NRC makes Vermont Yankee license renewal official

first_imgNorthstar Vermont Yankee,In a letter dated March 21, 2011, US Nuclear Regulatory Senior Project Manager Robert Kuntz notified Michael Colomb, Entergy Vermont Yankee Site Vice President, that the nuclear power plant in Vernon had been issued a renewed operating license for another 20 years.This action was expected after the last official objection before the commission had been rejected March 10. However, the official approval had been put off as the NRC dealt with issues concerning the nuclear power plant in Japan, which was severely damaged by the tsunami on March 11.The local reaction to the license renewal was also expected.Entergy released the following statement: ‘Entergy is pleased that the NRC issued the extension of the operating license for Vermont Yankee through March 21, 2032, as announced on March 10. Today’s action comes after five years of careful and extensive review and confirms that Vermont Yankee is a safe, reliable source of electricity and capable of operating for another 20 years.’Meanwhile, Governor Shumlin, who has insisted as governor and previously as a state senator that the plant be closed when its license expires on March 21, 2012, said: ‘In light of the on-going crisis at the 40-year-old Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan that has prompted other states and nations to review their nuclear power issues, today’s decision by the NRC to issue an extension of Vermont Yankee’s license is puzzling. Fortunately, Vermont has taken steps to close down the aging Yankee plant, and I have urged other states with older nuclear facilities to follow our example and take control of the lifespan of their plants.’Vermont’s congressional delegation also weighed in on the relicensing. In a joint statement, Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Representative Welch wrote:‘It is hard to understand how the NRC could move forward with a license extension for Vermont Yankee at exactly the same time as a nuclear reactor of similar design is in partial meltdown in Japan. We believe that Entergy should respect and abide by Vermont’s laws and the MOU signed with the state in 2002, which require approval by the Vermont Legislature, and then the Vermont Public Service Board, for the plant to continue to operate beyond 2012.’The Japanese plant is the same General Electric model boiling water reactor as Vermont Yankee.However, the Vermont Legislature and the Vermont Public Service Board must also approve the relicensing. It is doubtful the Legislature, which voted last year to reject the renewal, would do so at this time. It is possible the case could wind up in federal court. Entergy officials have chosen not to speculate on what action they might take if the Legislature does not vote in favor of renewing the license by the time lawmakers adjourn this spring. Vermont Yankee is scheduled to purchase a new fuel supply by the end of June. The plant is scheduled to be refueled by the end of this year. Vermont Yankee officials have said they are working on a new power purchase agreement, which is expected by the end of March or early April. It is likely that new contract proposal will feature electric rates lower than the rates Vermont utilities and Hydro-Quebec agreed to last year. AttachmentSize VYLicenseRenewal.3-21-2011-1.pdf968.32 KBlast_img read more

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Court forces state to pay $6,000 in public records law decision

first_imgOn March 30, Washington County Superior Court Judge Geoffrey Crawford issued a decision to award attorney’s fees ‘in the amount of $5,400 plus costs of $626.44’ to the Vermont State Employees Association (VSEA). The decision stems from a January 6 decision by Crawford, ruling then that the State of Vermont was in violation of the law when it attempted to charge the union approximately $1,300 to view public records. Judge Crawford ruled that the State’s inspection fee “is plainly a financial impediment placed in the way of persons seeking access to records.”  In determining that the union was entitled to an attorney’s fee award, the Court noted, “The state’s position was not supported by the language of the statute, by its history, or by subsequent case law. It represented a statement of what the administration wished the statute to say rather than what it actually says.’‘The court’s ruling sends an important message to public officials that they could face direct financial consequences for wrongfully denying access to public records,’ said VSEA Associate General Counsel Abigail Winters, who brought the lawsuit against the State. ‘Because the State attempted to charge VSEA unlawful fees to review these public records’and the union had to take the administration to court to enforce our rights under the law’an attorney’s fee award is entirely just.’Winters added that VSEA has not been permitted to review the records, even though the Court ruled in January that the union was entitled to freely examine them.  ‘As a staunch supporter of access to public records in government, I applaud the decision by Judge Crawford,’ said Secretary of State Jim Condos. ‘At a time when our state is engaged in a vigorous discussion of ways to increase and encourage open government, including pending legislation H.73, I feel  it is important to remove unnecessary barriers to public access of state business.’Winters also warned that H. 73 (open records legislation currently making its way through the Legislature), contains a small but significant change to the public records act, which would allow the state and other public entities to begin charging fees to inspect records.  “VSEA believes this statutory change is a significant step away from government transparency,’ said Winters.  ‘It would enable government officials to create financial barriers to the public’s access to government records. Under the statutory change, an agency that does a poor job storing its records will be rewarded by being able to charge fees to a citizen who simply wanted to look at those records.” Condos said he also believes the Legislature should remove the language from H.73 before passage. ‘Vermont needs a culture change in regards to access to public records,’ Secretary Condos. ‘Free access to inspect public records was clearly intended by previous Legislatures and should be maintained.’ Source: VSEA. 4.4.2011 ###last_img read more

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GMP, CVPS and VTel reach smart grid-broadband operating agreement

first_imgSeveral key players in Vermont’s electric and telecommunications industries appeared with Governor Peter Shumlin today to announce the finalization of a collaborative agreement to give Vermont more control over energy consumption, expand access to broadband and telecommunications services, and boost job creation and economic development. The agreement between Green Mountain Power, Central Vermont Public Service Corp., and Vermont Telephone Company (VTel) is critical to Shumlin’s call to reduce our dependence on oil and fossil fuels and simultaneously provide high-speed internet access statewide by the end of 2013. ‘What we are celebrating today is the operating agreement that supports the ‘marriage’ of smart grid and our telecommunications infrastructure. Smart grid is a national and Vermont priority,’ Gov. Shumlin said. Green Mountain Power, CVPS and their 17 partners will install about 250,000 advanced meters over the next two years and those smart meters will transmit their information to and from homes via the wireless open world broadband network that is being built by VTel.  This project will provide the critical backbone to transmit information. ‘Early on, I spoke of a ‘wireless canopy’ across Vermont,’ the Governor said. ‘This is but one application that will rely on that canopy.’ Under the agreement, the parties have essentially agreed to share use of VTel-owned and operated technology to expand the smart grid efforts designed to provide energy information to companies and homeowners, as well as deliver high-speed broadband service across the state. The Vtel Wireless Open World (WOW) project, funded by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service, is currently in permitting phase with completion targeted for early 2013, in sync with the activation of the smart grid.    ‘Today’s agreement is a major milestone in our efforts through 2013, and a groundbreaking move for smart grid installations across the nation.  GMP and CVPS are the first two utilities in the country to rely on a commercial, 4G LTE communications network. The operating agreement will provide the security and data prioritization attributes necessary to operate SG across a public network. This development is directly aligned with the goals of the FCC’s national Broadband Plan as it looks to integrate commercial broadband communications networks into smart grid applications,’ said Karen Marshall, chief of Connect VT. ‘The partnership between VTel, GMP and CVPS is an important step in fulfilling Vermont’s dual objective of universal broadband coverage and smart grid communications,’ said Mary Powell, CEO of Green Mountain Power. ‘The collaboration among our companies will create a platform for energy innovation and economic development of Vermont going forward.”‘The real promise of smart grid for Vermonters is to reduce peak demand on our electrical distribution system by giving consumers the information they need to change electric use patterns; integrating clean renewable power generation, and eventually supporting the adoption of electric vehicles. Realizing that promise requires two way communications and this agreement supports that,’ said Gov. Shumlin.  ‘VTel’s service will reach many un-served and under-served areas of Vermont, which is critical for connecting our state to the modern economy,’ said Michel Guite, owner of VTel. ‘Plus, this connectivity will enable a more robust smart grid, enabling even larger impacts on energy efficiency.’And by combining GMP and CVPS’s smart grid funding with VTel’s Rural Broadband funding, the LTE broadband network being developed by VTel will cover more of Vermont’s geography. ‘The original VTel network was designed to support unserved and underserved Vermonters with best-in-class broadband access, and this agreement will help extend that network to more people faster,’ said Joan Gamble, vice president for strategic change and business services at Central Vermont Public Service.  ‘This unique partnership between telecommunications and electric utilities will benefit all of our customers, and is a model for business collaboration that reinforces the fact that Vermont is open for business.’last_img read more

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Michigan Utility, in Announcing Retirement of 8 Coal-Fired Plants, Cites ‘Fundamental Transition’ in Utility Industry

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Robert Walton for Utility Dive:DTE Energy announced plans to retire eight coal-fired units at three Michigan locations, which combined to generate a quarter of the utility’s power last year.The company is shuttering its River Rouge, St. Clair and Trenton facilities, with the closures slated to take place in the next seven years.The new retirements, along with three others previously announced, will be replaced by wind, solar and natural gas. Closing the plants is a part of DTE’s “fundamental transformation” in how the it generates power, the company said.“The way DTE generates electricity will change as much in the next 10 years as any other period in our history,” DTE Energy Chairman and CEO Gerry Anderson said in a statement. Over the past five years, DTE has bolstered its renewable energy production, which now accounts for 10%  of the company’s total sales.The utility said it is working with the communities impacted by the plant retirements, and will transition employees working at these plants into new roles at other facilities.Shannon Fisk, Earthjustice managing attorney, said it is “critical” for the utility to not only ramp up clean energy investments, but also provide “a just economic transition for the employees and communities that have relied on the wages and taxes paid by these coal plants for the past more than forty years.”Full item: DTE to retire 8 Michigan coal units Michigan Utility, in Announcing Retirement of 8 Coal-Fired Plants, Cites ‘Fundamental Transition’ in Utility Industrylast_img read more

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Report: Battery Storage Emerges as ‘Near-Term’ Piece of NYC’s Evolving Electricity Grid

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Utility Dive:A new study commissioned by the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NY-BEST) concludes the largest city in the United States has a near-term opportunity to clean up its electric grid by replacing older steam generation units with batteries.The analysis, conducted by Strategen Consulting, finds that about 2,860 MW of older steam and combustion turbines, roughly 30% of New York City’s current fleet, will be past retirement age within the next five years. Replacing older combustion generation with energy storage could help the city meet environmental goals, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than 75% from those units.Strategen’s report concludes New York City electricity customers spend more than $268 million annually to secure capacity from older plants that run for just a few hours each year. A 5% set-aside of that amount “could attract investment in more than 450 MW of new energy storage resources over the next five years with very little impact,” the firm concluded. Total price impact could be less than 1% to customers, Strategen found.More: Battery storage could help New York City’s ambitious energy, climate goals, report says Report: Battery Storage Emerges as ‘Near-Term’ Piece of NYC’s Evolving Electricity Gridlast_img read more

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Xcel seeks to close two more coal plants, add renewables

first_imgXcel seeks to close two more coal plants, add renewables FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Associated Press: Colorado’s largest electricity provider said Wednesday it wants to retire two coal-fired units a decade early and nearly double the share of power it gets from renewable sources.Xcel Energy said the changes would reduce its carbon pollution in the state by 60 percent and increase its share of renewable energy to almost 55 percent, up from about 28 percent now. Xcel said the plan would save consumers $215 million by 2054, citing the “historically low” cost of renewables.Colorado regulators would have to approve the proposals before they go into effect.The coal-fired units affected are at Xcel’s Comanche Generating Station in Pueblo. One would be retired in 2022, 11 years early, and the other in 2025, 10 years ahead of schedule. A third would remain in operation.Xcel’s plan calls for purchasing two existing gas-fired generating plants in Colorado and adding five solar farms and three wind farms. Xcel would also renew its contract to buy power from an existing solar farm. Three of the new solar farms would include battery storage.The company said building and buying the natural gas plants and solar and wind farms will cost $2.5 billion. The facilities would be located in Adams, Baca, Boulder, Cheyenne, Kit Carson, Morgan, Park, Pueblo and Weld counties. The plan calls for adding 1,100 megawatts of generating capacity to Xcel’s system from wind, 700 from solar, 380 from natural gas and 275 from batteries. More: Colorado utility plans to retire coal plants, add renewableslast_img read more

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Report paints dire picture of coal generation economics worldwide

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:The uphill battle confronting coal seems to be getting steeper.A new global analysis of 6,685 coal plants finds that its now cheaper to build new renewable generation than to run 35 percent of coal plants worldwide. By 2030, that percentage increases dramatically, with renewables beating out 96 percent of today’s existing and planned coal-fired generation. The 4 percent exception is in markets with extremely low fuel costs, where coal is cheap and plentiful, or with uncertain policies for renewables, like Russia.The study, conducted by pro-climate action financial think tank Carbon Tracker, covers about 95 percent of worldwide operating capacity and about 90 percent of under construction capacity.The report’s authors lay out three inflection points for the transition away from coal-fired power. They forecast the first for 2025, when renewables economically beat out new-build coal. According to the report, countries including Australia, China, and India are already there. But the second inflection point, when new renewables and gas beat existing coal, will mean “existential crisis” for the coal industry, according to authors. In many parts of the world, that reckoning has arrived.This year the Netherlands announced a coal ban. Countries including China, Hungary and Germany have also made moves to ditch coal, whether by reducing consumption or considering and instituting full-blown bans. And a November report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis forecasted that 2018 will bring a record number of U.S. coal retirements totaling 15.4 gigawatts (an S&P analysis from later in the month reported that 2018 will narrowly miss the record, retiring 14.3 gigawatts compared to the previous 2015 record of 14.7 gigawatts).According to Carbon Tracker, in China it’ll be more expensive to operate coal than to build new renewables by 2021. The European Union hits that point earlier, in 2019. In the U.S. it’s already arrived.More: Renewables may prove cheaper than 96% of coal plants worldwide by 2030 Report paints dire picture of coal generation economics worldwidelast_img read more

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Saudi company to build 250MW of solar in Ethiopia for $25/MWh

first_imgSaudi company to build 250MW of solar in Ethiopia for $25/MWh FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renewables Now:Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power has signed 20-year power purchase agreements (PPAs) for two solar projects totaling 250 MW with Ethiopia’s state-owned electricity producer Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP).The price agreed in the PPAs is USD 0.02526 (EUR 0.02295)/kWh, the company said in a statement on Sunday.The two projects, each with a capacity of 125 MW, were awarded to ACWA Power in the first round of the country’s solar programme, organised by the Public-Private Partnerships Directorate General (PPP-DG). They mark the company’s first foray into Ethiopia.The first solar plant will be located in Dicheto, in the Afar region, and the other one in Gad, in the Somali region. Once operational, the two solar parks will produce enough electricity to power 750,000 homes and save 320,000 of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions a year, the director of the PPP DG, Tilahun Haile, said.[Aleksandra Dimitrova]More: ACWA Power signs PPAs for 250 MW of solar projects in Ethiopialast_img read more

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Winter Gear Guide 2009: Winter Camping

first_imgBula Foot Print Beanie A hat is a hat, until you start looking at the materials that go into that hat. The Foot Print is constructed with a sustainable bamboo and wool blend and a comfy recycled microfleece liner. $25. Bulabula.com.BulaFootPrintBeanie_Marble_clip_FIXBig Agnes Flying Diamond 8 Don’t think of this as a four-season tent. Think of the Flying Diamond as your winter mountain home. It’s completely waterproof and windproof from top to bottom, with enough floor space to sleep eight and the headroom to accommodate Andre the Giant. Add the mesh gear loft to keep your packs and jackets organized and pop open the front vestibule for a shaded front porch. $599.95. bigagnes.com.MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes You only wear snowshoes for one reason: to save energy when hiking in deep snow. The Lightning Ascent maximizes the energy savings by offering an uber-light and stable platform that keeps your ankles out of the snow and your legs fresh for the trail ahead. The shoes are edged in light aluminum with “teeth” that grip the snow, while the rubber center provides the float you expect from a snowshoe. $259.95. msrgear.com.MSRLightingAscentOrange_clip_FIXWestern Mountaineering Antelope A five-degree bag may not keep you warm enough on your thru-hike of Antarctica, but it does the trick below the Mason Dixon most of the time. And the Antelope weighs under 2.5 lbs, making it the perfect partner for winter backpacking trips. With seven inches of natural down loft and a fully insulated collar and hood, this five-degree bag might keep you warmer than some zero-degree bags on the market. $435. Westernmountaineering.com. westernmountaineringAntelopeSMF_clip_FIXMountain Hardwear Dragon A lightweight, wind and water-resistant soft shell, the Dragon is designed for intensely aerobic winter activities (think cross country skiing or ice climbing), which means it’s highly breathable with a full range of movement. But our wear-tester loved the details built into the Dragon, like the thumb loops, chamois lined collar, and convenient chest pocket perfect for an Ipod or map. $240. Mountainhardwear.com. 1 2 3last_img read more

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All on the Trail

first_imgAt the Parksville Lake Campground in the Ocoee Ranger District of the Cherokee National Forest, there remains no trace of a crew of American folks who have united, from as far away as Alaska and as close as the Ocoee River’s nearby bank.Participants of an inaugural 2011 Wilderness Trails Stewardship Conference have intermittently packed up and parted ways for Memorial Day Weekend and will regroup on Tuesday afternoon at Big Creek Ranger Station, located within the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.This unique and memorable educational experience has been offered expense free to its first 25 registrants and made possible by Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards (S.A.W.S.) and The Appalachian Trail Conservancy (A.T.C.).  Camping is being provided free of charge by the U.S. Forest Service.  Women and men eat together, work together and share close quarters while in the classroom, in the field and at base camp.Bill Hodge, S.A.W.S. director, explains, “We made sure that this conference was free. We don’t want to burden people who are willing to give up one or two weeks of their life to come out here just to pick up these skills.  The Forest service played a big role in making this happen.  I know we are all leaving here with certifications and some technical skills, but the people who are here are one of the highlights.”Group training has resumed with wilderness skills content that includes Trail Leadership, Leave No Trace and Incident Management training.  A fun and unforgettable first week has included two days of Wilderness First Aid training and certification, a one-day session on Wilderness History and Legislation and two days of Cross-cut Saw training and certification.At the beginning of week two, conference attendees straggle into A.T.C. Base Camp, the headquarters of the Southern Wilderness Elite Appalachian Trail (S.W.E.A.T.) Crew, which plays a vital role in managing trails of the A.T. and Great Smoky Mountains National Park.S.W.E.A.T. crew leaders, Jameson Demiglio and Mateo Romano prepare for a summer where they will lead eight consecutive crews, overseeing volunteers (including me) who will arrive from all over the country to maintain The Appalachian Trail corridor.  The Wilderness Trail Stewardship Conference has been opened to S.W.E.A.T. Crew volunteers.   Certifications and skill sets acquired here will play key roles in this summer’s A.T. maintenance.Early afternoon, everyone congregates around a couple of picnic tables.  Class training starts with the vital component of trip planning and preparation.  Andrew Downs, Appalachian Trail Resource Manager for Georgia, North Carolina and Tennessee explains, “Our work is very physically demanding, perhaps some of the hardest labor you will ever perform.  Being in good physical shape will certainly help you maintain a good attitude.  You also need social skills that will enable you to get along with fellow volunteers in often trying times”. 1 2 3 4 5last_img read more

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