Thursday, December 31, 2015
Posted by Chris Luther, Reporter
KENNEWICK, WA. -- It was another record year for the housing market in the Tri-Cities. Home sales set a 10 year high.
Whether you live in Kennewick, Richland or Pasco, the real estate market is on fire right now. Even if you're not buying or selling a home at the moment, you can take pride in knowing that this is a place where people desperately want to live.
Jim Carson and his family of four are excited for the future in their brand new Richland home.
"We're going to put in a pool," Jim told us.
They moved into their custom build just before Christmas, after looking for the right place for over a year.
"We did find a lot of things just sold in a heartbeat," Jim said. "We flipped our house in Kennewick in about two weeks."
And they aren't alone. Designated broker at Caldwell Banker Tomlinson, Travis Davis says this year has been a banner year for home sales.
"Looks like it's probably going to be the most units moved in the past 10 years," Davis said.
Overall, more than 3,600 homes have been sold all over the Tri-Cities, and it's not just one or two cities leading the charge.
The current real estate market means buyers have to act quick.
"When homes come on the market," Davis said. "The buyers have to be prepared kind of prepared to go and look at it and if it's something they like, then they got to act on it because that house probably won't be there within a couple days."
Travis says outdoor activities just add to the reasons why this is an attractive place to live.
"Everything that the Tri-Cities has to offer," Davis said. "You've got the river, you've got golf courses, the mountains are a couple hours away, it's a great landing spot for people. And the economy is also a huge driver in that."
All those things combined are attracting more families to put down their roots in the Tri-Cities than ever before.
"It's an awesome house," Jim said. "Can I plug the builder?"
"It's an exciting time," Davis told us.
Ascent Solar Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:ASTI), Canadian Solar Inc. (NASDAQ:CSIQ), Microchip Technology Inc. (NASDAQ:MCHP)BY BLAKE ESCOTT
Monday, December 28, 2015
The City of Richland wants to help you decrease your electrical costs. In this edition of Richland Spotlight, we detail how you can take advantage of the numerous energy efficiency programs offered by Richland Energy Services!
Sunday, December 27, 2015
Image courtesy of Duke Energy.
Duke Energy, LG Chem and Greensmith are bringing new technology to the site of a 1952 retired coal plant, announcing the completion of a 2-megawatt (MW) battery-based energy storage system designed to increase reliability and stability on the electric power grid.
The fast-response system is now actively regulating electric grid frequency for PJM, the regional transmission organization that directs the flow of electricity for 61 million people in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
Construction began in August 2015, at Duke Energy’s retired W.C. Beckjord coal-fired power plant in New Richmond, Ohio, and the system began operations on Nov. 17.
“Locating the storage system at our retired coal plant allowed us to take advantage of the grid infrastructure already in place and re-purpose the site for use with new, relevant technology,” said Phil Grigsby, Duke Energy’s senior vice president of Commercial Transmission. “This system is another step for Duke in the development of turnkey energy storage solutions that benefit customers and demonstrate the potential for future applications, such as large-scale integration of renewable energy onto the grid.”
Improving the reliability and economic efficiency of the electric grid provides a unique service to grid operators. As customer demand fluctuates, accurate and rapid-response energy storage can instantaneously absorb excess energy from the grid or release energy in seconds — as opposed to a power plant that could take 10 minutes or more to ramp up.
LG Chem delivered the project’s energy storage operating system, comprised of advanced lithium-ion batteries.
“LG Chem is pleased to deliver this system to Duke Energy for critical grid functions,” said Sunghoon Jang, senior vice president of LG Chem’s Energy Storage Solutions business unit. “Beckjord 2 is the latest example of how LG Chem is meeting customer needs by rapidly deploying energy storage systems for critical, real-world applications.”
Greensmith provided its latest GEMS energy storage software platform to manage the system’s performance for PJM frequency regulation, ensuring precise and synchronized response to signals dispatched every two seconds.
“Maximizing an energy storage system’s frequency regulation score while minimizing battery degradation throughout the system’s life is no trivial task,” said Greensmith CEO John Jung. “However, our GEMS frequency regulation software module enables Duke to achieve superior PJM performance scoring while extending the life of the batteries, thereby helping them increase the long-term value of their energy storage investment.”
Greensmith’s scope also included the design and configuration of the entire energy storage system, integration of the balance-of-plant components and site commissioning.
Parker Hannifin provided a 2-MW power conversion inverter.
The 2-MW project adds to Duke Energy’s installed base of commercially operating energy storage systems. With the completion of the new project, the company will operate a total of 4 MW of energy storage at Beckjord, where a separate 2-MW battery system already exists. Duke Energy also owns and operates a 36-MW energy storage system at its Notrees Windpower Project inTexas.
According to independent research firm HIS Energy, Duke Energy owns nearly 15 percent of the grid-connected, battery-based energy storage capacity in the U.S.
The Phi Suea House project in Chiang Mai, Thailand consists of four family homes as well as support buildings that are completely powered by solar panels and a hydrogen energy storage system. Photo credit: CNX Construction
Good Bye Fossil Fuel.
SunEdison, Inc., the largest global renewable energy development company, today announced that it has signed a 10-year agreement with Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator to supply 5 megawatts—20 megawatt-hours—of battery storage to the province. The Ontario IESO works at the heart of Ontario’s power system, and is responsible for making sure everyone in the province gets the electricity they need, when they need it. In addition to leveraging the battery’s storage capability, the IESO intends to use data from this energy storage project to analyze how storage can be used to smooth the power flow from wind and solar, defer expensive system upgrades, and ultimately shape the future of its grid. This project is SunEdison’s first commercial large scale grid-connected energy storage project, and is one of the first commercial applications of flow batteries in Canada.
“By integrating energy storage into their grid, the Ontario IESO gains access to a powerful new tool that has the potential to transform how it operates the power system,” said Tim Derrick, SunEdison’s general manager of Advanced Solutions. “Batteries can be used to reduce grid congestion, smooth out power flow from solar and wind sources, and may help the IESO defer or avoid expensive upgrades to the grid.”
“SunEdison’s energy storage project is one of several projects that will support reliability in Ontario by providing much needed quick response capacity and operational flexibility,” said Bruce Campbell, Ontario IESO’s president and chief executive officer. “We congratulate SunEdison on the success of their proposal and look forward to working with them to implement this project.”
SunEdison is working with flow battery technology leader Imergy to deliver the project. Imergy’s vanadium redox flow battery technology provides a cost effective and durable way to store energy for hours at a time.
“The Ontario IESO is the real winner in this latest collaboration between SunEdison and Imergy,” said Bill Watkins, Imergy’s chief executive officer. “By combining SunEdison’s renewable energy project development expertise with Imergy’s vanadium flow battery technology, Ontario will get a durable and efficient energy storage system.
SunEdison plans to start construction of the project during the first half of 2017, with completion targeted for later that year. Operation and maintenance of the battery systems will be performed by SunEdison Services, which provides global asset management, monitoring and reporting services.
‘Shocking’ revelation finds $5.3tn subsidy estimate for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments
BY: Damian Carrington @dpcarrington
BY: Damian Carrington @dpcarrington
Fossil fuel companies are benefitting from global subsidies of $5.3tn (£3.4tn) a year, equivalent to $10m a minute every day, according to a startling new estimate by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF calls the revelation “shocking” and says the figure is an “extremely robust” estimate of the true cost of fossil fuels. The $5.3tn subsidy estimated for 2015 is greater than the total health spending of all the world’s governments.
The vast sum is largely due to polluters not paying the costs imposed on governments by the burning of coal, oil and gas. These include the harm caused to local populations by air pollution as well as to people across the globe affected by the floods, droughts and storms being driven by climate change.
Nicholas Stern, an eminent climate economist at the London School of Economics, said: “This very important analysis shatters the myth that fossil fuels are cheap by showing just how huge their real costs are. There is no justification for these enormous subsidies for fossil fuels, which distort markets and damages economies, particularly in poorer countries.”
Lord Stern said that even the IMF’s vast subsidy figure was a significant underestimate: “A more complete estimate of the costs due to climate change would show the implicit subsidies for fossil fuels are much bigger even than this report suggests.”
The IMF, one of the world’s most respected financial institutions, said that ending subsidies for fossil fuels would cut global carbon emissions by 20%. That would be a giant step towards taming global warming, an issue on which the world has made little progress to date.
Ending the subsidies would also slash the number of premature deaths from outdoor air pollution by 50% – about 1.6 million lives a year.
Furthermore, the IMF said the resources freed by ending fossil fuel subsidies could be an economic “game-changer” for many countries, by driving economic growth and poverty reduction through greater investment in infrastructure, health and education and also by cutting taxes that restrict growth.
“These [fossil fuel subsidy] estimates are shocking,” said Vitor Gaspar, the IMF’s head of fiscal affairs and former finance minister of Portugal. “Energy prices remain woefully below levels that reflect their true costs.”
David Coady, the IMF official in charge of the report, said: “When the [$5.3tn] number came out at first, we thought we had better double check this!” But the broad picture of huge global subsidies was “extremely robust”, he said. “It is the true cost associated with fossil fuel subsidies.”
The IMF estimate of $5.3tn in fossil fuel subsidies represents 6.5% of global GDP. Just over half the figure is the money governments are forced to spend treating the victims of air pollution and the income lost because of ill health and premature deaths. The figure is higher than a 2013 IMF estimate because new data from the World Health Organisation shows the harm caused by air pollution to be much higher than thought.
Coal is the dirtiest fuel in terms of both local air pollution and climate-warming carbon emissions and is therefore the greatest beneficiary of the subsidies, with just over half the total. Oil, heavily used in transport, gets about a third of the subsidy and gas the rest.
The biggest single source of air pollution is coal-fired power stations and China, with its large population and heavy reliance on coal power, provides $2.3tn of the annual subsidies. The next biggest fossil fuel subsidies are in the US ($700bn), Russia ($335bn), India ($277bn) and Japan ($157bn), with the European Union collectively allowing $330bn in subsidies to fossil fuels.
The costs resulting from the climate change driven by fossil fuel emissions account for subsidies of $1.27tn a year, about a quarter, of the IMF’s total. The IMF calculated this cost using an official US government estimate of $42 a tonne of CO2 (in 2015 dollars), a price “very likely to underestimate” the true cost, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
The direct subsidizing of fuel for consumers, by government discounts on diesel and other fuels, account for just 6% of the IMF’s total. Other local factors, such as reduced sales taxes on fossil fuels and the cost of traffic congestion and accidents, make up the rest. The IMF says traffic costs are included because increased fuel prices would be the most direct way to reduce them.
Christiana Figueres, the UN’s climate change chief charged with delivering a deal to tackle global warming at a crunch summit in December, said: “The IMF provides five trillion reasons for acting on fossil fuel subsidies. Protecting the poor and the vulnerable is crucial to the phasing down of these subsidies, but the multiple economic, social and environmental benefits are long and legion.”
Barack Obama and the G20 nations called for an end to fossil fuel subsidies in 2009, but little progress had been made until oil prices fell in 2014. In April, the president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, told the Guardian that it was crazy that governments were still driving the use of coal, oil and gas by providing subsidies. “We need to get rid of fossil fuel subsidies now,” he said.
Reform of the subsidies would increase energy costs but Kim and the IMF both noted that existing fossil fuel subsidies overwhelmingly go to the rich, with the wealthiest 20% of people getting six times as much as the poorest 20% in low and middle-income countries. Gaspar said that with oil and coal prices currently low, there was a “golden opportunity” to phase out subsidies and use the increased tax revenues to reduce poverty through investment and to provide better targeted support.
Subsidy reforms are beginning in dozens of countries including Egypt, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco and Thailand. In India, subsidies for diesel ended in October 2014. “People said it would not be possible to do that,” noted Coady. Coal use has also begun to fall in China for the first time this century.
On renewable energy, Coady said: “If we get the pricing of fossil fuels right, the argument for subsidies for renewable energy will disappear. Renewable energy would all of a sudden become a much more attractive option.”
Shelagh Whitley, a subsidies expert at the Overseas Development Institute, said: “The IMF report is yet another reminder that governments around the world are propping up a century-old energy model. Compounding the issue, our research shows that many of the energy subsidies highlighted by the IMF go toward finding new reserves of oil, gas and coal, which we know must be left in the ground if we are to avoid catastrophic, irreversible climate change.”
Developing the international cooperation needed to tackle climate change has proved challenging but a key message from the IMF’s work, according to Gaspar, is that each nation will directly benefit from tackling its own fossil fuel subsidies. “The icing on the cake is that the benefits from subsidy reform – for example, from reduced pollution – would overwhelmingly accrue to local populations,” he said.
“By acting local, and in their own best interest, [nations] can contribute significantly to the solution of a global challenge,” said Gaspar. “The path forward is clear: act local, solve global.”