Questions Over Latest Wrinkle in Deal to Let Exelon Take Over D.C.-Area Utility

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Amy Poszywak for SNL:The path to approval for Exelon Corp.’s proposed acquisition of Pepco Holdings Inc., thought to be made clearer after a recent decision by District of Columbia regulators, was made murkier March 1.Mayor Muriel Bowser and People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye separately announced they will not support PSC-suggested changes to a settlement agreement they and other parties had previously reached with the companies. A spokesperson for D.C., also a party to the agreement, separately said his office, too, is opposed to the PSC’s changes. The original settlement agreement, reached in October 2015, had essentially brought the proposed deal back to life after an initial PSC rejection of the transaction in late August 2015.The District of Columbia Public Service Commission on Feb. 26 voted to impose new conditions on the settlement agreement, giving signatories 14 days to accept the new conditions, at which point the deal could be approved without further action necessary by the commission. The parties were also allowed to file an alternative proposal, triggering a seven-day comment period on those alternatives.All three parties opposed to the PSC’s new conditions said the PSC’s proposed conditions remove rate protections in the settlement agreement geared toward residential customers.“From the start, we focused on affordability, reliability and sustainability. We pulled everyone together to negotiate an agreement that was a great deal for DC residents,” Mayor Bowser’s office said in a statement. “The Public Service Commission rejected an agreement that had the support of the Peoples Counsel, Attorney General, DC Water and others. The PSC’s counterproposal guts much-needed protections against rate increases for D.C. residents and assistance for low-income D.C. ratepayers. That is not a deal that I can support.”More specifically, Mattavous-Frye said the commission’s suggested changes to the agreement “eviscerates the benefits and protections essential to render the proposed merger in the public interest by making changes to the $25.6 million rate offset provision for residential customers, which was the single most critical provision I supported.”Full article ($): After step forward, opposition to Exelon/Pepco deal mounts Questions Over Latest Wrinkle in Deal to Let Exelon Take Over D.C.-Area Utilitylast_img read more

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More maneuvering to keep Navajo Generating Station alive

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:A Chicago-based company in negotiations to take over a coal-fired power plant in northern Arizona said it would run the generating station at less than half its existing capacity to ensure it’s economical, a company official said Tuesday.Fewer employees and a new lease and coal supply agreement also are in the mix as Middle River Power pursues a takeover of the Navajo Generating Station. The current owners of the 2,250-megwatt plant near the Arizona-Utah border are planning to shut it down next year unless someone else buys it, saying power produced by natural gas is cheaper.Joseph Greco, a senior vice president for Middle River Power, told Arizona utility regulators the company would operate the plant at 44 percent of its capacity, and differently during peak and off-peak demand, making it more economical while ensuring a steady power base. The company offered few other details, citing nondisclosure agreements.“We believe there is a solution to be made,” Greco said.The power plant sits on the Navajo Nation and is fed by coal jointly owned by the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Navajo President Russell Begaye has said a lease agreement with Middle River Power and its parent company, New York-based Avenue Capital, could come before tribal lawmakers at their October session. Still, a sale is considered a long shot.Tuesday’s meeting before the Arizona Corporation Commission was meant as an update on the plant’s future. The Arizona Corporation Commission doesn’t regulate the power plant or its majority owner, the Salt River Project. But it oversees two Arizona utilities that own shares of the power plant, Tucson Electric Power and Arizona Public Service Co.The utility is working to place employees at the Navajo Generating Station in other jobsThe Salt River Project said it’s been in talks with Middle River Power but couldn’t discuss specifics because of a nondisclosure agreement. In the meantime, the utility is working to place employees at the Navajo Generating Station in other jobs at SRP. Deb Scott, senior director of regulatory policy at SRP, said 140 of the 443 employees have left for other jobs, and their previous positions are being filled by contractors.One of the bigger hurdles for Middle River Power is finding utilities that will buy power from the coal plant.Prospective operator of Navajo Generating Station near Page plans major cutbacks More maneuvering to keep Navajo Generating Station alivelast_img read more

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New thinking on coal, renewables taking hold in Southeast Asia

first_imgNew thinking on coal, renewables taking hold in Southeast Asia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Eco-Business:The evidence is getting harder to dispute. Clean energy can provide 100 per cent of society’s electricity needs. Current renewable energy technology is reliable 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and industries’ insistence on using coal and other polluting sources for fear of intermittency—the inability of renewable energy to ensure an uninterrupted supply—no longer has a basis.So why does Southeast Asia continue to be a global laggard in renewable energy deployment?Rapid economic growth exceeding 4 per cent annually has seen the region double its energy consumption since 1995, and demand is expected to continue to grow by up to 4.7 per cent per year through to 2035. Coal largely feeds this demand, accounting for up to 40 per cent of consumption. But coal’s impact on climate change and air quality have made the need for a transition to clean energy more pressing than ever.For decades, Southeast Asian governments have helped the fossil fuels industry with generous subsidies.But energy subsidies should be cut back or scrapped altogether—except in cases where they serve a specific public purpose, such as giving the poor easier access to energy, or short-term incentives to get new clean energy technologies into the marketplace, says Peter du Pont of the Stockholm Environment Institute’s Asia Centre.Sara Jane Ahmed, energy finance analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), adds: “Governments need to be efficient with their use of capital. Subsidies are not necessary in an industry where there are cheaper competing technologies,” she says, referring to the tumbling price of solar.More: 7 ways to speed up Southeast Asia’s switch to renewable energylast_img read more

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Plan floated for large-scale baseload solar-plus-storage facility in Australia

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:UK billionaire Sanjeev Gupta is laying down a challenge to the coal and gas industry by putting forward a $1 billion plus solar and storage proposal in the federal Coalition’s planned tender for new 24/7 power generation.The proposal from Gupta’s Australian energy offshoot, Simec Zen Energy, is in line with its previously announced plans to power the Whyalla steelworks he now owns – along with other large energy users – with cheap reliable power via a mix of large scale solar, battery storage and pumped hydro.News of Gupta’s proposal comes as the government confirms that 66 different projects were put forward in response to the government’s request for proposals, with gas plants forming the largest number, and plans for new coal plants, expansions and extensions accounting for another 10 coal investments.The biggest among these is a $6 billion proposal for two new coal plants in Victoria, put forward by Trevor St Baker, the co-owner of the ageing Vales Point coal generator in NSW. Any such move would likely need an indemnity from the federal government against a future carbon price, potentially costing around $7 billion, analysts and industry bodies say.Gupta’s plans, however, emerge as a significant challenge to the push by the coal lobby to fulfil the wish by many in the Coalition and their funders to breathe new life into the coal industry, if not into the atmosphere. Simec Zen may not be the only party with a proposed combination of wind or solar with battery or pumped hydro storage, but it is likely the only one that can guarantee an off-take agreement – with Gupta’s own steelworks.Simec Zen’s proposal is to combine solar, battery storage and longer-term storage via pumped hydro using pits from the nearby iron ore mines that once supplied the steel smelter. The pumped hydro facility at the Middleback mine would deliver around 110MW and six to eight hours of storage, but the capacity could be doubled to 220MW should an upgrade to the transmission line to the Eyre Peninsula proposed by ElectraNet go ahead. That would take the total cost of the Simec Zen proposal to around $1.3 billion.More: Gupta challenges coalers with $1 billion plus solar and storage plan Plan floated for large-scale baseload solar-plus-storage facility in Australialast_img read more

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Research shows solar plus storage now competitive with even more natural gas generation

first_imgResearch shows solar plus storage now competitive with even more natural gas generation FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Solar plus storage has begun displacing new natural gas peaking units in Arizona, and 8minuteenergy Renewables CEO Tom Buttgenbach has said his firm can build solar plus storage at a lower price than gas peakers “anywhere in the country today.”A new study shows that solar plus storage (S+S) also outcompetes new “mid-merit” gas units in four of five grid service areas across the nation in a scenario where current rates of compensation for grid services hold steady over 30 years. S+S also costs less than these gas units in a number of other cases studied. The study was published by battery maker Fluence, a joint venture of Siemens and AES.Mid-merit or “load-following” units operate at an average capacity factor of about 15% to 45%, mid-way between peaker and “baseload” fossil-fired or nuclear units.The analysis used generation data from 435 U.S. natural gas combined cycle (NGCC) units to develop six “clusters” of NGCCs grouped partly by their capacity factor (i.e., percent utilization).The authors expect that “Even as the ITC phases out through 2023, reductions in S+S costs will improve the combined technologies’ economics over NGCC plants.” They cite a Wood Mackenzie Power and Renewables forecast of “6% and 8% annual reductions in all-in cost for front-of-the-meter solar PV and energy storage, respectively, between 2018 and 2022.”More: Solar+storage can outcompete “mid-merit” gas units, not just peakerslast_img read more

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Australian firm AGL delays planned LNG import terminal

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Age:Energy giant AGL has pushed back the start date on its environmentally contentious proposal to build a huge floating gas import terminal in Western Port, south-east of Melbourne, by at least a year. The company now expects to begin piping gas from the terminal and into the domestic market in early 2023, having previously said it would begin in the 2021 financial year.The $250 million proposal involves permanently docking a giant gas storage ship to a jetty at Crib Point and connecting it to a 55-kilometre pipeline that would run through Mornington Peninsula farmland to Pakenham.The environmental impact of the terminal – called a floating storage and regasification unit – and the pipeline are being assessed through an environment effects statement triggered by the Andrews government last year. State government MPs have expressed support for the proposal since AGL announced it in 2017 but have also said they will be guided by the findings of the environmental assessment.If the project is approved, liquefied natural gas will be imported to Crib Point from overseas and from other parts of Australia, converted back into gas on board the Esperanza, then piped into the main network. AGL is one of a number of energy companies seeking to build a gas import terminal in Australia.The company has argued the terminal would make gas supply more certain, at a time when the Australian Energy Market Operator is forecasting potential supply shortfalls from 2024. But Bruce Robertson, an investment analyst with the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, argued the project was unjustifiable both on economic and environmental grounds.Mr Robertson also argued it made no economic sense for Australia to import gas, given it exports almost twice as much natural gas as it consumes domestically. “Importing gas is possibly the most wasteful thing you could do in terms of energy – it’s just pure wasted energy on a massive scale,” Mr Robertson said.More: AGL delays Victorian gas import hub over environmental concerns Australian firm AGL delays planned LNG import terminallast_img read more

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University of California system to divest its fossil fuel investments

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The San Diego Union-Tribune:Top financial officials with the University of California announced Tuesday morning in an opinion article in the Los Angeles Times that the school system plans to undertake a major divestment from fossil fuels.The stocks and bonds to be sold off are currently part of UC’s $13.4 billion endowment and $70 billion pension fund.The article — penned by Jagdeep Singh Bachher, UC’s chief investment officer and treasurer and Richard Sherman, chairman of the UC Board of Regents’ Investments Committee — comes after faculty across the 10-campus system held a historic vote in July to demand divestment of the endowment.Teachers, backed by a vocal student movement, have said to the UC Regents that dumping the oil and gas holdings represents an ethical obligation in the age of climate change. They also argued that investing in fossil fuel companies has become increasingly risky because extractive activities will likely, and perhaps abruptly, be significantly restricted in the future to limit damage to the environment.Sherman of the UC Board of Regents has, as recently as August, rejected the second argument, saying that divestment would be in conflict with the university system’s “fiduciary duty.”However, in Tuesday’s article, he and Bachher said the decision to divest was based solely on what’s best for the system financially. “We believe hanging on to fossil fuel assets is a financial risk,” they wrote. “That’s why we will have made our $13.4-billion endowment ‘fossil free’ as of the end of this month, and why our $70-billion pension will soon be that way as well.”More: UC to dump fossil fuels holdings in pension and endowment funds worth $83 billion University of California system to divest its fossil fuel investmentslast_img read more

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European solar installations expected to total 16.7GW in 2019, with more to come

first_imgEuropean solar installations expected to total 16.7GW in 2019, with more to come FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Installations of solar power plants in the EU grew at the highest rate since 2010 this year, with a revived Spanish market and higher renewables targets across the EU set to drive record activity over the coming years.Solar photovoltaic, or PV, capacity grew by 16.7 GW in 2019, according to preliminary data. Additions were 104% higher than in 2018, making this the strongest year for year-over-year growth in almost a decade.“We have entered a new era of solar growth,” said Walburga Hemetsberger, CEO of SolarPower Europe, the industry association that collected the data. “Solar in the European Union is thriving.”The group said it expects solar PV installations to rise by more than 90 GW over the next five years under its medium forecast scenario, with developers increasing annual additions at a steady clip.Although most EU countries installed more solar capacity than in the year before, Spain has emerged as the largest single market in the EU in 2019, adding an estimated 4.7 GW of new power plants. A promising policy framework has helped to revive the industry there after retroactive subsidy cuts had caused a developer exodus in the years after the financial crisis.Overall, SolarPower Europe said cost declines for solar technology are the main driver for higher activity. The group said the levelized cost of energy for a solar project in Finland is now around €50/MWh, while Spanish developers can produce for around €30/MWh. [Yannic Rack]More ($): Spain takes center stage as Europe’s solar market soarslast_img read more

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Parents Weekend

first_imgJames Lyne at his finestIt’s very easy in this day and age to be so caught up in your own life that you forget where you came from: your mom and dad.That’s right, they put up with you as a crying, diaper-wearing infant, the hellion you were as a toddler, the brat you were at age 10, and the spoiled car-expecting teenager. They put up with all of that, and they still love you. Hats off to them.This weekend my dad and brother came to Charlottesville for a men’s weekend. We didn’t have a set agenda or game plan, but we did have beer, and hey, what more do you need?Over the course of the next 24 hours, we motored down Skyline Drive, hiked Humpback Rocks, drank at Devils Backbone Brewery, drove over a spirited mountain pass in my dad’s Subaru WRX STI, ate fried chicken, drank some more, shot a ton of skeet, shot pistols, and had excellent barbecue. Not half bad for not having a game plan.The point here is that you don’t need a big event or holiday to get together with your parents. My dad is the man, and while I knew it well before this weekend, all the fun we had just confirmed my thoughts. So take a few minutes after work today, call your parents, and plan a weekend visit. You may be surprised at how cool they are.last_img read more

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Chilled Out Runs

first_imgA runner sloshes through the course of the seashore nature trail 50K. Cooler temps and smaller crowds make late fall the best time of the year to run a race. Find your distance at one of these under-the-radar regional favorites.Marshall University MarathonHuntington, W.Va. • November 11Approaching a decade in existence this fall, the Marshall University Marathon has become a PR chaser favorite for a fast and flat course in the floodplain along the Ohio River. With no crowds (fewer than 500 runners) to maneuver and crisp fall temperatures to enjoy, the race provides the perfect combination of elements for a fast finish. Plus, you’re given the glory opportunity to carry a football during the last 100 yards for a big finish at the goal line of the university stadium. healthyhuntington.orgBackyard Burn Trail RunClifton, Va. • November 18The fall portion of the Backyard Burn is a series of four trail running races in the Metro D.C. area. Using the best wooded sanctuaries surrounding the nation’s capital, each race in the series features both five- and 10-mile courses that wind through twisty singletrack, traverse grassy fields, and climb forested fire roads. Two races remain in the series this year: November 18 at Hemlock Overlook in Clifton, Va., and December 2 at Fountainhead Regional Park in Fairfax Station, Va. ex2adventures.comTryptophan Half MarathonCumming, Ga. • November 22While thousands are strolling side by side at the Atlanta Half Marathon, you can earn your Thanksgiving Day dinner at this brand new alternative in the northern suburb of Cumming. This reasonably priced half will have runners hauling on an out-and-back course on the Peachtree Parkway from Ronald Reagan Boulevard to Johns Creek Parkway. A mellow elevation grade means you can post a fast time and make extra room for pumpkin pie. fivestarntp.comMason-Dixon Line 6-Mile Hill ChallengeWestminster, Md. • November 25Burn off some of that turkey and stuffing and finish this fun race that rehashes the old Yankee-Dixie rivalry. Runners get to choose to represent the North or the South before running six miles along the country roads near a portion of the historic divide between Maryland and Pennsylvania. As the name suggests, the course has plenty of ups and downs, specifically three long challenging hills that are rewarded with three lengthy downhill stretches, as well as two half-mile flat stretches for kicking it into high gear. google.com/site/wrrclubRun at the RockBurlington, N.C. • December 1With average highs around 55 degrees, it will be tough to find better running weather at this race in the Carolina Piedmont. Racers tackle one or two laps on this tough seven-mile loop course on the diverse terrain of the trails at Cedarock Park. Slog through wooded singletrack with a few hundred faithful for a hearty haul through rock gardens, mud patches, and plenty of short and stout rolling hills. runattherock.comRoad Warrior Half MarathonGreenville, S.C. • December 1Known for over four decades as the Paris Mountain Road Race, the longstanding 20K has been expanded by .67 miles and officially become the Road Warrior Half Marathon. While the name has changed, one thing has definitely stayed the same—the toughness of this serious slog in the South Carolina Upstate. The course starts at Furman University’s McAllister Auditorium before winding its way toward a grueling ascent of Paris Mountain via Altamont Road. Then it’s back down through a circuit of secluded wooded roads before returning to campus. There’s a reason this race has long been dubbed the “oldest and toughest 20K” in the South. A little extra distance should only make it tougher. pmroadrace.comPine Mountain Trail RunPine Mountain, Ga. • December 2If you’re up for a long distance challenge, tighten your laces and head to FDR State Park for a 40-mile epic on the Pine Mountain Trail System. You’ll run a tough course on rocky, ankle-twisting singletrack that traverses both pine and hardwood forests. Along the way you’ll pass plenty of scenic rock outcroppings and waterfalls, and you may be required to get your feet wet during a few stream crossings, depending on water levels. This scenic terrain, 80 miles southeast of Atlanta, was a favorite spot for President Roosevelt to visit and think about world affairs. You’ll understand why when you get into a running rhythm and let your mind wander through the peaceful Georgia woods. getguts.comSeashore Nature Trail 50KVirginia Beach, Va. • December 15One of the fastest ultra courses in the country runs through the flat seaside woods of First Landing State Park. If you’re looking for an ultra PR, you’ll have relatively mild temps and few hills as you stroll on hard-packed dirt trails through marshy swampland and maritime forest on the coast of Virginia. Last year the race yielded the 15th fastest female 50K time in the country. The field is intentionally kept on the small side, so register in advance as the past two years have sold out. tidewaterstriders.comlast_img read more

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