Full article ($): U.S. Coal Sector Faces Reckoning What isn’t sustainable are the publicly traded coal powers built atop the recent China-driven commodity boom, and the corporate structures—headquarters, salaries, pensions—they maintained. FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享John W. Miller for the Wall Street Journal:Peabody Energy Corp. warned Wednesday that it could go bankrupt, signaling the end of an era for listed U.S. corporate coal companies, even as their mines continue to fuel a big chunk of the country’s power stations.A chapter 11 filing by St. Louis-based Peabody, the U.S.’s largest coal miner, would be the latest in a wave of bankruptcies to hit top American coal producers, including Arch Coal Inc., Alpha Natural Resources, Inc., Patriot Coal Corp. and Walter Energy, Inc.U.S. coal miners are wrestling with high debt levels, low energy prices, new environmental regulations, the decline of steel production, and the conversion of coal-fired power plants to use natural gas made abundant by shale drilling.The industry’s troubles come amid a larger political debate over the future of coal that has flared up in the presidential contest. Most Democrats, concerned about the effects of burning fossil fuels on the environment, advocate a switch to cleaner energy sources, while Republicans decry job losses in the coal sector that they predict would come from policies cutting carbon emissions. The industry’s setbacks have been especially damaging in the coal strongholds of Wyoming and Appalachia.To be sure, this isn’t the end for coal. Just under one- third of the U.S. grid is still powered by coal, and hundreds of mines are still profitable and operating. WSJ: U.S. Coal Sector Faces Reckoning
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:PosiGen Inc. was close to finalizing terms on a $100 million financing deal. Then Congress passed President Donald Trump’s tax-reform plan.“We just lost $100 million in tax equity last week,” Thomas Neyhart, chief executive officer of the Louisiana rooftop solar installer, said in an interview.PosiGen is one of many companies that are suddenly facing a new financing reality because of the tax overhaul, especially clean-energy developers seeking tax-equity deals. At least $3 billion in potential deals are on hold for this type of financing, according to John Marciano, a Washington-based partner at law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Some investors have exited or are sidelined, while others are considering repricing their transactions.Tax equity is a critical but esoteric source of renewables financing—totaling about $12.2 billion in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. There were about 35 tax-equity investors last year, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. While solar and wind projects are typically eligible for federal tax credits, many don’t owe enough to the government to take full advantage. Instead, they turn to banks, insurance companies and some big technology firms that monetize the credits through tax-equity investments.Because the law reduced the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, companies will have fewer liabilities and therefore less need to find ways to reduce their bills. Further, there are provisions in the law that may constrain some multinational companies’ ability to do deals.The result: a market that’s poised to “tighten,” said John Eber, a Chicago-based managing director at JPMorgan, on a webinar Thursday hosted by law firm Norton Rose Fulbright LLP. Tax-equity investors that remain in the renewables market might “moderate” their contributions, he said. More: How Trump’s Tax Plan Made It Harder to Finance Renewables Tax Reform May Slow Renewable Deals in U.S.
American Electric Power reaffirms plans to cut coal generation, increase renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Daily Energy Insider:American Electric Power (AEP) is planning to close coal plants and increase capital investments in renewables to balance its portfolio and reduce risk, AEP Chairman, President and CEO Nicholas Akins said at the Edison Electric Institute Financial Conference held this week in San Francisco.The company plans to invest $33 billion in capital from 2019 through 2023. AEP expects to invest about $16.6 billion in its transmission businesses and another $8.3 billion in its distribution businesses over the next five years.The planned investments involve $2.7 billion for new clean energy generation, which include $2.2 billion for competitive, contracted renewable projects. In regard to contracted renewables, the company focuses on opportunities that are longer tenure, credit-worthy counterparties and mostly electric utilities, Akins said during a presentation to investors.The company plans to invest $1 billion in regulated fossil fuel and hydro generation and $500 million in nuclear generation through 2023. The company is moving from approximately 65 percent coal to 38-40 percent coal. Akins noted that the company’s portfolio will likely continue to include some coal into the future.“That’s really a focus of the de-risking that’s occurred relative primarily to fossil generation and moving toward a more balanced portfolio with the advent of not only natural gas but renewables, energy storage, other technologies that we’re primed to be able to take advantage of,” Akins said.More: AEP aims to reduce risk by increasing renewable investments, closing coal plants
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Australian:One of the major owners of the Bluewaters Power Station, Sumitomo, is understood to have hired restructuring firm Houlihan Lokey as a debt repayment deadline approaches for the asset, which owes $400m.Houlihan Lokey, which counts Australian restructuring expert Jim McKnight in its ranks, is now one of a raft of advisers around the situation.McGrath Nicol is working with the lenders, along with law firm G+T, while Japanese bank MUFG is working as the financial adviser to the Bluewaters company. Law firm Clayton Utz is also working for Sumitomo.Debt is due in August, and the challenge will be finding funding at a time that banks are shying away from coal-fired power stations.The power station, 4.5km northeast of Collie in Western Australia, was built by Griffin Energy in 2009. Owners include 50 per cent shareholder Sumitomo of Japan and Japanese power utility Kansai Electric. It has generation capacity of about 430 megawatts.Some observers say the owners may have to stump up equity to ensure it continues to operate.[Bridget Carter]More: Debt deadline nearing for Bluewaters owner Sumitomo Debt woes threaten Australia’s newest coal-fired power plant
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Tech:Asset management firm Capital Dynamics has signed a deal with Nebraskan independent power producer Tenaska to develop nine battery energy storage system (BESS) projects located in California’s highest electrical load centres.The BESS projects will be designed to deliver power resources to manage high-demand conditions caused by heat waves, supply shortages and growing local power supply deficiencies in the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego areas that cannot be reliably served solely by intermittent renewables, the companies said.Struck through Capital Dynamics’ Clean Energy Infrastructure business, the deal will see enable the provision of approximately 2GW of clean energy through the nine projects into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) market.Benoit Allehaut, managing director of the Clean Energy Infrastructure team, said California is poised for “significant growth” in energy storage demand as a result of its “robust” clean energy goals. Indeed, the state announced plans in March to add 25GW of renewables by 2030. “We are excited to join with Tenaska to build high-quality battery energy storage facilities to help integrate renewables and reinforce CAISO grid reliability and resilience,” said Allehaut. “We hope to quickly contract resource adequacy with utilities and CCAs to grow this portfolio.”The move builds on other partnerships between Capital Dynamics and Tenaska. Last month, they agreed to develop 24 solar projects totaling 4.8GW, following on from a previous collaboration for 14 PV projects with approximately 2GW in the US Midwest.[Jules Scully]More: Capital Dynamics and Tenaska partner for 2GW of battery storage in California Capital Dynamics, Tenaska join forces to develop 2GW of battery storage in California
Australia’s ANZ bank to exit coal lending business by 2030 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Argus Media:Australian bank ANZ will exit all lending to companies with exposure to thermal coal either through extraction or power plants by 2030, as part of its new lending criteria to support the 2015 Paris climate agreement target of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.ANZ, which is one of four banks that dominate the banking sector in Australia, will no longer finance any firms that have more than 10pc of their total revenue from thermal coal activities, the bank said.The Melbourne-based bank will only lend to renewable projects and low-carbon gas projects by 2030 and will discuss with its customers that have more than 50pc of their revenue from thermal coal about diversification strategies by 2025. “We will cap limits to customers that do not meet this expectation and reduce our exposure over time,” ANZ said.The tightening of the lending criteria to the thermal coal industry follows ANZ’s previous stance unveiled last year of lending only to new customers that have less than 50pc of their revenue from thermal coal and not financing the construction of any new conventional coal-fired power plants. It also marks a shift from when the bank first unveiled its thermal coal lending policy in 2015, when it said it would consider financing new coal-fired power stations only if advanced technology and higher-quality thermal coal were used.ANZ was the last of Australia’s four largest banks to commit to exiting lending to thermal coal activities, with fellow Australian bank Westpac pledging to neither lend money nor invest in the thermal coal mining industry from 2030.Australia is the world’s second-largest exporter of thermal coal. The sector faces more headwinds now that Australia’s four largest banks will no longer lend for new thermal coal mine developments or expansions of existing mines. Australia’s three largest coal customers have also all committed to net-zero emissions by 2050 for Japan and South Korea and 2060 for China. These three countries took around three-quarters of Australia’s thermal coal exports in calendar 2019.[Kevin Morrison]More: Australian bank ANZ to exit all coal lending by 2030
For an excellent tale of hiking and reviving ones sense of adventure, click here! It’s not as easy to get lost in Panthertown Valley as it used to be. At one time, the 6,300-acre tract of land inside the Nantahala National Forest was renowned for stupefying hikers and mountain bikers hell bent on exploring the 50-plus miles of user-created backcountry trails that criss-cross the high-elevation valley and its surrounding 4,000-foot high mountains. But as more hikers and bikers have discovered Panthertown, an exhaustively researched map has been published, and trail signs have been implemented. Panthertown’s evolution from local’s secret to backcountry hot spot was inevitable, particularly when you consider the sheer drama of the landscape. High elevation bogs and skyscraper-tall pine forests dominate the valley floor while 400-foot granite cliffs act as boundary markers. And waterfalls are everywhere. It’s a suite of characteristics that has led the valley to be dubbed “the Yosemite of the East.”“Some people consider it a national park all on its own,” says Jason kimenker, executive director of the Friends of Panthertown, the volunteer organization that maintains the popular destination. “The sheer rock faces dropping into a bowl with waterfalls falling down the sides of mountains… it’s a unique place, but it’s not a national park. even with the increased popularity, it’s still very much a backcountry destination.”Below is a suggested three-day itinerary that takes in a handful of the valley’s highlights. This is an all-inclusive backpacking getaway with sandy beaches, natural water slides, and big views from bare knobs.Day OnePark at the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead on the east side of the valley. Pick up Panthertown Valley Trail (actually a gravel road) from the trailhead and head straight for your base camp, a sweet campsite at the junction of Powerline Road Trail, roughly 1.5 miles from your car. Here, you’re just a couple of hundred yards away from the Sandbar Pool, a unique sandbar in the middle of Panthertown Creek that makes for primo swimming and sunning. Set up camp and switch to a day pack with lunch and swim gear. Choose your route to Carlton’s Way, an unofficial piece of singletrack that twists through mountain laurel as it climbs the side of Blackrock Mountain. Top out at the sloping, granite overlook (4,200 feet) and soak in the all-encompassing view of Panthertown valley flanked by Big and Little Green Mountains in the distance.After enjoying the view, take Powerline Road Trail to five spectacular waterfalls along the Tuckaseegee River. The sliding and swimming potential at waterfalls like Riding Ford and Red Butt is stellar, so block out a chunk of the afternoon for swimming shenanigans, then retrace your steps to the Powerline Road Trail, which you’ll take south back to your campsite.Day TwoHike east on Panthertown Valley Trail for a mile, then head south on Mac’s Gap Trail to Granny Burrell Falls. Next, climb steadily through a rhodo tunnel before summiting 4,200-foot Big Green Mountain. The summit is shrouded in hardwoods, but take the second man way on your right to a killer view from the top of “The Great Wall of Panthertown,” a 300-foot high granite face that stretches for nearly a mile. Carry on the Big Green Trail as you drop off the mountain, then go north on Mac’s Gap Trail for less than a mile to Little Green Trail.The trail hugs the edge of the mountain, moving along gray granite with veins of green moss and tiny potholes that hold water after a rain. Continue to follow the trail (faint white arrows painted on the rock) to your camp for the night, a flat spot inside a sheltered pine forest.Day ThreePack up and drop off the east side of Little Green Mountain on Little Green Trail, which ends at the base of Schoolhouse Falls.The swimming and photo potential at the bottom of this 25-foot waterfall is some of the best in the valley. If you have time and brought a fly rod, cross the river at the base of Schoolhouse Falls and take the man way upstream for great casting options and more solitude. Even if you don’t fish, this is a great side trip that will take you to Pothole Falls and Mac’s Falls. From Mac’s Falls, connect with Greenland Creek Trail for a quick jaunt back to the Cold Mountain Gap Trailhead and your car.
Fall Favorites, Gear for Every Autumn AdventureBy Jedd Ferris, Jack Murray, and Chase LyneWhatever your sport of choice, raise your game this fall with one of these new field-tested favorites.run1. Merrell Bare AccessSkittish about making the move to minimalism? Merrell’s Bare Access is made to help make the transition to natural running form. Like most barefoot running shoes, it has an even zero-drop platform from the ball of your foot to the heel, but some added cushioning (8 millimeters) offers a slight buffer for getting used to pavement pounding with less protection. $90; merrell.com 2. Icebreaker Tracer ShortThe Tracer is as soft as your old favorite gym shorts. The culprit is cozy merino wool, which fortunately for sweat-heavy runners features plenty of technical defense, including natural moisture management and odor-controlling properties that kept our tester surprisingly dry down low during an eight-mile late summer jaunt. $70; icebreaker.com ride3. Turner Bicycles SultanThe Turner Sultan is a 29er dual suspension trail bike with 125mm of front and rear travel. The aluminum frame is hand built around a DW link rear suspension system that makes for an efficient ride. Plus attention to detail on features like the post-mount disc brakes, threaded zerk grease fittings, and seat dropper cable routing set this bike apart from other similar models. On climbs the DW link suspension keeps the rear end planted, while on the way down the slack angles and 125mm help you stay ahead of your riding pals. Unfortunately, such a good ride comes at a price. $2,495 (frame), $5,229 (expert build); turnerbikes.com 4. Cannondale Ryker HelmetThe Ryker is a well-vented lightweight helmet that will keep your head straight during long days of singletrack cranking. The soft pads inside the polycarbonate shell are made with wicking material so sweat gets put in its place, and the small adjustment dial in the back proved reliable during our test for a quickly adjusted comfortable fit. $80; cannondale.com hike5. Mountain Hardwear Wanderin 32 PackThe Wanderin is all about sweat relief on Appalachian overnights. The innovative breathable suspension system puts a mesh wall and ample room between your back and the bulk of the pack. Add some sleekly designed ventilated shoulder straps, and this pack proved to reduce much of the annoying friction dampness that comes with increased trail mileage. Another feature we liked was the built-in rain cover in the nicely sized lower pocket. $185; mountainhardwear.com 6. Big Agnes Zirkel SL 20The Zirkel SL is a broad-cut mummy bag that features the serious softness of 800-fill goose down. The backcountry comfort is only enhanced by the built-in sleeping pad sleeve—stitched into the top half of the bag in order to work with a range of pad sizes. On chillier nights, another key feature is the no-draft collar, which cradles your neck to keep out cold air. $399.99; bigagnes.com7. Salewa Firetail GTX As light as a trail runner but built to be tougher for technical trails, the Firetail will have you reevaluating your hiking footwear choices. It’s nice and light up top, while the sticky sole means the Firetail can take a hit and hold its grip on rocky trails. Our tester lauded it as a burly trail prowler that earns comfort points for the customizable foot beds. $150; salewa.us8. The North Face Phoenix 3 TentThe Phoenix 3 is designed to keep water out without the expected extra weight of most three-season, three-person tents. It utilizes TNF’s innovative DryWall fabric, so a simple single-wall design with built-in vestibules keeps moisture at bay without the need for a second layer. Our testers loved the simple two-pole pitch and the minimal weight to carry for such a big tent (4 lbs. 13 oz.). $389; thenorthface.com9. Osprey Farpoint 40This compact bag ensures carry-on compliance on most flights and converts from a handbag to a backpack in a flash. Best of all, it carries like a premium backcountry backpack, with padded, low-profile shoulder straps and a snug hip belt. The lightweight frame provides flexible load support through the woods, and the padded handles provide comfy carry through the airport. $149. osprey.com10. Ex Officio Chica Cool HoodieWith its comfy, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant fabric, this pullover hoodie is styled for versatility whether you’re taking a hike or taking it easy. $45. exofficio.compaddle11. LiquidLogic Remix XP10 If you’re the boater who loves lengthy flatwater exploration but also occasionally gets a wild hair and likes to paddle a class II-III stretch, this is the boat for you. Specifically made to bridge the gap between the swells and the serene, the Remix XP10 has a design that extends from the roots of Liquid Logic’s pioneering whitewater boats, but the extended waterline and skeg enable the XP to smoothly cruise the flats. Plus, a dry storage compartment in the back holds plenty of gear for extended overnight trips. $999; liquidlogickayaks.com12. Astral CaminoIf you find too much PFD to be a nuisance, the Camino is a sleek and safe alternative. Made in the Blue Ridge by Asheville-based Astral, it’s a unisex, extremely lightweight float jacket that’s designed to offer maximum air flow on mild whitewater trips or longer touring jaunts. $115; astralbuoyancy.com13. Astral BrewerBorn on the banks of the Green River Narrows, the Brewer is a hometown paddle shoe built with Blue Ridge paddlers in mind. The super-grippy rubber sole provides claw-like traction on wet, mossy rocks, which makes scouting and portaging a lot less dicey. The shoes handle well in the cockpit, with drainage holes and tough Cordura uppers. They’re equally popular at the post-river hangout. Lightweight and minimalist at 214 grams, the breathable shoe was already dry by the time we left the river and arrived at the bar. $100. astralbuoyancy.comfish14. Fishpond Tumbleweed Chest PackThe fly fishing vest is sooo 2011; get with it and get a chest pack. The Tumbleweed is a versatile, lightweight option that can be used as a chest, lumbar, or sling pack. One large pocket holds fly boxes and essentials, while a zip-down pocket holds a removable foam pad for extra fly storage. This pack also has enough little pockets and loops for all your tools and integrates with a larger backpack, so it’s perfect for a hands-free day on the water. $60; fishpondusa.com15. Redington Pursuit OutfitWith the Pursuit series, Redington set out to make a quality fast action rod at an affordable price. They succeeded. The Pursuit is ready to fish right out of the box with rod, reel, line, and leader and its smooth action is comparable to rods twice, or even thrice, its modest price. This outfit comes in all shapes and sizes and is a perfect rod for the novice fly fisherman or as a backup rod. The Pursuit’s affordability and ease of use would also make a great gift for a niece, nephew, or girlfriend you are trying to convince fishing is cool. $179; redington.com16. Tenkara USA 12’ IwanaTenkara fishing has taken off in the U.S. over the past year, and our Blue Ridge streams and wild brook trout are exactly what these rods are made for. With its medium flex and 12 feet of length, the Iwana is a great all-around rod. This rod telescopes to 20 inches, so adding it to your usual backpacking gear is a no-brainer, and with limited moving parts, you don’t have to worry about your reel exploding on the water. Plus, a 12-inch trout will feel like a 20-incher when fighting it on a Tenkara. $160; tenkarausa.com
Once again readers turned out in record numbers to show off pictures of their canine companions enjoying the great outdoors in our annual Dog Photo Contest sponsored by Ruffwear®.This year’s winner—who unfortunately passed away on May 23—came from the far northern reaches of Minnesota. His name was Bobo the Blind, and he was a bit of a celebrity in those parts.“Bobo is a 4-and-half-year-old rottweiler and is actually a foster dog with Secondhand Hounds, a non-profit dog rescue in Minneapolis, Minnesota,” said Bobo’s foster mom Sarah Deimel.Sarah says Bobo arrived at Secondhand Hounds in rough shape, suffering from a rare skin condition that caused him to lose his vision along with his fur.“This is part of the reason why winning the photo contest is so amazing for Bobo,” she said. “He will get great use out of the Ruffwear dog jackets and booties to keep his hairless body warm in the cold Minnesota winters.”Despite Bobo’s medical condition, life had never been better for Sarah Deimel’s four-legged friend.“Bobo faced more than his fair share of adversity throughout his life, but he continued to be one of the happiest and sweetest dogs I had ever met,” she said. “Nothing made him happier than snuggling near his humans, napping, and chewing on antlers. He has been through a lot of medical issues in the past year and still walks around with a huge smile on his face everyday.” Related Posts:
Tonight our wee ones will get inundated with candy. Good luck prying it from their closed fists. It’s not that I’m a sweets Grinch, the opposite really, I’m a candy feign and it’s one bad habit I’d rather not pass on to my son.I stumbled on something that works for us this time of year when the candy to burning-it-off ratio is terribly skewed, and that’s hiking with candy treats.My son hated hiking. Ever since I stopped carrying him, his protests began as soon as we got to the trailhead. “My legs can’t carry me.” “I’m exhausted.” He’d even say that he needed to take a nap, which goes to show the extreme extents he’d go to avoid hiking. He considers sleep a weakness, naps something he outgrew along with diapers.This past summer the sailing captain who helped me earn my skipper’s certification, and his daughter, escaped the heat of Charleston to visit us in the mountains. We all hiked.At some point he said, “This isn’t what I would have expected from Mountain Mama’s kiddo.”Shame, red and hot, crept up my face. I wondered what I was doing wrong. Why was my kid whining and refusing to walk? He rolled around in mud puddles and then demanded to be carried. The worst part was, after exhausting all the ninja parenting skills I’d seen others use and trying to reason with my son, inevitably I caved.I searched blogs to find out how other parents got their kids to hike. I tried it all – calling it other names, making a game out of hiking, picking berries or finding treasures along the way.Then I read about a family who hiked the Appalachian Trail with their five-year old. Their secret turned out to be bribing him with mini-sized Snickers.On the eve of the full moon, I couldn’t resist a last minute backpacking trip to Black Balsam, less than a mile from the parking lot to our campsite. I packed my camelback for Tobin and then pretended he was the engine and needed coal to carry his load up the mountain. The coal was a piece of hard candy that kept him occupied all the way to the top, and then he stopped.I was worried I’d have to give him more, but instead he pointed to the clouds parting, unveiling a mountaintop and said, “Look at that pretty view.”He helped me pitch our tent and make a cozy nest and the next day hiked down without any prompting.He turned to me, “I love backpacking, and I didn’t even whine.”I was grateful that a little sweet treat was enough to get him to stop resisting hiking long enough to try it. Now he even walks to my neighbor’s house. We live halfway up a mountain and she lives on the top, a twenty percent grade between us and 15 curves. He walked all the way unassisted by me, no candy, no bribes.More from Mountain Mama: