FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Intercept:Vultures Circling the wreckage of Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Irma are closing in on a long-sought prize: the privatizing of the island’s electric utility.This most recent privatization push is taking place in the midst of a broader economic crisis in Puerto Rico, which is facing $74 billion of municipal debt. How did that happen? In a nutshell: Corporations flocked to the island for years thanks to a series of tax incentives, and public agencies there eagerly issued bonds to creditors who could collect a subsidy for buying them come tax season. Those incentives came under assault in the mid-90s, and, as they faded, manufacturers’ interest in the island faded too.Due to a series of lingering and idiosyncratic tax breaks, American investors — hedge funds, mutual funds, and individuals — kept buying up bonds from Puerto Rico that were by then considered junk, without much concern for just how dire the island’s financial situation really was.All this reached a breaking point in a 2006 recession that the global recession two years later only exacerbated. Before long, the commonwealth was having major trouble paying interest on its loans. But for reasons that remain a mystery, Puerto Rican public institutions have not been allowed to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy since 1984. Because much of Puerto Rico’s debt is owned by a coterie of American creditors, however, the Puerto Rican government and agencies therein can still be sued in the American legal system for nonpayment.That’s part of why hedge funds spent so much money to keep the anti-bankruptcy statute in place when debates around Puerto Rico’s debt started coming to a head in Washington post-crash. As lawmakers discussed the debt crisis, the funds poured millions of dollars into lobbying efforts and a string of front groups. One such outfit, dubbed Main Street Bondholders, was allegedly “comprised of small bondholders from across America who are committed to a policy process that returns Puerto Rico to sound financial management.”To avoid a default — and a war between bondholders and the island’s government — Congress last July passed PROMESA. The law endows a federally appointed Financial Oversight and Management Board with broad authority to restructure the island’s debt and raise revenue. Among its powers are the ability to break union contracts, cut pensions, and take control of public assets. The legislation also established several policy protocols for how to rein in spending and fiscal management across various sectors of the Puerto Rican economy. Among the 30 percent cuts now outlined are plans to close down 75 percent of the commonwealth’s public agencies, lower the minimum wage, and privatize a slew of public corporations.Like austerity measures elsewhere, PROMESA was passed amid tremendous controversy. Just before it went to a vote on Capitol Hill, a majority of Puerto Ricans were found to reject the creation of an oversight board. Many see it as a colonial power, one of many in the island’s long and fraught colonial relationship with a U.S. government that has severely limited Puerto Rico’s autonomy and democratic structures. It’s easy to see why: Though its authority officially circumvents that of the commonwealth governor and legislature, only one of the board’s seven members is required to be from Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rican governor is technically a member of the board but cannot vote on any of its final decisions. Protests have continued since PROMESA’s passage against various austerity measures, including a massive student strike against university privatization this past May.Bondholders are angry about the restructuring arrangement and PREPA privatization plan for nearly opposite reasons. Unsatisfied with PROMESA and seeking faster repayment, they are now actively pressuring both the board and Puerto Rican government officials to expand cuts already slated to happen over the next several years. Those with who hold Prepa’s debt fear privatization could mean losing their collateral.Though the drive to privatize PREPA has come largely from above, few would argue that it can continue as is. The status of the utility’s infrastructure has declined steadily over the last few decades, and many of its generation and distribution systems are dangerously outmoded. A blackout following a transmission line failure last September left half of the island without power.“This disaster is waiting to happen. No one could say that they didn’t know the electrical system was in a state of disrepair,” says Cathy Kunkel, an energy analyst at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, who has presented expert testimony on PREPA’s status.More: In Wake of Hurricane Irma, Vultures Eye Puerto Rico Electric Grid ‘Vultures’ in Puerto Rico Seize on Hurricane Devastation to Advance Push for PREPA Privatization
Global growth pushes profits at offshore wind major Ørsted, beyond forecasts FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Recharge:Profits at Ørsted rose last year as the Danish offshore wind champion ramped up new wind farms both on land as well as at sea.“2019 was a great year for Ørsted with continued strategic progress and global expansion. We achieved a very satisfactory operating profit (Ebitda), and the green share of our heat and power generation increased to a new high of 86%,” chief executive Henrik Poulsen said.The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) – excluding new partnerships – rose 17% to DKr17.5bn ($2.58bn) last year when compared to 2018, exceeding the most recent guidance of DKr16-17bn. Ebitda just in onshore and offshore wind jumped by 30% to DKr14.8bn in 2019.Last year was a breakthrough overseas for the Danish company.“We reached significant milestones by winning two large-scale offshore projects in the US. We were awarded 1,100MW with our Ocean Wind project in New Jersey and 880MW with our Sunrise Wind project in New York. With these awards, we have secured a US offshore wind portfolio with a total capacity of 2.9GW to be completed towards 2024,” Poulsen stressed.Ørsted in 2019 also commissioned Hornsea 1, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, with a capacity of 1.2GW, and decided to build the 900MW Greater Changhua 1&2a array off Taiwan.[Bernd Radowitz]More: Ørsted 2019 profit beats forecasts as global growth soars
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:The Queensland government has given development approval for a massive wind project of up to 1,200MW that will be located in state pine forest in the Wide Bay-Burnett region.The $2 billion project put forward by Forest Wind will comprise up to 226 turbines and would be located in state forest used as pine plantations between the towns of Gympie and Maryborough, in a similar way to that proposed by French renewable energy developer Neoen, which is looking at a 900MW wind project and battery hub in western Victoria.Construction could start as soon as the end of this year, pending the results of talks on off-take contracts and financial close. Forest Wind is a joint venture between global energy giant and turbine manufacturer Siemens and Queensland renewable energy company Clean Sight.“This is a major clean energy project for Queensland and will contribute to our target of 50 per cent renewables by 2030,” state minister for planning Cameron Dick said in a statement on Saturday.State energy minister Dr Anthony Lynham said Queensland currently has 5,500 megawatts of installed renewable energy capacity after more than $5 billion has been invested in almost 2500MW of new renewable generation, creating almost 5000 jobs. “More generation helps put downward pressure on power prices, and give Queenslanders have the lowest electricity prices on the eastern seaboard,” he said.[Giles Parkinson]More: Queensland approves massive 1,200MW wind farm in state pine forest Australian state government approves plans for 1,200MW wind project in Queensland
Oil slump may not pull down renewables, experts say FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Low oil prices are usually a curse for green energy, but this time might be different.The collapse of the crude market has seen prices fall below zero for the first time in history. Yet Royal Dutch Shell Plc this month outlined a bold program to slash carbon emissions and invest in clean energy, while Eni SpA said Friday it’ll consider accelerating its ambitious climate plan.There has always been tension between calls for Big Oil to tackle climate change and their investors’ doubts about the profitability of spending on renewables. Historically, a plunge in crude prices has tended to undercut costlier clean energy, prompting companies to divert dwindling financial resources into their core business of fossil fuels.What is different this time is that the cost of renewables and natural gas has broken away from oil, weakening crude’s influence on the price of electricity. While the coronavirus has destroyed demand for oil and transport fuels, power use has dropped less sharply. And importantly, energy companies are now painfully aware of the mounting pressure from consumers — and investors — to clean up their output, rein in emissions and prepare for a future beyond oil.“The situation is totally different since the last time oil prices were this low,” said Nick Boyle, chief executive officer of solar company Lightsource BP. The cost of solar is a 10th of what it was during the recession of 2008 to 2009. Even as crude has slumped, “in the last few weeks we have announced new deals on nearly 400 megawatts of new capacity in the U.S. alone,” he said.[Laura Hurst]More: Oil slump may no longer be a curse for renewable energy
IHS Markit: Global renewable energy investment from 2021-2025 to hit $1.3 trillion FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享ReNews.biz:Global capex spending on renewables is poised to bounce back in 2021, according to IHS Markit Energy Advisory Service.It is expected to rise 8.5% next year to US$255bn (€205.90bn). Annual spending is expected to remain at those levels through 2025.This adds up to a $1.3trn (€1.05trn) cumulative 2021-2025 spend—a 9% increase over cumulative capex in 2015-2019.At the same time, sharply declining capital costs across renewable technologies mean that just a 9% increase in spending will be associated with a 45% increase in cumulative gross renewable capacity additions in 2021-2025 vs. 2015-2019, the analysis found. The expected recovery follows a 2020 that saw the renewables sector hit by supply chain disruptions and construction delays stemming from COVID-19 lockdowns and mobility restrictions, among other factors. IHS Markit expects 2020 global non-hydro renewables capex will be $235 billion (€189.71bn) down 7% from 2019 levels.Vice President for financial services Roger Diwan said: “When it comes to renewables, we may likely look back on 2020 not so much for the COVID-induced contraction in spending but for the sprightly return to growth.More: Renewables spending to ‘bounce back’ in 2021
What board do you use? The Imagine RapidFire is a 50-pound, stable, super fast plastic paddleboard which allows me to use rocks intentionally to move downriver.Do you ever bother pulling out the kayak anymore? I still do some creek boating. But on any river that you can safely run on a paddleboard, I’ll take that over my boat. You’re surfing waves, running rapids. It demands every thought from you, which is what attracted me to kayaking in the first place. And the freedom is amazing. It’s the same feeling you get on a surfboard or skateboard. What do your friends think of your transition to paddleboarding? Stand-up paddleboarding allows me to experience the river in a completely new way. Your head is six feet above the river, reading the water, seeing three moves ahead. When you see the moves and execute them the way you see them, there’s a feeling you get, similar to a surfer who carves a wave. It’s like when you first start kayaking and you know you finally have the skills to use the forces of nature to move you down river. You feel that energy. With the paddleboard I get to experience that all over again. Eventually, I think my veteran friends will make the switch, too. You have some paddleboarding first descents to your name. Is there a limit to what these new boards can run? Definitely. You can’t really do creeks with a paddlebaord. And I don’t see anyone pushing class IV, not yet. Big drops are tough. I think big class III is the next horizon. Decent sized holes, small ledges, that sort of thing. I like the river running aspect of the paddleboard. The Nantahala is fun. The Hiwassee is fun. The Ocoee is amazing. But if you’re running a paddleboard on the Ocoee, it’s a class-V experience. Ben Friberg surfs the Ocoee River.Ben Friberg is a veteran class V boater who helped spur creek boating exploration with the Total Vertical Feet Challenge, which had participants running steep rivers in an attempt to rack up the most vertical feet in a month. Now he’s traded his boat for a plastic surfboard, and is pushing the envelope of what can be done on a stand-up paddleboard in the Southern Appalachians. When did you pick up SUP? About two years ago. It was addictive immediately, but it was tough to advance because not too many other people were running whitewater. I had to watch videos of people running western rivers on paddleboards to learn. But it’s a different scenario here in the South. Western rivers are deep. If you fall, there aren’t a lot of consequences. Here, if you fall, you’re hitting rocks. It’s such a new sport, do you see the design of boards changing drastically in the near future? They’re already changing. Surfing a river wave can be frustrating on a big board. Some guys are designing shorter seven-foot boards specifically for surfing. That’ll be interesting, but they probably won’t be stable enough to take down river. There’s one guy who’s experimenting with straps so he can roll the board. I’m playing with a slalom ski boot design. Basically, it’s a half-boot for my back foot that attaches to the board, which will allow me to blast ledges.See Friberg SUP the Ocoee River.
Fishing the South River SRA from Blue Ridge Outdoors on Vimeo.Ah, the first hookup of spring. When all the pent up frustrations from the winter are unleashed and your anxiety about a new atmosphere floats away. A time when you think to yourself, “Yes, it was uncomfortable for a while, but now I know I can snag any beauty if I play my cards right.” It’s the foundation of a confidence and swagger that will last all year.No, I’m not talking about your first year at Big State U; I’m talking about ripping lips. Wait…that came out wrong; I’m really talking about fly-fishing.The caddis hatch was already in full swing when I hit the water below Waynesboro, VA last week. I was fishing the special regulations area (SRA) just south of the city in the hopes of getting in some early dry fly action; I was not disappointed.The area is deemed special regulations due to fact that it runs almost exclusively through private land, the owners of which have graciously allowed fly fishermen to wet a line in. Access to that part of the river is limited – special – so in order to fish it within the eyes of the law, one must secure a permit, which is free and available at several locations in Waynesboro. I picked mine up at the best little fly shop in Waynesboro, The South River Fly Shop. I was also provided with a surprisingly accurate map of the SRA and its parking spots along with some fly recommendations. As I loitered scanning the fly tying materials and coveting new rods, I was blessed with the “Well, if it were me….” treatment, which I do not take lightly. Much like skiers and the mafia, fly fishermen are able to take their secret spots to the grave without ever giving anyone any hot tips about anything ever, so I was very grateful to have the local knowledge.The bugs were everywhere, but few fish were rising to meet them as I strapped on the waders and gingerly stepped into the recommended water. The river was running a little high due to some recent precipitation, but still clear and calm enough for surface activity. The South SRA is a wonderful little fishery that produces caddis, BWO and trico hatches regularly and also has good terrestrial fishing later in the season. I tied on a caddis and made my way up river, until I finally saw a fish taking bugs off the top about 15 minutes later – 15 minutes! Who has the time?!?!Seeing a fish rise, matching the hatch, then fooling them with delicate presentation and a dead drift is the heart and soul of fly fishing and a thing of beauty. To take a trout on a dry fly 15 minutes into the first venture of the spring is surprising. To get the whole thing on camera is close to a damn miracle, and to not see anyone else of the river is like a Double Rainbow Guy miracle.I only hooked into two fish that day, but that’s not really the point is it?
This month’s Instagram Takeover features Western North Carolina-based photographer Justin Costner. If you haven’t already seen Costner’s stellar photos on Instagram check him out here, and learn more about his passion for the craft by reading his Q & A below!BRO: How did you get into photography?JC: My interest in photography started after a few hikes into the Linville Gorge with some friends and snapping a few photos on my iPhone and being captivated by the landscape. I’ve always been drawn to the mountains and the beauty of Western North Carolina ever since and enjoy truly sharing these places with folks. BRO: When did you discover your passion for photography?JC: My passion for photography found me about 2 years ago when I got back in to hiking and camping on the weekends and sharing these places I was exploring with friends and documenting our trips. It really ignited a passion within and has led to the lifestyle that I now live and embrace. As my desire to document and explore grew so did my camera. From iPhone photos to an intro DSLR and now to a full frame setup.BRO: How long have you been shooting?JC: I’ve been shooting about a year and a half now with a DSLR camera and I’m pretty much self taught. Learning more each trip and enjoying the ride and places photography has taken me!BRO: If you could only choose one area in this region to hike and explore and photograph for the rest of your life what would it be?JC: It is so tough to pin point a specific area in WNC! I’m pretty partial to The Linville Gorge and Grandfather Mountain area, but I definitely want to spend more time in the Hickory Nut Gorge and familiarize myself a little more with that area. There are so many amazing places in our home state that you could spend a lifetime enjoying!BRO: One piece of gear (minus your camera) you wouldn’t head into the woods without?JC: That’s a tough one as well but I’d say my water filter and a Sierra Designs tent. Shelter and water are key! BRO: Aside from photography, what is your favorite thing to do in the outdoors?JC: I’d say rock climbing has to be up there. I’m def not a great climber, but I love getting worked on the wall and being in the mountains with my buddies. Slack lining would definitley be a close second if not first! BRO: Tell us about your Western North Carolina guiding service.JC: My best friend and business partner Curt Teague and I started HikeMore Adventures about a year ago. We wanted folks to be able to experience the outdoors and adventure of backpacking/camping safely and teach the proper etiquettes to protect and conserve our national forests and wilderness areas. We are blessed to have such pristine mountains and rivers here in Western North Carolina and we wanted to give people the opportunity to experience them with the right guidance and offer them the best gear available to do it with. We offer guided day hikes, overnight backpacking/camping trips, team building outings for companies and photography workshops as well!
On a day when representatives of the outdoor industry filed into Washington, D.C. to lobby members of Congress about the importance of, among other things, preserving and protecting America’s public lands, President Trump signed an executive order that seeks to challenge the status of some 100,000 acres of America’s national monuments.According to the Wilderness Society, a national monument is a “land or historic area that has been given permanent protection by Congress or by the president through the use of the Antiquities Act.”As many as two dozen national monuments are under siege after Trump’s latest order. That encompasses all or part of every designated national monument dating back to 1996.“We’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place. … And tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land, the likes of which there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world.”—President Trump on national monumentsTrump called the Antiquities Act, which was put into place in 1906 and is used to designate national monuments, an “egregious use of government power”, going on to say, “we’re going to free it up, which is what should have happened in the first place. … And tremendously positive things are going to happen on that incredible land, the likes of which there is nothing more beautiful anywhere in the world.”Just yesterday, while speaking to representatives of the outdoor industry, Trump’s Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke attempted to quell fears about the possible transfer of prized public lands to the states.“Nobody loves public lands more than me,” he said at an Outdoor Industry Association event. “You can love it as much, but you can’t love it more than me. And part of the reason why I got the job is I’m adamantly opposed to the sale or transfer of public lands. And so is my boss.”Cedar Mesa Monument in Bears Ears National Monument, Wikimedia CommonsIn statement released after the order was signed, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said that the president does not have the authority to rescind a National Monument.“Less than 24 hours after joining with our industry to celebrate the economic power of outdoor recreation, in a hypocritical move, the Trump administration took unprecedented steps that could result in the removal of protections for treasured public lands,” the statement reads. “We take this as a sign that Trump and his team prefer to cater to fossil fuel interests and state land grabs for unsustainable development, rather than preserve a vital part of our nation’s heritage for future generations by protecting federal lands owned by every citizen.”Below is the list of national monuments Trump is seeking to challenge. It was released by the White House earlier today.► Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, proclaimed by President Clinton in 1996. (1.7 million acres).► Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (1 million acres).► Giant Sequoia National Monument in California, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (327,769 acres).► Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (279,568 acres).► Hanford Reach National Monument in Washington, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (194,450 acres).► Canyons of the Ancients National Monument in Colorado, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (175,160 acres).► Ironwood Forest National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2000 (128,917 acres).► Sonoran Desert National Monument in Arizona, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (486,149 acres).► Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument in Montana, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (377,346 acres).► Carrizo Plain National Monument in California, proclaimed by Clinton in 2001 (204,107 acres).► Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by President George W. Bush in 2006 and expanded by President Barack Obama in 2016, (89.6 million acres).► World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument in California, Hawaii and Alaska, proclaimed by Bush in 2008 (4 million acres).► Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 (60.9 million acres).► Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 and enlarged by Obama in 2014. (55.6 million acres).► Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa, proclaimed by Bush in 2009 (8.6 million acres).► Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, proclaimed by Obama in 2013. (242,555 acres).► Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, proclaimed by Obama in 2014 (496,330 acres).► Basin and Range National Monument in Nevada, proclaimed by Obama in 2015 (703,585 acres).► Berryessa Snow Mountain in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2015 (330,780 acres).► Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (3.1 million acres).► Mojave Trails National Monument in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (1.6 million acres).► Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (1.4 million acres).► Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (296,937 acres).► Sand to Snow National Monument in California, proclaimed by Obama in 2016 (154,000 acres).
Wood stork nests reach record numbers in South Carolina this year With the passage of Senate Bill 613, registering as an organ donor just got easier in West Virginia. The state has become one of the first to offer the option to register as an organ donor when applying for a fishing or hunting license, in addition to driver’s licenses and identification card applications. The achievement was a joint effort of the Center of Oregon Recovery and Education, Donate Life West Virginia, the West Virginia DNR and Governor Jim Justice. WV fishing license applicants can now opt into organ donation A nonprofit organization in New York aims to connect the backcountry of the Adirondacks through a system of huts, much like the hut-to-hut system of hiking that is popular throughout Europe. The organization, Hamlets to Huts, seeks to help adventurers hike, cycle or paddle throughout the Adirondacks for a few hours or a few days without having to carry more than a daypack. Biologists and technicians have recorded a record number of wood stork nests in South Carolina in 2019—the highest in state history. 3,075 wood stork nests at 26 colonies were recorded in the state, breaking the record high of 2,512 nests recorded in 2016. In nests monitored around the state, an average of 2 wood stork chicks made it to fledging age. The federal recovery goal is 1.5 fledglings per nest. “Registering as a donor is a simple act but one that can save lives,” Governor Justice said. “I am proud that West Virginia stands among the nation’s leaders in offering this option on our hunting and fishing applications.” Planning your 2020 bucket list? Soon you can hut-trip the Adirondacks Funded primarily by grants from the New York Department of State and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the organization says that the first trips should be available by summer 2020. Wood storks, also known as “wood ibis,” were added to the Endangered Species List in 1984. Thanks to years of wetland restoration, the range of the wood stork has grown from the states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama into North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi. In 2014, the wood stork’s status on the Endangered Species List was upgraded from endangered to threatened.