FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Ken Silverstein for SNL:In 1980, about 70% of Duke Energy Corp.’s megawatt-hours came from coal. Today, it is 30% and by 2020, it will be about 25%.Indeed, Duke is moving ahead and investing in both renewable generation and in natural gas and the related infrastructure to compensate for its diminishing coal base. The company added 300 MW of solar power in the Carolinas in 2015 — a number that it expects to grow by 75 MW this year.At the same time, Duke is buying Piedmont Natural Gas Co. Inc., a local distribution company that earns a regulated return. That deal, which should be closed by year-end, will boost the utility’s stake in natural gas even more and help balance the company’s investments in electric and gas generation. Just this week, Duke closed its stock offering to help pay for the Piedmont deal, valued at about $6.7 billion.As for the company’s remaining coal fleet, Duke plans to continue investing in them to keep them efficient but makes no promise about their long-term viability.Full article ($): Duke Energy CFO: Coal fleet will wither but existing plants will be cleanChristopher Coates for SNL:Dynegy Inc. President and CEO Robert Flexon called for coal to push market innovation and evolve to compete against steady pressure from competitors and federal regulations or risk disappearing.“Coal assets are under attack economically and environmentally over the last couple of years and if there is anything we can do to drive the business model to a more efficient structure and utilize the scale of our portfolio to weather the storm, we should,” Flexon said.The company head offered a familiar list of industry challenges, from cheap natural and new and looming federal regulations, noting that he expected them to continue to weigh down the U.S. coal sector.In his presentation, Flexon stressed the need for changes to pricing, logistics and technology to make coal suppliers and those that burn coal competitive with natural gas.These included applying chemical scrubbing and rethinking coal combustion residuals, including coal ash, as a product rather than a liability. According to the company head, Dynegy is hoping to recycle all of its coal ash by 2020, eliminating all ponds and landfills in the process.Flexon did not downplay the impact of federal regulations, especially the U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which he said has been designed to “crush coal.” However, he said it is now the responsibility of the industry to work together to minimize the impact of the new rule.“It’s the fault of the industry that we have not come up with more affordable ways to meet these new federal regulations,” Flexon said. “We gotta get better at this or coal is going to disappear.”Full article ($): Dynegy CEO says coal industry needs to do more or risk disappearing Dynergy and Duke Energy Execs Concede an Industry in Decline
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享SNL:Major asset managers are actively assessing environmental, social and governance risk factors in their portfolios to satisfy the demands of institutional clients, putting momentum behind the adoption of sustainable accounting standards by larger corporate entities.The lingering question behind initiatives to integrate these environmental, social and governance, or ESG, standards in investment portfolios centers around an absence of what can be defined as ESG material risks to a company’s performance and how such risks should be disclosed to shareholders in securities filings.While the broader universe of public companies have been resistant to making additional disclosures, a growing number of institutional investors and asset managers are taking it upon themselves to advocate for ESG factors from the buy-side as a starting point, putting pressure on corporate issuers to accommodate their demands, panelists observed Nov. 30 at the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, or SASB, symposium in New York.“In 2017, the conversations have really changed, where there is a lot of interest in true ESG integration at the portfolio level,” State Street Global Advisors Executive Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of Global Equity Beta Solutions Lynn Blake said, speaking at the SASB forum. “There are certain regions around the world where ESG integration is table stakes … and the U.S. is probably the laggard in these conversations.”SASB, which released its “State of Disclosure” report at the event, aims for its framework to give specific sectors guidelines for which ESG factors could be considered material risks. The report highlights the existing disclosures made by major public companies, despite the lack of a standardized framework, and advocates for uniform standards.Similar efforts have begun cropping up in certain industries, with PPL Corp.’s Vice President for Public Affairs Christine Martin noting at the SASB forum that it is among the companies contributing to a forthcoming effort by the Edison Electric Institute to standardize disclosures related to greenhouse gas emissions and climate risks across the regulated utilities industry.Though what constitutes ESG risk factors for a company may not always be clear initially, a push to develop more consistent metrics across different industries appears to be emerging.More ($): Fund managers assess ESG risks, pressuring corporations for greater disclosure Pressure From Institutional Investors for Better Climate-Risk Metrics
6 Major Plant Closures in 2017 Emblematic of U.S. Coal Industry’s Troubles FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Forbes:We Energies is Wisconsin’s largest utility, with more than 2.2 million customers, and coal supplied 50.6% of its total generation capacity in 2015. This November, the utility decided to close its 1.2 GW Pleasant Prairie coal plant in early 2018, despite having only been in operation since 1985 and undergoing $325 million on pollution controls in recent years. The plant routinely operated at reduced capacity in recent years, and did not operate at all for three months this spring.In early October, competitive power provider Luminant, which operates nearly 18 GW of Texas generation, announced it would close the 1.8 GW Monticello Power Plant by January 2018 due to ERCOT’s “unprecedented low power price environment.” A week later, Luminant announced it would close two “economically challenged” coal plants with 2.3 GW capacity due to low wholesale power prices, abundant renewables, and low natural gas prices. All told, within a week, Luminant decided to close 4.1 GW installed coal capacity – roughly 12% of Texas’ total coal power capacity.Missouri’s largest utility, Ameren Missouri, announced in late September it would invest $1 billion in 700 MW of new wind capacity and 100 MW new solar by 2020 while closing half its coal fleet as part of an initiative to cut carbon emissions 80% by 2050. Coal power currently makes up 5.3 GW of Ameren’s 10.2 GW generation capacity, and the utility only has 11 MW total renewables capacity today. “We expect this tremendous growth in wind generation to provide great value to our customers, who will save money on energy costs,” said CEO Michael Moehn.In late August Xcel Energy, which relies on coal for 46% of its Colorado power supply, announced it would close two units of the Comanche Generation Station totaling 660 MW of capacity by 2025. Xcel will replace that generation with up to $2.5 billion investment in 1 GW of wind and 700 MW of solar, along with other resources. This trend is not new for Xcel – the utility has closed multiple Colorado coal plants totaling 1.1 GW since 2011 – but what is new is that these closures happened for economic reasons, not environmental.New Mexico’s largest utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), released its 2017-2023 integrated resource plan (IRP) in April to examine future scenarios and determine which power mix could meet its expected demand at lowest cost. The results were surprising for a utility that served its 510,000 customers with 56% coal in its total generation portfolio in 2015: PNM’s best option for low-cost and reliable power was to start retiring coal in 2022, completely end coal generation by 2031, and replace it with solar energy, natural gas, and energy storage, along with expanded transmission to cheap wind power in eastern New Mexico.Utilities Closed Dozens of Coal Plants In 2017. Here Are The 6 Most Important.
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Christian Science Monitor:It’s a sunny day in early November in southern Wyoming, but the wind is blowing so hard that opening a car door is a chore. Signs on the interstate warn of gusts topping 70 miles per hour, and semi trucks have pulled over all along I-80. It’s difficult to hear a word Bill Miller says as he steps out of his truck at the top of a rise on the Overland Trail Ranch to describe the development taking place on the expanse below him.Of course, that fierce wind is exactly what makes this pocket of the West so desirable for that development. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is slated to become the largest wind farm in the United States once it’s up and running. And it’s causing some in Wyoming – a state whose economy has been devastated by the decline of its bedrock fossil fuel industries – to rethink their attitude toward renewable energy.The 3,000-megawatt project near Rawlins is emblematic of a growing industry that is hitting its stride, and is fueled less by ideology than by economics. Gone are the days when wind power advocacy fell exclusively to liberals and environmental advocates. As the economics of wind power have become more viable, many staunch conservatives have come to view the industry as a fiscally responsible component of a diverse energy future. The Chokecherry and Sierra Madre project is bankrolled by Philip Anschutz, a Denver billionaire who made much of his fortune in the fossil fuel industry, is a major Republican donor, and is hardly a poster child for renewable-energy idealism. “We’re in the resource business,” says Mr. Miller, a native Wyomingite with a trim grey beard who grew up on a ranch and has worked for The Anschutz Corporation for 37 years, mostly on oil and gas projects. He now runs both the Power Company of Wyoming and the TransWest Express Transmission Project, the two Anschutz subsidiaries behind the wind farm and the transmission line that will carry its electricity from the expanses of Wyoming to urban California and the desert Southwest. “I try to ignore the political, ignore the policy, and think about it from an economic point of view.” Anschutz already owned the 500-square-mile working cattle ranch where the new wind farm is being built, and as Miller drives its bumpy roads, up to a plateau overlooking the site, with Elk Mountain rising in the distance, he points to the primary reason this project made sense: “This is, without exception, the best wind resource anywhere in the US.”For a state with such strong winds, Wyoming has actually been slow to enter the wind market. That honor goes to the Plains states like Texas, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Many of those states – which are generally conservative, and supported Donald Trump in 2016 – generate a significant portion of their power from wind.When Kansas legislators voted two years ago to do away with its renewable portfolio standard mandating that 20 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020, it was largely a symbolic action; more than 20 percent of Kansas’s power already came from wind energy by 2014. Today, about 30 percent of its electricity generation comes from wind.“A combination of the [federal] tax credit and improving technology has made wind very cost effective,” says John Nielsen, clean energy program director at Western Resource Advocates in Boulder, Colo. One of the biggest barriers to development has been a lack of transmission and an antiquated grid system, but Mr. Nielsen and others say that once there’s more regional connectivity, wind can become an even larger player.One key driver for the spike in wind has been the growing demand from companies and states looking for cleaner energy and climate solutions. That ideologically driven investment has propelled the industry toward an economy of scale that appeals to fiscal conservatives.“In a lot of these more conservative states the driver is the economics,” says Nielsen. “Ten years ago, the barrier to renewables was that they were more costly. Now, the barrier to really large-scale penetration is the existing system, that it’s not as flexible as it could be to integrate these resources.”More: Why coal-rich Wyoming is investing big in wind power Economics Drive Decisions to Ramp Up Wind Power in Wyoming
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Duke Energy announced contracts Wednesday for 602 megawatts of utility-scale solar under a statewide competitive procurement in North Carolina — with nearly half of the projects to be built by Duke or its own subsidiaries. Unlike utilities in California and many other states, Duke is allowed to compete against other developers to meet North Carolina’s renewable energy targets.Duke is North Carolina’s largest utility, and among the largest investor-owned utilities in the country. It’s also a major renewables developer across the country through its independent generation arm, Duke Energy Renewables.North Carolina’s competitive renewables procurement program allows the state’s targets to be met through power-purchase agreements, utility self-developed facilities or outright utility asset acquisitions. To avoid the obvious potential for conflicts of interest, North Carolina used independent administrator Accion Group to select winning projects from the 78 submitted. Of the 14 winning projects announced, six are to be built by Duke entities, while the remaining will be built by developers not identified in the release.Duke’s own projects, sited in North Carolina, will be built by three company divisions: Renewables, Energy Carolinas and Energy Progress. Duke’s six projects add up to 270 megawatts and are expected to be complete by 2020.While Duke didn’t reveal cost figures in its Wednesday press release, a report from Accion Group provided some data points on the capital costs and energy costs involved. The report noted that the average energy price per proposal was $36.93 per megawatt-hour for North Carolina projects and $31.24 per megawatt-hour for South Carolina projects — both lower than the cost of solar prior to the program’s launch. Duke noted that these avoided-cost savings are expected to add up to about $375 million over the projects’ 20-year contract period. More: Duke Energy contracts for 602MW of solar in North Carolina—nearly half of it from itself Duke moves forward with 602MW of new solar capacity in North, South Carolina
EDF teams up with Octo Energy to develop solar-plus-storage projects in U.K. FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:French utility EDF is launching a major solar-plus-battery storage hybrid initiative in England and Wales as part of plans to double its installed renewable base.However EDF will not be alone, with an ex-state owned green investment fund having also unveiled plans to bring forward at least 1GW of subsidy-free solar farms in the UK, the majority of which are to be developed using trackers and bifacial panels.EDF Renewables’ UK division announced today that it has enlisted the help of Welsh developer Octo Energy to identify and deliver 200MW worth of co-located solar-plus-storage projects throughout England and Wales.Mark Vyvyan-Robinson, director of solar and onshore wind development at EDF Renewables, said the utility was “regularly looking at innovative ways to invest in solar” while expanding its existing portfolio of sites in the UK, which stands at around 1GW, the firm said. “These projects will enable us to contribute to the UK’s green economic recovery from COVID-19 and help the country reach its net zero targets,” he said.The wider EDF Group has the established aim of operating a 50GW renewables portfolio by 2030 alongside another target of becoming Europe’s market leader in energy storage with an additional 10GW of storage by 2035.Meanwhile, there were also further positive signs for a continued rebound in the UK’s solar market as Green Investment Group (GIG) – the Macquarie-owned investment fund formerly of the UK government – unveiled plans to develop 1GW of subsidy-free solar projects and additional battery storage facilities.[Liam Stoker]More: EDF launches major UK solar-plus-storage hybrid hunt
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:India is considering a proposal that may force some of its dirtiest coal plants to close, as policymakers in one of the world’s top polluters increasingly focus on climate change.The plan under consideration by the power ministry would cap plants’ so-called heat rate, which is a measure of how much coal energy is needed to produce each unit of electricity, according to people with knowledge of the issue.Power stations totaling 10 gigawatts have been identified as breaching the proposed benchmark and more could be added, said the people, who asked not to be named as the discussions are ongoing and no policy has been finalized. That would account for roughly 5% of the coal power capacity in India, the world’s second-biggest consumer of the fuel after China.Efforts in India to close old coal plants have gathered pace amid rising outcry against air pollution and deepening concerns over climate change. Besides the environmental benefits, the shutdowns can also boost the use of more-efficient facilities that have remained underutilized for years.The proposal would cap the heat rate for coal plants at 2,600 kilocalories per kilowatt-hour of electricity, according to the people. That’s still higher than what some newer plants are able to achieve. Tata Power Co. Ltd.’s 4-gigawatt plant in Gujarat, for example, runs at a heat rate of 2,050 kilocalories per kilowatt hour, the federal power regulator said in an order last year.India has nearly 200 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity, nearly 54% of the nation’s total. During the first five months of the current fiscal year, coal plants ran at an average 48% of capacity and produced 64% of the country’s electricity, a share that’s been sliding with the rise in renewable power.[Rajesh Kumar Singh]More: India may close its dirtiest coal plants as green focus grows India considering plan that could force closure of 10GW of coal-fired generation
Blade Runner; Knoxville, Tenn.Only 11 days after receiving a new prosthetic leg, Michael Spence completed the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5K in Knoxville. Spence was an avid runner before he lost his leg in a motorcycle accident in 2006, but insurance wouldn’t cover the expensive, shock-absorbing, blade-style prosthetic he needed to revive his stride. Fortunately help came from the nonprofit Amputee Blade Runners, who provided Spence with the special running prosthetic. In return the organization has asked him to complete three races that are 5K or longer. One down.Follow a Famous Family Feud; Pikeville, Ky. The Hatfield McCoy Geo Trail—a new pathway created to navigate Appalachian history—has opened in honor of the region’s most famous family feud. The post-Civil War turmoil between the West Virginia Hatfields and Kentucky McCoys, who lived on opposite sides of the state-dividing Tug Fork River, can now be traced through 15 caches in locations in both states. The trail’s opening event last fall attracted over 500 people from 18 states.Hurricane Humor; Washington, D.C. While a local news station was documenting the relentless rains of Hurricane Sandy, Jimmy Kruyne decided he’d have a little fun with the cameras. Instead of skipping his daily jog, Kruyne hit the streets of Northwest D.C. shirtless and sporting a full horsehead mask. Within hours he became a viral Internet sensation.Deer: Watch out in West Virginia; Charleston, W.Va. According to State Farm, deer have more to fear in West Virginia than in any other state in the U.S. West By-God Virginia topped the insurance company’s annual state rankings of where a vehicle is most likely to hit a deer. Odds of collision in the Mountain State were listed at one in 40, while in Hawaii, where drivers are least likely to bump a deer, the odds are 1 in 6,801.Wolf Hunters Wanted; Belhaven, N.C. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released a plea for information about the illegal shooting of a red wolf in Beaufort County. Anyone with information about the killing of the endangered wolf in October could collect $2,500. It was the second red wolf killed in North Carolina this past fall. Once nearly extinct, the USFWS has overseen a steadily successful red wolf reintroduction in southeastern North Carolina over the last three decades. There are now 82 known red wolves occupying a designated Red Wolf Recovery Area. Killing a red wolf is punishable by up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.Beyond the Blue RidgeParents Say No to Yoga; Encinitas, Calif. Some parents in San Diego County aren’t keen on their kids learning yoga. Concerned that their little ones are being indoctrinated with Hinduism, the parents are threatening legal action against the Encinitas Union School District, where some schools have been offering Ashtanga yoga classes to students thanks to a grant from a nonprofit that promotes the practice. Proponents say the stretching and breathing exercises offer students a needed break during the school day, while opponents claim the yoga style’s roots in Eastern religion make it unconstitutional.Heads Up, Shark Falling; San Juan Capistrano, Calif. A course marshal at the San Juan Hills Golf Club was quite surprised when he saw something flopping around on the 12th tee. It turns out it was a two-pound leopard shark that had apparently been plucked from the ocean by a bird and eventually dropped on the course. With help from other employees, the marshal got the shark into some salt water and drove it back to the ocean, where it safely swam away.Lolo Goes Sledding; Lake Placid, N.Y.Lolo Jones might have another chance at a gold medal sooner than expected. The high-profile Olympic hurdler, who placed fourth in the 100-meter hurdles in London, was named to the U.S. Bobsled Team in October. Team coach Todd Hays asked Jones and other runners to try out because their explosive speed is a skill that often lends itself to successful sledding. Now Jones has a shot to represent the team in Sochi in 2014. •—Jedd Ferris
Cowritten by Hartwell Carson and Chris TrumbauerThe Toyota Prius is not generally regarded as a top-notch off-road vehicle. This is especially true when it has two canoes on the roof and is stuffed to capacity with two grown men, camping gear and a cooler full of beer. This did not deter Hartwell Carson, the Prius’s driver, as he careened down a sketchy dirt road high above the New River Gorge in rural West Virginia. We had debated whether this “short-cut” would be passable – and the jury was still out, as the condition of the road deteriorated with each passing mile.From the passenger seat, I looked down into the valley below, scouting the river that we would spend the next three days paddling (if we ever made it to the put-in). The water level was super low, and we worried that we’d have to portage some of the rapids. That concern seemed unimportant, however, when the Prius suddenly bottomed out in a deep, muddy pothole. Fortunate to have lost only time rather than an axle, we had to backtrack and take the long way to the put-in, nervously laughing about the intermittent metallic rattling sound the car was now making.Most people extol the virtues of being prepared. That’s a fair point – and probably good advice. But the real adventures – the stuff of good stories – often result from times when you are unprepared or end up overcoming some daunting (but likely avoidable) adversity.An hour later we met up with our friend Kemp Burdette at the Glade Creek put-in. We started gearing up the canoes, which looked a little beat up. Hartwell informed us that he was up until midnight fixing one of them. Looking at the old canoes, Kemp remarked that he heard the New River is “flashy,” meaning that water level can rise rapidly. Hartwell looked around for a few seconds then told Kemp that he was being ridiculous. That was about the time that we noticed our boats, which had been sitting on dry land minutes before, were now floating. I looked at Hartwell – he shrugged. We threw caution to the wind, because the sun was out, the beer was cold and our spirits were high.Kemp and I jumped into one canoe and Hartwell threw the cooler into the other. We paddled for about an hour until the sky darkened and it started raining, gently at first but then harder. We made it through the class III Quinnimont Rapids and then raced for a place to camp as the storm engulfed us. We waited out the storm in our tent, drinking bourbon and telling stories.We emerged from the tent after the storm had passed and darkness had fallen. Too cold and wet to make a real dinner, we settled for devouring a box of cookies and warmed ourselves up with a hatchet-throwing contest.Afterward, Kemp pointed into the darkness. “Is that a picnic table?” Sure enough, we were right next to a day-use area. We went to investigate and spotted a sign indicating that camping, fires and alcohol were prohibited. Huh. We had already broken all three rules but it was too late to do anything about it. On the plus side, there was a bathroom here – an unexpected (but welcome) amenity.Shortly after that, headlights pulled into the parking lot and Kemp went to check it out. He came back and reported that it was a couple of rangers and they were “cool,” after he explained the situation to them. He had promised them that we would be quiet and pack up early.The next morning, we awoke to two important realizations. We had neglected to eat dinner and the river had risen three feet. A big breakfast solved the first problem but there was nothing we could do about the second one.The river was swollen and whitewater appeared where no rapids were marked on our map. These conditions were much more suited for rafts than our old canoes. The first class II we encountered was way more challenging than the two class IIIs we breezed through the day before. A tricky wave train threw Kemp and my canoe right over. We hung on to our overturned boat as Hartwell nosed his canoe into ours and helped to push us to safety before we encountered any more rapids.We broke for lunch at Dowdy Creek and scrambled through a large railroad culvert that led to a beautiful waterfall. The falls drop 50 feet straight into a beautiful, clear pool of water, then a second cascade falls another 40 feet. After scrambling around the falls for a bit, Hartwell reminded us that I had promised to grill up lunch. Back by the river, I set up the stove on a small peninsula of river stones, but before the sausages were done, the peninsula was under water and we had to move to higher ground. The river was still rising fast and we had two more Class III rapids to finish that day.We heard the next rapids before we saw them and knew we were in trouble. Kemp and I watched Hartwell disappear over the horizon line and moments later the big wave swamped and flipped our boat. We swam the rest of the rapid, gathered our gear and boats, and headed downstream to look for a place to camp. The river was so high we couldn’t find one, so we pressed on. We came to the next rapid, which looked gnarly. “Might as well – you’re already wet!” yelled Hartwell. He shot through but Kemp and I flipped again.Shortly after we righted the canoe we found a decent place to camp. I started a fire and – making up for the last night – Kemp started on a double dose of dinner (shrimp and steak fajitas). A good night’s sleep was interrupted only by the roar of a coal train barreling past on the other side of the river at 4:00 A.M.The next day, a bald eagle soared over an angry, brown river. All we wanted was not to get wet. I put on the dry clothes I was saving for the ride home. “I’m all in,” I declared. “Not getting wet today.” At first our canoe, which we had named “Tippy McTipface” didn’t seem likely to cooperate. But we ended up navigating a couple of unmarked – and pretty nasty – rapids without dumping.We pulled into the take-out on time and dry. We packed into the station wagon we had left there and headed back to the put-in. Hartwell wondered if any local Trump supporters had messed with his car, which had a prominent Hillary Clinton sticker on the bumper. “This will be a good barometer for the state of the country – if you can leave a Prius with a Hillary sticker in a remote parking lot for three days, in a red state and it doesn’t get vandalized, we are all good.” With the Prius unscathed and our faith in humanity secure, we drove back laughing that despite our lack of preparation, we had plenty of stories to last until our next adventure.
By Dialogo May 19, 2010 An international development group is working to raise $2 billion in aid to help rebuild and reform Haiti’s education system. The Inter-American Development Bank is leading a proposed five-year effort to train teachers, improve facilities and adopt a national curriculum. The IDB says that before the earthquake, only half of Haiti’s children of primary school age were enrolled in classes. Haitian President Rene Preval announced the plan Saturday along with IDB President Luis Alberto Moreno.