BNEF: Solar plus storage nearing price parity with gas FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Bloomberg:Natural gas-fired power plants will be facing more price competition from solar farms in some parts of the U.S. as falling battery costs make it possible to deliver electricity produced from sunshine even after dark.Solar projects that incorporate storage are becoming cheaper to build per megawatt-hour in parts of the U.S. Southwest than new gas-fired generation, according to a report Monday by Bloomberg NEF.That positions solar to replace a significant portion of the 7 gigawatts of coal-fired power that’s expected to retire in the region over the next decade, said Hugh Bromley, a New York-based analyst at BNEF. And that trend will likely be repeated elsewhere. “This won’t be contained to the Southwest,” Bromley said in an interview Monday. “This is spreading and will continue to spread.Utilities that buy electricity from solar farms typically still rely on gas-fired generators in the evenings. But the increasing affordability of batteries — thanks in part to a federal incentive — is making solar compelling, even after sundown.For example, a 100-megawatt solar farm that goes into service in Arizona in 2021, coupled with a 25-megawatt storage system with four hours of capacity, will be able to provide power for $36 a megawatt-hour, according to BNEF. That’s well below the $47 price from a new combined-cycle gas plant, according to the report.“In the long-term, this is a threat to gas suppliers whose demand from utilities will be in decline,” Bromley said.More: Solar with batteries cheaper than gas in parts of U.S. Southwest
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Gragtmans goes solo.I rarely paddle alone anymore. I used to do it all the time when I was younger, but the idea of my own mortality is much more present now in the way that I approach moving water. I know that there is zero margin for error when I am out there solo.On this particular day, however, I find myself at the top of a snow-dusted class V creek all alone. I got here through a series of reasonable decisions, but now I am staring at the vapor of my breath in front of me, and trying to decide what to do. Should I wait for my friends who I’ve been trying to catch on the 3.5 mile hike up this river? They may be upstream or may have already passed me on their run back down to the cars. There was a miscommunication and another group didn’t want to run this section… but I still wanted to go kayaking.Big Creek is a familiar run, but it is running at a high level of 3.4, and I don’t know the current wood situation downstream. One misplaced log that has fallen into the river can mean the end of a paddler’s life. I calmly go through a stretching routine and take a look around at the beauty of my surroundings. I have gained about 700 feet during my hike, and due to that elevation change, the scenery has gone from mostly dry to about two inches of snow covering the landscape.After about 20 minutes passes, some of the warmth is being sucked from my core by the still winter evening air. It’s time to do something. I put my GoPro on my bow and seal myself into my boat. Daylight is slowly fading.The first rapid is a big one, and knocks off the cobwebs from my time out of the boat over the past little while. The water is cold, but feels incredible as my boat skips through the curlers like moguls. My hip flexors and obliques warm up with the effort, and I stop in the next eddy to do one final stretch. I also take a big gulp of freezing cold water from one of the side streams. A funny image jumps into my head of Indian Jones drinking from the holy grail.When I hit the current after that, I know that the next 30 minutes of my life are going to be incredible. This is one of my all-time favorite creeks, and it is running at an excellent level. Plenty of padding exists over the smooth Smoky Mountain boulders, and I’m on a magic carpet ride that the Earth has created for a few lucky people. I skip and charge through holes, over drops, and from one side of the river to the other. The muscle memory is there from previous runs, and I just need to time it properly.I keep expecting to see others hiking up the trail, but it appears as though I am the last soul on the river today. Surely the masses will show up tomorrow morning as the water drops to a more popular level.As I pull into the eddy above the biggest rapid, I sit for a second and gather my thoughts. A new piece of wood peers up from the first drop and spooks me a bit. I walk around this first five foot ledge and put in below. There is no one to talk with about decisions. That process must occur by utilizing the various voices inside my head that present different scenarios. Zero margin for error; conservative is best. I put in and run the last 2/3 of the rapid, which is amazing! I give a loud yip, but there is no one there to celebrate with, so I just continue grinning and paddle downstream. Rapid after rapid blur by, and I never look back… there is no need to. I am one person in charge of my own destiny.Life is so simple… river and rocks. My only job is to find where to go. My brain is still on high alert for stray wood, but I have endorphins dripping from my pores. There is nothing quite like being in the woods alone and using all of your senses to take in what’s around you.I round the last corner to the takeout, and smile again at what I have just experienced. I must be the luckiest person on the face of the planet.Author’s Note: Solo kayaking is without a doubt not a wise decision, and I am not recommending it. It is always best to have friends around you to share the experience with, and to assist in the event of an emergency. I have only soloed creeks that I have done many times, and I don’t go out with the intention of soloing anymore. Make good decisions, and enjoy however you choose to experience the river.
Chris at play. Photo: Jakob KaferI have a lot of friends who played football in high school and college. They loved their sport, and poured everything that they had into it during that period in their lives, splitting their time between the gym and practices. Because of their hard work and representation of their respective schools, these people were the big men on campus and received all kinds of attention.But then a funny thing happened… they graduated, and the limits of their ability levels dictated the end of their football careers. Just like you see in the movies, that last game is built up as “the most important game of their lives.” And after that is over, well, time to fade into anonymity, take a job in an unrelated field, and the goal becomes getting rich and fat.I have seen this happen to more than a few people who I went to high school with, and it has always fascinated me how they never touch a football again, and live the rest of their lives talking about the glory days.It confuses me because my relationship with kayaking, biking, sailing and skiing is so much different from this. These are lifetime sports, and form an essential part of the fabric of our lives. Old friends and family members often ask me when I see them: “are you still doing the kayaking thing?Well, yes!I want to be able to rip it on the slopes, trails, and water until I am very old. And here’s the funny thing… I truly believe that the time that I spend in those places getting fresh air and exercise is extending my life as well.I don’t know if some people who are close to me think that one day I will “grow up” and stop heading into the mountains on occasion and acting like a kid, getting lost, one-upping with my friends, and coming back to the real world with a happily refreshed mind and body. If you think that is going to come to an end then I’m sorry to disappoint you, but maybe you should try acting like a kid again yourself. That is what these activities allow us to do.Our sports do not represent a phase in our lives. There isn’t a point where we decide that we put it down and retire. There are always times when life gets in the way and we need to shift priorities around a bit, but our time in the outdoors is a foundation of our souls that is always there to return to. It helps us to think clearly and re-center. These sports are like an old friend… even after a period of time away, you can always pick up where you left off.I truly look forward to keeping these relationships with my sports as long as I live, as well as someday passing these joys and experiences on to the next generation.
Photo courtesy of USA Cycling, picture shows Scott Paisley on the podium at 3rd place.This past weekend was Cyclocross Nationals in Wisconsin, and the best of the best from across the nation made the trip North to battle it out for the podium. If you are not familiar with this high intensity cycling sport, basically riders race a set course on road bikes with wider knobbier tires and a bit different geometry. Races usually last 45 minutes to an hour, and traverse obstacles such as barriers, sand pits, stairs, and steep hills.Three top notch riders from the Blue Ridge had performed well enough this season to earn a spot at Nationals. Fred Wittwer, Ron Huebner, and Scott Paisley battled it out and brought home the bacon. Fred was 2nd in the 60+ race, Ron was 3rd in the 50+, and Scott was 3rd in the 55+. Full USA Cycling results can be found here.These results are incredible, and show that the Virginia Cyclocross series put on by Sean Yeager packs a punch. We want to wish these riders the best of luck as they head to Louisville, Kentucky to battle it out at Cyclocross Worlds. This is a huge achievement for these riders and goes to show that the Blue Ridge is home to quite a lot of talented athletes!
Cycle. Eat. Repeat.Supporting local food has soared to exciting new heights in Southern Appalachia, thanks in part to a relatively young event organized by Velo Girl Rides founder Jennifer Billstrom.Her brainchild, Cycle To Farm, is a series of metric centuries (that’s 100 kilometers, or 62 miles) that take cyclists down the scenic backcountry roads of western North Carolina and South Carolina to local farms in the area.Billstrom began organizing these events just three years ago. “I realized my riding routes were taking me past all of the farms I bought from at tailgate markets,” Billstrom said. “I wanted to create a ride that would allow friends to experience not just the cycling here but also the local farms.”After establishing a partnership with the local nonprofit Black Mountain Greenways, Billstrom successfully hosted her first Cycle To Farm event in Black Mountain, N.C., in 2012. Since then, she’s established relationships with three other nonprofits to host Cycle To Farm rides: Buncombe County’s Farmland Preservation in Sandy Mush, N.C.; Farmer Food Share in Chapel Hill, N.C.; and Live Well in Greenville, S.C. Both Chapel Hill and Greenville will hold their inaugural Farm To Cycle events this year, and Billstrom anticipates that the 300-rider cap will be met long before the events’ starting dates.Riders buy products from the farms along the way and the company transports their purchases back to the finish party for them.With 2,700 to 5,200 feet of elevation gain and farm stops every 10-15 miles, this farmers’ market trip might very well be the hardest shopping experience of your life. Those extra calories spent will be well rewarded at the fabulous after-party. After the ride, all riders receive a free locally sourced farm-to-table meal, free local coffee, free swag from sponsors, live local music, and the option to partake in some regional brews or $1-per-minute massages.“I feel strongly about putting my money where my mouth is, literally,” Billstrom says. “The Cycle To Farm events create quite an economic impact not just on the community but on these farms. Our overall goal is to raise awareness and funds for these nonprofits, but also to convert our tour riders into farm customers.”
By Dialogo October 01, 2011 Identifying the weapons and bullets used in the commission of crimes is a necessity for criminal investigators. Forensic ballistics is a key capability to provide the scientific evidence necessary to prosecute criminals. Through the 7th Technical and Scientific Cooperation Program Belize-Mexico 2010-2012, more than 40 members of Belize’s police department and Forensic Science Service received training from the Mexican police forces in May 2011. The training is the first of four courses in the cooperative program aimed to build capacity in forensics by training Belizean personnel in new methods and techniques regarding ballistics. The training included the identification of firearms and ammunition, microscopic analysis, ballistics laboratory standards, an introduction to the Integrated Ballistics Identification System and field work. Sources: The Reporter, Embassy of Mexico in Belize
The government of the Argentine province of Chubut (in southern Argentina) thanked Chile for their firefighter support in fighting the forest fires that have consumed around 2,000 hectares in that district, Governor Martín Buzzi announced. By Dialogo January 10, 2012 A severe drought and wind action in the middle of the Southern Hemisphere’s summer are contributing to the spread of the flames, which are consuming a dense native forest of cypresses and pines. Around 40 Chilean firefighters will join the 300 Argentine personnel fighting the flames near the city of El Hoyo (1,075 km southwest of Buenos Aires), a tourist destination and the center of the disaster, and in neighboring Puerto Patriada, 12 km south of El Hoyo. “We are grateful for this effort by a brother country that has also suffered a fierce fire in recent days, and that is contributing its people to support our brave and determined firefighters,” the governor of Chubut said. The governor has said that the fire “was intentionally set” and that it began “after no fewer than 20 previous attempts were extinguished by firefighters.” According to authorities, the fire has not caused any injuries, but the population living near the forests was urged to leave the area as a precaution. The small tourist locality of El Hoyo, with 3,500 residents, receives hundreds of visitors every summer and is the most affected by the situation.
Colombia continues in war against terrorism. Terrorism is a form of struggle of the left political groups with communist ideology. The terrorist groups FARC and ELN are allies, some work in the political area, some of them already members of the Congress of the Republic of Colombia, and others continue the armed struggle throughout the national territory. Its objective is the seizure of power by the Colombian State. It is not a secret, the FARC and ELN alliances with international drug trafficking groups for the maintenance of their terrorist projects and political strategies with the help of governments like Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba, as well as others.The current reality is that terrorist groups enjoy privileges as a justice biased by themselves, exposing the impunity of crimes against humanity committed by the FARC and ELN against the Human Rights of the Colombian population.COLOMBIA SIN TERRORISMO ORG. Colombia continua en guerra contra el terrorismo. El terrorismo es una forma de lucha de los grupos políticos de izquierda con ideología comunista. Los grupos terroristas FARC y ELN estan aliados, unos trabajan en la parte política, siendo algunos ya miembros del Congreso de la República de Colombia, y los demás continúan la lucha armada en todo el territorio nacional. Su objetivo es la toma del poder del Estado Colombiano. No es un secreto, la alianza FARC y ELN con grupos narcotraficantes a nivel internacional para el mantenimiento de sus proyectos terroristas y estrategias políticas con la ayuda de gobiernos como Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Cuba, así como otros.La realidad actual es que los grupos terroristas gozan de privilegios como una justicia parcializada por ellos mismos, dejando al descubierto la impunidad de crímenes de lesa humanidad cometidos por la FARC y ELN contra los Derechos Humanos de la población de Colombia.COLOMBIA SIN TERRORISMO ORG. Terrorism escalated in Colombia, after a car bomb exploded at the General Santander National Police Academy in Bogotá, January 17, 2019. The attack left a death toll of 21, with 68 injured, as well as infrastructure damage in the area. The National Liberation Army (ELN, in Spanish) guerilla group claimed the attack. The group’s peace talk with the Colombian government, hosted by Cuba—base of the insurgent group’s leadership—was on hold. “I urge all governments to understand that last week’s attack has nothing to do with political position discrepancies,” said Colombian President Iván Duque in Davos, Switzerland, January 23, 2019. “Rather, it’s an international crime that killed many unarmed, helpless young people who were preparing to serve as Colombian police officers.” According to Colombian intelligence, Cuba and Venezuela shelter ELN’s members. ELN leaders Rafael Sierra, alias Ramiro Vargas; Eliécer Herlinto Chamorro, alias Antonio García; and Gustavo Aníbal Giraldo, alias Pablito, are believed to be in hiding in Venezuela. Colombian Minister of Foreign Affairs Carlos Holmes Trujillo urged Nicolás Maduro’s government to confirm the presence of these and other ELN members and act accordingly. “If their presence is confirmed, the Colombian government hopes that arrest warrants will be issued and that criminals will be turned over to Colombian authorities, as it should be,” said Trujillo in a press release. The Venezuelan government has yet to provide an answer. Need for international support Duque made the same request to Cuba. “I respectfully call on the Cuban government to issue extradition orders against the leaders of this organization, so that they can be turned over to Colombian authorities and pay for this attack against the General Santander National Police Academy. We urge the Cuban government to help Colombia deliver justice.” Interpol also issued a red notice against two members of the ELN’s peace delegation in Cuba: Israel Ramírez Pineda, alias Pablo Beltrán, current head of the guerrilla delegation and member of the Central Command; and Víctor Orlando Cubides, alias Aureliano Carbonell or Pablo Tejada, who took part in a 1998 massacre, in which ELN detonated pipelines crossing Machuca, a village in Segovia municipality, Antioquía. The attack killed 70 people, including adults and children, as they slept. Support from international organizations The United Nations (UN) expressed its condemnation. “The Secretary-General [Antonio Guterres] strongly condemns the car bombing at a police academy in Bogotá. The perpetrators must be brought to justice,” said spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric. “Terrorism in all its forms and manifestations constitutes one of the most serious threats to international peace and security,” said José Singer Weisinger, president of the UN Security Council. “Any acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, wherever, whenever, and by whomsoever committed.” Continuation of armed conflict “In Colombia, we were able to put an end to an armed conflict that left thousands dead and millions of victims and displaced people,” said former Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos at the UN General Assembly on September 19, 2017. Terrorist attacks, however, still occur in Colombia. The peace accords of 2017 were an agreement between the government and the leadership of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, in Spanish), which left its troops behind in the jungle, and lost influence over them. The remnant terrorists who didn’t subscribe to the peace accords regrouped or created new armed groups fueled by money from narcotrafficking. “Colombia had two radical choices to make: We would either adopt a Castro-Chavista approach, hence becoming another Venezuela, or we would become another Switzerland by signing the agreement with FARC,” Néstor Rosania, head of the Center for Security and Peace Studies, an nongovernmental organization based in Bogotá, told Diálogo. “We are neither of these. We are in the transition of violence in Colombia. Now, we’re at a breaking point in which political violence has been left behind, so we can focus fully on countering violence derived from narcotrafficking and illegal mining, which generate considerable money for these groups.” The Colombian conflict near the borders is rampant. There are multiple criminal groups stationed on the borders with Venezuela, Ecuador, and Brazil, whose actions even involve Central America, due to their control over narcotrafficking routes. “The truth is that ELN took over FARC spaces in Colombia, and the spiral of violence won’t stop, because as long as drugs continue to be worth so much money, the conflict will continue and we will only change the names of gangs,” said Rosania. “If the peace talks with ELN continue, dissidents will trigger the conflict, because they don’t intend to let go of narcotrafficking and illegal mining. That’s the real problem with the current violence in Colombia,” he concluded. By Yolima Dussán/Diálogo February 05, 2019
Empty classrooms, teachers on strike, and derelict buildings are some of the consequences of the economic crisis in Venezuela. Only days after the 2018-2019 school year ended, Bolivia Suárez, an opposition lawmaker from the National Assembly (AN, in Spanish) of Venezuela, said that the country is going through an “educational catastrophe.”The legislator and member of AN’s Social Development Commission said in July that public schools have completed only 70 percent of the school calendar, which means that students missed more than two months of classes. Lack of water, power outages, and chaotic public transport contributed to the collapse of education, the lawmaker said.“What this regime is doing with education is a crime,” Suárez told the press.“We have collateral problems such as transportation, the student cafeteria, insecurity due to the lack of budget to hire security personnel, maintenance, and equipment,” Pablo Aure, professor and secretary general of advanced studies at the University of Carabobo School of Law, in the city of Valencia, Venezuela, told Diálogo. “Under this model, our institutions are practically doomed to close.”Many students and teachers have abandoned the classrooms. In September 2018, the Faculty Association at the Central University of Venezuela alerted AN that only 10 to 15 percent of the students had started classes in the 2018-2019 school year. Raquel Figueroa, Democratic Unit national coordinator for AN’s Educational Sector, said that more than 271,000 teachers, or 50 percent of those on the payroll of the Ministry of Education, had left the educational system.In May 2018, 14 Venezuelan nongovernmental organizations denounced in a joint statement “the continuing attacks of the Venezuelan State” against university professors, as well as attacks on academic freedom and university autonomy.“Every institution where ideas are debated, where knowledge and research are generated, is obviously the enemy of this type of tyrannical and dictatorial government system,” said Aure. “The regime destroyed public institutions, including universities. They are trying to close them, indirectly blocking their budgets with the poor salaries our workers have, banning elections in autonomous universities, and persecuting us as professors.”According to the new teacher wage table the government presented in January 2019, a teacher with 23 years of service, working 40 hours per week, would earn a little more than $3 (based on the exchange rate of August 27).Educational institutions “still stand today because of the efforts of some teachers who do their work out of love, even using their own money, what little they have, to buy markers for blackboards,” Hasler Iglesias, former president of the Federation of University Centers at the Central University of Venezuela, between 2015 and 2016, told Diálogo. “Unfortunately today, teachers have to be absent from classrooms to stand in line for hours to buy a bag of flour, bread, soap, diapers… and that also affects the quality of education in Venezuela.” By Ricardo Guanipa D’erizans/Diálogo September 18, 2019
Court sets procedures for postconviction DNA testing November 1, 2001 Managing Editor Regular News Court sets procedures for postconviction DNA testing Mark D. Killian Managing Editor The Florida Supreme Court has amended its procedural rules to allow only inmates who were “tried and found guilty” to seek exoneration or a sentence reduction through DNA evidence. The adoption of Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.853, and amendments to Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure 9.140 and 9.141 also impose a two-year time limit on inmates to request testing and is very similar to a state law (Ch. 2001-97) that went into effect October 1. The court also said because the amendments to Rules 9.140 and 9.141 had not previously been published, it will accept comment on the changes until December 17. (The text of the amended rules can be found beginning on page 14.) Case nos. SC01-363 & SC01-1649. The 4-3 court declined to make postconviction DNA testing available to those who plead guilty or nolo contendere, which was advocated by the Criminal Procedures Rules Committee, but was not permitted in the new DNA law. In a brief, House Speaker Tom Feeney, R-Oviedo, told the court that expanding the rule to authorize DNA testing for those who plead guilty or no contest “would violate the separation of powers provision of the Florida Constitution,” because expanding the pool of those eligible for DNA testing is substantive in nature “and cannot be reasonably construed to be procedural.” The majority – Chief Justice Charles Wells and Justices Leander Shaw, Major Harding and Fred Lewis – said the court adopted “the appended procedures to effectuate the new legislation without reaching the constitutional issues raised in this proceeding.” In a separate opinion by Justice Harry Lee Anstead – concurring in part and dissenting in part – Anstead said he would have adopted a comprehensive rule providing for postconviction DNA testing of all those convicted who could meet the “rigorous requirements of the proposed rule.” “I cannot agree with the majority’s apparent decision to reject the committee’s proposal, and to essentially postpone any consideration of those issues not resolved by the enactment of legislation providing for limited postconviction DNA testing until an inmate claiming an unjust conviction and entitlement to DNA testing brings those issues to the court.” wrote Anstead in his opinion, in which Justices Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince concurred. “Rather than delay, we should enthusiastically embrace the use of science which can only serve to enhance confidence in our criminal justice system and bring more certainty to a determination of guilt or innocence, or just punishment.” The court said the committee’s proposed Rule 3.853 varied from the new DNA legislation in several other respects, including the laboratory or agency that must conduct the testing. Ch. 2001-97, section 1, creates §925.11(2)(h), which provides for court-ordered DNA testing to be conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or its designee, as provided in §943.3251. The court said proposed rule 3.853(c)(7) tracks the legislation but further authorizes the court, on a showing of good cause, to order testing by another laboratory or agency. Subdivision (c) of the new rule provides general procedures to be followed after a motion for testing is filed. “Specifically, we have amended subdivision (c)(7) to allow the court, on a showing of good cause, to order testing by a laboratory or agency, certified by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors or the National Forensic Science Training Center, other than FDLE or its designee when requested by a movant who can bear the costs of such testing,” the court said. Subdivision (d) of the new rule provides time limitations for seeking postconviction DNA testing. “At this time, we adhere to the two-year time limitations contained in the new legislation,” the court said. The court, however, adopted proposed subdivision (d)(2), which addresses matters not addressed by the new legislation. As modified, it reads: “A motion to vacate filed under Rule 3.850 or a motion for postconviction or collateral relief filed under Rule 3.851, which is based solely on the results of the court-ordered DNA testing obtained under this rule, shall be treated as raising a claim of newly-discovered evidence and the time periods set forth in Rules 3.850 and 3.851 shall commence on the date that the written test results are provided to the court, the movant, and the prosecuting authority pursuant to subsection (c)(8).” The court said subdivisions (e) and (f) of the new rule provide procedures for rehearing and appeal. In response to a comment by Judge O. H. Eaton, Jr., past chair of the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee, the court said it modified proposed subdivision (f) to provide that an appeal may be taken within 30 days from the date the order on the motion is rendered, rather than within 30 days from the entry of the order. Rules 9.140 and 9.141 were amended to provide procedures for appeals from Rule 3.853 orders, which parallel the procedures for appeals in Rule 3.850 and Rule 3.800(a) proceedings.