A Minnesota Model for Attracting Investment in Renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Frank Jossi for Midwest Energy News:A small town on the prairie of southwest Minnesota, Morris has an outsized reputation in the renewable energy world. The city’s University of Minnesota campus boasts two wind turbines, solar thermal and photovoltaic installations, and a small biomass plant.Having seen the university’s success – and having collaborated on some of those projects – city leaders decided the community itself needed to head in that same direction.It hired Jeremy Kalin, a 41-year-old former Minnesota legislator and founder of Eutectics LLC, a firm that works closely with communities on finding unique financial resources for clean energy projects.Working with city leaders and the university’s Center for Small Towns, Eutectics developed the Morris Model Clean Energy Hub and set an ambitious goal of powering 100 percent of the city with renewable energy within a decade. Some of those investors are enormous, such as pension funds (many of which have sustainable investment goals), or have a regional focus, in the case of community banks. Others include community development financial institutions, “impact” investors, equipment leasing partners, municipal lease financiers, solar investors and PACE programs.These financial institutions and investors “are interested in the projects we are bringing them and they are very interested in the fact we were bringing them prequalified projects – we can describe the payback, we can describe the owners and their financial health,” he said.Eutectics managed to convince capital partners they could still earn money off $100,000 deals, not just $1 million-or-more ones. The key has been to assure investors that clean energy projects aren’t just a good idea because they mitigate global warming and make for a safer environment, they can actually pay back financially.Full article: Minnesota firm has a new approach to clean energy financing
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Politico:A federal trade panel declared Friday that surging imports of solar panels have hurt U.S. manufacturers — a decision that will allow President Donald Trump to penalize Chinese companies but could also choke off the fast-growing green energy industry in the U.S.The U.S. International Trade Commission voted to uphold a complaint brought by two domestic solar manufacturers that complained that the low-cost imports had damaged their businesses. The decision was opposed by the much larger U.S. solar installation industry, which has seen the influx of the cheap panels spark a boom in construction of giant solar farms and rooftop systems around the country.The issue will give Trump the opportunity to erect trade barriers he has hailed as key to his strategy to revive domestic manufacturing, and at the same time hit the Chinese companies that have largely evaded previous U.S. import penalties to become the leading suppliers of solar cells and panels. Administration officials say the trade case hasn’t been a central one for the president, but they are increasingly confident Trump will favor tariffs when the commission sends the White House its recommendations in the next couple of months.In a statement, the White House said Trump would make a decision that “reflects the best interests of the United States,” and it praised the solar-makers, saying the domestic “solar manufacturing sector contributes to our energy security and economic prosperity.”The case could also give Trump a platform to advance his “America First” agenda and tout his effort to revive the ailing coal sector. Coal companies have complained that the Obama administration waged a regulation-heavy “war on coal” while tilting federal tax incentives and loans to renewable energy sources in order to advance climate change policies.“[Trump] could easily reward his buddies in the coal industry who would really like to see high-priced solar panels competing with coal for space on the grid,” said Clark Packard, a policy analyst and trade lawyer with the conservative think tank R Street Institute, which opposes tariffs. He added: “He may just want to stick it to people — your coastal elites who never would have voted for him who are more likely to use solar panels. He’s looking for any circumstance to impose tariffs, it doesn’t seem he cares what they are.”Trump has not weighed in on the case so far, though his administration has reopened the landmark North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and China, and he has regularly blasted China and other countries for what he calls unfair trade with the U.S.“He’s a protectionist, there’s no doubt about it, and he’s not very sympathetic to the renewable energy,” Gary Hufbauer, senior fellow for the Peterson Institute of International Economics. “As much as you can predict any president, I think his conclusion is foregone.”The complaint brought by Georgia-based Suniva and Oregon-based SolarWorld USA has brought sharp opposition from most of the U.S. solar industry, which has seen its growth skyrocket as costs for the technology fell to a fraction of what they were a decade ago. Aided by federal tax incentives and state-level programs, large solar power installations have sprung up across the country, driving down costs for those plants to levels that are now competitive with coal and natural gas power power stations. That’s lifted employment in the sector to 260,000 even as the number of U.S. companies that make solar cells and panels sinks. More: Trade panel puts solar tariff decision in Trump’s hands Trade-Case Decision Leaves Trump in a Position to Gut U.S. Solar Industry
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Tribune-Star:The Merom Generating Station in western Sullivan County will be closed in 2023, impacting about 185 utility workers.Hoosier Energy today announced a plan to retire the coal-fired power plant and transition to other energy sources including wind, solar, natural gas and storage.The 1,070-megawatt Merom Generating Station went online in 1982.The company announced its new long-range resource plan, which it said is designed to provide its 18 member cooperatives with reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable energy while saving members an estimated $700 million over the next two decades.The plan provides a foundation for supply cost stability and predictability while reducing the company’s carbon footprint by nearly 80, a news release said.Hoosier Energy is a generation and transmission cooperative with headquarters in Bloomington. The cooperative provides electric power and services to 18 electric distribution cooperatives in southern and central Indiana and southeastern Illinois, serving nearly 650,000 consumers.More: Hoosier Energy announces planned closing of Merom Generating Station Indiana co-op to close 1,070MW Merom coal plant in 2023
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Companies across the global renewable energy industry are anxiously assessing the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their bottom line. Every company, it seems, except NextEra Energy.NextEra, the leading U.S. renewables developer, reported its first-quarter financial results on Tuesday, saying that not only has its renewables development unit been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but it may actually benefit by being able to scoop up other projects that run into trouble.NextEra expects to build around 5 gigawatts of renewables capacity this year, and it added another 1.6 gigawatts of wind, solar and storage to its pipeline during the first quarter. None of its 2020 projects are expected to be delayed. The company also made a stunning, if not entirely surprising, prediction: It will spend $1 billion on battery projects next year. NextEra believes it will be the first company in the world to cross that threshold for energy storage investments in a single year.“Remember that as oil prices have come down, rig counts have come down in the Permian [Basin], which means there’s a lot less associated gas — which has actually helped natural-gas prices” from the perspective of renewables operators, John Ketchum, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, said on an earnings call Tuesday. “We’ve seen a bit of an uptick [in natural-gas prices], especially recently.“When we’re out originating new renewables [deals], we really have not seen competition from gas-fired units for that reason,” Ketchum said. “They still remain in the $30-$40 per megawatt-hour range [on a levelized basis], versus wind, which is still in the teens in most parts of the country, and solar [is] in the $20-$30 range. So, it’s very, very competitive, looking at renewables versus gas-fired generation.”Batteries, too, have become increasingly competitive with gas peaker plants, Ketchum said. “There’s a significant opportunity in almost every part of the country where batteries are now more economic than gas-fired peakers, even at today’s natural-gas prices.”[Karl-Erik Stromsta]More: NextEra Energy looks to spend $1B on energy storage in 2021 NextEra expects to spend $1 billion on battery storage projects in coming year
After a couple of months with an aggressive travel schedule, I’m in the midst of a long stint at home, which means I actually got to ride Bent Creek, Asheville’s de-facto Central Park. Bent Creek is loaded with classic Eastern singletrack—old fire roads converted into skinny trails snaking up and down mountain slopes. There’s some good fall line stints, lots of contouring trails, some decent, rooty gnar…it’s Pisgah lite. And it’s probably been six months since the last time I got to ride there. I spend a lot of time riding new trail systems all over the country, but it’s easy to forget how good I have it at home. Bent Creek is baller. I love that place.Ditto for beer. I’m always on the look out for the next great IPA or stout, and I spend a lot of brain cells working my through bottle after bottle of new brews. I know, it’s a tough job… And yet riding the classic trails of Bent Creek recently put me in the mood for some classic craft beers. The South’s craft beer scene is booming—both North Carolina and Virginia have more than 100 breweries each, and Georgia is catching up after the state changed some stupid distribution laws. With all of these new breweries popping up, it can be easy to lose sight of the beers that paved the way for all of this craft beer hysteria. So, I’ve decided to take a trip down memory lane and gush over the three beers that turned me into a craft beer lover.New Belgium Fat Tire When I lived in Boulder 15 or so years ago, I hated craft beer. I was a die hard Keystone Light fan. Or Coors Light. Or anything that I could get for $6 a 12 pack. And then Fat Tire came into my life, with its malty, easy drinking goodness, and my eyes were opened, like a Born Again Christian coming out of the baptismal water. I think a lot of craft beer lovers have a similar story. Fat Tire is the gateway beer for Americans of a certain age. For decades, you couldn’t get this beer east of the Mississippi, and now, New Belgium is building a brewery a couple miles from my house. That’s progress people. Oskar Blues Dale’s Pale AleAfter dipping my toe into the craft beer world with Fat Tire, I stuck mostly to the malty, amber side of things. I loved sweet porters. But anything with a bitter bite? Hell no. I couldn’t understand why everyone loved IPAs; Even Sierra Nevada Pale Ale turned me off. Then an editor at BRO gave me a Dale’s in the can after a long day in the woods, and my world was rocked. A pale ale that was creamy, balanced and hoppy as hell? And I like it? Word.Highland Brewing Gaelic Ale This was the beer that made me realize the “little guy” could make a beer as good as the big boy craft breweries. Highland’s Gaelic has probably played the gateway beer role for many a Southern drinker over the last 20 years. It’s malty, but still light enough and easy as hell to drink. It was my go-to beer after moving here 11 years ago, kind of like the Bent Creek was my go-to trail system. I’m not gonna lie, I can’t remember the last time I picked up a six pack of Gaelic, but every time I have one at a party or in a bar, I always wonder why it’s been so long between bottles. Kind of like when I get to ride Bent Creek.
If you’re a hiker, biker, paddler, angler, climber, yogi, runner, slacker, craft beer drinker . . . there’s only one place to be October 13-15 – GO Fest.The twice voted “Best Festival” by Blue Ridge Outdoors readers is technically called the Anthem Go Outside Festival, but everyone just calls it GO Fest. Last year the festival attracted 30K adventurers from across the East Coast making it the primo festival for outdoor enthusiasts.This bad ass festival is 100% free, so that’s a huge bonus right out of the gate. Roanoke Outside and the Roanoke Parks and Recreation collaborate on the festival and have stayed true to their goal of keeping the event free so that everyone can live a healthy active lifestyle.For simplicity sake the hundreds of activities found at GO Fest can be broken into three categories: Watch It, Race It, and Try It.Watch It: Any person who wanders into the festival not sure what’s going on can at least catch an awesome show. Pro slackliners, pro BMX stunt shows, dogs jumping 20+ feet into a tank of water, bike trial pros, a lumberjack show, bands, and a heck of a lot of other people doing cool things around the clock.Race It: GO Fest hosts multiple competitive events – the Super Hero 5K, the Wild Gear Chase urban scavenger hunt, a Beer Mile Relay, Cyclocross Exhibitions, and a Strava-based King and Queen of the Mountain Challenge just to name a few.Try It (Our Favorite Part): Demo bikes, shoes, kayaks, sups, fly rods, and more. Sit in on one of over 100 different hands-on classes ranging from wilderness first aid and Leave No Trace to bike maintenance and backpack 101 clinics. Try slacklining, yoga, ride adult big wheels, jump 30’ onto a big air bag, learn to fly cast, hop on the pumptrack, take a shuttle to the top of Mill Mountain for a downhill ride, go for a group trail run, go for a night run, take a hike, chillax in an ENO hammock . . . and that’s just off the top of our head. There truly is something for everyone.Daytime at GO Fest is filled with checking out gear, testing your skills, goofing off, catching up with friends, noshing on grub, and sipping a beverage (or two).But as the sun sets and the moon comes out the day ain’t over. It’s time to head back to your campsite (free camping) and swap your active wear for your dance wear. GO Fest has partnered with the music-minded geniuses behind FloydFest to provide nightly concerts – and a Silent Disco DJ Tent – to boogie the night away.And the best part (other than being 100% free) . . . you get to go to sleep, wake up the next day, and do it again. Learn more at roanokegofest.com.
Hiking the Mountains to Sea trail has been a gift. I am out here every day living a dream. I say that because hiking a 1,175 mile trail with two kids under the age of five who are tagging along seems more like a fantasy or delusion than an executable plan. Yet I am able to make this hike a reality as a result of my husband’s support. While I am out walking Brew has the difficult job of watching our kids without a home base, managing the logistics for our hike, and working hard to keep additional work at bay. I have spent my days climbing mountains, passing farmland, and enjoying the serenity that comes with hiking long trails. Brew, meanwhile, has been busy changing diapers, searching for lost pacifiers, and trying to keep mold from overtaking Gus’ sippy cup. He has done an outstanding job of making this trip educational and social for our four-year-old daughter. And as a result he has become an expert on museums, nature centers, and libraries across the state. He has also kept our baby-turned-toddler from destroying himself and everything in his wake. (When we passed through Durham, we stayed with a friend who is a pediatric surgeon and she aptly described caring for a one-year-old as “suicide watch.”)The only problem is that Brew hasn’t enjoyed it. I wanted us ALL to have a great experience going across the state. Or I at least wanted everyone to pretend they were having a good time. It has been hard on me to see the toll that this trip has taken on my husband. At times it has made it difficult for me to fully appreciate my experiences. But despite his discomfort and complaints, Brew has never once wanted to quit. When we started talking about this hike two years ago, he willingly signed on. And even after a rough start that included a trip to the emergency room, Brew has been unwavering in his commitment to his family and this trail. I have asked him a few times throughout the hike if we need to take a break or abort our efforts and his response has stayed resolute: “We are going to finish this trail.”Brew will be the first to tell you that he has had moments of fun this fall. He was thrilled to connect with old friends along the way and there have been concerts and craft breweries that have made the trip better. (He still hasn’t found the best North Carolina barbecue, but he’s committed to keep trying.) It’s true that I wanted my husband to have more fun on this hike, but recently it struck me that the gift he is giving us might not be as valuable or meaningful if it were easy. Sacrifice trumps flowers and chocolate any day.Brew is committed to being out here because he loves me and he realizes the significance of the Mountains to Sea Trail for recreation, conservation, and unity within our state. He wants to be a part of this effort even when it’s hard because it is work worth doing. This week we reached the ocean. I still have over 200 miles to hike to reach the finish, but at this point I have a strong feel for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail and a good idea of what has to happen to help the path reach it’s potential and become a continuous and protected trail. It’s going to take effort, money, and sacrifice but it is work worth doing. We are going to finish this trail.
HOW TO: DEEP CREEK LAKE, MD.This article stirred up a lot of heat. From claims we missed favorite spots to sharing directions on how to get to secret rock mazes, the Blue Ridge Outdoors community got involved with how to explore Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. We can’t even believe we are typing these words, but just as time refuses to reverse, so does the Live Outside and Play Road Tour refuse to go on forever (although we have two more meetups left!) We are parking the van in Charlottesville, Virginia, and bidding adieu for four months. It will hibernate until we make our way back in April and revive it back to life. Until then, please check out the best of the best blog posts from along the way. To say we’ve learned about ourselves, each other, living outdoors, and getting a van out of a foot of mud is an understatement. We are now Ph.D. level #vanlifers, please send our congratulations and diplomas to the address below and we are sure it will arrive promptly.Live Outside and Play VanRandom BackroadEast Coast, United StatesIt comes to no surprise that our most popular posts are about food, alcohol, and living in the van. Those are our favorite things, too! Check out the most popular posts, organized from earliest in the tour to most recent.HOW TO MAKE AN EVENING HOT TODDYAh, the days of springtime in the jungle of the East Coast. One of our very first ways to stave off the rainy blues was warm beverages, and we keep going back to this recipe time and time again (for example, today). Check out our van version of the Hot Toddy, enjoy! LIVE OUTSIDE AND PLAY VAN: A TOUR OF OUR CRIBThe curiosity was overwhelming about what the mysterious van looked like from the inside. Luckily, we did an extensive tour and you can see exactly what we call home. Usually, the in-person tour of the van is very quick, “that is the bed…” So this is an extra special in-depth look at our house on wheels. ROMANCE IN THE BACKCOUNTRY: TIPS AND TRICKSHow are we still together? Do we still love each other? Have we had explosions and swore to never speak to each other again? Thank the van gods, the answer is no to the last one, but there is still a lot to learn! We have grown as a couple in ways we never imagined, mostly being honest about when the other needs to put deodorant on. #VANLIFE VS. #REALITYVANLIFEThis video is a little peek into what it looks like when the glamour of #vanlife fades and reality sets in. Is there ever really a glamour stage? We had a great time shooting this one — mostly just shooting our normal lives and staging the glamour parts… PIZZA+HIKING: A MATCH MADE IN ADVENTURE FOODIE HEAVENAfter eight months of touring the country, we have eaten plenty of pizza and done plenty of hikes. This post was hard to put together because we had SO MANY combos we wanted to share. Check out the top four, and let us know if you need more suggestions; we’ve had enough pizza to hike thousands of miles. HOME IS WHERE YOU PARK IT: TIPS ON MAKING YOUR VAN A HOMEWe had been living in the van for six months by the time we wrote this post. We both felt settled and had a semi-organized van. Every object has a place, and once that is settled, you can get to decorating and making the van a home, instead of metal on wheels. 50 DAYS OF #VANLIFE, TIPS, TRICKS, AND TALESOh, the nostalgia. Fifty days feels like a walk in the park now. After over 200 days parking the van down by the river, we have learned so much more. This is a good benchmark for those just starting the #vanlife to learn from our copious mistakes. WILDFLOWERS AND WHERE TO FIND THEMThis one turned out popular when we were really just writing it for our own enjoyment! We went on a wonderful hike through the Maroon Bells on the four pass loop and we have NEVER seen more beautiful and varied wildflowers. We were inspired to write this post and share the beauty of the wildflower. 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.
New research shows that sharks have only one fear: the orca Tsali Mountain Bike and Equestrian Trail Complex increase from $2 to $5 per rider per day, and $15 to $30 for an annual pass. U.S. Forest Service proposes fee changes in Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests The U.S. Forest Service is proposing to change recreation fees at four areas in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Current fees have remained the same for over a decade and the goal of the fee change is to establish a consistent fee throughout all of North Carolina’s national forests and to pay to upgrade sites. Proposed fee changes include: Virginia regulators vote to enter the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative but face push-back from Republicans The public comment period is open from April 22- May 31, 2019. Comments can be sent via email to [email protected] A citizen board responsible for regulating air pollution in Virginia has voted to enter into an agreement with other states to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions released at the state’s power plants. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative aims to reduce pollution from fossil fuel powered power plants by 30 percent over the next 10 years. State republicans oppose the idea and are attempting to block the move, calling it a tax that will hurt the state’s ability to attract new businesses. Earlier this year, Governor Northam vetoed GOP legislation that would have stopped Virginia from participating in the program without support from two-thirds of the general assembly. Brown Mountain OHV Trail Complex and Wayehutta OHV Trail Complex increase from $5 to $15 per vehicle per day, and $30 to $60 for an annual pass. A new paper published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports has found that when great white sharks encounter orcas they flee immediately and will swim great distances to get away, not returning to the same area until the following year. Orcas swim as fast as great white sharks—35 miles an hour—and hunt in groups. They have occasionally been observed eating great white sharks. Researchers tracked 165 sharks near the Farallon Islands off San Francisco. In the best-documented case, orcas from two separate pods arrived in an area where 17 great white sharks were hunting. When the orcas arrived the sharks took off, swimming as far as fifty miles away. Scientists say that while they don’t know for sure why the sharks bolted it could be because they feared for their lives, or because they were being bullied by the orcas. Swan Cabin increase from $25 to $50 per night
For fourteen years, the third weekend in September has found me celebrating the birth of country music with thousands of my best friends along State Street in Bristol, TN/VA. During that time, I have been incredibly lucky to have been at the epicenter of the booking process for the festival. For a music junkie, helping to craft the line up for such an expansive roots music festival, which covers everything from country and bluegrass to blues and indie rock, is a “pinch me I must be dreaming” kind of experience. A bit over two weeks ago, the downtown area of the two Bristols – the state line separates the twin cities – was crowded with music enthusiasts from across the country. Wandering patrons found bands in every nook and cranny, playing before intimate crowds on a small stage in a local bar or eatery or before thousands on a giant outdoor stage. I cannot overemphasize the worth of the friendships I have made or the pride that I feel in a festival well designed, during my time with the festival. This year, I was lucky enough to have a great photographer, Josh Moore, and his wife, Jody Moore, working with me to grab photos from all across the weekend. Check out the gallery below for just a glimpse into some of the great talent that we had at this year’s Reunion. And if you are looking for something fun to do next September, be sure to check out the festival’s website for upcoming line-ups and ticket announcements. We are already steamrolling towards our 2020 festival – which happens to be our 20th anniversary – and I promise it is going to be a big one.