Prosecutors Oppose Delay in Sentencing of Don Blankenship

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Federal prosecutors said Wednesday that they oppose former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship’s request for a delay in the sentencing for his mine safety conspiracy conviction. In a new court filing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Ruby said that prosecutors agree that matters about restitution payments by Blankenship should be handled through a hearing separate from his sentencing hearing, which is currently scheduled for April 6.But, Ruby said, the sentencing — including matters about potential jail time and a fine — should not be delayed. “Defendant asserts that he is prepared to proceed on that date, and the United States is, as well,” Ruby wrote. “All sentencing issues other than restitution should be resolved on that date, as scheduled.”U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger is scheduled to sentence Blankenship after the former Massey CEO was convicted in December of conspiring to violate mine safety and health standards at Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine, where 29 workers died in an April 2010 explosion. Blankenship faces up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.Full article: Prosecutors oppose delay in Blankenship sentencing Prosecutors Oppose Delay in Sentencing of Don Blankenshiplast_img read more

Operator of One of Montana’s Newest Coal-Fired Plants Says It Is Losing Money and Is for Sale

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Billings Gazette:The owner of a coal-fired power plant in Hardin has lost money from the site since 2014 and plans to leave town.Gary Arneson, vice president of operations for Heorot Power, said in a Nov. 15 letter to the Montana Public Service Commission that if the company can’t find a buyer for the facility, it could close by the first or second quarter of 2018.The Hardin plant, constructed in 2006, is among the newest in the state. Heorot has relied on short-term energy contracts to sell electricity from the plant.In his letter, Arneson wrote that though overhead is low relative to other thermal generators, the plant still lost money.Pam Bucy, an attorney at Taylor Luther, said that the company has kept up payments on its $3 million payroll, despite market conditions that temporarily halted operation.A shutdown of the plant would affect the Absaloka Coal Mine on the neighboring Crow Reservation. Arneson said in his letter that the tribe would suffer losses from royalties derived from about 550,000 tons of coal mined annually to supply the Hardin plant.Arneson also said a shutdown would “eliminate” $440,000 in annual property tax payments to local governments. But the plant hasn’t paid those property taxes for 2014 and 2016. The company owes more than $2 million to Big Horn County in delinquent taxes and penalties.Those payments would have benefited local schools, infrastructure, and the city of Hardin’s tax increment financing district.Hardin issued about $12 million in bonds in 2006 to build infrastructure supporting the power plant. Payments on those bonds have been in default, as they relied on revenue from the plant.The plant did pay 2015 taxes, but nothing since then, said Big Horn County Treasurer Jody Guptill.Bucy said that the company is actively seeking buyers. She said that interest in the power plant includes those in the renewable energy sector. An environmental assessment was already completed as part of a solar array proposal from 2012.More: Owners of Hardin coal-fired power plant announce exit in 2018 Operator of One of Montana’s Newest Coal-Fired Plants Says It Is Losing Money and Is for Salelast_img read more

2017: Long-Term Prospects for U.S. Coal Have Not Changed Much

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享 SNL:The past several months, for the coal sector, have largely been about operational and financial restructuring as it adapts to new market conditions. Several large companies that had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy completed the process in the first half of 2017 or earlier.“2017 was really the year where the industry found its footing again after several very difficult years,” said Moody’s vice president and senior analyst Anna Zubets-Anderson. “We expect 2018 to be relatively stable.”The long-term prospects for coal, however, have not changed much, she added. Absent some major action that would “interfere with price dynamics” of current energy markets, Zubets-Anderson said coal will likely continue to decline as it is replaced by natural gas and other energy sources.Much of the coal industry’s recovery in 2017 can be attributed to a sharp spike in international prices for metallurgical coal. Ramaco Resources Inc. was able to take advantage of that spike and investor sentiment during its IPO earlier in the year, though Ramaco Executive Chairman and Director Randall Atkins told S&P Global Market Intelligence that he sees access to capital as an ongoing issue for the sector as a whole.“I think we had a window of opportunity open early in 2017 when you saw the surge in met pricing,” Atkins said. “I think that window stayed open for a reasonably short period when you really think about it. … Despite the pop in the markets, you’ve really seen no greenfield projects, or very few, and those you’ve seen have been relatively small [operations].”More ($): Coal finds its footing as markets, White House changed tide in 2017 2017: Long-Term Prospects for U.S. Coal Have Not Changed Muchlast_img read more

New Washington State Rules Are Another Blow to Colstrip Coal Plant

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Seattle Times:State regulators this week stepped up their activism on the climate front by telling three utilities to reconsider the carbon-emission costs of producing electricity from coal and other fossil fuels.The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission directives were sent to Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corp and Pacific Power, which collectively serve more than 1.47 million state customers from a mix of coal, natural gas and renewable power. The commission asks the utilities to assign a hefty cost to carbon emissions, a pollution source that scientists say is driving climate change. This would be for planning purposes, and not used to try to justify higher rates. But such an accounting would bolster the financial case for the three utilities to hasten their planned exit from the Colstrip Generating Plant, a major Montana coal plant in which each as an ownership stake.“The higher the (carbon) price, the less economic that facility will look,” said Ken Johnson, a vice president of Puget Sound Energy, which currently forecasts to be off of coal-fired power by the early 2030s. Puget Sound Energy already assesses a carbon cost of $27 a metric ton to power produced from Colstrip. But the new, pricier [$42] figure would weaken the financial case for generating power from the plant.The federal carbon-price formula would require even bigger revisions for PacifiCorp. This is the parent company of Pacific Power, which brings coal-fired power to Washington from Colstrip as well as the Jim Bridger Plant in Wyoming. In planning documents recently submitted to state regulators, PacifiCorp doesn’t put a price on carbon until 2026 at the earliest, and then pegs that value to $4.76 per ton.The commission also wants the utilities to take a harder look at other financial risks associated with Colstrip. They include the poor financial health of the mine operator, Westmoreland Coal Co., which has seen its stock value implode amid mounting debt and the soaring expenses — measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars needed to clean up the plant site where coal ash is stored. “We are deeply concerned with the direct costs of continued operations of Colstrip Units 1-4 and the magnitude of economic risk of continued investment in those units,” the commissioner wrote in a letter sent to PSE.Colstrip has six owners, and they have agreed to shut down two of the four generation units by 2022. There has been no consensus on when the other two units will stop operating.More: Washington State Regulators Tell Utilities To Tally Social Costs Of Carbon Emissions New Washington State Rules Are Another Blow to Colstrip Coal Plantlast_img read more

Conservative group sees major benefits in Michigan renewable energy efforts

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy News Network:Michigan could see billions in economic impact and tens of thousands of new jobs if its major utilities follow through on voluntary pledges to boost renewable energy, according to a new report released Thursday by a conservative energy group.The Michigan Conservative Energy Forum report highlights the potential economic impact as utilities comply with a 15 percent renewable energy standard by 2021. It also projects the impact if Consumers Energy and DTE Energy reach 30 percent renewable by 2027, which is generally in line with the stated goals of the companies.“It’s not an unrealistic target given the trajectory and rapid advances in renewables in Michigan,” said Jordan Pallitto, vice president of The Hill Group, which was commissioned to do the study.The study models three renewable energy paths: 12.5 percent by 2019; 15 percent by 2021; and 30 percent by 2027. Building off a similar report from 2015, the latest projections include targets under 2016 energy laws and stated goals of utilities. By the end of next year, the report estimates a total economic impact of $3.8 billion—which includes direct, indirect and induced benefits—and $1.4 billion in employee compensation. By 2027, the total economic impact could be $10.3 billion, the report says.Kevin Borgia, Midwest policy director for Cypress Creek Renewables, said the company plans to develop up to 2,600 megawatts of solar across Michigan. Using a slightly different methodology than The Hill Group, Borgia said Cypress Creek’s plans—if fully developed—represents a $3.3 billion investment supporting 4,700 construction and installation jobs.The MCEF study refrains from advocating a particular policy for hitting a 30 percent by 2027 target. The group was opposed to a now-abandoned ballot measure that would have increased the RPS to 30 percent by 2030, instead favoring a market-based approach to renewable development, said MCEF executive director Ed Rivet. “Unhindered market forces are going to pull us to 30 percent by 2027 faster than people anticipate,” Rivet said. “I’m not sure we need a mandate to do it.”More: Report: Renewables push could mean billions for Michigan economy Conservative group sees major benefits in Michigan renewable energy effortslast_img read more

Siemens to offer residential battery storage system in Europe

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Siemens has announced it will begin offering residential storage systems. The Junelight Smart Battery will be offered to PV system owners aiming to optimize their self-consumption, said the German conglomerate.The device can optimally adjust loading and unloading processes, Siemens said, depending on the weather-related yield forecast for a PV system as well as the consumption profile of a household. All the energy flow, from production to storage and consumption, as well as the amount of electricity fed into the grid, can be monitored in real time using an app, the company said.According to Siemens, storage capacity can be adapted on a modular basis to individual requirements, with up to six battery units with a net capacity of 3.3 kWh each which can be used and flexibly adapted to consumption behavior, such as for connecting heat pumps or charging electric cars.The Junelight Smart Battery features connections for future function extensions, so the system can be expanded by software updates.Germany’s Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologie (VDE) has certified the product and system according to all relevant standards, and the battery is already available in Germany and will be sold in Austria from April.More: Siemens makes its play in residential storage business Siemens to offer residential battery storage system in Europelast_img read more

Polish government planning first steps in country’s transition away from coal dependence

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Poland’s government is starting discussions with utilities and powerful mining unions about speeding up the country’s green transformation.The European Union’s most coal-dependent country has kept quiet about the details of its plans, which local newspapers reported include a target to stop thermal coal production by 2036, the idling of two mines this year and 6.75 billion zloty ($1.8 billion) in state aid and subsidies. The initial reaction of trade unions signals the government is in for a fight.“We’ll pick up the gauntlet and fight for every mining job,” Boguslaw Hutek, the head of the Solidarity miners’ union, was cited as saying by news outlets in the coal-rich Silesia region.Deputy Prime Minister Jacek Sasin is in Silesia on Tuesday to speak with PGG SA, the EU’s biggest producer of the fuel, and its unions about going green. The move highlights the policy U-turn made by the government, which won power in 2015 after vowing to keep the Poland running on coal for the foreseeable future.But as the dirty fuel has become increasingly expensive due to rising prices of carbon emissions and strict EU policies, the government has embraced renewable energy. While it’s unrolling one of the continent’s largest offshore wind projects, it’s alone among the EU’s 27 nations in refusing to sign up for the bloc’s 2050 climate neutrality goal.Sasin is set to propose idling two mines at PGG already this year. It also envisages pay cuts and dismissal of workers, all financed with subsidies for the state-owned mining company, according to PAP newswire.[Maciej Martewicz]More: Europe’s coal heartland starts talks on phasing out the fuel Polish government planning first steps in country’s transition away from coal dependencelast_img read more

Crawling Out of Maine and Climbing the Whites

first_imgClick here to subscribe to the Pharr Out BlogThe southern most 10 miles of the Appalachian Trail in Maine will not let you walk out of the state – you have to crawl. Mahoosic Notch, as it is called, is a one mile boulder field with steep mountains trapping you inside the gnarly granite landscape. There is snow and ice on the ground and between the boulders late into the summer, and there is a dead moose carcass in the middle of the rocks to remind you what will happen if you don’t make it out.All that being said, I went prepared into these trenches, because on my steep descent down into the notch I made up some advice. Usually my made up advice doesn’t get me very far, but this time the notion entered my head to keep at least 3 contact points on the rocks at all times: so at any one time I would have a tri-combination of right-hand, left-hand, right-foot, left-foot, and butt on boulder at all point. The game plan served me extremely well, I oozed slowly and steadily through the jagged granite, despite the rain and mist. TAKE THAT MAINE!Yes, buh-bye Maine, Hello New Hampshire! Although, most people would argue that the White Mountains of New Hampshire are the toughest section of the Appalachian Trail, I think the ruggedness of Southern Maine far outweighs the climbs and descents of the White Mountains. Really, my biggest worry in the White Mountains was that I would be caught above tree line in an electrical storm. Thankfully, all thunder and lightning in New Hampshire came while I was below tree-line. I did have some extreme fog and strong winds set in while climbing up Mount Washington, but there were large cairns within 15 yards of each other marking the path and guiding me to the top.On that note, New Englanders (or rather New England Tourists) are obsessed with Mount Washington. It felt like Disney World on the top, except looking around it was quite clear that everyone else had either driven or ridden the Cog train to the top.On the note of the Cog Train, it is a thru-hiker tradition to moon the Cog. I, however, have always found this tradition immature and unseemly – families ride that train to the top and no child needs to see yucky thru-hiker bottoms. But the train does make a lot of noise and it blows an ungodly amount of smoke and all this I tolerated until half a mile from the summit when the white fog turned brown and the obnoxious obstruction to the mountain not only surrounded me in thick smog that smelled worse than a thru-hiker, but it also lodged debris in my eye. I did not need this! I could hardly see the cairns through the poor visibility as it was and now the cog had blinded me. Knowing that the train was very very close, but not being able to see it, I – in a fit of rage – pulled my shorts down and pointed it towards the loud blowing horn. Admittedly, no one saw me (and that is partly why I did it), but boy did I feel better!All and all, the Whites were awesome. They asked a lot out of me, but they gave a lot back. I had some phenomenal views and made some lasting memories. It all sort of hit me when Brew and I were able to camp on top of Kinsman Mountain in this perfect camping spot with a view of the sun setting behind us and Franconia Ridge lit up before us. I am going after this amazing dream and it is so hard, but so beautiful. I am so fortunate to be spending the summer on the Appalachian Trail with my husband. I feel very blessed.last_img read more

Video Clips of the Week: Ski Season Farewell

first_imgAs exciting as sunny skies and warm temps can be, spring weather still bears its fair share of downsides: pollen, sunburn, and no more snow. To wish our powder days a worthy farewell for the year, let’s look back on some of the good times from everyone’s favorite resorts in the Blue Ridge.First, the regulars from Wisp Resort in Maryland shred it up freestyle in the terrain park.Next, footage from Snowshoe’s recent Staff Race Clinic shows off the major skills of the mountain’s top-notch ski school and patrol leaders. Good to know we’re in such talented hands!Wintergreen Resort in Charlottesville, Virginia gets some GoPro love from Harley Taylor and friends in honor of their favorite local slopes.Finally, snag a bird’s eye view of Beech Mountain Resort during its annual Winterfest Weekend. This high-flying perspective from Nelson Aerial Productions may just be the coolest new way to catch all the best shred in action.Remember, it’s not goodbye — it’s “see ya later!” Sweet dreams, Winter. We’ll play again soon.last_img read more

Mountain Mama: Lessons on the Ocoee

first_imgA cold wind blows the water into hundreds of sparkling wavelets as we kayak away from our campsite on the edge of the Ocoee River.  Tentative green leaves unfurl on the birch and hickory in the woods above, the magenta flowers of the red bud warms me in a way that the early spring sun doesn’t.At the top of the fourth rapid, Broken Nose, Alex turns to me and says, “your goal for the summer is to catch every eddy in this rapid.”I nod, happy that he thinks I’m capable of attaining any eddies, given how wobbly I’m paddling. It’s my first day in my playboat since summer and it shows.I’m kayaking behind Alex and Rhett, watching them maneuver around rocks and small holes. I watch as first one and then the other paddles into the eddy on the right.Instinctively I turn my boat to the left and paddle hard toward the sneak line before either one can call out to me.12898346_10153397080311965_8517636007545398940_oI bobble over a few ledges and wait for them as they eddy-hop through the rapid, the entire time feeling like I missed out on an opportunity. I recognize a pattern and holding on to a boulder watching them ferry back and forth, I remember that I first paddled the Ocoee when I was pregnant over five years ago.Back then I memorized the lines that would safe-guard my belly, avoiding any potential risk of being upside down. Five years later I am still paddling in a defensive, protective manner on the Ocoee. The rapids put me back in the mental space of a pregnant woman, enjoying the freedom of movement that paddling provides but not wanting to risk the health of the babe baking in my belly.My paddling reflects where I’ve been, first pregnant and then a tired mom raising an infant mostly alone, mostly surviving the river, looking for an escape, if only for an afternoon.I’m not that woman anymore. I’ve got choices of how I want to approach life both on and off the river. As tempting as it is to play it safe, there’s an upside to staying present, to focusing on achievable goals.I’m making the decision to get those eddies in Broken Nose, to take more risks in life. This moment and next hinges on the story I tell myself, not where I’ve been but the one I’m writing now, about where I’m going. I am open to new experiences. I am confident. I am going into that eddy. These affirmations are the ones I tell myself, reminding myself to pay attention more to this moment than the past, focusing on my ability to adapt and grow.last_img read more