solar Energy Industries Association has projected tens of thousands of job losses in a sector that employed 260,000.“Developers may have to walk away from their projects,” Hugh Bromley, a New York-based analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in an interview before Trump’s decision. “Some rooftop solar companies may have to pull out” of some states.U.S. panel maker First Solar Inc. jumped 9 percent to $75.20 in after-hours trading in New York. The Tempe, Arizona-based manufacturer stands to gain as costs for competing, foreign panels rise. First Solar didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. The Solar Energy Industries Association also didn’t immediately respond.The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempt from the tariffs, Trump said in a statement Monday. The president approved four years of tariffs that start at 30 percent in the first year and gradually drop to 15 percent.The duties are lower than the 35 percent rate the U.S. International Trade Commission recommended in October after finding that imported panels were harming American manufacturers. The idea behind the tariffs is to raise the costs of cheap imports, particularly from Asia, and level the playing field for those who manufacture the parts domestically.Trump’s solar decision comes almost nine months after Suniva Inc., a bankrupt U.S. module manufacturer with a Chinese majority owner, sought import duties on solar cells and panels. It asserted that it had suffered “ serious injury” from a flood of cheap panels produced in Asia. A month later, the U.S. unit of German manufacturer SolarWorld AG signed on as a co-petitioner, adding heft to Suniva’s cause.Suniva had sought import duties of 32 cents a watt for solar panels produced outside the U.S. and a floor price of 74 cents a watt.China and neighbors including South Korea may opt to challenge the decision at the World Trade Organization — which has rebuffed prior U.S.-imposed tariffs that appeared before it.Lewis Leibowitz, a Washington-based trade lawyer, expects the matter will wind up with the WTO. “Nothing is very likely to stop the relief in its tracks,” he said before the decision. “It’s going to take a while.”More: President Trump Slaps Tariffs on Solar Panels in Major Blow to Renewable Energy
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:U.S. shale producers last year again spent more money than they collected, extending a years-long streak of putting oil output above cash flow and investor returns, according to a Reuters analysis of top independent producers.All but seven of 29 of these producers last year spent more on drilling and shareholder payouts than they generated through operations, according to securities filings. Total overspending by the group was $6.69 billion in 2018, according to Morningstar data provided to Reuters by the Sightline Institute and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.While total overspending was down slightly from a year earlier, stock prices in the sector have slid at a time when U.S. share prices in general have posted strong gains.Shale firms are pushing U.S. oil output to record-shattering levels, but companies have prioritized spending on acreage and drilling. The data showed few producers generated solid returns, even as U.S. crude prices rose 28 percent in 2018 to an average $65.06 a barrel, from $50.79 in 2017.Stock prices of all 29 shale producers fell in 2018, pressured by volatile crude prices and stronger returns in other sectors. Only one of the 29, Cabot Oil & Gas Corp, traded higher at the end of 2018 than it did two years earlier.An investor who put $100 into the S&P 500 Oil & Gas Exploration & Production Index in 2013 would have had $58.99 at the end of 2018. Similar $100 investments were worth just $9 in Whiting Petroleum Corp, $33.51 in Apache and $38.88 in Devon, according to financial filings. By contrast, $100 in the S&P 500 grew to $150.33 over the same period.More: Cash flow still weak at U.S. shale firms, stock prices underperform Stock market data: U.S. shale producers are a money-losing investment
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享KUT:For the first time ever, wind has surpassed coal as an energy source in Texas. Data released this month by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas shows wind created 22 percent of the electricity used in the first half of the year, edging out coal by 1%.Texas is the largest consumer of coal in the country, according to the Energy Information Administration. But cheap natural gas and renewable energy prices are biting into coal’s market share.Natural gas still continues to produce more electricity than any other source, at 38%. Solar energy accounts for about 1% of electricity here. Daniel Cohan, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Rice University, said that number could slowly tick up.“For several years in a row now, we’ve had almost a doubling of the amount of solar farms in Texas,” he said. “And it looks like we’re set to have a few more doublings ahead. So, Texas is really becoming one of the growth areas for solar after a very slow start.”“It still remains to be seen whether [wind] surpasses coal for the entire year,” he said. July and August are typically the biggest months for coal generation, and coal could pull ahead. “But, so far, it just illustrates the big transition that we’re having away from coal and toward wind power,” he said.More: Texas has generated more electricity from wind than coal so far this year Wind generation tops coal in Texas for first six months of 2019
Navajo company to buy bankrupt Cloud Peak coal mines in Wyoming FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Gillette News Record:Cloud Peak Energy Corp., one of the Powder River Basin’s largest coal mine operators, has accepted a bid from Navajo Transitional Energy Co. to buy “substantially all of Cloud Peak Energy’s assets.” Cloud Peak announced the sale Friday, which will be considered for approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday.Navajo Transitional Energy has agreed to buy the company’s Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in Campbell County, along with the Spring Creek mine in southern Montana, according to a Cloud Peak statement announcing the winning bidder. Navajo also will own the Sequatchie Valley reclamation project.Navajo has agreed to pay a cash deposit of $15.7 million when the sale closes and assume a $40 million second lien promissory note and five-year royalty on future tons of coal produced at the PRB mines. Navajo also will pay up to $20 million in post-petition debts accrued during the bankruptcy process. The company also has agreed to assume pre- and post-petition federal, state and local tax liabilities for the company, make state and federal royalty payments and assume all reclamation obligations.While it’s unknown what Navajo Transitional’s plans are for the PRB mines, that it bought all three operational properties and that the deal includes royalties based on future production, “[What] they’re saying is they’re assuming they can operate them and generate enough cash flow to make those commitments,” said Rob Godby, director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming College of Business.Because the Navajo Nation governs itself, it also could have some tax advantages as operator of the mines, which could make them more competitive, he said. “One of the things about the Navajo bid is they probably have favorable tax status for Native corporations,” he said. “What they’re potentially looking at having there is an interesting proposition. The bottom line is they assume they can make cash flow there, so that may replace some of the earnings they’ll lose on the Navajo power plant.”More: Cloud Peak has buyer for PRB mines
Whenever I’ve got a few hours for a good long bike ride, it’s the mountain bike I grab, heading to the peace of the woods, leaving my forlorn road bike hanging from its hook.In the back of my mind I know that my road bike is fun, but it seems mentally more difficult, until I actually ride it. That’s when I realize how much I love that mental game of pushing my legs and cardiovascular system to places it’s not used to going. Plus, the road bike can take me so many miles further. It’s the week after the ride that I love the most, when my legs feel stronger as I run up the stairs or do a tumbling pass at gymnastics.This past weekend my girlfriend’s birthday wishes got me back onto the road bike, and I’ve been grinning about it ever since. I felt like it was my birthday too. I actually saw fewer people on that road ride than I’ve gotten used to seeing in the woods over the last year.We chose a few steep mountain passes in the Barnardsville area to suffer on, but it’s hard to suffer when you’re riding through sun-drenched valleys lush with early summer green, grazing cows, happy dogs and bubbling creeks. It’s almost silly, really, so I giggled between the leg-burning climbs and laughed out loud in the swerving descents. It helps to be physically matched with a riding partner. Laura and I always manage to remain in the same ten degrees of fitness, trading off being the carrot. She’s pulled me through many runs and rides, reminding me what my body is supposed to be capable of managing. Her stretches of spin classes and summer races always encourage me to get my butt in gear when I’m leaning more toward a weekend of lying around at the beach with the kids or pulling out the tools to catch up on home maintenance.Although it was an awesome ride for my legs, I felt like my biggest challenge is always my brain. If you don’t know you can climb a mountain, the question burns behind the eyes at every turn of the cranks. We cruised for 25 miles, rolling through small hills before hitting the wall of Paint Fork. I had already resigned myself to what it was going to be like since the gearing on my bike is set up for someone with much gnarlier legs than mine. My heart was racing before the hell even got hot because I was so scared I wasn’t going to make it. It took some mind tricks to calm myself. By the time I finally gained control over my concern for failure I was already half-way up. I was standing in the pedals, convincing myself to quit checking for easier gears. Getting my shoulders over the handlebars made me grateful for all of the pushups and abdominal work I’ve been doing. It was great knowing I had backup muscles so that my legs wouldn’t be the ones take all the brunt.I’ve found that it’s best for me to avoid looking up, seeking the top of the mountain so that I can guess how many pedal strokes are left. What’s far easier is staring directly in front of the wheel, watching it churn the asphalt, telling myself, “We’re gonna be here for a good while, so get comfortable.”It was here that I fell into the paperboy action for a few feet, swerving back and forth to ease the “straight up.” By the time I realized the futility in that I had reached the crest where I had to stop to celebrate. While Laura ate a Cliff bar, I busted out the aluminum foil package stuffed into my jersey filled with the kids’ leftover whole grain pancakes smothered in honey. I thought of Lance Armstrong and those expensive stroep waffles that he sells and laughed.Flying down the other side of the mountain was enough to make me forget the initial cost of this fun. The sun kicked the heat of the day up a notch, leaving me the farmer/cycler tan lines for the week. We cruised along, able to regain conversation when Caroline sailed by on her motorbike and pulled out under a shade tree in the church yard to feed us cold watermelon and lemon-lime spritzers. My girlfriends are the best EVER. She found us again two hours later and complained of being tired of riding her motorcycle. We did not hit her, but I did imagine what it would be like to hold my bike while riding on the back of hers.We did begin seeing other cyclists once we hit the ever popular Town Mountain Road. My irritation over the lack of friendliness between road riders caused me to become overly animated in my efforts to say hello. I began enthusiastically waving like a 4-year-old seeing his mommy, shouting, “WHEEEEE!” in the parts where I was going fast, as they were on the opposite side of the road grinding painfully slowly. This all greatly improved my attitude.It was the River Road back to Weaverville where the slow climb made me the hungriest. We stopped at Ledges Park to eat the remainder of my pancakes, but mostly I wanted to see if I my back could twist from side to side or if it was going to be permanently stuck in this forward bend. Already I looked forward to my Monday morning massage appointment. Thank you Tavis Cummings for knowing how to fix me.So thank you little road bike, for making me love you all over again.For all of Bettina Freese’s posts, visit Spinning My Wheels!
The Polar Plunge Winter Festival is this weekend, February 7th-8th, in Virginia Beach. This event is the largest fundraiser for the Special Olympics where participants, athletes, and teams take the plunge into the icy Atlantic Ocean during the height of winter. Since its inception 21 years ago in 1993, more than 36,000 plungers have raised more than $8.5 million for Special Olympics Virginia. Last year, more than 3,300 plungers braved the icy water, raising more than $1.2 million.There are more than enough events and activities going on throughout the weekend. One is the 5K which is on Saturday, February 8th, at 8:30am. Participants should meet on the boardwalk for an invigorating (read: freezing) 3.2 mile run. The entry fee is $40 and comes with a t-shirt and other goodies for the weekend. There will be day-of registration.A few other events include Friday’s Pre-Plunge Party, the Pee Wee Plunge, a volleyball tournament, and of course, THE actual plunge at 2:30 on Saturday. As you can see, the weekend is jam packed with fun, frigid events for all ages and abilities. Check the schedule so you don’t miss out!If you’re not interested in plunging but want to help, there are many opportunities to volunteer. Be sure to fill out this form to find the right job for you.
I like popping corks on beers. Legitimate corks. It lets me know I’m in for something a bit more complex than your standard pop top beer. Blue Mountain Barrel House, the sister brewery to Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, Va., loves to put out corked beers. The Barrel House is where Blue Mountain produces top-shelf beers that require patience—lots of barrel-aged, bottle-conditioned brews. Beers with corks.Their Uber Pils is one of my favorites right now, which is surprising since the Pilsner is arguably one of the most forgettable beer styles on the market. It’s almost easier to describe a Pilsner by what it doesn’t taste like. It’s not hoppy, it’s not malty, it’s not fruity…Beck’s is a Pilsner. Carlsberg is a Pilsner. Heineken is a Pilsner. The style is definitely crisp and refreshing, but it’s easily forgotten.That’s not the case with Uber Pils, an “imperial pilsner” that takes the crisp, refreshing aspects of a Pilsner, then jacks it up into something memorable. The beer doesn’t have much of a nose (most Pilsners don’t), but it pours darker and cloudier than most Pilsners. It’s a rounder, more full-bodied beer with plenty of Pils carbonation, but more of a malt backbone. It’s just a little bit sweet, and clocks in a 40 IBU’s, which puts the beer in Pale Ale territory in terms of bitterness. It also comes in at a respectable 7.6% ABV, which takes it well out of session territory.Ultimately, Uber Pils is a big beer, with big beer taste—the Pilsner for beer snobs who don’t respect Pilsners. For me, it’s one of those tasty brews that actually makes me sad when the bottle is empty. And it’s definitely worthy of the cork.Follow Graham Averill’s exploits in drinking and parenthood at daddy-drinks.com.
This Carolina roots rock band thrives on the road…Just looking at the tour schedule of Big Daddy Love is exhausting. The North Carolina-based roots rock crew hits the road with reckless abandon, typically playing shows in front of growing crowds four or five nights a week.Since forming in 2009, the group has been turning heads at festivals and underground music haunts in the Southeast. An energetic sound the band self-dubbed “Appalachian Rock” mingles gritty electric blues guitar licks with mountain-bred banjo rolls. It’s an Americana amalgamation that can move in a number of versatile directions: the airy newgrass of Carolina favorites Acoustic Syndicate, the gonzo punch of Colorado slam-grassers Leftover Salmon, or even a distorted Southern-flavored blitz in the vein of the Allman Brothers Band.When the band first emerged, there was immediate success, including a win at FloydFest’s “Under the Radar” contest in 2010, but a line-up shuffle threatened to thwart the early momentum.In the past two years, though, the band—formed in Sparta but now primarily calling Winston-Salem home—has solidified a new roster, adding guitarist and songwriter Scott Moss, as well as drummer Scotty Lewis, who joined founding banjo player Brian Swenk, bassist Ashley Sutton, and guitarist Joe Recchio. Things are back on track.“We’ve really started finding the pocket with each other,” said Swenk. “The playing is as good as anything we’ve ever known.”The songbook and hearty vocals of Moss, who replaced original lead singer Daniel Smith in 2012, has particularly given the band a revived spark.“His songwriting is growing with our comfort level and all of us are willing to try new things,” Swenk continued. “We’re not relying on bluegrass as much as we used to. We’re incorporating some country rockers and blues songs—finding different grooves.”On last year’s live album, Live at Ziggy’s, the band harnessed the seasoned precision of its 200-shows-a-year touring ethic into an impressive sampling of its dynamic performances. Fist-pumping originals including opener “Nashville Flood” mix with twangy takes on interesting covers like Guns N’ Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and the Grateful Dead’s “Shakedown Street.”More fresh material is on the way. Earlier this year the band recorded a new album at Applehead Recording in Woodstock, N.Y. The upcoming effort could be released as early as this summer on the small North Carolina label Little King Records, which put out Syndicate’s early albums. As the first studio output with the new line-up, the Big Daddy Love band members decided to call the album This Time Around, named after a song Moss brought to the table late in the recording session. “As soon as we heard the phrase, we realized it fit us on so many levels,” Swenk said.Before the album surfaces, the band will continue traversing the country, earning more fans one show at a time. The group has found support in the Northeast and Rocky Mountains, but in June the tour docket lists familiar cities in the South: Wilmington, Savannah, Charleston, and Johnson City.“It’s fun to find the little pockets of coolness where people really appreciate us coming,” Swenk said. “We’re discovering a lot of brand new favorite places, many that are unexpected small towns. We’d much rather play for a smaller crowd that appreciates every note than a bigger crowd that’s just there for the bar scene.”
Photo courtesy Virginia Department of Game and Inland FisheriesBy Jessica PorterGreat Smoky Mountains National Park and Shenandoah National Park are two of the most densely bear-populated sections of the trail. Yet very few bear-related incidents occur in these popular parks each year. “We’ve had no human bear conflicts in 30 years,” says Karen Beck-Herzog, public affairs officer and lands coordinator for Shenandoah National Park.But there was one fatal encounter that occurred in the Smokies in 2004. Young bears that are recently away from their mothers’ care are more prone to act predatory, especially in the spring when food can be challenging to find, which was the case in this situation, says Dana Soehn, management assistant of public affairs for Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Situations like these are very rare: 9 million people visit the Smokies every year.Though black bears in the Southeast don’t fully hibernate and are active all year, hikers most often report bear encounters in the spring and the fall, says Laurie Potteiger, information services manager of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. In the spring, black bears are just waking up from winter and looking for food. Much of their food is not available yet, so they are very active foraging. In the fall, they are preparing for the winter and on the hunt for acorns, making sightings common.Improper food storage is one of the most common ways to wind up with an unwanted bear encounter. Hang food from a tree limb approximately 10 feet high and 6 feet from the tree. “If the bag is hung too low, you completely defeat the purpose of it,” says Potteiger. She advises that all food and scented items, including toiletries, should go in the bag.The parks use aversive conditioning—including noisemakers, firecrackers, and pellet guns— to discourage troublesome bears from becoming habituated to humans. “We want to keep our bears wild; we don’t want them to feel comfortable approaching people,” says Soehn.In the Smokies, there are typically about 20 bears per year not deterred by these methods, says biologist Bill Stiver. The park will then capture the bear and remove a tooth to tag it and document its health and age, hoping the process is so unpleasant that it will work as a greater deterrent. If the bear returns after being released, it’s captured again and moved to a more isolated location.If a bear gets too close…Make noise and spread your arms to look as big as possible.Back up slowly to create space between you and the bear.Don’t look it in the eye. In the extremely rare case that the bear acts aggressively, stand your ground and do not run.If it attacks, fight back using any weapon (like trekking poles or rocks) that you can find.
How can you make your drive to the trailhead as clean and green as possible?One of the leading candidates to replace fossil fuels has been around as long as the cars that use them. Biofuels were Henry Ford’s original plan for fuel for his Model Ts car. But large petroleum deposits kept gasoline and diesel much cheaper, and biofuels were soon forgotten.The gasoline and diesel that cars run on today are actually 300-million-year-old biofuels—dead plants that were buried and compressed over eons. The biofuels that are being considered to replace these fossil fuels are just plants grown today.Much of the gasoline used today is already blended with a biofuel called ethanol, which can be made from different types of plants such as corn and cane sugar. Ethanol is made usually made using chemical reactions, fermentation, or heat to break down starches and sugars found in plants.In countries such as Brazil, many cars run on 100 percent ethanol that they get from cane sugar. In Europe, biodiesels made from palm oil are widely used.Cars are one of the main contributors to carbon dioxide pollution in our earth’s atmosphere, but with the growing of plants for biofuels, these plants can absorb much of the carbon dioxide released by automobiles. Possibly the biggest perk to biofuels is that they are easily renewable. The airline industry is also looking for cleaner emissions and considering biofuels to replace their current jet fuels.However, here are some drawbacks. The entire process of growing plants and breaking them down into biofuel requires a large amount of energy. Many scientists have calculated that the production of corn-based ethanol actually uses more energy than it generates. Other concerns about biofuels are the impacts of growing and harvesting large plantations of these plants. Often rain forests are clear cut for palm oil plantations to provide biofuel.Many believe using non-food grasses, algae, or biomass—termed second-generation or advanced biofuels—could be better solutions than using corn or cane sugar for ethanol production.Read more here.