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We need jobs and clean energy. Why not build power lines?



We need jobs and clean energy. Why not build power lines?

Sunrise Powerlink carved a detour through the desert and mountains of Southern California, crossing the US-Mexico border and cutting national forests on the 117-mile track from rural Imperial Valley to urban San Diego County.

Critics are fighting hard to stop the construction of Sunrise Powerlink. They say the $ 1.9 billion transmission line will burden energy consumers with unnecessary costs, reduce sensitive wildlife habitats and disrupt a series of beautiful scenes.

But a decade later, this project served its intended purpose: bringing solar and wind power to city dwellers.

“You can have all the renewable energy in the world. But if you don’t have a transmission line, you don’t have anything, “then-Governor. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, said in ground breaking ceremony for Sunrise Powerlink in 2010.

At present, the United States is struggling against a worsening pandemic that has claimed more than 127,000 people and displaced some 30 million Americans.

Building more power lines will not stop the spread of COVID-19. But energy experts say investing in transmissions will get people back to work and help urban areas across the country dump fossil fuels. Burning the fuel not only drives the climate crisis, but also produces air pollution that damages the lungs which is associated with a greater likelihood of death from the corona virus.

What makes transmission so useful?

It’s a geography problem: Rural areas with strong winds or abundant sunlight – like Imperial Valley in California – are the easiest places for companies to build facilities that produce lots of clean and cheap electricity. But those places are usually far from population centers that use the most energy – hence the need for giant electric cables connecting supply with demand.

Removing regulatory barriers to transmission will trigger economic growth, supporters say. The new power lines will facilitate the development of solar and wind power agriculture, creating high-paying employment. And private investors will do heavy financial work.

“If you look at infrastructure spending, the electricity grid is the most basic infrastructure available,” said Cheryl LaFleur, who served for nine years at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission after being appointed by President Obama.

Sunrise Powerlink flows through Imperial County in California, near Plaster City. New power lines help facilitate the development of solar and wind power agriculture, creating high-paying jobs, supporters say.

(Peggy Peattie / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The American Council on Renewable Energy and the United States for Clean Energy Networks, the two industry groups, launched in June Macro Box Initiative, a public relations campaign to promote the benefits of transmission, partly funded by Bill Gates.

A few weeks later, the Democratic House launched a climate policy plan which recommends building more transmissions, with the aim of “modernizing and expanding the electricity network [to] allows more Americans to benefit from low-cost, zero-emission electricity. “

U.S. power supplies have become cleaner over the past decade as the cost of solar and wind energy has plummeted, prompting utilities to shut down coal-fired power plants. But efforts to speed up the transition by building power lines have been hampered by opposition from landowners who do not want lattice and cable towers to interfere with their views, and by state and local officials who want to know how the proposed transmission corridor will benefit their constituents – and not just cities at the end of the line.

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Conservationists have also worked to block some projects, arguing that poorly located transmission lines and renewable energy facilities can do serious ecological damage, even when they help reduce carbon dioxide emissions which have triggered the climate crisis.

Dustin Mulvaney, a professor of environmental studies at San Jose State University, looks at both sides of the conservation argument.

“There is clearly a very convincing argument,” he said, for the expanded electricity grid. But all infrastructure projects – including renewable energy – can take ecological toll, especially when they are built on undisturbed public land in West America.

As one example, Mulvaney points out that crows, which prey on baby desert turtles, often nest in transmission towers.

“Every time you look at public land versus infrastructure, you almost certainly get this kind of conflict,” he said.

Young desert turtles emerge from their burrows in the Marine Corps' Army Battle Center at Twentynine Palms.

Environmentalists worry that some green projects can endanger vulnerable species. Above, a young desert turtle emerges from its burrow in the Airborne Marine Corps Battle Center at Twentynine Palms.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The transmission project is basically slow. Even with regulatory support, they will not provide an immediate economic start.

But scientists say humans must cut fossil fuel emissions quickly and dramatically to limit damage from worsening heat waves, drought, fires and other consequences of climate change. And as COVID-19 limps off the global economy, organizations as diverse as International Monetary Fund and Rising Sun Movement has called for stimulus plans that accelerate the transition from fossil fuels and create jobs in the clean energy industry, which before the pandemic employed 3.4 million Americans.

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Most Republican politicians in Washington, D.C., continue to oppose anything that resembles a comprehensive climate plan, even when polls show voters very supportive more aggressive federal action. But electricity network investment might be different.

“Transmission is one of the problems that in my opinion there is broad consensus. I don’t think it’s a controversial issue, “Neil Chatterjee, former Kentucky Senator adviser Mitch McConnell who was tapped by President Trump to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said in a recent interview.” We must have transmissions to ensure that future networks exist there.”

The ‘shameful’ history of network infrastructure

Proponents of transmission have been making the same argument for years, with little to show.

During the early years of the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Energy guaranteed to “accelerate licensing and development” of seven projects that will cross federal land. The list includes a 730-mile power line designed to carry wind energy from the Wyoming plains to cities such as Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and a 290-mile channel connecting Idaho and Oregon.

Nearly a decade later, only two of the seven projects have been built.

Imperial County wind turbine

The wind turbine at the Ocotillo Wind project rotates in the desert along Interstate 8 near Ocotillo, California, in Imperial County. The electricity they produce is directed to San Diego County through Sunrise Powerlink.

(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

In “Superpower,” a book published last year, Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold noted the efforts of developer Michael Skelly who failed to assemble more than 700 miles of electrical cables from the Oklahoma Panhandle to Tennessee, and bring wind power from the Great Plains to the Southeast. The project was blocked by lawsuits from Arkansas landowners along the proposed route, warm support from federal agents and fierce opposition from US Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican.

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“It’s increasingly embarrassing to see how we deal with infrastructure investment in the United States,” Skelly said webinar organized by Americans for the Clean Energy Grid. “All we can think about is building more highways.”

The American electricity grid is aging and fragmented. Most were built half a century ago or more, with many paths designed to carry electrons from coal-fired power stations or hydroelectric dams. The western and eastern parts of the country operate on a largely separate network, each divided into dozens of smaller jurisdictions. Texas has its own grid which is mostly cut off.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a federal research institute, reported in 2018 that building lines across the “layers” of the grid, to better connect various parts of the country, can generate as much as $ 3.30 in benefits for every dollar invested.

Likewise, a 2016 study from researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency found that the current national grid of high-voltage and unidirectional electricity networks can reduce planetary warming emissions from the electricity sector 80% below 1990 levels by 2030, while saving consumers $ 47.2 billion a year almost triple the cost of a new transmission.

The potential of solar energy in the United States

Solar potential in the United States, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Why is the cost savings so big? Partly because it is cheaper to produce solar energy in brighter places and wind energy in busier places – and partly because the sun is shining and the wind blows at different times every day in different parts of the country.

Western states, for example, can import solar energy at night from California, where the sun sets an hour later. Or California can utilize the strong Wyoming wind resources as a cheaper and cleaner alternative to powering a gas plant after sunset.

Potential of wind energy in the United States

Wind potential in the United States, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

The Wyoming wind is a driver for one of the long priority transmission lines that the Obama administration has postponed which may not have been built yet.

Conservative billionaire Philip Anschutz – whose ownership includes the LA Staples Center and Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival – has developing a $ 3 billion TransWest Express power line since 2008. It will originate at a large wind farm Anschutz is building in Wyoming and expand 730 miles to Southern Nevada, where it will be connected to the California network.

Asked why the transmission project had taken so long, Anschutz Corp executive Bill Miller pointed to a federal environmental review that took about six years; the need to obtain permits from two states and 14 countries; and difficulty negotiating road rights with around 450 private landowners along the route. Even now, negotiations continue with several landowners.

Most developers don’t have the money or the patience for such a project. Anschutz has spent more than $ 400 million to develop transmission lines and wind farms, with Miller hoping that the construction of TransWest Express will begin next year.

Miller believes there will be demand for wind power that the company plans to produce. California law calls for 100% climate-friendly electricity by 2045, and other southwestern states increase their ambition, with Nevada and New Mexico also targeting 100% clean power. Across the country, city ​​and state governments, electric utility and private company is setting the same goal.

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“Apart from COVID-19 and others, we see the whole country relying on what happens with renewable energy,” Miller said.

Anschutz Corp executive, Bill Miller

Anschutz Corp executive Bill Miller is responsible for developing 730 miles of transmission lines and wind farms on this farm along the Continental Divide in Wyoming.

(Ralph Vartabedian / Los Angeles Times)

‘This won’t be beautiful’

In 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued regulations designed to improve regional transmission planning, spread the cost of new power lines more broadly and open up markets for competitive bidders, not just monopoly utility companies.

These steps should release a wave of transmission development. But they did not succeed.

The answer to the error that occurs depends on who you ask. But there are many ideas for what the next federal government will try, including a nine-page recommendation in the Democratic House ‘ the newly released climate plan. These ideas include funding and technical assistance for countries to conduct a faster environmental review; special tax credits for transmission investment, as enjoyed by the solar industry; and building power lines along existing railroad tracks and highways, if possible.

Talks usually arise for problems at the heart of American democracy: state versus federal authority.

Unlike natural gas pipelines, whose approval falls only with the federal government, power lines can be vetoed by any state along their route. State officials have played a role in thwarting major projects, including the Northern Pass transmission line, which will bring Canadian hydropower to New England but blocked by New Hampshire regulators.

“NIMBYism is irrational for many people. They can bear the costs, and don’t get the benefits, “said David Spence, a professor of energy law at the University of Texas at Austin.

Even without a full takeover by the federal government, clean energy advocates say there may be a way to divert some decision making from local officials. The Democratic House of Representatives climate plan recommends that federal regulators authorize clean energy oriented power lines that have been approved by one or more states, even if other states have rejected the project or withheld approval.

“If we really want to fulfill our low-carbon future, what must change, and who has to do what to get there?” asked Julia Prochnik, an energy consultant who previously served as director of western renewable network planning at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council. “That won’t be pretty. It won’t be what everyone wants. But we will all get something.”

Not everyone receives transmissions.

Some climate advocates prefer to see policymakers focus on smaller and more local forms of clean power, such as solar roofs, batteries stored in garages and community microgrids. Energy economists tend to be less enamored with this “distributed” clean power technology, arguing that they produce electricity that is more expensive than large-scale solar and wind power plants.

Solar installation

Some climate advocates prefer to see policymakers focus on smaller and more local forms of clean power, such as solar roofs. Above, SolarCity worker Joey Ramirez, left, and Taran Stone installed a solar module on the roof of the Long Beach home.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

As for large solar and wind power farms, Mulvaney thinks they should be built on it previously disturbed land. Sometimes, he feels frustrated by companies that use climate change to encourage projects that can endanger species such as sage grouse and turtle desert.

Energy developers, said Mulvaney, “are rather taking advantage of people who want to resolve the climate crisis.”

“It’s because turtles get it from land use change, or get it from climate change,” he said. “But I think there are so many possibilities, and we must be open to those possibilities.”

One possibility is to use an existing power line. Especially in the West, retired coal plants are opening long-distance cables that can be used to bring clean energy to cities. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy, for example, plans to import large amounts of solar and wind energy through transmission lines that currently carry coal-fired electricity from Utah.

Los Angeles too explore partnerships with the Navajo Nation to develop solar power on tribal land, utilizing long-distance cables that previously connected the city with the Navajo Nuclear Power Station in Arizona, which closed last year.

But reducing emissions fast enough to meet global climate targets is not possible without at least a few additions to the electricity grid.

“Some say we can get there without transmission. Our view is not correct, “said Larry Gasteiger, executive director of Wires, energy industry trade group.” You will need transmission to be part of the solution. “

Southern Transmission System

Power lines carry electricity from the Intermountain steam power plant outside Delta, Utah. Los Angeles hopes to reuse the 488-mile Southern Transmission System, which runs from Intermountain to Southern California, to deliver renewable energy.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

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Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.



Portuguese historical films will premiere on 29 December.

Method Media Bermuda will present the documentary FABRIC: Portuguese History in Bermuda on Thursday, December 29 at the Underwater Research Institute of Bermuda.

A spokesperson said: “Method Media is proud to bring Bermuda Fabric: Portugal History to Bermuda for its 5th and 6th showing at the Bermuda Underwater Observatory. In November and December 2019, Cloth: A Portuguese Story in Bermuda had four sold-out screenings. Now that Bermuda has reopened after the pandemic, it’s time to bring the film back for at least two screenings.

“There are tickets For $ 20 – sessions at 15:30 and 18:00. Both screenings will be followed by a short Q&A session.

Director and producer Milton Raboso says, “FABRIC is a definitive account of the Portuguese community in Bermuda and its 151 years of history, but it also places Bermuda, Acors and Portugal in the world history and the events that have fueled those 151 years.

“It took more than 10 years to implement FABRIC. The film was supported by the Minister of Culture, the Government of the Azores and private donors.

Bermuda Media Method [MMB] Created in 2011 by producer Milton Raposo. MMB has created content for a wide range of clients: Bermuda’s new hospital renovation, reinsurance, travel campaigns, international sports and more. MMB pays special attention to artistic, cultural and historical content.

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Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.



Maestro de Braga is the first Portuguese in the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba.

Maestro Filipe Cunha, Artistic Director of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Braga, has been invited to conduct the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra, as announced today.

According to a statement sent by O MINHO, “he will be the first Portuguese conductor to conduct this orchestra in its entire history.”

In addition to this orchestra, the maestro will also work with the Lyceo Mozarteum de la Habana Symphony Orchestra.

The concerts will take place on 4 and 12 March 2023 at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana.

In the words of the maestro, quoted in the statement, “these will be very beautiful concerts with difficult but very complex pieces” and therefore he feels “very motivated”.

From the very beginning, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 will be performed by an Italian pianist (Luigi Borzillo), whom the maestro wants to bring to Portugal later this year. In the same concert, Mendelshon’s First Symphony will be performed.

Then, at the second concert, in the company of the Mexican clarinetist Angel Zedillo, he will perform the Louis Sfora Concerto No. 2. In this concert, the maestro also conducts Tchaikovsky’s Fifth Symphony.

“This is an international recognition of my work. An invitation that I accept with humility and great responsibility. I was surprised to learn that I would be the first Portuguese member of the Cuban National Symphony Orchestra. This is a very great honor,” the maestro said in a statement.

“I take with me the name of the city of Braga and Portugal with all the responsibility that goes with it, and I hope to do a good job there, leaving a good image and putting on great concerts. These will be very special concerts because, in addition to performing pieces that I love, especially Rachmaninov and Tchaikovsky, I will be directing two wonderful soloists who are also my friends. It will be very beautiful,” concludes Filipe Cunha.

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