Puerto Rico Fiscal Plan Foresees 11% GDP Drop, 8% Population Decline, and No Payments to Creditors

first_imgPuerto Rico Fiscal Plan Foresees 11% GDP Drop, 8% Population Decline, and No Payments to Creditors FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press:Puerto Rico’s governor submitted a revised fiscal plan Thursday that estimates the U.S. Caribbean territory’s economy will shrink by 11 percent and its population drop by nearly 8 percent next year.The proposal doesn’t set aside any money to pay creditors in the next five years as the island struggles to restructure a portion of its $73 billion public debt. The original plan had set aside $800 million a year for creditors, a fraction of the roughly $35 billion due in interest and payments over the next decade.The five-year plan also assumes Puerto Rico will receive at least $35 billion in emergency federal funds for post-storm recovery and another $22 billion from private insurance companies — figures still far below the $95 billion in damage officials estimate was caused by Hurricane Maria, which hit in September.Some analysts view the assumption of that much aid as risky given that the U.S. Treasury Department and U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency recently told Puerto Rico officials that they are temporarily withholding billions of dollars approved by Congress last year for post-hurricane recovery because they believe the island currently has sufficient funds.“I think counting on $30 billion is overreaching,” Puerto Rico economist Jose Caraballo said in a phone interview. “There’s great uncertainty in that sense, and especially with a Republican government that cares little to nothing about what is happening in Puerto Rico.”The plan also projects a brief burst of 7.6 percent GDP growth for 2019 — a figure Caraballo said is overly optimistic.“Puerto Rico would grow more than Panama, Dominican Republic and China, and that seems a bit exaggerated to me,” he said.Rossello said an original $350 million cut to the island’s 78 municipalities will not be immediately imposed as they struggle post-hurricane. Instead, he said they will receive more money than usual in upcoming years.Rossello also called for reducing several taxes, including an 11.5 percent sales-and-use tax to 7 percent for prepared food. More than 30 percent of power customers remain in the dark more than four months after Hurricane Maria, forcing many to spend their dwindling savings on eating out.A federal control board overseeing Puerto Rico’s finances has to approve of the plan, which it envisions doing by Feb. 23.“The Oversight Board views implementing structural reforms and investing in critical infrastructure as key to restoring economic growth and increasing confidence of residents and businesses,” Natalie Jaresko, the board’s executive director, said in a statement Thursday. “Our focus in certifying the revised plans will be to ensure they reflect Puerto Rico’s post-hurricane realities.”More: Puerto Rico warns of 11 percent GDP drop in new fiscal planlast_img read more


U.S. solar development pipeline grows sharply in third quarter

first_imgU.S. solar development pipeline grows sharply in third quarter FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):The U.S. solar project pipeline expanded to more than 33,000 MW during the third quarter of 2018, with the 20.9% quarter-over-quarter increase coming from projects slated to come online in 2019 and 2020.Companies added 5,864 MW of projects to the development pipeline in the third quarter, according to an analysis conducted by S&P Global Market Intelligence. That boosted the total capacity under development to 33,912 MW, compared to the 28,000-MW pipeline the domestic industry saw in the second quarter of 2018.Many of these projects are scheduled to enter service in 2019 and 2020; some 23,514 MW of project capacity are now slated to come online during those two years. That is up from 18,305 in the second quarter of 2018 and 15,476 MW in the first quarter of 2018.California, Nevada and Texas were once again home to most of the country’s 10 largest solar farms in advanced development or under construction. The two exceptions are both parts of the Spotsylvania Solar Energy Center, located in Virginia. S&P Global Market Intelligence considers a solar project to be in advanced development when two of the following five criteria are met: financing is in place, a power purchase agreement is signed, panels are secured, required permits are approved or a contractor has signed on to the project.“Based on our tracking of utility integrated resource plans as well as other public announcements, we expect utilities outside of California to procure more than 15 GW of solar in the coming three years, a number that has increased by several gigawatts over the past year,” First Solar Inc. CEO Mark Widmar said during the solar panel producer’s Oct. 25 earnings call. “Much of the growth is coming from regions such as the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic, which are still in the early stage of utility-scale solar adoption.”More ($): U.S. solar project pipeline balloons by 20.9% in Q3’18last_img read more


Future of South Carolina coal plant up in the air

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Post and Courier:The smokestacks of the coal-fired power plant reign over vast Lake Moultrie — by far the tallest thing in sight. Some have called the stacks the symbol of Santee Cooper country, named for the utility that runs the plant and the lake. Company executives like to tout it as their flagship.But Santee Cooper could well be on the chopping block, as state leaders mull its sale. And the Cross Generating Station, the largest coal-burning power source left in South Carolina, would likely be one of the next uncertainties — based on what its officials and other companies plan.It could be “repowered” as a natural gas-burning plant. It could be shuttered. “I suppose it’s unquestioned that coal is the past and not the future,” Charlie Condon, the Santee Cooper board chairman, said. The board has put off making an assessment “whether to shutter the plant or not, go to natural gas or something else” until the Legislature decides about selling the company, he said.Whether burning natural gas is cheaper than coal is a debated question. Usually it is cheaper. But sometimes economics can vary if there’s a large enough demand-spike for gas, such as during extreme cold weather, according to plant manager Don Cribb and others familiar with the market.An analysis by Pacolet-Milliken, one of the bidders for Santee Cooper, contradicts that. It says the cost of burning coal at the plant is $114 million per year above market cost, or what the electricity would cost buying it off the grid. The Pacolet-Milliken analysis concludes advocating “repowering” the Cross plant as well as Santee Cooper’s Winyah plant with natural gas, along with buying smaller natural gas and hydroelectric plants.More: Uncertainty in the air for workers at SC’s largest coal burning power plant Future of South Carolina coal plant up in the airlast_img read more


Florida municipal utilities break ground on 223MW solar project

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Construction has been launched on a 223.5-MW complex of municipal solar parks in Florida that could later expand to 375 MW.This was announced on Monday by Florida Municipal Power Agency (FMPA), which is partnering in the project with 12 Florida municipal utilities and Florida Renewable Partners LLC. Among those 12 utilities, member-owners of FMPA, are Beaches Energy Services, Keys Energy Services, Orlando Utilities Commission and Homestead. According to the statement, they are looking to expand the project to 375 MW by 2023.The Florida Municipal Solar Project, touted as one of the largest municipal-backed solar schemes in the U.S., will be built in phases, with the first one planned to continue through mid-2020. FMPA is acting as the project’s coordinator, while the 12 utilities will be the power off-takers. Florida Renewable Partners, meanwhile, will be the owner and operator of the solar parks and will also take care of their construction.The photovoltaic (PV) complex will be powered by around 900,000 solar panels that will be installed at two sites in Osceola County and at one site in Orange County. Its output is expected to cover the power consumption of 45,000 Florida households.More: Ground broken on 223.5-MW municipal solar project in Florida Florida municipal utilities break ground on 223MW solar projectlast_img read more


New Zealand firms join forces in country’s largest corporate renewable energy supply deal

first_imgNew Zealand firms join forces in country’s largest corporate renewable energy supply deal FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:A group of New Zealand’s largest commercial and industrial energy users, including dairy giant Fonterra, has joined forces to procure what could be thousands of gigawatt-hours a year of renewable electricity via one of the nation’s first and biggest corporate power purchase agreements.The Renewable Electricity Generation Project, which is being coordinated by the Major Electricity Users Group (MEUG), will seek to buy electricity from a range of new projects, potentially including geothermal, wind, and solar farms.The companies making up the joint venture include dairy co-op Fonterra, Japan-owned pulp and paper manufacturer Oji Fibre Solutions, Japan-owned forestry and timber company Pan Pac Forest Products, and metals industry companies New Zealand Steel and Pacific Steel.All told, the businesses represent a combined annual electricity demand of around 2,000GWh, or 2 terawatt-hours (TWh), and the PPA will seek to meet an unspecified proportion of this load.John Harbord, the chair of MUEG, said the group went to market, on Monday, with a request for proposals to be submitted over the coming six weeks. Responses are due by close of business, Monday, August 31.Harbord said the main driver behind the joint PPA was for the businesses to use their collective clout to lower NZ carbon emissions to a degree they couldn’t achieve as individual companies.[Sophie Vorrath]More: NZ biggest corporate PPA seeks up to 2,000GWh a year of new renewableslast_img read more


The Sneak

first_imgPlaying sports is an all-out, action-packed adrenaline rush. Watching sports isn’t quite as dramatic. Sure, the occasional foul ball gives us a chance to be heroes, but for the most part, being a spectator is pretty tame. There’s not much risk in buying a ticket and filing through the turnstiles.Unless, of course, you try to sneak into the stadium. It requires risk, athleticism, and ingenuity, much like the sports you come to watch.Let me be clear about one thing: I’ve never, ever run bandit in a race or not paid my entry fees for any event. I only sneak in to watch overpaid professional athletes in giant stadiums, and I do it solely for the challenge. It’s a way of turning a normally sedentary, passive activity into an athletic, active one.My sneak-ins started in 1995, when the Atlanta Braves were about to win their first (and only) World Series. I was in college at the time, and I couldn’t afford a stadium hot dog, much less a $1,000 ticket to the Series. So I headed down to the stadium for the final game, hoping to catch some tailgate parties. I had never witnessed a World Series championship, and I at least wanted to be near the peanut shells and spilled-beer smells of the stadium when it happened.It was a chilly, windy October evening. For the first few innings, I circled the stadium with thousands of other fans, who were holding up one, two, or three fingers, indicating how many tickets they were seeking. I tried waving a finger for a few laps. No luck.I kept walking in circles. It was getting really cold. I was ready to head back and watch the rest of the game at the bar when, suddenly, I saw my ticket inside. Beside Gate E, a television station had propped a hydraulic lift cherry picker against the stadium. Its mechanical arm, bent at the elbow, had a platform fist at the top, and the stadium ramps were right across from the platform. It was asking to be climbed. But the lift was only 20 yards from a ticket gate guarded by three security officers. I scouted out their movements and summoned up courage for another half-inning.Just as I was approaching the lift, a homeless guy with a scraggly yellow beard shuffled over to me, carrying a bottle of whiskey in a paper sack. I was expecting him to ask for money, but instead he raised his eyebrows and said, “You gonna climb it?”I nodded my head, and a wide, toothless grin spread across his face.“I’ll see what I can do ‘bout them security guards,” he said.He stumbled over to the gate and fell down, feigning injury. The guards reached down to move him out of the way. In an instant, I shimmied up the lift’s arm, grabbed the edge of the platform like a chin-up bar, and kicked my body to the top. Then I jumped across the two-foot gap that separated the platform from the stadium. I couldn’t believe it was me—college-educated, law-abiding me—climbing two stories in the air onto a wobbly platform so that I could illegally vault into a stadium.Suddenly, I heard a shout below. The guards were running up the stadium ramp. I sprinted away and disappeared into the crowd. A few minutes later, I was even lucky enough to find an empty seat in the nosebleeds, just in time to watch David Justice’s series-winning homer clear the right field fence.My toughest sneak-in challenge was the Super Bowl. I managed to see my hometown St. Louis Rams squeak past the Tennessee Titans at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.St. Louis never had a winning football season when I was growing up, but my dad and I religiously checked the standings every Monday morning and memorized back-page statistics on all the players. He took me to the stadium after home games so that I could get players’ autographs. We suffered through years of cellar-dweller seasons together. Now, St. Louis had finally turned things around and was going to the Super Bowl for the first time.I arrived at the Georgia Dome wearing a tie and sports jacket, and carrying a clipboard with some blank sheets of paper. I caught the door behind a media crew and crept into the building adjacent to the Dome. Inside, halftime bands were tuning their instruments.There was only one corridor between the building and the Dome: an outdoor walkway lined by at least 50 cops and security guards. They stood in two parallel rows and checked each person entering and exiting the Dome. It didn’t look like I could get any farther.Then I heard a faint hymn echoing through the parking deck above the walkway. It grew louder and more powerful. Walking down from the deck were 100 black women from the Georgia Mass Choir singing the praises of God.Divine intervention.I mixed myself in with the choir—a skinny, white boy surrounded by a sea of big blue robes—and pretended to be a manager escorting them through the security lines. I smiled, tried to look important, and never, ever made eye contact with a security guard. We passed through the last security post and walked through the ground-level doors to the Dome.I was in.The choir was headed straight onto the field for their pre-game performance. I was wedged in with them, headed for the field. I started to panic. For a second, I felt like The Naked Gun’s Frank Drebin about to impersonate Enrico Palazzo singing the national anthem. But I stepped aside at the mouth of the tunnel and ducked into a service elevator. I rode with three already-drunk beer vendors up to the stands.I watched the game from an empty usher’s seat near the Rams’ goal line where Mike Jones would make his last-second, game-saving tackle on the one yard line. Afterward, I called my dad from the stadium. He could barely hear my voice amid the buzz of the electrified crowd.“Can you believe it, Dad?”“I don’t know what is more incredible: St. Louis winning a Super Bowl or you sneaking in to see it.”My dad—a lifelong police officer—had never been more proud of his son.last_img read more


Inspirational Bicycle Quotes

first_imgAlex started biking when he was 5 and never let go of his passion. He first learned how to ride a bike in 3 days, and he has been mountain biking ever since. Believing that this is the best way to be fit and have a great mental state, he uses his bike everywhere. He is a tech entrepreneur and co-founder of 99bikereviews.com Does riding a bike make you a bit different from people who use other transportation methods? Some would argue that it doesn’t, but we think otherwise. Why is that? It is because riding is different from driving or flying a plane. You need to be a part of the bike in order to advance. As the great John Howard used to say “The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine”.It is not as demanding as snowboarding, or some other sport, and you can do it everyday for the rest of your life. People in Copenhagen, where the weather is cold, ride even when it is snowing. The upside would be the fact that you can stress your body when riding, and you can let your mind wonder freely at the same time. One example is Albert Einstein who famously wrote that he had thought of ideas and principles used in the book while riding his bicycle.This is a point that Elizabeth West was sure to make when saying that “When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments. Here was a machine of precision and balance for the convenience of man. And (unlike subsequent inventions for man’s convenience) the more he used it, the fitter his body became. Here, for once, was a product of man’s brain that was entirely beneficial to those who used it, and of no harm or irritation to others. Progress should have stopped when man invented the bicycle. “But the sometimes stressed feeling you and I feel after a bad day at work has to clear out some time. You can either sleep or you can go and exercise a bit to get that weight off your shoulders. This was not a secret for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.“When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.” ~ Sir Arthur Conan DoyleHere are a few more inspirational quotes that refer to life as a bike ride:It never gets easier, you just go faster. ~ Greg LeMond.The journey of life is like a man riding a bicycle. We know he got on the bicycle and started to move. We know that at some point he will stop and get off. We know that if he stops moving and does not get off he will fall off. ~ William G. Golding EnglishWhenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race. ~ H.G. WellsLet a man find himself, in distinction from others, on top of two wheels with a chain — at least in a poor country like Russia — and his vanity begins to swell out like his tires. ~ Leon TrotskyGet a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live. ~ Mark Twain Taming the Bicycle. 1884Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling. ~ James E. StarrsThe bicycle is just as good company as most husbands and, when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community. ~ Ann StrongYou never have the wind with you — either it is against you or you’re having a good day. ~ Daniel BehrmanThink of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world. ~ Grant PetersenThe bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind. ~ William Saroyan Nobel prize winnerThe bicycle, the bicycle, surely should always be the vehicle of novelists and poets.~ Christopher Morely Nobel prize winnerBicycles are the indicator species of a community, like shellfish in a bay.~ P. Martin ScottWhoever invented the bicycle deserves the thanks of humanity. ~ Lord Charles BeresfordLife is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use. ~ Charles M. Schulzlast_img read more


January Letter from the Editor: 20 Years of You

first_imgThis year marks the 20th anniversary of Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. What started as a quarterly insert in a Charlottesville-based alt-weekly has grown into the largest regional outdoor magazine in the country with over 350,000 readers from Maryland to Georgia. We’ve expanded from a part-time staff of three sorting slides and faxing proofs from a windowless basement office to a multimedia team of 15 generating print, web and video content.I’ve been editor of the magazine for 14 of those years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes. New adventures like stand-up paddleboarding, zip-lining, and obstacle course racing have emerged. The South added Congaree National Park, three state parks in North Carolina, and new wilderness in Virginia. Microbrew madness has swept the South, and several mountain towns have become craft beer capitals. Over 11,000 thru-hikers have completed end-to-end journeys of the Appalachian Trail, including a five-year-old (with his parents) and an 81-year-old. The 1,000-mile Mountains to Sea Trail was just a dream twenty years ago; today it stretches from the Smokies to the Outer Banks. Tourism and recreation have rescued many mountain towns and revitalized regional economies.As the voice of the mountains, Blue Ridge Outdoors has rallied readers to help protect the places where we play. With your help, we’ve been instrumental in safeguarding rivers, clean air, and public lands.We’ll officially celebrate our 20th anniversary in our March issue, but beginning this month, we’re introducing a Then and Now department that reflects on the evolution of outdoor adventure in Southern Appalachia over the last two decades.Blue Ridge Outdoors continues to evolve with our readers, but one thing will always remain the same: authentic storytelling about the people, places, and issues that matter most.Some of those stories may be your own. In 2015, we’re hoping to include even more reader voices in our pages. We’ll also be regularly featuring your photos and video. So strap on your helmet cams and start planning big, bold adventures for the new year.last_img read more


Fridays on the Fly | Too Tight for Tenkara?

first_img“You can’t fish with a rod that long in these mountain streams”. I’ve heard that more times than I can shake a long rod at.  The idea of heading out to the waterline with a twelve foot fly rod sounds crazy to many people. There was a time when I thought the same thing. Knowing the places I fish and how “tight” that creek line is, extra long rods seemed counter-intuitive. When I first ventured into the world of tenkara fly fishing I kept my distance from the trees and stayed in wide open spaces.  Very quickly I began to get control of these longs rods and witness firsthand the wide range of benefits they are touted for. The level of confidence I was gaining with this angling tool took me from the open shoreline right into the thicket.Along with my fellow tenkara anglers here in the Appalachian Range, we have been dissecting these waters with twelve foot rods for some years now. This includes the cold waters coming off Mount Mitchell and the swift flow on Catoctin Mountain. It is true, we all have some hide-away blue lines that get silly tight and become almost too hard to fish at all. I’ll acknowledge that and follow it with that is the exception, not the rule.  Stop and take a look around at the area around you next time you are “out in the woods” fishing the high country water. Do you see what I see? 2First, I would like you to notice how high the canopy is. On most streams in the mountains the trees push their branches high toward the sky.  The hardwood varieties limit lower branches and use the high level limbs to compete for sunlight.  The typically offers an amazing amount of space for casting in general and affords ample room for my long tenkara rod and fixed length of line. Once you add horizontal casting to your vertical casting lanes, and every angle variation in between, you’ll have a great ability to perform. For my second point, take a look at the water’s edge. Where is the root line for all these trees?  This typically is many feet from the actual water.  The high water line, or wash zone, prevents foliage from growing long term right at the water. Since the trees are growing farther back, you have gained more additional space for casting a long rod.  I concede that rhododendron and laurel will grow right to the edge and hang out over the sweetest holes sometimes. Treat that as a challenge on how to penetrate that spot. For the most part, you’ll see wide open spaces along your favorite waterways.DSCF0462-003The condition found in mountain streams are often more favorable than the ones you will see in the Piedmont waterways in our region. Warm water streams and rivers can have heavy vegetation growth right up banks. This puts scrub brush and weeds in our way.  Haven’t we all tried to make casts through the years in a small pocket cutout on the shoreline? The one place must be a perfect casting spot because the earth is well trodden there because so many other anglers have used the same idea. Then you realize that it is beat down because we are all making the same mistake, it isn’t a good spot to fish from. That isn’t something you find very often high up in the hills.Tenkara rods range from about nine feet up to about fourteen feet.  That starting point is right at the same mark that many fly fishers are holding now in their nine foot nymphing rods. Fixed line fly fishing is a departure from the conventional training most fly fishermen have received and read about. There are few limitations to this ancient Japanese style, but not when it comes to tight areas. I routinely carry a nine foot and twelve foot rods with me everywhere I go. They are telescopic and collapse to near twenty inches. They each weight about 2.5 ounces. I can successfully angle fish from four inches to twenty inches with casting lengths from at my feet to thirty plus feet away.  Whether I’m in downtown Charlotte or at home high on Grandfather Mountain, I take every advantage with my long rods. I rarely find myself in “tight” areas where I can’t make the casts that I want to.  We don’t let the tight areas scare us away from tackling that water.Tenkara Gets Around!last_img read more


Mountain Biking the Heart of Appalachia

first_imgThe Heart of Appalachia region offers a variety of mountain biking trails and backroads perfect for road trips.  These biking opportunities provide low valley roads through valley farms, rolling hills and historic places.The new Spearhead Trails System are now open for Mountain Bike enthusiasts.   The trails opened for Mountain Biking include Mountain View in St. Paul, Original Pocahontas in Pocahontas, Stone Mountain in Pennington Gap, Coal Canyon in Vansant and soon will include Ridge View in Haysi.  Visit www.spearheadtrails.com for directions and details of the routes.A mountain bike trail follows the historic Wilderness Trail from the Wilderness Road State Park to the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park in Lee County.  Mountain biking is an option in the Jefferson National Forest and Natural Tunnel State Park along their trail system in Scott County.  Pathfinders Outdoor Adventure is an experienced outfitter providing rental bikes, guided tours and mapping services to plan your biking trips in the region.  Breaks Interstate Park has extreme Mountain Biking Trails aptly called Cardiac, Rattlesnake and a somewhat easier trail named Ladies Loop.  Easier mountain biking along the ridge and overlooks of the Breaks is more suited for families.  The Guest River Gorge Trail is a 5.8-mile trail built upon an old railroad grade. Many curiosities exist along the trail, including an old railroad tunnel, bridges using the remaining railroad trestles, waterfalls, rock outcroppings and a deep rock corridor that is a scenic wonder. The Sugar Hill Trail in St. Paul provides a mountain biking adventure to an historical French Settlement.  The new Mountain Biking Trails outside of the City of Norton provides an opportunity to see the Woodbooger, (our mountain Big Foot Creature) and offers exciting mountain biking experience.  The trail begins near Flag Rock and High Knob Recreation Areas.   Scenic biking along roads in the region includes the designated bike path from Gate City to Fort Blackmore along Veteran’s Memorial Highway.  The scenic Heart of Appalachia Bike Trail leads cyclists through valleys and rolling farm land from the Guest River Gorge to Burke’s Garden.  The Trans American Bike Trail enters the region on Route 80 at the Breaks Interstate Park and travels through Haysi and Honaker the crosses the Clinch Mountain Range.  The locals are prepared to welcome bikers and points of rest are provided in local towns. Burke’s Garden near Tazewell, known as the “Garden Spot of the World,” is Virginia’s highest valley and Virginia’s largest rural historic district.  This bowl-shaped valley carved out of the top of a mountain offers the most breathtaking scenery this side of New Zealand, with verdant farmland, abundant wildlife, rare bird watching, peaceful biking, and adventurous hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Visit The Burke’s Garden General Store (restrooms and wireless service available) and enjoy lunch on the porch. Park your car at the mill dam and bike around the “loop,” twelve miles of flat land and rolling hills.last_img read more