Company proposes buying, closing three coal plants owned by Tri-State cooperative

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Energy News Network:Guzman Energy burst onto the utility scene in the Rocky Mountains in 2016 as an electrical cooperative based in Taos, New Mexico, sought to get out of its contract with a coal-heavy wholesale supplier in order to develop its local solar potential.To make that possible, Guzman paid the $37 million exit fee required by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, the wholesale supplier, and began delivering electricity purchased from the energy markets to the co-op. Today, Kit Carson Electric Association is on track to develop solar resources sufficient to meet all its daytime needs by 2020. Its rates, meanwhile, have remained competitive with or less than what it paid under Tri-State.Now, Guzman wants to do much the same for Tri-State altogether. It’s proposing to buy three of the coal-fired generating units owned primarily by Tri-State, shut them down, and replace the 800 megawatts of generation with a balance of wind and solar backed likely by natural gas generation.Guzman, which describes itself as an energy marketing, trading and investment company, says renewables have become so cheap that it can make money — and members of the 43 electrical co-ops that together constitute Tri-State can also save money. Guzman believes the same model could be used to expedite the retirement of coal assets owned by other utilities that have become stranded by lower-cost renewables.“We would finance the early shutdown of these coal plants, giving Tri-State a substantial cash infusion, in the vicinity of a half-billion dollars, and we would replace the portfolio (that would be lost) with in excess of 70% renewables,” said Chris Riley, president of Guzman Energy, in an interview last week at the firm’s office in downtown Denver.The electricity Tri-State and its members would get, he added, would be at less cost than the electricity generated by the three coal plants. Two units are in the Craig Generation Station in Colorado, and the third, Escalante, is near Grants, New Mexico. The proposal also includes purchase of a Tri-State coal mine near Craig.More: A small company sees opportunity in revolutionizing Colorado’s energy supply Company proposes buying, closing three coal plants owned by Tri-State cooperativelast_img read more

Connecticut selects Vineyard Wind to build 804MW Park City offshore wind project

first_imgConnecticut selects Vineyard Wind to build 804MW Park City offshore wind project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:Connecticut on Thursday selected Vineyard Wind’s 804-megawatt Park City project as the winner in a major offshore wind solicitation, setting up the seaport city of Bridgeport to become a significant hub for the emerging U.S. market. Connecticut regulators said Vineyard won with a price “lower than any other publicly announced offshore wind project in North America.” The exact price was not disclosed.Vineyard Wind, which competed against rival development groups backed by Ørsted and Shell, will now begin negotiating a final contract with Connecticut’s two electric utilities. The project is due for completion in 2025.On a conference call with journalists, Vineyard Wind CEO Lars Thaaning Pedersen declined to put an exact price tag on the project, but he noted that Vineyard’s similarly sized project in Massachusetts will cost around $3 billion.Vineyard’s win adds another huge project to the pipeline underway in Eastern U.S. waters, where state offshore wind targets have rapidly grown to exceed 20 gigawatts. Vineyard, owned by Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, won the first major U.S. offshore wind solicitation last year in Massachusetts, an 800-megawatt project sited south of Martha’s Vineyard.That was followed this year by a quartet of solicitations in New Jersey, New York, a second one in Massachusetts, and now Connecticut — handing projects to a list of developers that includes Ørsted, Equinor and Mayflower Wind (a joint venture of Shell New Energies and EDP Renewables). In Virginia, meanwhile, utility Dominion Energy plans to build a 2.6-gigawatt offshore wind project, due for completion in 2026.When it comes online in 2025, the Park City project is expected to generate the equivalent of 14 percent of Connecticut’s total electricity supply. That figure rises to 19 percent when previous offshore wind contracts the state has signed with Ørsted are added in. [Karl-Erik Stromsta]More: Vineyard wins as Connecticut chooses 804MW offshore wind projectlast_img read more

Australian regulator sees residential solar providing 25% of country’s electricity by 2040

first_imgAustralian regulator sees residential solar providing 25% of country’s electricity by 2040 FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Renew Economy:Australian Energy Market Operator boss Audrey Zibelman says Australian households will provide at least one quarter of the country’s electricity needs by 2040, as part of a “phenomenal” transition that will see the “democratisation” of energy and the closure of most coal plants.“We are leading the world, we’re not just second, we’re not just third, we are leading world in the per capita growth in rooftop solar,” Zibelman told the National Smart Energy Summit in Sydney on Tuesday.Zibelman said that parts of grid were already sourcing almost 50% of their power needs from solar produced on the rooftops of homes. By 2040, she said, “25 per cent of energy produced in Australia will come from homes. That’s a phenomenal change.”Over the next 15 years, some 15 gigawatts of coal fired generation – around two thirds of the current fleet, would come to the end of their operating lives and would close. Renewables – wind and solar combined with storage – were clearly the most inexpensive way of replacing retiring coal. It would change the face of the industry, cut emissions and provide reliable and secure power. “That’s not a political play, that’s an economic play,” Zibelman said.To achieve this, however, requires a plan – both to build new network infrastructure, particularly transmission lines to link the wind and solar resources from various parts of the country, and to re-design of the market rules which are designed around the coal-based grid of the 1990s, but are no longer fit-for-purpose with new technologies.Some of that is now in train – after years [of] policy and regulatory delay. AEMO has released its first version of its Integrated System Plan and will release a draft of the 2020 version later this week. That ISP is effectively a 20-year blueprint on how to manage the transition – at various speeds, including a radical “step change” – and keep the lights on and prices down.[Giles Parkinson]More: AEMO’s Zibelman: By 2040, one quarter of Australia’s electricity will come from homeslast_img read more

Adani unit wins bid to build 8GW of solar capacity in India, including 2GW mega-project

first_imgAdani unit wins bid to build 8GW of solar capacity in India, including 2GW mega-project FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享PV Magazine:Adani Green Energy has secured a Solar Energy Corporation of India (Seci) award to develop 8 GW of Indian solar project capacity that will include a 2 GW mega-site which will jointly hold the record for the world’s biggest solar park, according to a report on the Globe Newswire business news service this morning.The Ahmedabad-based developer, part of commodities trading conglomerate Adani Group, landed the deal in return for committing to establish 2 GW of cell and module manufacturing capacity in India as part of Seci’s ambitious manufacturing-linked solar tender.“This award, the largest of its type ever in the world, will entail a single investment of $6 billion (Rs45,350 crore) and will create 400,000 direct and indirect jobs,” said a company statement reported by Globe Newswire. “It will also displace 900 million tons of carbon dioxide over its lifetime.”Adani was reported to have placed bids for 4 GW of solar capacity in the Seci tender held in November, in return agreeing to establish solar manufacturing facilities with an annual production capacity of 1 GW. The company appears to have exercised a ‘green shoe’ option permitted under the exercise to double both capacities.New Delhi-based Azure Power was the other winning developer in the huge procurement exercise, securing up to 4 GW of solar capacity in return for 1 GW of cell and module production lines.Adani said the first, 2 GW slice of solar generation capacity will come online by 2022 with the balance added in 2 GW annual installments up to 2025. The solar projects involved will include one 2 GW site, according to Globe Newswire. The 2 GW of manufacturing facilities will also be established by 2022.[Uma Gupta]More: Adani Green Energy wins world’s largest solar awardlast_img read more

EIA: U.S. renewable generation topped coal, nuclear for second straight month in April

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):Although U.S. net generation in April fell 6.6% below the same month in 2019, renewable generation has continued to grow as a source of the nation’s supply and surpassed nuclear and coal for the second month in a row.Renewables accounted for 23.3% of the total, expanding its lead on nuclear generation as the second-largest source of power supply. Nuclear generation made up 21.5% of the nation’s electricity, while gas-fired generation remained the largest supplier of power with a 39.3% share.According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s latest “Electric Power Monthly” released June 24, overall utility-scale generation net of hydroelectric pumped storage in April fell to 275.2 million MWh from 294.67 million MWh in the same month in 2019.Over the same period, gas-fired generation climbed 5.0% to 108.1 million MWh. Coal-fired generation declined 32.4% to 40.6 million MWh, to account for 14.7% of the net total. Renewable output declined by 5.3% to 64.2 million MWh, with wind having the largest share at 10.7%, followed by conventional hydro with an 8.6% share.Year-to-date through April, utility-scale generation declined 4.1% year on year to 1.24 billion MWh. Renewable generation grew 4.9% on the year to 257.8 million MWh, as the decrease in other renewable sources was offset by solar and wind. Coal-fired generation declined 33.5% year over year to 212.4 million MWh, while gas-fired generation climbed 10.0% to 490.7 million MWh. Renewable sources including hydro accounted for 20.8% of overall U.S. generation in the first four months of the year, above coal’s share of 17.2% but slightly behind nuclear’s share of 21.3%.Power-sector coal stockpiles increased by 6.5 million tons during the month, below the 10-year average build of 6.8 million tons. During the prior 10 years, April stockpile fluctuations versus the prior month have ranged from a build of 1.3 million tons to a build of 12.7 million tons. The EIA estimates that the April stockpile level of 152.0 million tons translates to 122 days of burn and 105 days of burn, respectively, for bituminous and subbituminous coal, 46.6% and 25.6% above the five-year averages for the month.[Krizka Danielle Del Rosario]More ($): Renewable generation eclipses coal, nuclear for 2nd straight month in April EIA: U.S. renewable generation topped coal, nuclear for second straight month in Aprillast_img read more

Brew’s Blog 3

first_imgClick here to subscribe to the Pharr Out BlogIn my last blog, I described how I had to navigate some remote logging roads in Maine because Jen and I weren’t clear enough on where we intended to meet. Fortunately for me, that was an unusual day. Most days are more simple and relaxing. So I thought in this blog I’d list some of the things I do to “relax” while Jen’s eating up miles.One thing I do is sleep. Jen usually wakes up between 4:30 and 5:30 in the morning. Being the good sherpa that I am, I almost always roll over and go back to sleep for another 3 hours. On average, Jen’s probably hiked 10-12 miles before I’ve even gotten out of bed.Another thing I do is drive. On an average day, I’d say I drive anywhere from two to three hours. Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont didn’t have many roads and our buddy Warren lent us his atlases so those states were a piece of cake. MA, CT, NY, and NJ are a bit tougher because we don’t have atlases for those and I’m too cheap to buy them. I usually end up guessing where I am then asking locals for directions when I think I’m close. I should have bought the atlases early on but now we’re almost through New Jersey so there’s not point.Another thing I do is grocery shop for whatever I think Jen will like. She eats traditional trail food like Clif bars and Mountain House- which Diamond Brand Outfitters provided us- but she also eats junk food because it has a lot of calories. The other day, she ate an entire bag of frosted animal crackers in fifteen minutes- about 1200 calories. Other favorites of hers are peanut butter crackers, flavored kettle chips, string cheese, Snickers, ice cream, my friend Miles’ cookies, and brownies.Sometimes when I’m in town shopping for food, I’ll pick up packages at the post offices or wash clothes (mostly socks) at laundromats. When we’re staying at a motel on a particular night, I’ll call around to see who has wi-fi and a bathtub (the two essentials). And sometimes I just kill time. The other day I had an extra hour, and I passed this little sports card shop in Florida, New York. I used to collect baseball cards, so I went in there and talked to the owner for a while. It was really nice.If we’re near someplace cool, Jen will hike fifteen miles or so without meeting me so I can go sightseeing. On Independence Day, I visited the Long Trail Brewery in Bridgewater Crossing, VT. When we crossed the Hudson River, I toured West Point. And when we pass through southern PA, I’ll see Gettysburg. Jen’s ability to hike up to twenty miles without needing me creates a lot of flexibility.When I’m waiting for her at the trailheads, I usually pass time by reading, editing Jen’s blogs, or writing my own. When I get motivated, I break out the guitar. And at night, I’ll boil water for a freeze-dried dinner. We usually eat by the car so we don’t have to pack the stove, fuel, and food, and so we don’t have to worry about hanging a bear bag.I also spend a fair amount of time hiking. If Jen wants to get a head start on the next day, we’ll hike in three or four miles and find a campsite. That’s the only time I fulfill the traditional sherpa role, and even then I only carry a light pack (maybe 15 pounds) while Jen just carries her snacks and water for the next morning. I’ve counted my miles and I’m closing in now on 100. And that’s just counting the miles I’ve hiked with Jen. The actual number of miles is double that because whenever I hike with Jen, I have to turn around and hike the same distance back to the car.And then sometimes I find a spot on the trail where I can sit in silence to think and pray. Yesterday I walked through this beautiful marsh near Glenwood, New Jersey, and had a seat by the reeds. I sat for about 45 minutes and thought about things and caught my breath, which is something I haven’t really done since moving to Asheville last August. A girl passed me and I’m sure she saw my beard and clothes and thought, “Shouldn’t you be hiking or something?” I kind of turn inward at times like those, and get nervous, but when she passed, I returned to my stillness and thought about God and creation and how good my life is. That was the best hour I’ve had on the trail. Yeah, being an AT sherpa is all…right.last_img read more

The Half: Running’s Least Celebrated Race

first_imgA runner crosses the finish line of the Atlanta Half-Marathon. Photo: Atlanta Track ClubThe half doesn’t receive half the attention of the marathon, but it’s possibly the perfect distance, particularly for new runners. Running 13.1 is doable, but still a formidable challenge. Here’s your guide to taking your first strides as a “real” runner on your way to completing your first half marathon.Your Training Plan You should have one goal in mind for your first half marathon: finishing the race and enjoying it. “Only focus on building endurance when training for your first half,” says Francesca Conte, a professional runner and co-owner of Charlottesville Running Company. “Forget about speed work and improving your time until the next race. For now, just build a solid endurance base.” Conte designed a simple eight-week training program tailored for beginners who need to build endurance, based on four days a week of running:Day 1: Base run (base pace is your normal pace) of 40 minutes to one hour.Day 2:Long run at simulated race pace.  Begin each run with a one mile warm up. Run at your expected race pace.  Begin with a three-mile run and work up to an eight-mile run by increasing one mile a week.Day 3: Recovery trail run (about 30-40 seconds/mile slower than your base pace) of 40 minutes to one hour. Trails are a great way to gain strength and stay cooler in the summer. Cross training, like biking or swimming, is also appropriate for this day.Day 4:Long run: begin at four miles and increase one mile per week up to 12 miles for your last long run.Taper: Drop the mileage for at least two weeks before your race.Drink and Be MerryIt’s race day: you’re nervous, psyched, scared and you have to pee every five minutes leading up to the gunshot. We asked Tina Klein, trainer for the Atlanta Half Marathon, to detail how much you should be drinking before, during, and after your race.Drink before you’re thirsty Thirst is an unreliable way of knowing when you need to hydrate because you are usually 2 – 3 percent dehydrated before you actually become thirsty. Hydrate at least every 20 minutes. You’ll also want to take in some electrolytes.Avoid caffeine This can dehydrate you, unless you have been practicing drinking it prior to your runs. As a rule of thumb, for every one-cup of caffeine, you’ll want to flush out your system with four cups of water.Drink beforehand Be sure to drink 14 – 20 ounces two hours before the race. This will allow your body to absorb the maximum amount and pass the excess prior to the start.Replace afterward After your run, you’ll need to replace the water you lost. Weigh yourself one hour prior to your workout and immediately after you’ve finished. A rule of thumb is to drink 1.5 ounces of water for each ounce you lose (1 pound = 16 ounces). 1 2last_img read more

The Big Ride

first_imgSingletrack can only go so far: Riders cross the New River in southwest Virginia during the inaugural Virginia Mountain Bike ride. Photo courtesy of Shenandoah Mountain TouringThe 500-mile Virginia Mountain Bike Trail is poised to be the South’s sweetest stretch of singletrack.Virginia’s diagonal ridge of mountains boast a quarter of the Appalachian Trail and half of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Now, a new project is taking shape in the Virginia highlands that could eventually rival the A.T. and the Parkway.A decade ago, Chris Scott saw the growing interest in long distance mountain bike trails like the Colorado Trail, Arizona Trail, and Continental Divide Trail in the West and got an idea. Scott and his partners were already leading multi-day cross country biking tours in George Washington National Forest and directing the Shenandoah Mountain 100 through their company, Shenandoah Mountain Tours, so they decided to take it to the next level.“For the past, pretty much 15 years, we’ve just been trying to link stuff together,” Scott said. “We just kept piling trails on top of the 100-miler to go bigger, see more, and ride deeper into the wilderness.”So began the ambitious project to create the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail (VBMT), a continuous 480-mile trail traversing the state from north to south. This region of the Blue Ridge is already well established as a premier mountain biking destination, but Scott was looking for something more.“We just knew that Virginia had so much amazing stuff to offer. We wanted to create our own epic dream,” he said.“My wife and I rode cross country in 1997, and we tried to do it mostly off road,” said Richard Edwards, a full time trail solution manager with the International Mountain Biking Association. “The first leg of our journey was from Washington, D.C. down to south of Douthat [State Park] and back up through West Virginia. After riding to Moab, we realized probably the best off-road riding we did was right there in Virginia.”Edwards got involved in the initial stages of the VMBT long before joining IMBA. He is just one of the many locals involved in the conceptual realization of the long distance route.“Virginia always seemed like it would be the epicenter for where a long distance mountain bike trail on the East Coast could start, largely because we have such a long extended section of public lands that has really good opportunities for piecing together a mountain bike route using existing trails, existing dirt roads and low use paved roads,” he said.Currently, the IMBA does not have any direct involvement with the route, but over the years, they have provided non-funded support for the VMBT by assisting in networking and planning. The core of the actual trail work is being done by volunteers from various biking communities and clubs.Like the A.T., the VMBT was created by linking a patchwork of eight existing trails systems, mostly on public land in the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests to complete the route. These include well-known trails like the Shenandoah Mountain Trail, Mill Mountain Trail, and the Iron Mountain Trail near Damascus. The trick was linking them all together into one continuous ribbon of singletrack.The Virginia Mountain Bike Trail from Summit Publishing on Vimeo.“Over the last five years, we’ve started looking more specifically at what would be the best connectors, the best flow for riding from north to south,” Scott explained. “Last summer we put the few last pieces together.”After an initial multi-day trip on the northern portion of the trail in 2010 with pro rider Jeremiah Bishop and pro coach Tim Johnston, the fall of 2011 marked the first attempt at riding the entire length of the trail. The group rode it over a period of four days, climbing a combined 65,000 feet in the process.While the trip was deemed a success, the VMBT has a long way to go and faces many challenges ahead, the first being the nature of the trail itself. It passes through some of the most rugged and challenging in the state, especially on a mountain bike. When dealing with almost 500 miles of trail, keeping the trail clean and navigable is a tough task, especially given the remoteness of some of the sections. Scott says the biggest challenge is trail maintenance.“Just getting out there to maintain it is difficult. Then you have to get the brush cut back and the trail cleared, which takes a lot of time and effort.”Scott has enlisted the help of volunteers from organizations like the Shenandoah Valley Bicycle Coalition, Mid Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts, and more to assist in the bulk of trail maintenance and preservation. Local mountain biking clubs are also instrumental in raising awareness of the project, which in turn helps gain more support.“They are getting more people interested in the route so we have more people out there maintaining it, because most of the trails are underutilized and overgrown,” said Scott. “That’s been the hardest challenge: getting them passable.”Riders on the Virginia Mountain Bike TrailThe U.S. Forest Service has the final say on trail decisions because almost the entire trail cuts through their lands, but they appear to be on board with the project. Budget cuts have made it near impossible for the Forest Service to continue upholding all the trail under their jurisdiction. They now rely heavily on volunteers to assist in the basic trail maintenance of the trails along the VMBT route. This seems to be a win-win for both parties.“The Forest Service personnel in this region were pretty excited about it,” said Scott, who has been working with the USFS throughout. “They are glad to see people out there adventuring and maintaining the trails they are underfunded to do themselves. They like when people help out and take pride in what they take pride in.”The final vision of the trail includes a hut-to-hut system, much like shelters on the A.T., but until then, camping is basically the only option. A growing interest in the sport of bike-packing has led to amazing innovations in ultra light bike racks and frame bags, but a trip of this magnitude will tax even the fittest rider.“One crux is that the trails get a little challenging when trying to carry all that gear,” Scott said. “There’s only a few spots where there is not a Forest Service campground in a very convenient location. The route lays itself out very well to use established campgrounds with bathrooms, showers, and tent spots.”Scott envisions connecting the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail with neighbors north and south, and says he and his contacts up and down the East Coast have the intention and ambition to pull it off.“If we create this amazing Virginia trail, we could take it north to Maryland and Pennsylvania and south into North Carolina and Tennessee, and all the way down into Georgia,” he said.The VMBT is not recognized by the U.S. Forest Service as an official trail—not yet, at least. It will take many more hours of trail work and infrastructure to accomplish that goal, but as counter-intuitive as it sounds, the extreme distance envisioned in the final product may actually help the process along, according to Edwards.“It resonates with other user communities in a way that traditional loop trails don’t,” he says. “The established hiking communities and land managers grasp the concept and the value of a long distance, multi-day trail and often times give it a higher social value than a small loop trail.”But is there a market for a mountain bike trail that rivals the A.T. in length, and would people actually ride it? The growth of ultra-endurance versions of all outdoor recreation, from cycling to trail running to kayaking and multi-sport adventure racing certainly suggests so. It is not too hard to imagine riders young and old packing up their bikes for rite of passage on the Great Eastern Mountain Bike Trail just as hikers have been doing on the A.T. for decades.“It seems to strike a chord within the mountain biking community, much like the Appalachian Trail,” adds Edwards. “Every hiker knows the Appalachian Trail. Even though the vast majority of hikers will never thru-hike the A.T., it’s something that lives in their mind and in their dreams. They know it’s possible to walk from one end of the Appalachians to the other.”Just as hikers section hike the A.T., Scott and Edwards can see bikers using this trail in a variety of capacities. Section riding is one option, as is creating a system of spoke trails connecting hubs of trail systems so one could spend a couple days exploring a contained system of trails before moving down the spoke to the next hub. The applications seem to be endless, but there is still a lot of work to do to get there. Scott will be taking his second annual thru-ride next month, and success will only encourage the route’s expansion.“Hopefully once we get the Virginia Trail established as a prominent East Coast bicycle singletrack route, it will get legs and become like the Great Divide Trail out West,” he said. “That’s the dream.”Volunteers are always needed to assist in maintaining portions of the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail. Visit www.mtntouring.com. •Here is an amazing video on the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail, put together by Scott Wootten of Shenandoah Bicycle CompanyVirginia Mountain Bike Trail from Scott Wootten on Vimeo.MORE LONG DISTANCE BIKE TRAILSGreat Divide Mountain Bike RouteThe GDMBR follows the Continental Divide as closely as possible from Banff, Alberta, Canada to Antelope Wells, New Mexico. This is a distance of about 2,745 miles, although the route is in constant flux and not well posted. Ninety percent of the route is on unpaved roads and trails with over 200,000 feet of elevation change along the way, making weather and supply access the biggest hurdles in any attempted thru-ride—that and bear attacks. Two races take place every year to test the mettle of riders: the Tour Divide Race follows the entire route, while the Great Divide Race follows only that portion in the U.S.Continental Divide TrailThe Continental Divide Trail traces the continental divide through the Rockies from Canada to Mexico. The National Scenic Trail passes through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, rising as high as 14,000 feet and falling no lower than 3,900 feet. Along with the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, it forms one third of the Triple Crown of long distance hiking in the US.Colorado TrailThe Colorado Trail runs east to west across the state from Denver to Durango, covering 486 miles, about half of which is shared with the Continental Divide Trail. Mountain bikers are permitted on most of the trail, although not on the portions that travel through wilderness areas. The trail rises above tree line in several spots and runs through six mountain ranges.Arizona TrailCompleted in 2011, the Arizona National Scenic trail runs north from the Mexico border through Arizona to its northern border with Utah. The trail passes through a wide variety of landscapes and ecosystems on its 800-mile route, from the deserts of the south to the San Francisco Peaks of the North. The Arizona Trail also passes the Grand Canyon, making it one of the most diverse trails in the U.S.last_img read more

Mountain Mama: How do fireflies light up and why?

first_imgDear Mountain Mama,The flickering of hundreds of fireflies lighting up the woods is my favorite part of the summer. It reminds me of cupping them in my hand and peaking through my fingers to see the neon light up close.How do fireflies light up and why? Thanks,Glowbug Dear Glowbug,There’s nothing better than a lazy summer night inhaling the perfume of blooming honeysuckle and the magical sight of fireflies light up the forest. Turns out that science, not magic, is responsible for their glow.Bioluminescence is at play – when chemical light is produced by a reaction within a living organism. Luckily for the survival of fireflies, the chemical reaction doesn’t produce heat or else they’d incinerate themselves every time they glowed. Think how hot a lightbulb can be when you touch it. If fireflies produced that type of heat, they’d burn to death. To be more specific about how the process works, fireflies have luciferin in their abdomen. When that combines with oxygen and with an enzyme called luciferase which causes their abdomen to light up.So why do fireflies glow? Fireflies use light signals to communicate. Summer nights in an open field are like a single’s bar where everyone wears glow sticks. Males looking to mate flash a species-specific pattern. Interested females respond with the same pattern, helping males find the way to their perch, often low on vegetation.One sneaky species lights up to lure unsuspecting males of different species onto their dinner plate. These fireflies mimic the flashes of other species and when males, thinking they’re going to mate get close enough, they get eaten instead.Fireflies glow well before they are ready to mate. Fireflies during all stages of life are capable of producing light, beginning with the egg, larvae and pupae. Some firefly eggs emit a faint glow when disturbed leading scientists to believe that fireflies produce light to warn predators away.This summer when you watch the flashing fireflies, know that you’re witnessing a complex mating ritual. But don’t let the science behind their glow take away the magic of all that twinkling light. Let yourself feel the hundreds of flickering lights as your own, lighting up the possibility of summer.Enjoy the glow!Mountain Mamalast_img read more

Trail Mix: February 2015

first_imgThe Trail Mix track list reads like an international flight directory. In months past, the mix has been lucky enough to feature the occasional track from an artist beyond our borders.This month, we have multiple artists from across the sea included – check out Doe, Duke Garwood, and Nathaniel Rateliff, all from England, and Hey Rosetta!, from Newfoundland. These great tunes serve notice that great things in roots music are happening around the world.This month, I am happy to feature a track from Jeff Austin, long time front man for Yonder Mountain String Band. I have been a long time fan of YMSB, ever since a good buddy, my wife, and I made a snowy trip to the State Theater in Falls Church, Virginia, and caught a blistering set of jamgrass in 2003. Austin left the band last year, but he didn’t rest on his laurels for long. Having assembled a band of top notch pickers – Danny Barnes on banjo, Eric Thorin on bass, and Ross Martin on guitar – Austin hit the studio to record The Simple Truth. Check out “Fiddling Around,” from Jeff’s debut solo release, on this month’s mix.Other great tracks featured this month include offerings from J.D. McPherson, The Gibson Brothers, Blackberry Smoke, Murder By Death, Elana James, Screen Door Porch, and Corey Dargel. Also, make sure to check out the brand new tune from 6 String Drag, a seminal alt-country band of the 1990s, who are releasing their first record in nearly two decades.Of course, with 24 tracks, we are just scratching the surface here. Dig in to this music and enjoy. Make sure to tell a friend or neighbor about a great artist you discovered here. And stay tuned to the Trail Mix blog. This month, we have features on The Willow Tree in Johnson City, interviews with Two Gallants, Taarka, and Melvin Dillon, of Soul Step Records.And, as always, seek out a record or two from these great artists. Thank them for supporting Trail Mix by supporting them buying their music. “Dig Two Graves” Blue Sky Thinkin’ Anne McCue 3:09 read more