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first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest NAFB Trade Talk 2015The Ohio Ag Net’s Dale Minyo visits with CME Group’s Tim Andriesen about the importance of educating youth about the business of agriculture with CME Group’s Commodity Carnival game.CME Tim Andriesenlast_img

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The Supreme Court Saves the Smart Grid

first_imgMany smart grid details are still being worked outThe Supreme Court ruling enables the creation of new services, such as selling home battery power back to the grid. But the business models for many innovative smart grid technologies are still being worked out, and it still isn’t clear what a sustainable business model looks like. Prices in electricity markets, for example, have been in a slump for years thanks to cheap natural gas, which makes it more difficult to earn money selling electricity services.The ruling also does not mean the end of all tensions between state and federal regulations. States may still be able to prohibit or limit participation in demand response markets.Community solar, for example, may be able to sell into power markets in theory, but in practice much still depends on the rules governing how solar power is metered when connected to the grid. Those rules, still firmly in the hands of the states, have become more restrictive in some places in recent years.So by ruling for FERC, the Supreme Court did not kill the smart grid, as some people had feared. But it will take more than a single sweeping ruling to completely save it. Getting paid to save energyThe FERC rule allows homes and businesses to get paid for energy conservation when demand on the power grid is very high, a practice known in the electricity business as demand response. Demand response has been around for years even before the case was heard by the Supreme Court, and has been credited with keeping power costs down and even with avoiding blackouts. Microgrids and community solarWhile demand response has been controversial, it has (alongside the rest of the smart grid) undoubtedly paved the way for a burst of innovative technologies, practices and business models, the likes of which the electricity sector has not seen in many decades.Electric vehicles, the wi-fi connected thermostat, Tesla’s distributed battery system, and the automated response of household appliances in reaction to conditions on the grid are among the potentially game-changing solutions to the grid’s many challenges — and all have the potential to do the job better and more cheaply than large power plants or batteries.My home state of Pennsylvania is but one example. A number of companies that coordinate demand response have sprung up in southeastern Pennsylvania and neighboring New Jersey.For instance, the Philadelphia subway system is now capturing energy from braking and storing it in batteries for reuse or resale on the wholesale energy markets. The city’s electric utility, PECO, is looking into developing micro-grids for local power supply and distribution. (Full disclosure: I have been involved in a number of projects related to demand response, smart grids, and micro-grids through my university employer, Penn State, and the Microgrid Systems Laboratory.)So it would now seem to be all systems go for demand response, electric vehicles, rooftop solar, and Tesla’s home battery system. But the irony of the ruling is that it may actually have muddied the waters, even when the sweeping language in the ruling suggests the opposite. RELATED ARTICLES Will the Supreme Court Kill the Smart Grid?The New ‘Smart’ GridTesla Will Sell Home BatteriesThe Smart Meter: Friend or Foe?Older Americans and the Smart GridGet Ready for Smart AppliancesOntario to Yank Some Smart MetersIn Nevada, Calls for a Smart Meter ProbeWhen Customers Challenge the Wisdom of Smart MetersFinding the Smartest Use for Smart MetersSmart Meter SmackdownThe Smart Meter’s Contentious Opponents Awkward analogies in an effort to explainDuring oral arguments in October last year, the attorneys arguing on behalf of the FERC sometimes struggled to explain the workings of the power grid and the markets that have been created in the wake of electricity deregulation in the 1990s.A host of awkward analogies, from sports cars to hamburger stands, were used on all sides. At the end of arguments, it seemed that the FERC had won some points and opponents of demand response some others, but ultimately, that confusion had prevailed.Some months ago, I argued that this case has hugely broad implications for the electricity business, particularly for innovation, that go far beyond demand response. Indeed, the majority opinion, authored by Justice Kagan, seemed at times very sweeping.During arguments, power generators complained that FERC simply did not have the jurisdiction to set up a market for demand response. The Federal Power Act suggests that the portion of the grid that distributes power to homes and businesses, rather than high-voltage transmission lines that transport power long distances, is the jurisdiction of the states. On this point, the message from the court was pretty clear: FERC has the authority to make the rules for deregulated electricity markets, and it can be as permissive or restrictive as it sees fit in determining who gets to participate in those markets.As a result, the ruling seems to put the federal government in the driver’s seat over modernizing the power grid, at least in the 70 percent of the U.S. where deregulated regional electricity markets are now the norm and have been for nearly two decades.Get paid to reduce electricity demand? Use on-site generators to supplement the grid during hot summer days? Allow community solar and energy storage to earn the same market price as natural gas or nuclear power generators? The Supreme Court has now opened the door to all of this. A smarter grid, here we come!center_img Seth Blumsack is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University. This post originally appeared at The Conversation. In a surprising 6-2 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a controversial energy conservation rule from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that regulates interstate electricity sales.The rule was one of those arcane pieces of federal policy so complex that even attorneys arguing for and against had difficulty explaining it. Yet this particular decision by the court is one of the most important in the energy world for many years — not because it upheld a particular FERC rule but because the decision seems to tip the balance of power on electricity policy toward the federal government and away from the states.The breadth of this decision paves the way for a host of new technologies and business models that seem poised to disrupt the usually staid business of electric utilities and usher in a more technologically advanced power grid. At the same time, the ruling sidestepped a number of thorny questions at the heart of state versus federal control over the power grid. For example, on hot summer afternoons when the air conditioner load soars, consumers and businesses can sign up for utility programs to turn up thermostats for short periods and, in return, receive a rebate. By arranging to consume less power during those critical times, grid operators can avoid purchasing costly power from very polluting generators.Critics of the practice have complained that payments in the demand response market have been so lucrative as to amount to a major subsidy for electricity users, one that has eroded the profits of power plants to the point where (ironically) the reliability of the grid may eventually be threatened. The decision issued last month, and the margin by which FERC’s demand response rules were upheld, came therefore as something of a surprise.last_img read more

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Cabinet shows red card to Sports Bill, Maken asked to redraft it

first_imgPoliticians with sports fiefs to guard have ganged up to oppose a draft Bill that aims to end their cushy reign by putting age and tenure limits for office-bearers of sports federations and the Indian Olympic Association.On Tuesday, they seemed to have drawn first blood. Sports minister Ajay Maken, who presented the draft National Sports Development Bill to the cabinet – it also seeks to bring the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) under the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI) – has been asked to come again with a fresh draft.The Bill got a second life because despite the opposition, it had the backing of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, home minister P. Chidambaram and finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.Few had illusions that it would be plain sailing for Maken at the cabinet meeting.As many as five ministers present at the meeting head sports associations.Besides, it is a known fact that politicians holding these positions are usually united across party lines when it comes to defending their turf.What was, however, surprising was the timing of the opposition from the politicians concerned. It comes a mere two days after Anna Hazare ended his fast to demand accountability in government functioning.While Hazare’s strike raised hopes of increased transparency in public life, the winds of accountability and transparency have yet to reach Indian sports.The major bone of contention seems to be the sports ministry’s long-term development plan (LTDP) which many in the cabinet felt was too “intrusive.” Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar is the International Cricket Council (ICC) president and heavy industries minister Praful Patel heads the All India Football Federation. Minister of road transport and highways C. P. Joshi heads the Rajasthan cricket association and new and renewable energy minister Farooq Abdullah heads the cricket association in Jammu and Kashmir. Minister of science and technology Vilasrao Deshmukh recently defeated former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar to become the president of the Mumbai Cricket Association.advertisementThe PM and Chidambaram are understood to have backed Maken, but the numbers were never on their side. Opposition leaders such as Archery Association of India president V. K. Malhotra, who has been at the helm since 1979 and is the IOA’s acting president, has been vehement in his criticism of the draft.Another senior BJP leader, Arun Jaitley, heads the Delhi and District Cricket Association. Malhotra had described the draft Bill as ” Draconian”. Most of them do not comply with the proposed age and tenure restrictions of 70 years and three terms 12 years) mentioned in the draft, and were never going to let go of their fiefdoms. Back in May 2010, then sports minister M. S. Gill suggested an age and tenure bar for office- bearers of sports federations. The IOA had then lobbied with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the latter had warned that India may be barred from the Olympics if the proposals – that reportedly went against the Olympic charter – became law.Pawar and Patel wanted the removal of the intrusive provisions for all sports from the LTDP. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) president even threatened to take up the matter with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi if the cabinet approved the draft. He said if the 70- year age limit was agreed upon, “then whosoever is sitting in the room has no right to stay here”.HRD minister Kapil Sibal, who is facing flak for his handling of the Hazare agitation, argued it is not the political environment in which such a Bill can be tabled. Septuagenarian Farooq Abdullah found the age limit a problem. He is reported to have said during the meeting: “I can do things that young people cannot do.”Urban development minister Kamal Nath also had reservations about the LTDP. It was Chidambaram who saved the day for Maken. It was his intervention that ensured that the draft was not deferred or referred to the group of ministers (GoM) as that could have made it impossible for its reintroduction. Sources said Chidambaram remarked: “Let us not throw the baby along with the bathwater. Let us give the sports minister a chance.”Apparently, the PM said Maken should get a chance to rework the Bill.Pranab Mukherjee said most of the parties would not support the Bill in its current form. “Let’s rework this,” he said.In the past three years, the government has given grants of ` 458 crore to sports associations. It wanted in return was for them to come under the RTI and be accountable.advertisementOn the RTI Act, the BCCI argued that it is financially independent and takes no aid from the government. Therefore it is not liable to abide by the Act. However, the BCCI avails of concessions which have played a role in making it the richest cricket board.”BCCI is autonomous and our accounts are audited regularly,” its vice- president Niranjan Shah said. Sunil Gavaskar disagreed. “If an organisation has nothing to hide, it should be open to any information that is sought from it,” the batting legend argued.What the fuss is all about?Sports minister Ajay Maken, made a suo motu statement in the Lok Sabha on February 22, 2011, proposing a National Sports Development Bill, which aims to instill good governance among National Sports Federations (NSFs), and talks of participation of athletes in the decisionmaking processHighlights of the proposed billImbibes the philosophy of Olympism Aims to bring in more accountability, transparency in functioning of national sports bodies Adopts basic universal principles of good governance proposed by the International Olympic Committee Seeks to set up a National Sports Development Council headed by an eminent athlete Includes the core principles of fair and transparent elections and strictly enforce the age limit and tenure for office bearers of NSFs Proposes retirement, age at 70 years for office bearers of NSFs. Fixes the term of the president a maximum of 12 years, or three terms Forbids a Union sports minister from contesting the election to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) or a federation until the expiry of five years after demitting his office Includes athletes in decision making and ensures 25 per cent of the membership and voting rights for them Proposes to appoint a retired HC judge to the post of sports ombudsman to deal with grievances and disputes relating to sports organisations Prescribes rules for the prevention of sexual harassment, age fraud and anti-dopinglast_img

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Substitute Batshuayi’s late winner delivers Premier League title for Chelsea FC

first_imgSubstitute Michy Batshuayi’s late goal clinched the Premier League title for Chelsea as they beat West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Friday but they were made to fight all the way for the victory they craved at The Hawthorns.Chelsea were suffering late nerves as a dogged West Brom threatened to prolong the title race but Belgian international Batshuayi prodded home the winner after 82 minutes to spark manic celebrations from triumphant manager Antonio Conte.The victory, Chelsea’s 28th of the season, put the long-time league leaders 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who have only three games left to play.Italian Conte is only the fourth manager to win the Premier League title at the first attempt, emulating his Stamford Bridge predecessors Jose Mourinho and Carlo Ancelotti as well as Manuel Pellegrini who achieved the feat with Manchester City.Conte, who won three consecutive titles as Juventus manager before taking over the Italian national team, danced for joy and was hoisted into the air by his players in front of Chelsea’s ecstatic travelling fans who chanted “Antonio, Antonio”.Chelsea have now won five Premier League titles since Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club in 2003, but this one is arguably the most impressive considering they finished a woeful 10th last season.ANTONIO, ANTONIO, ANTONIO!!! ??#ChelseaChampions pic.twitter.com/Iguyy75ZXo- CHAMPIONS! ??? (@ChelseaFC) May 12, 2017″You have to cherish these moments, you work so hard all season to be where we are,” said Chelsea defender and stand-in captain Gary Cahill.”Consistently we have been the best team in the league. There is no better feeling in football. People have written us off as a team and individually and this has shut them up. We are champions. It’s another one in the cabinet.”advertisementJOB DONECHAMPIONS ???!!! Words can’t describe the emotions right now! We did this together! #CFC Family! pic.twitter.com/kQAPjJfi7x- Victor Moses (@VictorMoses) May 12, 2017It was not vintage Chelsea on Friday but they got the job done on a tense night in the Midlands.They dominated possession against eighth-placed West Brom, who had little to play for but pride, and rained in shots before halftime, Cesc Fabregas and Pedro going closest while Diego Costa sent another effort over the bar.West Brom offered the odd counter-attack but the one-way traffic continued after the break as Victor Moses was denied by a splendid low save by Ben Foster.IT’S DONE! ??????#ChelseaChampions pic.twitter.com/OXe1kZPwvw- CHAMPIONS! ??? (@ChelseaFC) May 12, 2017Eden Hazard had another effort blocked on the line but as Chelsea strained for the winner they began to look a little vulnerable at the back as West Brom gained in confidence.The visitors had a huge scare when Salomon Rondon burst clear past David Luiz on the halfway line but his effort was superbly blocked by Cahill.In the end Chelsea owed it to misfit Batshuayi, a peripheral figure for most of the season, to win the match and the title with only his second league goal since joining the club.Six minutes after replacing a tiring Pedro, the striker signed from Olympique de Marseille for 33 million pounds ($42.5 million), stuck out a leg to net Cesar Azpilicueta’s cutback, despite a valiant attempt by Foster to keep it out.The final minutes were interrupted by some scuffling in the stands but nothing could dampen Chelsea’s joy.”I am happy. Very happy. It is my first Premier League title,” Chelsea defender Luiz, who has been a defensive rock since returning to the club this season after two years in Paris, said. “When I decided to come back here I dreamed to win the Premier League. I am very happy because my dream came true.”Chelsea will get to celebrate their title success in front of their own fans versus Watford on Monday before finishing the campaign at home to Sunderland. Then it is the small matter of trying to clinch the double in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.If they achieve that feat it will be the club’s first double since the 2009-10 season under Conte’s compatriot Ancelotti.last_img read more

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