Editorial: Industry Push to Slash State Coal-Mining Tax Isn’t in West Virginia’s Best Interest

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享From the Huntington Herald-Dispatch:The West Virginia House of Delegates this week wisely put a halt to legislation reducing the severance tax on the coal and gas industries, indicating instead that the issue should be studied prior to next year’s legislative session.Despite the harsh reaction from some in the coal industry, tabling Senate Bill 705 has no immediate detrimental effect on those industries because the proposed tax cuts would not start phasing in until July 2017. However, if the tax cuts become law now, the state could box itself into a corner that would only make its tenuous budget situation worse in the coming years and leave lawmakers grappling with how to make up for the lost revenue. Taking time to assess the state’s tax structure and how the severance tax fits in is the best step.The legislation called for reducing the current 5 percent tax on the total value of minerals removed from the ground to 4 percent on July 1, 2017, and to 3 percent in July 2018. The estimated cost to the state treasury would be $55 million in budget year 2017, $105 million in 2018 and up to $129 million each year after that, according to the state Tax Department. In addition, counties, which get a portion of the severance tax revenue, worried about the potential loss of money to their coffers.The potential impact on both the state and county budgets was cited by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin as his reason for opposing the measure. Democrats in the state Senate, which passed the measure 19-15 last week with mostly Republican support, labeled the tax cuts a giveaway to industry and said the tax cut would provide no guarantees that any jobs would be saved.The coal industry, in particular the head of Murray Energy, had pushed hard for the 40 percent tax cut. It argued that West Virginia’s severance tax rate is much higher than levied in other states, putting Mountain State coal at a disadvantage. But the coal industry’s problems run much deeper than that. Coal industry officials have put much of the blame on President Obama and tougher federal regulations on carbon emissions, but even they acknowledge there are other challenges related to West Virginia coal. Those include higher extraction and transportation costs as well as the state’s rugged terrain. Also, natural gas is a cheaper, cleaner option to fuel power plants. The state can’t fix those issues.A sizable part of the state’s current financial troubles stem from declining severance tax revenues, partly because of less coal production and partly because of low prices for natural gas. At this point, reducing those tax revenues further will aggravate the state’s budget situation. The circumstances reinforce one of the main talking points from Republican leaders in the legislature: that revenues to support the state budget is plagued by a structural problem that should be addressed.But, lawmakers, a majority of which have been loathe to increase taxes and fees during the current legislative session, will need to assess that carefully. If severance taxes can’t support state spending as it has in the past, where will the money come from? From West Virginians who Republicans say are already struggling?It’s a vexing question that will require time to study and develop alternatives. But simply giving a huge tax break to the energy sector without having options in place isn’t a responsible course to take.Editorial: Study needed before slashing tax on coal, gas Editorial: Industry Push to Slash State Coal-Mining Tax Isn’t in West Virginia’s Best Interest
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Pakistani industry group pushes government to back renewable energy

first_imgPakistani industry group pushes government to back renewable energy FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Nation:The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) has stressed upon the government to focus on renewable energy as the country has tremendous potential to generate power through wind, hydro and solar.The renewable energy would bring manifold benefits to the national economy as it would reduce cost of doing business, promote industrialization, encourage investment, create plenty of new jobs and enhancing exports.RCCI president Malik Shahid Saleem while talking to the delegation of local company, “NINGBO green Light Solar”, said that green energy sources like wind and solar were getting key focus on the global level as they were viable sources of energy at affordable cost.The government could reduce its reliance on expensive power plants and fossil fuel imports in favour of cleaner, more accessible electricity for people and businesses, he added.He also referred to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report where it stated that Pakistan’s current power mix has an over-reliance on outdated fossil fuels technology and seasonal hydro-power generation, roughly split in a ratio of 70:20:10, being 70pc thermal and 20pc hydro, with nuclear power making up most of the rest.Malik Shahid Saleem asked Government to adopt IEEFA’s proposed energy model to 2030, aimed at providing a cheaper, more diversified electricity generation system for Pakistan and therefore greater energy security, is roughly split in a ratio of 30:30:30:10 between 30pc renewables, 30pc thermal, 30pc hydro, and 10pc nuclear power.More: Govt urged to focus on renewable energylast_img read more

Iberdrola planning Europe’s largest solar farm

first_imgIberdrola planning Europe’s largest solar farm FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Iberdrola SA is working to build what it says will be Europe’s largest solar farm at a cost of 300 million euros ($337 million).The Spanish utility has started the process with the country’s Ecological Transition ministry to build a 590-megawatt farm in the Western region of Extremadura, according to a statement Thursday. The company will now follow government rules to hold public hearings and collect comments on the impact on the environment and for landowners, a mandatory process before starting the project.Spain’s renewable energy market has been booming over the last couple of years, through a combination of large auctions and a green-energy friendly Socialist government. The country is Europe’s hottest renewables market and is set to deliver 7 gigawatts of solar and wind this year, according to estimates from BloombergNEF.Iberdrola, the world’s first major utility to embrace renewable energy more than a decade ago, has another seven solar projects either under construction or awaiting government approval in Spain, with a combined capacity of 1,178 megawatts. It has solar farms in Mexico and the U.S.The new facility, called Pizarro, will house about 1.7 million solar panels spread over 1,300 hectares, according to Julio Castro, head of Iberdrola’s Spanish renewable energy business. Power from the panels will feed into the grid through a line that to date has been used by the Almaraz nuclear plant.More: Spain’s Iberdrola seeks to build Europe’s largest solar farmlast_img read more

California municipal utility cancels gas peaking plant, opts for clean energy resources instead

first_imgCalifornia municipal utility cancels gas peaking plant, opts for clean energy resources instead FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The southern California city of Glendale officially dropped a $500 million gas peaker project that it nearly approved last spring, and instead picked up the mantle of clean energy leadership.The city council voted in April 2018 to pause development on the 262-megawatt repowering of the Grayson Power Plant and examine clean energy alternatives. Now, the municipal utility has completed an examination of 34 clean energy proposals and selected a diverse portfolio it says will meet reliability needs and save ratepayers $125 million compared to the old portfolio.In other words, Glendale Water & Power (GWP) went through an energy transition in a little over a year. “The future envisioned herein represents a complete transformation of the way GWP provides reliable, affordable and clean energy resources to the citizens of Glendale,” the utility wrote in a new integrated resource plan approved last week.When the earlier planning process started back in 2014, batteries were not on the menu of cost-effective options, so a recognized capacity need — in this case, the retirement of a plant that dates back to the 1940s — essentially guaranteed a gas plant solution.The final portfolio, proposed in Glendale Water & Power’s new integrated resource plan, would repower the Grayson Power Plant with a 75-megawatt/300-megawatt-hour Tesla battery installation and up to 93 megawatts of fast-ramping Wärtsilä engines. Customer-focused resources will add another 50 megawatts, including 12.8 megawatts from home solar and batteries installed by Sunrun, 10.5 megawatts of demand response by Franklin Energy and 20.4 megawatts of energy efficiency and demand response from Lime Energy Services. That demand reduction constitutes about 14 percent of the utility’s roughly 350-megawatt peak load.With Grayson’s original repowering off the table, viable new gas plant proposals appear to be extinct in California. Calpine in May abandoned its Mission Rock peaker on the Santa Clara River, and local opposition scuttled NRG’s Puente Plant, which would have occupied the beach at Oxnard. Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti canceled the renovation of three gas plants in his city’s municipal utility territory, committing to entirely clean energy instead.More: Another California city drops gas peaker in favor of clean portfoliolast_img read more

Cash woes prompt Moody’s to lower outlook for ExxonMobil’s credit rating

first_imgCash woes prompt Moody’s to lower outlook for ExxonMobil’s credit rating FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Exxon Mobil Corp. had the outlook on its top-notch debt rating lowered by Moody’s Investors Service Inc. to negative due to a “substantial” cash burn to fund growth.The oil major’s credit metrics will probably weaken over the next few years as it pursues a rebuild of its upstream portfolio, as well as new chemical facilities and refinery upgrades, Moody’s said in a statement Tuesday. The outlook on its Aaa rating was reduced from stable.“ExxonMobil’s negative outlook reflects the company’s substantial negative free cash flow and expected reliance on debt to fund its large growth capital spending program,” Peter Speer, a senior vice president at Moody’s, said in the statement. Debt will likely rise despite asset sales, he said.Over the past 10 quarters, Exxon has frequently spent more cash on its operations and dividends than it generated as it ramps up mega projects from Guyana to Mozambique. Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods says now is a good time to be investing while rivals are retreating. But investors are wary, with the stock underperforming rivals over the past five years.“The company’s high level of growth capital investments cannot be funded with operating cash flow and asset sales at projected levels given ExxonMobil’s substantial dividend payout,” Moody’s said.During the 2016 oil price crash, S&P Global Inc. stripped Exxon of its highest AAA credit rating for the first time in the producer’s history, cutting it by one notch to AA+.More: Exxon’s credit rating outlook goes negative on ‘substantial’ cash burnlast_img read more

UBS Group says it will no longer finance Arctic oil, thermal coal or tar sands projects

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Wall Street Journal:UBS Group AG said Thursday that it would no longer finance new offshore-oil projects in the Arctic, thermal coal mines or oil sands on undeveloped land as banks tighten their restrictions on fossil fuels amid pressure from environmentalists and investors.The Swiss bank declined to provide figures on previous projects it financed, but pointed to how its investments in carbon-related industries are falling. Assets on the bank’s $972 billion balance sheet tied to the energy and utilities sectors, excluding renewables, water and nuclear, shrunk more than 40% last year to $1.9 billion, representing 0.8% of the bank’s product exposure. It added that it would take a closer look at the environmental impact of liquefied natural gas and ultra-deepwater drilling projects before committing financing.The bank also hit its three-year sustainable-investment goal one year ahead of schedule, as measured by supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Core sustainable investments rose to $488 billion last year, more than doubling from 2017 to reach 13.5% of its invested assets.UBS is among banks that are ramping up their environmental pledges as governments and corporations seek to meet the Paris Agreement on climate change. Last month, Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC said it would end financing for coal by 2030 and halt lending to oil-and-gas majors by 2021 unless they have a transition plan in line with the Paris Agreement.The bank already pledged to ban financing for any new coal-fired power plants last year. There are some 115 banks and insurers that have placed restrictions on thermal coal, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis.Estimates from the nonprofit Rainforest Action Network also showed that other European financiers have outranked UBS when it comes to funding controversial fossil-fuel projects between 2016 and 2018. UBS was Europe’s fourth-biggest coal-mining financier with $320 million in lending and underwriting, while it was the fifth-largest lender for Arctic oil-and-gas with $300 million, followed by $170 million in financing for tar sands production and pipeline companies that made them the ninth-biggest European lender in the area.[Dieter Holger]More: UBS exits Arctic oil, coal mines and tar sands projects UBS Group says it will no longer finance Arctic oil, thermal coal or tar sands projectslast_img read more

Almost half of all coal plants globally will fail to turn a profit in 2020

first_imgAlmost half of all coal plants globally will fail to turn a profit in 2020 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:China and other countries could be planning to build more coal plants to stimulate their economies in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic but nearly half of global coal plants will run at a loss this year, research showed on Wednesday.China has over 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power, accounting for about 60% of the country’s total installed generation capacity and around 100 GW under construction.London-based environmental think tank Carbon Tracker analysed the profitability of 95% of coal plants in operation or planned around the world.It looked at 6,696 operational plants and 1,046 in the pipeline and found that 46% will be unprofitable this year, up from 41% in 2019, based on estimated revenues from wholesale power markets, ancillary and balancing services and capital markets, as well as running costs, carbon pricing and pollution policies.That will rise to 52% by 2030 as renewables and cheaper gas outcompete coal, the think tank said.[Nina Chestney]More: Nearly half of global coal plants will be unprofitable this year: Carbon Trackerlast_img read more

Black & Veatch to exit coal plant engineering and construction business

first_imgBlack & Veatch to exit coal plant engineering and construction business FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Power Magazine:Black & Veatch is ending the company’s participation in coal-based power market design and construction, saying it will allow the company to focus on clean energy technologies. The engineering and construction giant’s announcement Oct. 29 comes just more than a month after another major energy company, General Electric, said it would exit the new-build coal power market.“We are an employee-owned company, and we do not make decisions based on what the market wants to hear, or how the market will react,” said Mario Azar, president of Black & Veatch’s power business, in an interview Thursday with POWER. “We make decisions based on the values of our company. We’ve been around for more than 100 years, and we want to be around for another 100 years or more. That’s how we make decisions as the executive committee of Black & Veatch,” he said. “It’s really centered around our values and our future. It was us, telling ourselves, did we really want to be part of that [coal] legacy anymore?”Overland Park, Kansas-based Black & Veatch in a news release said it recognizes “the global power industry is in a state of transformation and needs to accelerate the path to net zero as many companies, communities and stakeholders forge ahead with commitments to lower carbon emissions.” The company said it “will fulfill current project commitments to completion,” but going forward its efforts “will focus on supporting clients through their transition to a balanced energy portfolio with cleaner energy sources and towards achieving their decarbonization and sustainability goals.”Black & Veatch, founded in 1915, is a global leader in the engineering and construction industry, and had revenues of $3.7 billion in 2019. The company over the past several years has increased its participation in renewable energy and energy storage technologies, and in Thursday’s announcement said it has supported “deployment of hydrogen as a carbon-free fuel and advanced technologies for carbon capture.” The company also has invested in modernizing a power grid that increasingly must accommodate intermittent renewable energy and different baseload sources of generation.“There’s going to be a point when you have to make some of these difficult decisions,” Azar said. “We have been involved in building power plants in Asia, some of which we’re in the process of finishing, and as we near completion—particularly in Asia—there’s been a new wave of projects we’ve been invited to participate in. Looking at the future, looking at our sustainable commitment as a company, looking at the economics today that make renewable energy affordable, and certainly energy that is far, far lower in emissions than coal … we asked ourselves, ‘Do we really want to build another coal plant that is going to pollute the air for a very long time to come?’ We decided we don’t. It’s time to recognize that this is just the right thing to do.”He continued: “There is a financial implication to this decision. We are leaving projects that we can participate in behind, and there is a [financial risk] to it, but we believe it is a very short-term implication compared to a longer-term vision. It’s really about the future, a cleaner and very robust energy alternative to coal.”[Darrell Proctor]More: Black & Veatch: no more coal constructionlast_img read more

Review: Ibex Ace Shirt

first_imgAs active people, the majority of the time we are clad in wetsuits, base layers, spandex, and parkas. You’re more likely to find chalk on our hands than dress shoes on our feet. It finally seems spring/summer is here which means more adventure, grill outs, and post ride/hike beers. I’m all for slapping on a tee shirt, but certain occasions call for a little more class. For said cultured occasions we have the shirt for you, it’s called the Ace and it’s from none other than Ibex.You probably know Ibex for their incredible base layers, outer layers, tights, and cycling clothes. They also have an incredible line of more lifestyle items like the Ace Shirt and more, most of which are made of merino wool. I love my other Ibex items for their quality, fit, and feel, so the bar was set high for the Ace Shirt. Over the course of the last five weeks I’ve worn the shirt to cook outs, bars, fancy restaurants, casual restaurants, hiking, biking, on a JRA (just riding around), to bed, and about everywhere in between. I can confidently say the shirt can handle it all.Ibex took the classic short sleeve button up and added their own unique touches to it. First off it is made of 100% Merino Wool, has two front flap pockets, classy metal buttons throughout, is machine washable, and has yoke and seam details. The shirt doesn’t bunch up in any areas nor does it ride up in the back. They really put some thought into the fit as it was great not only hanging out, but also huffing it up a trail and riding a bike. Now you may be thinking that since it is wool that you will be sweating bullets, but to the contrary the shirt breathes much better than traditional cotton offerings. I really can’t even begin to count the number of compliments I received on this button up. People across the board loved the color, the look, and the feel. Guys were asking about it and where they could buy one, and girls were asking the same so they could buy one for their boyfriends. Heck, my dad doesn’t know it yet but my mom ordered him one. Dress it up with a pair of slacks or dress down with your favorite shorts and Chaco’s, it’s your choice.I am 6’1” and 163 pounds and went with a medium. The fit is spot on. I opted for the Pond color, but the shirt also comes in Black and Rope. At $115 the shirt is in line with other high quality offerings from competitors, and is well worth it. Buy yourself the Ibex Ace shirt and wow your friends at the next get together.Ibex; $115last_img read more

Best Beer Town 2013: Harrisonburg, Virginia

first_imgWinner: Harrisonburg, VirginiaIt doesn’t matter that Harrisonburg is home to only one brewery: the community of beer drinkers ultimately helped define this town as a place where craft beer is not only created, but more importantly appreciated—and in large quantities.That one brewery is Three Brothers Brewing, appropriately named for the three brothers that run the company, Tyler, Jason, and Adam Shiflett. Adam, who has recently retired from 11 years of service with the Navy, says the brothers always had a passion for the area they call home and have always had an interest in starting a business together. Tyler, who was a microbiologist, and Jason, who majored in business, teamed up with Adam only a year ago to create the area’s first microbrewery.“We received a lot of initial support, and it showed that the community was willing to stand behind us,” says Adam.Restaurant owners in town have been particularly supportive in helping to spread the good word on Three Brothers’ brews. Adam Brenneis, General Manager at Capital Ale House in downtown Harrisonburg, recognized the emerging interest in craft beer and opened his restaurant’s new location two years ago.“Three Brothers has really taken off since they opened in January,” Brenneis says. “Most of that is due to the quality of the beer they put out, but it also speaks to the beer drinkers here in town.”Brenneis predicts that the availability of craft brews will help Harrisonburg continue to grow as a microbrewery destination. Capital Ale House currently has 100 draft lines, roughly half of which are dedicated to Virginia brews.“I have been working in restaurants, bars, and breweries for 18 years,” Brenneis says, but the combination of good beer, great people, and the beautiful svalley place Harrisonburg at the top of Brenneis’ places to live.Harriosnburg is close to the Appalachian Trail, Massanutten and Bryce Ski Resorts, and endless mountain biking and hiking trails throughout George Washington and Jefferson National Forests. The town’s outdoor culture and the craft beer scene go hand in hand, and the businesses in town try to cater to that rapport.Aaron Ludwig, co-owner of two restaurants in town, he says the local beer and event festivities are tailored to that outdoorsy crowd. Ludwig understands the culture of outdoor recreation firsthand. An avid skier and mountain biker, Ludwig first moved to the area to follow his dream of starting a ski shop.“After 13 years of that, I wanted to do something else,” he says. “Harrisonburg is a great town for outdoor sports, but there are plenty of things to do downtown, too.”Ludwig opened Jack Brown’s Beer & Burger Joint and Billy Jack’s Wing & Draft Shack with a childhood friend after moving on from the ski retail industry. He’s seen Harrisonburg grow from a dwindling community with just a few homebrewers to a city that regularly holds large-scale beer events for the public like their annual Rocktown Beer & Music Festival. Homebrewing clubs have become popular in town, and there are plans to establish more craft breweries in Harrisonburg. This, they agree, would not be reason for competition but for collaboration and inspiration.“The more people drinking good beer, the better for our businesses,” Ludwig says.Best Mountain Towns of the Blue Ridge – Part I from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.Runners-upAsheville, North CarolinaGiven the history of Asheville, it seems both ironic and completely appropriate for this mountain city to be awarded the title of Beer City, U.S.A. for nearly four years in a row. In 1907, Asheville became the first city in North Carolina to vote for Prohibition, an undertaking that was largely spurred by the ideas and platforms of the Women’s Christian Temperance Movement. The state of North Carolina followed suit a year later in 1908, becoming the first Southern state to prohibit alcoholic beverages. Despite the illegality of booze, homebrewed moonshine and beer was still common, and when the federal government repealed Prohibition in 1933, the beverage scene took off.It has been nearly a century since those dark and beerless days, but Ashevillians now have the luxury of choosing from over a dozen different breweries located right downtown. The Highland Brewing Company, the first successful craft brewery in town, is still in production after nearly 20 years of business. Companies like French Broad, Lexington Avenue, and Green Man Breweries offer innovative, off-the-wall spins on traditional beers, which only escalates the town’s reputation for unique craft brews. When Sierra Nevada, New Belgium, and Oskar Blues Brewing Companies all announced within four months of each other that they would be opening second breweries in or near Asheville, the hype on the city’s beer scene leaped to a new level. You can check out the local brews during the Asheville Brews Cruise or the Brewgrass Festival, which showcases more than 120 different American craft beers.Roanoke, VirginiaThe early forays into the New World brought about much more than political expansion and economic power. Beer, as it turns out, was one of the first products manufactured. In 1587, the first known New World beer was brewed in Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh’s colony, Roanoke Island. Despite this exciting development, the beer lacked the quality that colonists had grown accustomed to back in England and the beverage largely failed.Nearly 300 years later, L.A. Scholz created Virginia Brewing in Roanoke to take advantage of the sudden boom of business which had surfaced with the introduction of the railroad. The city (and the state of Virginia) finally had a successful brewery that produced quality drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). Present-day Roanoke has seen an emergence of craft breweries like Flying Mouse, Roanoke Railhouse, Parkway, and Sunken City. The Rest of the PackBrevard, N.C.: Mountain biking is BIG here. Pisgah National Forest and DuPont State Forest offer not only great opportunities for hiking, but also some of the best singletrack in the country.Charlotte, N.C.: The U.S. National Whitewater Center is a great way to get your adventure on, but the microbrewery scene here hosts a variety of events like Charlotte Oktoberfest and Charlotte Craft Beer Week.Chattanooga, Tenn.: Once known for its copper mines, the nearby Ocoee River is now a river rat’s playground. If you’re into beer, ‘Nooga is home of the Southern Brewers Festival, which features over 100 draft beers.Frederick, Md.: Good people drink good beer, according to Flying Dog Brewery. Based in the heart of town, this nationally renowned brewery has a large selection of quality beers (the Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA is a favorite).Morgantown, W.Va.: This mountain town sees the value in outdoor recreation and has a number of parks, facilities, and a rail-trail system available within a short drive of each other. Pair it with a microbrew for the true Morgantown experience.Nellysford, Va.: Grab a designated driver and hit the Brew Ridge Trail, a network of craft breweries throughout Nellysford and the surrounding central Virginia area. Blue Mountain, Devils Backbone, and Wild Wolf Brewing Companies are just a few of the places you’ll stop along the way.Raleigh, N.C.: Home to a number of its own breweries, Raleigh also hosts the World Beer Festival with every type of beer imaginable on tap, from German light wheats to imperial stouts.Waynesville, N.C.: Blue Ridge beauty inspires not just the town but the beer industry as well. Check out Frog Level and BearWaters Brewing Companies located right downtown.last_img read more