IEEFA Energy Finance 2016: ‘Capital Markets Are Leaving’ FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Tom Sanzillo, IEEFA’s director of finance, said at an Energy Finance 2016 panel this afternoon that coal-fired electricity will continue to lose market share in the U.S.He said in the meantime coal companies will seek through bankruptcy to shed debt in hopes of a market recovery that will not come.Sanzillo said the U.S. coal industry continues to be battered by capital flight as investors abandon the sector. “Private equity is in and out, hedge funds are just bottom feeders, capital markets are leaving.”He said the coal industry generally will continue to be pressed by environmental regulatory issues (“Mother Earth isn’t going anywhere”) and that public service commissions will become increasingly hostile to coal-plant subsidies (“the PSCs have to figure out whether they want to keep overpaying for electricity”).While coal industry executives continue to “think the markets will turn around,” recovery is highly unlikely.Bankrupt coal companies, Sanzillo said, “will continue to be overvalued” even after restructuring.“The price of coal will stay low for a very long time, maybe even lower than it is now.”
FirstEnergy’s Move to Shift Risk to Ratepayers in West Virginia FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Andrew Brown for the Charleston Gazetee-Mail:The president and CEO of FirstEnergy suggested in an earnings call Wednesday that the company would seek to sell the Pleasants Power Station near St. Marys to its West Virginia subsidiaries — a move that would shift the cost and risk of that coal-powered plant from company shareholders to customers.The earnings call follows several weeks in which FirstEnergy, the parent company of MonPower and Potomac Edison, has been heavily questioned about its integrated resource plan — a 15-year energy forecast that was filed with the state Public Service Commission earlier this year. That document suggested that MonPower would seek to buy an existing, unnamed coal-fired power plant in the near future.Two environmental groups, the West Virginia Citizen Action Group and the Sierra Club, suspected that the plan was meant to set up FirstEnergy to shift the Pleasants plant off FirstEnergy’s books and onto MonPower and Potomac Edison ratepayers. The company also submitted a chart to the PSC that had the Pleasants planted listed alongside all of the other power plants owned or contracted by MonPower.In an April 2016 report by UBS, an investment bank, electric utility analysts suggested FirstEnergy would likely seek to move the Pleasants plant into a regulated marketplace, especially since the company had already spent $650 million on systems to reduce nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions from the plant.But lawyers for the Sierra Club, the Citizen Action Group and the PSC staff have all questioned whether buying another coal-fired plant is the cheapest option for customers, and they’ve asked why FirstEnergy didn’t take into account possible regulations on carbon emissions from power plants. The naming of the Pleasants plant will likely only add to the opposition that has been building in recent months against the resource plan.James Van Nostrand, a West Virginia University law professor who has represented utilities in other states, said the fact that FirstEnergy already has the Pleasants plant listed alongside MonPower’s existing electricity sources may suggest company officials created the resource plan — which is supposed to be an objective analysis of future energy markets — so it could justify offloading the Pleasants plant.Still, with regional energy markets being flooded with cheap electricity from natural gas turbines and renewable energy sources that continue to decline in price, Van Nostrand said it makes sense that FirstEnergy executives want to sell the plant to a West Virginia subsidiary.In the regional market, known as the PJM Interconnection, the plant only makes money if it produces electricity at a cheaper price than other power sources all over the East Coast. If FirstEnergy can get the PSC to approve MonPower’s takeover, however, the company is able to guarantee a profit from West Virginia customer rates.“FirstEnergy has a fiduciary obligation to maximize return for its shareholders, but that is where the PSC comes in,” Van Nostrand said. “This is a corporate bailout. Bad management decisions should have consequence for shareholders and management.”FirstEnergy’s resource plan and the lead up to the Pleasants plant actually being named, Van Nostrand said, reminds him of the regulatory process that occurred before MonPower took over the Harrison power plant near Shinnston in 2013 — an acquisition that customers are still paying for.Full article: FirstEnergy CEO says Pleasants power plant sale may happen
Outdoor retail powerhouse Patagonia is implementing a bold new sales strategy based on…wait for it…people not buying their merchandise.The brand recently announced a partnership with online auction house eBay that encourages both potential consumers and owners of Patagonia gear to sell and purchase used goods on the internet. They are also asking that people not buy their gear, or anything, unless they really, really need it.The partnership, part of their longstanding Common Threads Initiative, urges the use of the ‘5 R’s’: reduce, repair, recycle, reuse, and re-imagine a “world where we take only what nature can replace.” To become a member of the Patagonia exclusive shop on eBay, one must pledge their loyalty to the said R’s. They hope to achieve 50,000 pledges by the end of the year.Although this not-buying campaign may seem counter-intuitive from a sales and marketing standpoint, Patagonia has always been on the leading edge of environmental issues. As a result, the brand has become synonymous with environmentally conscious consumerism. This is just Patagonia’s latest effort to reduce the company’s—and their consumer’s—carbon footprint.This experiment in sustainable retail production is a first from a major outdoor brand, and it has the potential to cut into potential sales figures, especially since Patagonia will not profit from the resale of any of its garments or equipment. They are urging people not only to buy used Patagonia products, but also to dig out old gear from the backs of closets to sell to the next outdoor enthusiast looking for a new puffy jacket. In a down economy, and with the explosion of ‘green’ thinking in the marketplace, this could be the first in a series of dominoes.Outdoor gear hand-me-downs and pass-alongs have been around since the birth of the industry, especially with the prices of today’s top-of-the-line products. Patagonia has simply organized a place for their specific product to be purchased and sold through eBay and their own website, taking the hassle and potential risk out of selling used gear.The bottom line is this: the greenest gear is the gear that is already in circulation. People will ultimately still buy new Patagonia products given the trendiness of the brand, but will this ecologically sustainable business plan be economically unsustainable in the long run? Or will it end up winning over even more customers by proving that Patagnoia looks beyond the bottom line?
We asked, and you responded.Blue Ridge Outdoors readers showed their hometown support in our Best Mountain Towns and Outdoor Cities poll by casting over 60,000 votes. The winners will be announced in next month’s issue.Thanks to the communities across the Blue Ridge for rallying behind the contest. We especially appreciate the efforts of these partner communities who helped make the poll such a success. These towns have always been great supporters of our mission: inspiring people to go outside and play.Take a look at last year’s Best Mountain Towns.Coming in November:Final results and detailed coverage of the Best Mountain Towns in the Blue Ridge. All 38 nominees will featured, with special in-depth coverage of our top three towns in each category.Don’t miss out on these great mountain towns1. MorgantownWest Virginia(800) [email protected] WaynesvilleNorth CarolinaHaywood County NC Tourism Development Authority(800) [email protected] EllijayGeorgiaGilmer County GA Chamber of Commerce(706) [email protected] DavisWest VirginiaTucker County – Canaan Valley – Blackwater Falls(800) 782-2775canaanvalley.org5. RoanokeVirginia(800) 635-5535 / (540) [email protected] Hot SpringsNorth CarolinaHot Springs Tourism [email protected]://www.hotspringsnc.org/View Best Mountain Towns in a larger mapYellow is a Blue Ridge Outdoors Partner Community, Blue is a mountain town nominee
A rookie rock climber lets it all hang out.Little known fact: there are more plastic flamingos in the world than real ones. It’s a sad reflection of our willingness to sacrifice artificial habitats for real ones. We cut down trees and name streets after them.Similarly, we trade the outdoor experience for the climate-controlled safety of the great indoors. I’m not knocking gyms. I regularly swim and climb there. And I once spent 18 consecutive hours at the YMCA taking every class offered, from water aerobics to belly dancing.But too often I resort to the quick convenience of a gym workout instead of experiencing the rainy, windy, muddy, real world beneath my feet. Indoors, I was burning the requisite calories, but I was missing the connection.I realized this recently when I joined my climbing buddy on the rock. I had been climbing at a local gym for a while, which provided a great workout full of adrenaline and intensity. But there was something far more powerful about scraping my shins against real granite covered in spider webs and bat dung.We stood on a carpet of crushed pine needles and listened to the river. The bluff before us was pockmarked with flakes and finger holds that were just as challenging as any mountain climb. But we weren’t in the mountains. We were inside the Atlanta perimeter, climbing a bouldery bluff along the Chattahoochee River.Mike went first. He glided gracefully up the granite, swinging and pirouetting across the vein-popping vertical. It was a boulder ballet: the dancer lost himself completely in the dance. Athleticism became art. He rappelled back down to Earth, purified, and handed me the chalk bag.I didn’t have any of Mike’s fluid finesse. I awkwardly pulled myself up the first rock ledges, digging my fingernails into a crack of rock, then fell back down.“You look like a white boy on the dance floor—all arms and no legs,” Mike laughed. “Use your whole body.”I climbed clumsily back onto the boulder. This time, I kicked my right heel over my head and into the rock, and, like a lever, it lifted my body over the boulder. Mike whooped and whistled below.Finger-cramped and jelly-armed, I picked my way along a diagonal crimp in the rock. When I couldn’t find a fingerhold, I smeared the rubber soles of the shoes against the boulder. It gave me just enough grip to get me onto the overhanging bluff brow. Halfway up, I braced myself against the rock ledge and looked out across the treetops. I could see the river—a brown squiggly line with willow and birch bending over its banks. The morning sun slowly melted mist off the water. A heron winged across the river and perched on a mossy rock.I reached the next ledge, and the river roared its applause. But the last move was the hardest, and I’d need every scrap of strength I had left. So I stalled for a few more minutes atop the rock ledge, soaking in the scenery: the tinge of autumn in the trees, the hawks spiraling over the water, the wind high in the pines. I admired the ancient cracks of the rock face, like lines of a primordial palm, holding me steady.This was why I climbed. This was why I loved to move my body. Contact! Contact! said Thoreau. For me, contact with the gritty granite and solid earth strengthened more than my body.I chalked my hands—bloody and blistered from the rock—and shook my arms loose. After a few false starts, I dangled out along the overhanging flake of rock, fingers pinched around the thin crack, legs flailing beneath me. I panted hard and purse-lipped, like a weightlifter on his last rep of bench press.“Breathe, baby! You’ve gotta get O-2!” Mike shouted below.A golf ball of granite jutted out from the boulder above me. All I had to do was reach it and pull myself up. My arms were shaking; my teeth were clenched. I was in fourth grade P.E. class again, hanging from a chin-up bar.“Hold on! One quick, explosive burst and you’ve got it!” Mike yelled.My fingers started to slip. But I was an arm’s length away from the golf-ball rock. All it took is one more move, one last gutsy grunt to the top. In the distance, I could hear the river’s water dance over smooth, time-worn boulders. I took a deep breath, let go of my grip, and lunged for the rock. •
We are excited to bring you another stellar issue of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine! Our June Paddling issue is on newsstands and online and is packed to the brim with everything you need to know to get outside this summer. We list over 50 of the best rivers in the Southeast to kayak, raft, SUP, fish, or tube. With everything from Class I flat water to extreme Class V whitewater action, there is something for everyone, plus we list the latest and greatest gear you need for a day – or two – on the river. We also scoured the region for the seven most scenic swimming holes the Blue Ridge has to offer and we think you’ll like our choices. Throw in essays on paddling, pollution on the French Broad, and the winners of our Dog Photo Contest and you won’t be able to put this issue down! Just make sure you pass it along to your friends and spread the word.Below you’ll find a listing of all our stories and don’t forget about all our contests where you can enter to win adventure getaways to North Carolina and Kentucky, a Virginia boating package, guided paddling across the Southeast and more! Be sure to sign up today!FeaturesHead of the Class: 50 of the Best Rivers in the SoutheastParadise Found: Scenic Swimming Holes of the Blue RidgeThe French Broad Threatened By Toxic WasteDog Photo Contest Winners!StoriesBeyond the Edge: Life and Death on the RiverCell Tower Climbing with Lauren JamesSynchronous Fireflies Spotted in PennsylvaniaLynne Cox: Cold Water QueenKayak on the FlyFront Porch: The Comeback Kids of BombadilPedal Power: Best Long Distance Rides in the Blue RidgeThe Notch: A Paddling Essay from our NEW Travel Editor Jess DaddioPaddling Gear: Make a SplashDebateRiver Dams: Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down?
Dear Mountain Mama,I’m an avid road biker and I’m also recently married. My spouse is a novice rider, and I’d like to buy a tandem bike with our wedding gift money.I’ve often heard them referred to as divorce bikes. How do I avoid tandem divorce court and ensure our first ride is a success?Thanks, Eager to Please————————————————————————————Dear Eager to Please,It’s often said that “Whichever way your relationship is going, a tandem will get you there faster.” Successful tandem riding requires the same cornerstone of any good relationship — communication. When in doubt, err on the said of more disclosure, especially in the beginning.The front rider, or the captain, should make it a point to give the rear rider, or the stoker, advance notice about everything she’s doing. Give your stoker updates such as “I’m shifting,” “coasting now,” “bump ahead,” “turning left,” or “standing.” Also, check in with your stoker from time to time. You might ask “Was the speed okay on the downhill?” Or “Is this gear comfortable?” Be proactive about apologizing if you don’t see a bump in time or otherwise cause your stoker discomfort.Eager to Please, take note that the turning radius is much wider and the stopping distance much longer than on a single bike. Plan accordingly.Tandems are a great equalizer, and provide a great opportunity for couples to ride together. Rent one before you buy, so that if you don’t gel well riding together you won’t creating fighting fodder by a senseless purchase. And if you do eventually buy a tandem, worse case scenario ditch the bike and hang onto your spouse.Give it a whirl!Mountain MamaGOT A QUESTION FOR MOUNTAIN MAMA? SEND IT HERE
Dear Mountain Mama,My boyfriend is crazy. During the polar vortex, when temperatures hovered in the single digits, he went kayaking. We fought. I worried about that icy water, about him getting hypothermia, or worse, drowning. I begged him to stay home – warm, cozy, and safe, with me. Despite my tears, he paddled. What gives? Does he have a river addiction? Will he always chose the water over me?Yours,Lonely Heart Dear Lonely Heart,It’s been said that some men have a need to look death in the eye. Not once, but time and again, the way some women have a need for chocolate. They say men either paddle hard whitewater or kill a barnyard animal. A primal need wells up inside of them, becoming toxic and overflowing until it seeps into every other aspect of their lives. Simply put, some men need to paddle in order to live well, including putting their best foot forward in their relationships with significant others.Maybe some women have that need too. Not me. Any time I think of death or injury on the water, my mind turns to my shadow life on shore, the one where my toddler waits for me. Always I chose the safety of staying on dry land, of feeling the weight of my little boy in my arms one more time.But there are days when I need to get outside. Not to defy death, but to celebrate life. After forty-eight hours cooped up at home with my son last week, I called everyone I knew to babysit so I could go cross country skiing, using borrowed gear. The sensation of gliding over snow felt so good after not exercising for more than a day. Breathing in that cold air refreshed my lungs.As the evening became blanketed by darkness, stars appeared. So many stars shone down on us that night that it seemed possible to pluck one from the sky, if only I reached high enough. Our friend who knows the position of the planets like the back of his hand explained how space stretches out into infinity. Gazing from an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my mind grappled with the concept of forever, of beginnings and ends, and of space, that perhaps neither starts nor finishes.Standing underneath the starlit sky, I realized how big the universe is, and my own impossibly tiny place within it. The stars reminded me of how far-reaching my dreams are, and how connected, even though distant, we are to every other thing in this world. The bright light pulsed through me, emanating joy, hope, possibility, smallness, forgiveness, and fear, all at once. I’d never felt that sensation before, and searched for a word. My brain finally settled on one – prayer.I went home that night to the sweet sound of a quiet house, my son fast asleep. The babysitter commented on how blissed out I looked, and I told her why. I was pretty sure I glimpsed God on the Parkway that night. Being outside is the place where I go to know my own spirituality, a sacred place to get better acquainted with higher powers.Lonely Heart, I can’t begin to speculate on why your own dear man needed to go to the river that day. But what I can say is that it’s almost always better to let him go, without any guilt, without a fight. Whether he’s got to stare down death and come out ahead, or he’s got a date with Mother Nature, either way he’s bound to come back a happier partner. And that, Lonely Heart, will result in a happy ending for both of you.Cheers!Mountain Mama
Becoming Petey…I take a swig of cheap beer from a 40-ounce bottle and pass it to a guy in white gym shorts and knee-high tube socks with the letters B-E-E-R stitched down the sides. It’s an unusually warm February day in Charlottesville, Va. The past couple of weeks have been an ill-timed combination of 14 glorious inches of fresh powder and an unavoidable backlog of work, so when my screen-glazed eyes finally saw the light of day this morning, my first thought was, ‘Man, I could go for a beer.’ That notion was immediately shot down, followed by some self-chastising and a more responsible thought: I need to go for a run.The problem is, I love beer and I hate running. Running is a last-resort activity in my eyes. It’s what I do when the rivers are dry and the rocks are wet, when it’s too cold to paddle but there’s not enough snow to ski. It’s what I do when I can’t find anybody else to do anything else with me. Lucky for me, I happened upon an international community of people who find running just as tolerable but prefer to partake in the activity with its proper accompaniment: booze. These people are the Hash House Harriers.“Want anymore?” my neighbor asks me, swirling around the last sip of beer in the bottle.“I’m good, thanks Joe,” I tell him. Immediately I begin blushing from the onslaught of incredulous looks I get for using my neighbor’s real name instead of his hash name. I clear my throat. “I mean…Motor Cock.”For those unfamiliar with the Hash Hound Harriers, they’re an international drinking club with a running problem. Modeled after the English childhood game of “hares and hounds,” present-day hashing was developed in Malaysia in the 1930s with the purpose of implementing the following four pillars: 1) promote physical fitness among members, 2) get rid of weekend hangovers, 3) acquire a good thirst and satisfy it with beer, and 4) persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel. A ‘hash’ involves one or two members acting as hares and either setting a live trail or pre-laying a trail with flour for the rest of the group, the hounds, to follow. The trail type varies with location, but you can bet that a well-laid hash isn’t going down the most popular trails or the main sidewalk in town. It’s the adult version of tag, along with a delightful combination of beer, dog collars, dirty aliases, and inappropriate jingles.“Now hold on just a minute,” says a hasher named Rambo. He’s wearing black jogging pants pulled high up his waist and a grungy white bandana with the letters H-A-R-E stamped in red. Unlike most hashers, Rambo doesn’t drink alcohol, so I’m surprised by his intervention.“It’s hashing tradition to let the kitten drink at the first beer stop.” He motions toward the small plush kitten toy I hold in my hands, the one Stuff’d N Cuff’d, the religious advisor of the Charlottesville hashers, gave me before the hash.“Now, Virgin,” Stuff’d N Cuff’d had said, calling me by the only appropriate name for first-time hashers without a hash name, “Your job today is to hold on to this and to think of a name for it, even though others in the group may be scheming to swipe it from you. If you show up at my circle without it, I will not be happy.”Of course, those words did not resonate very deeply within me and in a matter of seconds, I had forfeited my grip on the little fuzzy toy so that Rambo could give it some beer. I was, after all, the virgin of the hash and Rambo was the voice of experience, a hashing legend, having hashed on nearly every continent for more than 20 years of his life. Surely he knew the rules more thoroughly than I ever would.“Thank you,” he says as he douses the kitten’s head in a splash of beer. He then shakes it off before tucking away the poor stuffed creature beyond the waistband of his athletic pants, never to be seen again. “That was easy.”“Really? First try?” Motor Cock takes one look at me and shakes his head. “You’re going to pay for that.”He turns away to begin looking for the next flour mark and I follow suit, dodging fallen branches and weaving through mangled thorn bushes (referred to in hashing as “shiggy”) until we find the next blaze. He’s been hashing for nearly 20 years too, his first run down in Guam in 2000. As we half jog, half walk up the side of a steep bank, Motor Cock and his friend Quick Tongue exchange stories from their hashing days abroad. Motor Cock tells me about that first hash in Guam, how it involved swimming in open water and hacking through razor-sharp sword grass. Quick Tongue himself grew up hashing in Malaysia, the birthplace of the Hash House Harriers. He later moved to India and remembers hashing down the bustling streets of Delhi and crushing his first beer at 16 years old.As they continued sharing their tales of epic hangovers and hashers clad in red dresses, the adrenaline of the hash (or perhaps it was the booze) began coursing through my veins. Suddenly, I was diving headfirst through the jungle, crashing through tangled masses of spiny foliage, fervently searching for that next flour hash, hot on the trail of the elusive hare. I could feel the sticky humidity of the central Pacific air on the back of my neck, the salty taste of sweat beading above my lip. In reality, I was chugging High Life and stumbling over invisible roots. Our hare Musk Stank Sally was not jetting through the trees and frantically setting trail like I’d imagined, but casually bringing up the rear of the pack, sauntering along with a PBR in hand.Within a few hours we arrive back at the starting point, a cooler of more beverages awaiting our return. The religious advisor Stuff’d N Cuff’d rallies everyone in a circle and begins the process of handing out violations. From being the FRB (front running bastard) to pulling up DFL (dead fucking last) to everything in between, including wearing denim during a hash, just about every person in the circle receives a violation and is required to pay up in the form of a “down-down,” chugging the remaining liquid in your vessel. Stuff’d N Cuff’d saves my violations for last, and with a grand, sweeping gesture he invites me to step into the middle of his circle. “Now Virgin, you were asked to do one thing today and that was to hold on to the object which I bestowed upon you and think of a name for that object.” He looks down at my hands and, noting they are empty, thrusts his head back and begins pacing around the circle. “I see that you could not complete that task in its entirety, and for that you will pay dearly.”Suddenly a number of unidentifiable hands rush me, cracking open cans and pouring beer into my half-empty cup until it’s overflowing.“Down-down-down-down, down-down…” they begin in their sing-song banter. I am by no means partial to chugging beer, but by day’s end I had morphed into a beer-crushing aficionado of sorts, relishing how quickly I could drain a 12-ounce can like a college freshman rushing a fraternity. When I finished, I dumped the cup’s last few drops above my head to prove my salt and waited for the next violation. Instead, Stuff’d N Cuff’d shuffled over to me, slid his sunglasses down the brim of his nose, and stared at me with one eyebrow cocked.“So, did you name the thing?” he asked in a hoarse whisper.Perhaps the beers were finally starting to catch up to me, or perhaps I was inspired by the general vibe of moral abandonment and college-age carelessness. Whatever the case, I responded without hesitation, almost proudly, “Petey.”“Well then from now on until you receive a more proper hash name, you shall be PETEY! Down-down-down-down, down-down…”
Population: 425Public lands: Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Canaan Valley State Park, Blackwater Falls State Park, Spruce Knob – Seneca Rocks National Recreation Area, Monongahela National ForestOutdoor Highlights: Dolly Sods Wilderness, Blackwater Falls, White Grass Ski Touring Center, Canaan Valley Ski Resort, Timberline Four Seasons Resort