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Tuesday, 08 September 2015 19:23

Regulators Should Let the Free Market Kill Coal

Coal-fired electricity is becoming ever less profitable.

That's the good news -- or it should be, since it gives power companies greater incentive to embrace cleaner and cheaper sources of energy.

But not every energy company is content to let the market guide its decision-making. In a role reversal, at least one energy company is asking regulators to intervene to keep coal profitable for a while longer.

In Ohio, the Public Utilities Commission is considering a request from the Akron company FirstEnergy to have consumers cover the higher cost of electricity from three aging coal plants. (One of these just underwent a $1.8 billion pollution- control upgrade to comply with federal law.) The aim is to keep the plants open for another 15 years. Under this plan, FirstEnergy ratepayers could spend $3 billion more than necessary for electricity, according to the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel, a state agency.

The strategy is similar to one FirstEnergy followed in West Virginia, when it got state approval to sell a coal-fired plant to its regulated subsidiaries, so that when the price of coal power became uncompetitive, the subsidiaries could secure an officially sanctioned rate increase. Earlier this month, they asked for a 12.5 percent rate rise.

Other energy companies aren't so shortsighted. In Iowa, for example, MidAmerican Energy is investing $900 million in new wind farms that will enable the company to draw more power from wind than from coal. Iowans can look forward to years of low, stable electricity prices.

The declining profitability of coal is an opportunity to save consumers money and reduce reliance on a dirty power source. Coal-fired power plants spew more than atmosphere- warming carbon dioxide. They also pollute the air with mercury and other toxins, as well as fine particles that contribute to bronchitis, asthma and heart disease, killing some 7,500 Americans a year.

The transition away from coal won't happen all at once. Renewable energy cannot yet supply the steady volume of power that coal has long been able to provide. Even refitting a plant to burn natural gas rather than coal takes time and money.

But make no mistake: As an energy source, coal is in decline. By acquiescing to requests to delay this inevitability, regulators aren't helping energy companies, their customers or the environment.

©2015 Bloomberg View
The Editors: Mary Duenwald and Michael Newman

The first day in September saw a large shake up in the race for County Commissioner in District 1, as Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane announced the suspension of his campaign on Tuesday evening. Citing an illness in the family, Ruane has dropped his attempt to unseat incumbent Commissioner John Manning in the republican primary in August of 2016. In a letter he sent out, he says he will stay on in his role as Mayor of Sanibel.

Ruane has stated that he will be returning all of the money contributed to his campaign, which has exceeded $100 thousand since announcing his candidacy on June 3rd.

Gun sales appear brisk at Spike's Tactical in Apopka, Florida where you can buy an assault rifle the store claims is "designed to never be used by Muslim terrorists."

Austria reversed itself Sunday and ended the emergency measures that let thousands of refugees that had been stranded in Hungary into Austria and Germany over the weekend.

Sunday, 06 September 2015 23:54

Migrant Crisis Threatens European Unity

The European Union is sharply divided over how to respond to the deepening crisis as Syrian refugees and African migrants pour over EU member's borders seeking asylum in the more prosperous nations of Germany, Great Britain, Austria and Scandinavia.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida is at it again. This time, the noteably liberal leaning "Union" has intervened on behalf of four jail inmates and filed a federal lawsuit challenging Miami-Dade County's refusal to "provide religious-based meals to Muslim in the facility."

The Estero Council of Community Leaders held their monthly meeting at the Estero Community Park Recreation Center this past Friday, August 28, where they hosted Mike Moss and Suzanne Bradach of the Lee Memorial Healthcare System in a discussion about the upcoming Healthy Lifestyle Center and Healthcare Village Planning Efforts.

Bradach noted that the Healthy Lifestyle Center aims to open in Coconut Point sometime in December, while construction of the Healthcare Village south of Coconut Point is set for 2016.

“Our vision for the Healthcare Village is a place that focuses on health and wellness,” Moss said. According to him, it would be a place where people could get advice on healthy life plans and information on medical issues. They would also network visitors into places they can get proper services.

“We have tons of ideas,” Moss said. “But we want ideas from the community on what they want.”

Labor Day is coming up, and while many Americans will be enjoying their last long weekend until the holiday season, it is also a time to remember on the American worker whose efforts led to the creation of the holiday in 1894 with a push from President Grover Cleveland and a vote from Congress.

Friday, 04 September 2015 10:42

State of Ohio's Marijuana Initiative

Forward: Thanks for taking time to talk with me about the State of Ohio's marijuana initiative to free our citizens from the yoke of law enforcement and allow ailing people to access medical pot. Per our discussion, I have submitted my guest opinion for publication in The Sun Bay Paper. I do enjoy you online addition and hope you my writing enough to run it online so I can share it with fellow Buckeyes.

Guest Op-Ed
If Ohioan's experiences with Michigan's cannabis legalization are similar, then they will see the price of Legal Cannabis go UP exorbitantly.
While I support legalization, as opposed to criminalization, I do NOT support the unacceptable attempts to float the State's budget on the backs of such a small demographic. Reasonable taxation is one thing, but the rates at which they desire to tax this, naturally occurring, highly beneficial, substance is unconscionable.
Last summer we went out to Colorado and purchased a small amount of the legal stuff for the equivalent of $600.00 per ounce and it wasn't even the 'good stuff'!!! In the State where I currently reside, you can get an ounce, quite illegally, on the black market, for between $80.00 and $100.00 per ounce! I grant that they hit me with the higher price, due to being from out of State, but that merely highlights the attempts to profit from this endeavor and keep it only in the hands of the well to do.
I currently live in a State where simple possession is a crime, as is possession of paraphernalia, resulting, in the loss of one's driver's license and mandatory high risk insurance for three years, as well as several hundred dollars in fines, apiece, (as you cannot consume the product without papers, or a pipe, they get you on both counts) and a criminal record. Highlighting the State's desire to tax and gain the benefits thereof, instead of developing a reasonable structure around the highly beneficial substance, which I primarily use for medicinal purposes to relieve chronic pain and stress, in the evening only, at home behind closed doors. I am 100% disabled, on both SSDI and Workers' Compensation, as well as a 60% VA disability rating. It replaced a seven year fentanyl patch prescription and allows me to no longer be addicted to synthetic opiates, as well as to be a far more clear thinking individual. While this may sound counter intuitive, remember that I had to function 7/24s under the fentanyl, for 7 long years and only after about 10:pm, at home, on the cannabis, never operating a motor vehicle under the influence, as I was forced to do while being prescribed fentanyl.
I currently have a childhood lady friend who is suffering with brain cancer, at 59 years of age. I advised her to utilize cannabis, as Israeli scientists have proven that cannabis use shrinks and even kills certain types of brain cancers. They took the idea to her doctor who pooh poohed the idea, stating that there is no scientific evidence (in this country) to support the claims. There IS evidence, that the FDA refuses to accept, in other nations who have allowed positive research on the substance, instead on only research to further condemn it, as in the USA. But then medicine has never been about helping people, in this country, but only to enrich the participants in the medical system, doctors and pharmacists, etc., on the backs of the people's pain and suffering.

L. D'Betteto
Ashtabula, Ohio

Budgets, historic preservation, and inter-local agreements with Estero were among the major topics touched upon by the Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, September 1, when they convened at the Old Lee County Courthouse for a regular meeting in the morning and a work session in the afternoon.