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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Video: Dow Jones' 'One More Sip'

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 10:56 AM

New video from Charlotte emcee, Dow Jones, for his single, "One More Sip" from The Lyrics and Liquor EP, which dropped in November, is still available as a free download here.

Shot by local production company, iLuddy.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

Duke Energy to continue with caveman plan in N.C.

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 2:27 PM

Humans have burned trees for energy since the beginning of time, but, I ask you, does that make it an appropriate way for electricity companies to generate energy in today's high-tech society?

According to current North Carolina law, the seemingly innocuous, and oft misunderstood, definition of "biomass," burning trees is A-OK. At the same time, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is considering regulating biomass in the same way it regulates fossil fuels because, despite its harmless-sounding name, the bottom line is biomass equals burning something — whether it's trash or trees — and that means air pollution.

In Ohio, where Duke Energy, a Charlotte-based energy company, also operates, burning biomass to generate electricity is also on the table, though, it appears, according to The Columbus Dispatch, those plans may be scrapped.

Here's a snippet from their recent report:

Plans to burn wood instead of coal at nine Ohio power plants now might do little more than fill state filing cabinets.

For a while, utility companies were gung-ho on burning wood as a renewable source of electricity and praised the idea as a way to meet a state mandate to cut down on coal.

The first public sign of trouble came on Nov. 17, when FirstEnergy announced that converting its R.E. Burger coal-fired power station into a "biomass" plant would cost too much. Located near Shadyside in Belmont County, Burger instead will be used only during peak electricity demand.

Officials with all of Ohio's major utilities, including Columbus-based American Electric Power, are now sounding equally discouraged about eight other proposed biomass projects. In all, the projects promised to power as many as 260,000 Ohio homes.

"It's an option, but one that's on the back burner for us," said Sally Thelen, a spokeswoman for Duke Energy, which had proposed burning wood and plant wastes at three power stations along the Ohio River.

The projects were submitted to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio over the past two years to help meet a 2008 state mandate that power companies produce 12.5 percent of their electricity from advanced and renewable sources by 2025. Wood, a "biomass," is considered a renewable source.

Melissa McHenry, an AEP spokeswoman, said the company will still conduct biomass tests at its Muskingum River plant. One problem, AEP said, was that it could not find wood or plant fuel at the right price.

"The cost has not been competitive with the other options for renewable energy," McHenry said, referring to solar and wind power projects.

Read the entire article, by Spencer Hunt, here.

But, according to the Charlotte Business Journal, Duke Energy's plans to burn North Carolina trees is still a major part of the company's so-called renewable energy production plans:

Duke has made wood biomass a staple of its plans for meeting N.C. requirements for energy produced from renewable sources. But in North Carolina, wood remains a plentiful resource, and Duke Carolinas spokesman Jason Walls says the company still intends to count on a large contribution from that source.

Read the entire article, by John Downey, here.

You know what else North Carolina has in plenitude? Coastline. So, why isn't the energy giant as gung ho about wind energy?

Continue reading »

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Old school meets new school

Posted By on Wed, Jul 28, 2010 at 9:42 AM

Special Ed, you know the rapper on the song "I Got It Made"?!? Well, the classic MC resides in Charlotte these days. Check out this interview by "The Fresh" held at the Sheraton Hotel.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Unidentified object in Gaston county

Posted By on Wed, Jul 21, 2010 at 1:00 PM

Scotty Reid films an unidentified floating object in Gaston County. It appears to be a planet or star, but Reid argues that it is not ... nor is it a plane.

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

Alvin Greene: the new G.I. Joe?

Posted By on Thu, Jul 8, 2010 at 1:55 PM

Bizarre South Carolina candidate for the U.S. Senate Alvin Greene believes that he can stimulate S.C.'s economy by creating action figures of himself. Seriously. I wonder if the action figures will be wearing the green shirt he seems to wear in all his interviews?

Here are three interviews of Greene showing how he plans on helping his state out if he is elected.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The powerful Sen. Graham

Posted By on Tue, Jul 6, 2010 at 8:52 AM

Sunday, in a five-page spread in the paper's weekly magazine, The New York Times declared S.C. Sen. Lindsey Graham "This Year's Maverick." (Read the article, by Robert Draper, here.)

In the profile, Graham, a Republican member of the U.S. Senate for only seven years, is portrayed as someone who views being disliked by both political extremes as an opportunity to seize the position of "deal-maker-in-chief."

Why do the extremes hate him?

Graham preaches bipartisanship when Tea Partiers want blood. He dropped his support of the very climate legislation (the article quotes him as preferring to call it "energy independence" legislation) he once co-sponsored after Sen. Harry Reid bumped immigration reform to the top of the Senate's to-do list. He has, according to his own count and the chagrin of the "Party of No," visited the West Wing of the White House nearly 20 times since Barack Obama became president. And, he admits he's told the Obama administration he'll likely vote to confirm Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, but first he aims to out her as a liberal.

That's why far-right talking heads and bloggers pick on him like schoolyard bullies and liberals find him irritating, though he doesn't seem to care. (Conservative bullhorns accuse him of being gay, he responds by cracking jokes.)

In the article, the life-long bachelor and policy wonk admits he doesn't have a life. Though that's fine by him, crafting policies that will shape America's future is his idea of a fun time anyway. What does matter to him is that the White House and the GOP respect his role as a deal maker.

"I offer myself as a bridge, and I take a beating for that," the senator says in the article when energy and climate legislation came up, "and I get rewarded for that."

Unfortunately for him, however, the author points out his bipartisan bend has produced no "legislative triumph."

In this three-year-old video, Sen. Graham discusses immigration and what it means to be an American, saying, "... we're going to tell the bigots to shut up." Some folks on the far-right claimed his comments are "insane" and that the event was "racist."

Further reading: N.C. Sen. Richard Burr's energy bill backs nuclear -- The Charlotte Observer

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cleaning up after dirty coal

Posted By on Tue, Apr 6, 2010 at 8:40 AM

In 2002, the state passed a law meant to curb acid rain. The new law meant coal plants had to figure out how to trap sulfur in their smoke stacks, preventing it from entering the air. Eight years later, Charlotte's Shaw Power Group and Alstom Environmental Control Systems, of Tennessee, are working to help Duke Energy meet the state's 2013 deadline at its coal plants. There are at least three coal plants in the Charlotte area, one in Belmont, one on Lake Norman and another on Mountain Island Lake.

The Mecklenburg Times' Sam Boykin reports:

Duke Energy’s four largest plants in North Carolina, which operate around the clock, needed radical filtering implants.

In 2003 Shaw Power Group formed a consortium with Alstom Environmental Control Systems of Knoxville, Tenn. The consortium won Duke Energy contracts to retrofit the four with flue gas desulfurization units, known by a much less lofty title: scrubbers. They are designed to reduce such harmful emissions as sulfur dioxide.

Jim McCarthy, Shaw Power Group’s chief mechanical engineer, said the company opened its Charlotte offices in 2004.

“Initially it was because we had contracts with Duke Energy, but Shaw Power realized there would likely be other opportunities and projects,” McCarthy said. “There was a lot of potential in the power industry in general, not just in the environmental retrofit sector.”

That project will bring Duke Energy into full compliance with the CSA 2013 deadline, Thompson said. “Overall,” he said, “we expect by the end of 2010 to reduce our system (sulfur dioxide) emissions by 70 percent in our five-state territory, and total (sulfur dioxide) reduction for North Carolina will be 75 percent by 2013 over 2000 emission levels.”

Read the entire article here.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, acid rain is harmful because it can make it difficult for people with asthma or other respiratory issues to breathe. It can also corrode buildings, statues, monuments and cars, peel paint, damage waterways and forests and cause ground-level ozone.

Yesterday, Charlotte experienced it's first Code Orange day of the year due to elevated levels of ozone.

Get daily updates on Charlotte's air quality on Twitter from the North Carolina Division of Air Quality.

How burning coal leads to acid rain:

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

'Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition'

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2010 at 10:56 AM

Well. That's nice.

For decades, women have paid more for health insurance. A lot more. But, thanks to health care reform, that trend has come to an abrupt end.

In the broadest sense, the new health care law forbids sex discrimination in health insurance. Previously, there was no such ban, and insurance companies took full advantage of the void.

Until now, it has been perfectly legal in most states for companies selling individual health policies — for people who do not have group coverage through employers — to engage in “gender rating,” that is, charging women more than men for the same coverage, even for policies that do not include maternity care. The rationale was that women used the health care system more than men. But some companies charged women who did not smoke more than men who did, even though smokers have more risks. The differences in premiums, from 4 percent to 48 percent, according to a 2008 analysis by the law center, can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. The individual market is the one that many people turn to when they lose their jobs and their group coverage.

Insurers have also applied gender-rating to group coverage, but laws against sex discrimination in the workplace prevent employers from passing along the higher costs to their employees based on sex. Gender rating has taken a particular toll on smaller or midsize businesses with many women, like home-health care, child care and nonprofits. As a result, some businesses have been unable to offer health coverage or have been able to afford it only by using plans with very high deductibles.

In addition, individual policies often excluded maternity coverage, or charged much more for it. Now, gender rating is essentially outlawed, and policies must include maternity coverage, considered “an essential health benefit.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Senator Mikulski said: “One of my hearings revealed that a woman was denied coverage because she had a baby with a medically mandated C-section. When she tried to get insurance coverage with another company, she was told she had to be sterilized in order to get health insurance. That will never, ever happen again because of what we did here with health care reform.”

Read the rest of this New York Times article, by Denise Grady, here.

Further reading:

From the U.S. Congress: How health care reform will help women:

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

BofA forgives you, homeowners

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 10:20 AM

Well, kinda. Read on to find out more ...

Question is, do we forgive them for their part in the banking chaos that led directly to the Great Recession? I tell you what would help, a giant check made out to the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.

Bank of America Corp. launched a program Wednesday that will offer mortgage-principal forgiveness worth about $3 billion to 45,000 borrowers.

The program will be used with other bank and federal efforts to help struggling homeowners, such as the Home Affordable Modification Program and National Homeownership Retention Program.

Only borrowers already eligible for loan modifications will be considered for the new program. And BofA says it will contact borrowers with the offer because only a limited group of customers will be eligible. The program is intended to serve borrowers who owe at least 120 percent of their home’s value and are more than 60 days past due on mortgage payments.

Any forgiveness will depend on the borrower making on-time payments for up to five years. If the home’s value rises, the amount of principal forgiven may be reduced.

Read the rest of this Charlotte Business Journal article, by Adam O'Daniel, here.

Who wrecked the economy?

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