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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Coal Miners’ Futures in Renewable Energy Jobs

    Coal Miners’ Futures in Renewable Energy

    April 22, 2017

    Exclusive: President Trump has scored political points by touting coal-mining jobs, but he could create more real jobs in coal country by recognizing the potential for renewable-energy jobs, says Jonathan Marshall.

    By Jonathan Marshall

    If President Trump wants to earn a rare legislative victory and take political credit for reviving hard-hit regions of rural America, he should take a close look at how one Kentucky coal company is creating jobs.

    A “solar farm” with rows of solar panels.

    Berkeley Energy Group this month announced plans to put coal miners back to work by building the largest solar project in Appalachia on top of a closed mountaintop strip mine near the town of Pikeville. The Eastern Kentucky coal company is partnering with the Environmental Defense Fund, which has helped develop 9,000 megawatts of renewable energy, to bring jobs and clean energy to the region.

    Mining employment in the area has plummeted from more than 14,000 jobs in 2008 to fewer than 4,000 today, owing to mine automation, competition from natural gas, and environmental controls on dirty coal emissions.

    Even if Trump’s administration and Congress roll back clean air and water rules, most experts agree that coal-mining jobs are not coming back, particularly in Appalachia where production costs are relatively high.

    But there is vast potential for the region to reclaim its ravaged landscapes for use in generating solar energy, if federal policy continues to offer incentives. Solar resources in Kentucky, for instance, are favorable enough to power nearly 1,000 homes for every two acres of solar panels.

    Reimagining Coal Country

    Writing last year in the Charleston Gazette-Mail, West Virginia solar entrepreneur Dan Conant wrote, “Our people have given sweat, blood, tears and lives to help build and power America. Reimagining ourselves not as a coal state, but as an energy state — including solar and wind — is critical if we are going to continue powering America. All we need is imagination (and a little encouragement and support) as millennial West Virginians lead the way into the future.”

    The run-down PIX Theatre sign reads “Vote Trump” on Main Street in Sleepy Eye, Minnesota. July 15, 2016. (Photo by Tony Webster Flickr)

    Such visions are still a tough sell in many conservative communities, but many “red” states, whose politicians disdain environmental protection and deny the threat of global climate disruption, are learning to appreciate solar energy.

    North Carolina, Arizona, Utah, Georgia and Texas rank among the top 10 states for solar electric capacity. Together, their photovoltaic cells power more than a million homes.

    In Florida, the state’s largest utility just announced plans to add nearly 2,100 megawatts of new solar capacity over the next seven years while shutting down dirty and expensive coal plants. By 2023, it expects to generate four times more energy from solar than from coal and oil combined.

    At the same time, the solar industry is sending out more and more paychecks across rural America. Texas alone supports about 9,400 jobs from its solar industry. Nationally, the solar industry added 51,000 jobs last year and now employs over a quarter million people, more than three times as many as the coal industry. Solar jobs are attractive, paying a median wage of $26 an hour for installers.

    Wind Sweeping Down the Plains

    Wind energy is another big job engine that appeals to pragmatic conservatives who care more about the economy than the environment. More than three-quarters of Republican congressional districts have operational wind energy projects or active wind-related manufacturing facilities.

    A ‘wind farm” with wind turbines.

    Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma are the three top states for installed wind generation capacity, beating out former industry leader California. Many other red states, like Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming, have immense untapped potential for low-cost wind generation.

    Power Company of Wyoming
    is building the largest wind project in the country, with a capacity of up to 3,000 megawatts. Montana is also receiving hundreds of millions of dollars in new wind investments. No wonder: a typical wind project in that state supplies electricity at 4.7 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 6.8 cents from coal-fired generation.

    Rock-ribbed Republican ranchers and farmers enjoy the income they earn from leasing space to turbines while continuing to use their land. In Texas, the wind industry employs more than 22,000 people and pays more than $60 million a year to lease holders. Those facts can be appreciated even by politicians who don’t care that Texas wind energy avoids carbon dioxide emissions equal to 8.3 million cars on the road.

    Nationwide, employment in the wind industry topped 100,000 for the first time last year. The industry added jobs at nine times the rate of the overall economy. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the fastest growing occupation in the country is wind turbine technician, with a median wage of $51,000 a year.

    Wind now supplies 5.5 percent of all electricity in the United States, contrary to President Trump’s ill-informed claim that “for the most part they (wind turbines) don’t work.” Wind is now one of the lowest cost sources of electricity, even without federal subsidies, according to newly released estimates by the Department of Energy.

    And contrary to Trump’s complaint that solar is “so expensive,” energy from the sun is now cheaper than new coal or nuclear power. As a result, nearly two-thirds of new U.S. generation capacity in each of the last two years used renewable technologies.

    Clean Jobs for Trump

    Even if President Trump doesn’t yet get it, his Energy Secretary, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and his Interior Secretary, former Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke, both seem to quietly appreciate the growing potential of renewable energy. Perhaps they can educate the President, and persuade him to reap big political gains by promoting clean jobs along with clean energy in rural and rust-belt America.

    Former Governor Rick Perry of Texas speaking at the Iowa Republican Party’s 2015 Lincoln Dinner at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. May 16, 2015. (Flickr Gage Skidmore)

    Rather than eliminating funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, for example, Trump could steer more of its resources into clean energy training and investment programs. A study published last year by scholars at Michigan Technological University and Oregon State University showed that “a relatively minor investment ($180 million to $1.8 billion, based on best and worst case scenarios) in retraining would allow the vast majority of U.S. coal workers to switch to solar-related positions.”

    Trump could also ramp up funding for the Solar Training Network, established last year by The Solar Foundation with White House support to “improve access to solar training, resources, and careers” and “increase the quality and diversity of the solar workforce and establish nationally consistent training standards.”

    In line with Trump’s commitment to rebuilding U.S. manufacturing and competing with China, he could also redouble successful Energy Department programs to support research and development on cutting-edge technologies for solar and wind generation, energy storage, and power grid management.

    Such proposals, coming from President Obama, earned widespread Republican scorn. Coming from Trump, they could create a major realignment in Congress by forging an alliance of Democrats with pragmatic Red State legislators who see where the new jobs are.

    It can be done; in conservative Wyoming, a leading coal state, legislators recently crushed proposals to impose higher taxes on wind energy. President Trump just needs to follow through for once on his grand promises to blue-collar voters, rather than continuing to act like just another traditional Republican pawn of the fossil fuel industry.


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  2. #2
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Duke Energy to continue moving away from coal

    WRITTEN BY Brye Steeves April 20, 2017

    COAL:The CEO of Duke Energy says despite the Trump administration’s push for fossil fuels, “our strategy will continue to be to drive carbon out of our business.” (Charlotte Business Journal)

    • Retired coal miners criticize President Trump’s silence on the possible end of federal health benefits: “He promised to help miners, not just mining companies.” (New York Times)
    • Advocates raise health concerns about a proposal to site a federal prison on a former mountain coal removal site. (NRDC)

    In response to the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office, Duke Energy said Wednesday that the company’s coal ash costs should be considered as part of an overall rate increase — not separately — and that government agencies are confusing the issue. (News & Record, Charlotte Business Journal)
    Environmentalists continue to push a county in Virginia to insist Dominion Power moves coal ash that is contaminating nearby rivers. (Chesterfield Observer)

    A former coal miner talks about his efforts to promote clean energy in Kentucky, including adding solar to the now-famous Kentucky Coal Mining Museum: “We took some abuse, man, let me tell you.” (Huffington Post)
    Kentuckians for the Commonwealth released a report that states producing electricity from renewable energy sources in the state would create thousands of jobs and lower consumers’ costs. (Lexington Herald Leader)
    L’Oréal USA announced its efforts to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity for its U.S. manufacturing, which include solar projects in Arkansas and Kentucky. (news release)

    Duke Energy asks North Carolina regulators to cut by more than one-third the price it pays to independent power producers for solar and other renewable energy. (Triad Business Journal)
    A Virginia solar power company is expanding operations in Waynesboro and opening new operations in Charlottesville. (Daily Progress)

    PIPELINE: The Virginia Supreme Court heard, but did not rule on, two cases Wednesday that challenge a law that allows private property to be studied for natural gas pipelines without owner consent. (Roanoke Times)
    UTILITY: Louisville Gas and Electric has agreed to a smaller utility rate increase and other terms. (WKU)
    FRACKING: More than 100 small businesses in Florida wrote a statement in support of a statewide ban on fracking as the regular legislative session nears its end. (SaintPetersBlog)
    EFFICIENCY:The Tennessee Valley Authority gave Tupelo, Mississippi, more than $100,000 for the city’s completed energy savings projects. (Daily Journal)
    ELECTRIC VEHICLES: An expo in Jacksonville, Florida, highlighted drivers’ increased move to EVs as more public places to recharge them are built. (Florida Times-Union)
    A Kentucky coal museum that is going solar “sees the future,” even if President Donald Trump doesn’t. (New York Times)
    • An environmental advocate says the Trump administration’s repeal of coal regulations will endanger Appalachia and prioritize corporate interests over the protection of natural resources. (The Tennessean)

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  3. #3
    Senior Member Judy's Avatar
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    Trump is for all forms of energy. He made that abundantly clear on the campaign trail as well as since he's been President. He doesn't care where the energy comes from, he wants it to be available from "all of the above", wind, solar, coal, nuclear, oil, natural gas, algae, fusion if they can ever figure it out, ethanol, whatever, he wants it all going so that we are energy independent, so we have a surplus with lower utility and fuel costs, and export what we don't use.

    If lefties would get off their Hate Trump Tricycle and actually learn what his policies and ideas are, they probably wouldn't be Snowflakes.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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  5. #5
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    New Hope for Truly ‘Green’ Hydropower in Trump Administration?

    April 18, 2017 19 Comments

    (Emily Larsen, Liberty Headlines) There is new hope for clean energy through hydropower production in President Trump’s administration, after conservationists and President Obama halted several measures that would have reformed hydropower regulations.
    Hoover Dam Photo by 666isMONEY ♥ & (CC)

    Trump’s famous campaign promise to eliminate two regulations for every new regulation implemented is music to the ears of hydropower advocates.
    President Trump expressed support for increased hydroelectric power production earlier this month.
    “You know hydropower is a great, great form of power,” said Trump. “We don’t even talk about it because to get the environmental permits are virtually impossible. It’s one of the best things you can do, hydro. But we don’t talk about it anymore.”
    How it works
    At first glance, American hydropower looks like a politician’s dream. It’s a renewable, domestic, clean, and proven power source – with thousands of dams already in existence, which can generate electricity.
    Hydroelectric power plants harness the power of rushing rivers to make a turbine rotate. The turbine powers a generator, which converts the kinetic energy of the rushing water into electricity, employing the ancient concept of a waterwheel.
    Because hydropower is fueled by water, and not by burning coal or fossil fuels, it is truly clean energy. The process doesn’t pollute the air or deplete a limited resource. And many hydroelectric facilities can quickly alter the amount of energy they produce, which provides reliability during power outages. It also costs less than other energy sources.
    Regulations strangle development
    Yet hydropower is underutilized.
    Only about three percent of the dams in the United States produce power, with Approximately 80,000 dams across the United States going unutilized for energy. One study found potential for 12,000 megawatts of energy capacity at existing dams that don’t generate electricity – enough to power 12 million homes.
    In 1940 hydropower accounted for 40 percent of all electric production in the United States, but Nixon-era environmental regulations restricted access to the power source. In 2016, it accounted for just 6.5 percent of US electric production. All renewable energy sources account for about 15 percent of energy production, while natural gas and coal account for about two-thirds of electricity production in the US. The federal government operates half of the nation’s hydroelectric generating capacity.
    Those in the industry cite the massive regulatory process as the biggest reason why more power companies don’t utilize hydropower.
    “The lack of timelines is one of the primary reasons hydropower licensing can last 10 years or more — even longer than the process for nuclear energy,” wrote Bob Gallo, president and CEO of Voith Hydro, Inc, in an op-ed for Morning Consult.
    The National Hydropower Association continues to push for policy reform to “unlock” hydropower. President Obama threatened to veto one bill if it passed, but he did sign some provisions into law that benefit small-scale hydropower. Among the NHA’s policy priorities are streamlining the regulatory process for new and existing projects, using tax incentives to grow hydropower, and providing environmental policy exceptions for hydropower projects.
    Environmentalists opposed
    Despite the promise of emissions-free energy, environmental advocates aren’t excited about hydroelectric power.
    Over 200 environmental groups signed a letter to Congress members that opposed a bipartisan bill in 2015 that would have loosened regulations and increase production of hydroelectric power. The groups objected to measures to allow companies to avoid compliance with the Endangered Species Act and loosen requirements of the power companies to ensure water quality.
    The measures “could allow Exelon Corporation to avoid meeting its share of the responsibility to clean up the Chesapeake Bay,” and “could also allow Pacific Gas and Electric to get out of doing its part to meet water quality requirements on rivers that have been impaired by California’s historic drought,” the letter said.
    Jim Bradley, vice president of policy and government relations at American Rivers, an environmental protection advocacy organization, doesn’t think the renewable energy source is worth sacrificing environmental protections.
    “The industry and their allies in Congress claim that hydropower is ‘clean’ energy. But if their idea for power rejects the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act, then I don’t think you can call it clean, or responsible,” Bradley wrote. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise that massive coal-fired utilities like Duke Energy and Southern Company are pushing this anti-environment bill. After all, hydropower companies own four of the top ten dirtiest power plants.”
    Most importantly, conservationists worry about the impact man-made dams have on the ecosystem. They say reservoirs created by dams kill plants and wildlife, disrupt the migration of fish and the animals which rely on the fish, and prevent even distribution of sediment and minerals from on riverbeds.
    Though hydropower advocates aren’t looking to create new dams – only modify and improve existing dams to produce electricity – it still doesn’t settle well for those concerned about environmental impacts. Conservationists want to remove dams altogether, not improve and use them to generate electricity. About 850 dams have been removed since 1999, says American Rivers.
    Last year the largest dam removal project in history completed demolition of two major dams on Washington state’s Elwha River. The demolition experiment cost $325 million. Environmentalists say they are already noticing birds and other species downstream are healthier with the new supply of salmon and fish, previously blocked in the man-made reservoirs created by the dams.
    Future promising?
    Newly confirmed Energy Secretary Rick Perry hasn’t made recent public comments about reducing hydropower’s regulatory burden, but he embraced an “all of the above” energy strategy as governor, paving the way for a boom in fracking and wind power in Texas. The National Hydropower Association is optimistic.
    “We are hopeful Secretary Perry makes hydropower and marine energy a priority, and that he plays a major role in revitalizing and reinvesting in the nation’s energy and water infrastructure,” said the NHA in a press release.

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