even tougher winter next year as natural gas stocks are used up and as new supplies to replace Russian gas, including increased shipments from the United States or Qatar, are slow to come online, the International Energy Agency said in its annual World Energy Outlook, released last week.

Europe’s activity appears to be accelerating a global transition toward cleaner technologies, the I.E.A. added, as countries respond to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by embracing hydrogen fuels, electric vehicles, heat pumps and other green energies.

But in the short term, countries will be burning more fossil fuels in response to the natural gas shortages.

gas fields in Groningen, which had been slated to be sealed because of earthquakes triggered by the extraction of the fuel.

Eleven countries, including Germany, Finland and Estonia, are now building or expanding a total of 18 offshore terminals to process liquid gas shipped in from other countries. Other projects in Latvia and Lithuania are under consideration.

Nuclear power is winning new support in countries that had previously decided to abandon it, including Germany and Belgium. Finland is planning to extend the lifetime of one reactor, while Poland and Romania plan to build new nuclear power plants.

European Commission blueprint, are voluntary and rely on buy-ins from individuals and businesses whose utility bills may be subsidized by their governments.

Energy use dropped in September in several countries, although it is hard to know for sure if the cause was balmy weather, high prices or voluntary conservation efforts inspired by a sense of civic duty. But there are signs that businesses, organizations and the public are responding. In Sweden, for example, the Lund diocese said it planned to partially or fully close 150 out of 540 churches this winter to conserve energy.

Germany and France have issued sweeping guidance, which includes lowering heating in all homes, businesses and public buildings, using appliances at off-peak hours and unplugging electronic devices when not in use.

Denmark wants households to shun dryers and use clotheslines. Slovakia is urging citizens to use microwaves instead of stoves and brush their teeth with a single glass of water.

website. “Short showers,” wrote one homeowner; another announced: “18 solar panels coming to the roof in October.”

“In the coming winter, efforts to save electricity and schedule the consumption of electricity may be the key to avoiding electricity shortages,” Fingrad, the main grid operator, said.

Businesses are being asked to do even more, and most governments have set targets for retailers, manufacturers and offices to find ways to ratchet down their energy use by at least 10 percent in the coming months.

Governments, themselves huge users of energy, are reducing heating, curbing streetlight use and closing municipal swimming pools. In France, where the state operates a third of all buildings, the government plans to cut energy use by two terawatt-hours, the amount used by a midsize city.

Whether the campaigns succeed is far from clear, said Daniel Gros, director of the Centre for European Policy Studies, a European think tank. Because the recommendations are voluntary, there may be little incentive for people to follow suit — especially if governments are subsidizing energy bills.

In countries like Germany, where the government aims to spend up to €200 billion to help households and businesses offset rising energy prices starting next year, skyrocketing gas prices are hitting consumers now. “That is useful in getting them to lower their energy use,” he said. But when countries fund a large part of the bill, “there is zero incentive to save on energy,” he said.

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Toll of Russian Strikes Mounts, Adding Urgency to Ukraine’s Pleas for Weapons

Credit…Jean-Francois Badias/Associated Press

PARIS — France began pumping natural gas directly to Germany for the first time on Thursday, part of a landmark agreement struck by both governments to help each other confront Europe’s energy crisis as Russia cuts off gas supplies to Europe.

Volumes of gas capable of producing around 31 gigawatt-hours per day of electricity began flowing early on Thursday into Germany, the French network operator GRTgaz said. The connection has a maximum capacity of 100 gigawatt-hours per day, equal to the power output of four nuclear reactors, or about 10 percent of the amount of liquefied natural gas that France imports each day, the company said.

GRTgaz said that months ago it had begun modifying its pipeline networks to be able to send gas to Germany. For years, the German economy has relied on Russian gas exports, but this year Moscow has slashed them in response to Western sanctions for its invasion of Ukraine.

France gets its gas from the Netherlands, Norway and Russia, according to the International Energy Agency, although supplies from Russia were cut off in September. It also receives deliveries of liquefied natural gas from several L.N.G. terminals.

To face the energy crunch, France has been storing gas and getting more of it from its European partners and Qatar. Recently, President Emmanuel Macron has burnished relations with Algeria, a former French colony, which has agreed to sharply increase gas exports to France.

In exchange for the gas from France, Germany has pledged to export more electricity to that country as it grapples with an unprecedented crisis in its nuclear power industry that has reduced power production.

“Germany needs our gas, and we need the electricity produced in the rest of Europe, and in particular in Germany,” President Emmanuel Macron said last month after speaking with the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, about the agreement. “We will contribute to European solidarity in gas and benefit from European solidarity in electricity.”

“Merci beaucoup,” Klaus Müller, the head of Germany’s federal network agency, wrote in a Twitter message to GRTGaz on Thursday. “The gas deliveries from France, through Saarland, help Germany’s energy security.”

European countries have pledged to work together to get through winter as Russia’s aggression in Ukraine raises the prospect of a prolonged energy crisis. On Thursday, Spain proposed increasing its gas deliveries to France by 18 percent in the coming months, Spain’s ecological transition minister, Teresa Ribera, said.

As Europe’s largest economy and the one most dependent on Russian gas, Germany has been among the countries worst affected by the energy crisis rippling across Europe, where natural gas costs about 10 times what it did a year ago. Both Berlin and Paris have imposed a broad range of conservation measures, including lowering thermostats and hot water heaters, encouraging the use of public transport and requiring public buildings to turn off lights early.

The energy crunch has forced European governments to fall back on less-desirable power sources that they had been trying to phase out in a push to go green. Germany, for instance, has decided to keep coal-fired power plants online and restart several others that had been mothballed.

In addition, Germany decided to keep two of its three remaining nuclear power plants operational as an emergency reserve for its electricity supply, breaking a political taboo and delaying its plans to become the first industrial power to go nuclear-free for its energy.

And in France, the government is facing an energy crisis of its own after half its fleet of nuclear power plants — the largest in Europe — was taken offline earlier this year for inspections and repairs. The electricity shortage has driven prices to record levels, forcing factories to cut production and put tens of thousands of employees on furlough.

Bruno Le Maire, France’s economy minister, warned Thursday that high energy prices continued to pose a “major risk” to French industry and would lead to a 10 percent decline in industrial production this winter.

Berlin this month announced a 200 billion euro (about $196 billion) aid plan for German households, businesses and industries. It includes policies to curb natural gas and electricity prices domestically. And France has already spent around €100 billion since last winter doing the same.

But with Mr. Scholz facing pushback over his government’s decision to keep nuclear plants running, Germany’s ability to uphold its end of the energy-swap deal with France may wind up depending on the French themselves: GRTgaz said that the exported French gas would allow Germany to produce more electricity, which in turn would be sent back to the French grid during peak hours.

“If we did not have European solidarity,” Mr. Macron said in a televised interview on Wednesday, “we would have serious problems.”

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As E.U. Seeks to Curb Russia’s Revenues, Oil Supply Cut Poses Obstacle

Credit…Getty Images

What impact a European price cap on Russian oil may have remains a matter of conjecture because many of the details, including the price, remain to be determined. But some analysts say it could have unintended consequences.

Henning Gloystein, a director at Eurasia Group, a political risk firm, said that the cap might wind up just continuing the status quo, since Russia is already selling oil to China and India at a 30 percent discount. The end result of the cap may be to simply replicate that discount on Russian oil exports to those nations, which have resisted joining the West in imposing sanctions. “It is formalizing something that is already there,” he said.

Others say that the cap, which is expected to gain final approval on Thursday, will add more bureaucratic procedures to a long series of sanctions already in place against Russia. Those extra steps may impede the flow of oil around the world and raise prices, causing the sort of major disruption that Washington appears to be trying to avoid.

“It adds new complexity to the task of redirecting Russian oil to new destinations,” Richard Bronze, head of geopolitics for Energy Aspects, a political risk firm, said.

That the specifics of the cap, including the price, have not been spelled out will likely make life difficult for people buying and selling oil, who need to make decisions several weeks in advance, Mr. Bronze said.

“They would not know what they would need to do or what price they would need to agree with a Russian seller if they wanted to abide by the price cap,” he said. “This is another example of how policymakers are not in tune with what the industry and the market are saying to make this policy work.”

China has leaned in favor of Russia during the Ukraine war, repeating Russian disinformation, but so far, Western government experts say, China has refrained from providing Moscow military assistance or helping Russia to evade sanctions.

China’s foreign ministry criticized the concept of price caps soon after the idea was first unveiled by Western leaders a month ago, warning that oil was too important to the global economy to be subject to the planned price controls. “Oil is a global commodity — ensuring global energy supply security is vitally important,” Mao Ning, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said on Sept. 5.

Four days later, Ben Harris, the assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury for economic policy, said at forum that price caps by other countries would allow China to demand deep discounts on the oil it purchases from Russia as well. The United States would be satisfied with that indirect effect on Russia’s prices, he said.

China’s foreign ministry is closed this week for a national holiday, and issued no immediate response to the European action on Wednesday.

Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said in an email on Wednesday that while Russia had profited in recent months from high world energy prices, the country would pay a long-term price.

“It’s clear at this stage that Russia isn’t winning the energy battle,” Mr. Birol said. “Its short-term gain in income from the crisis is outweighed by the long-term loss of both trust and revenues that it has brought about by ruining its relationship with the European Union, its biggest customer.”

Before the invasion of Ukraine, Mr. Birol pointed out, about 75 percent of Russia’s natural gas exports and 55 percent of its oil exports went to Europe. “Finding alternative markets on this scale cannot be done quickly or easily, especially in the case of natural gas,” he said.

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Morning Bid: Not so fast

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A look at the day ahead in United States and global markets from Mike Dolan

U-turns are clearly in the air this week, with Elon Musk’s volte face on buying Twitter on Tuesday following Britain’s top rate tax cut reversal and this week’s new-quarter relief bounce in stock markets.

Of course many investors pray global central banks would join the British government and Musk in a similar rethink – but that’s far less likely and reason enough for markets to sober up on Wednesday after the biggest two-day rally on Wall St (.SPX) since the pandemic hit in April 2020.

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New Zealand’s central bank became the latest to stick to its guns lifting interest rates to a seven-year high and promising more to come as it struggles to cool red-hot inflation in an over-stretched economy. read more

British Prime Minister Liz Truss’ speech to her annual party conference is also due and she’s expected to insist the remainder of her fiscal plan remains intact.

Oil price gains this week are also a shot across the bow, with OPEC+ producers meeting in Vienna and looking to agree deep output target cuts despite a tight market. read more

Still there have been straws in the wind this week and some hopes for an easing of the year’s relentless selloff. The Musk news was just an added spur.

Twitter shares (TWTR.N) surged more than 20% on Tuesday after filings showed Musk would proceed with his original $44 billion takeover bid, calling for an end to a lawsuit by the social media company that could have forced him to pay up anyway. read more

The macro backdrop was all about hopes the Federal Reserve would take its foot off the interest rate brake and news that U.S. job openings fell by the most in nearly 2-1/2 years in August encouraged that. read more

With U.S. September private sector payroll readings from ADP due later – with forecasts for another 200,000 job gains – and Friday’s national employment report also in view, stock and bond markets have resumed a holding pattern. U.S. Treasury yields ticked back higher and S&P500 futures and European bourses dialled back almost 1%.

The dollar also steadied after this week’s sharp pullback, though there were growing signs its surge this year is causing some concern for U.S. policymakers as well as those overseas.

San Francisco Fed chief Mary Daly said the Fed is paying attention to the impact of the dollar on global growth because slowing growth abroad can feed back into the domestic economy. read more

“If Europe goes into recession, that’s a headwind; if China falters, that’s a headwind on our growth, and we have to take that into account so that we don’t end up overtightening policy,” she said.

Key developments that should provide more direction to U.S. markets later on Wednesday:

* Global September service sector business surveys.

* U.S. ADP Sept private sector payrolls report; U.S. Aug trade balance

* OPEC+ meeting in Vienna

* U.S. Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic speaks

Elon Musk vs Twitter
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By Mike Dolan, editing by XXX <a href=”mailto:mike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com” target=”_blank”>mike.dolan@thomsonreuters.com</a>. Twitter: @reutersMikeD. Editing by Jane Merriman

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Opinions expressed are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of Reuters News, which, under the Trust Principles, is committed to integrity, independence, and freedom from bias.

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On Portugal’s ‘Bitcoin Beach,’ Crypto Optimism Still Reigns

LAGOS, Portugal — The Bam Bam Beach Bitcoin bar, on an uncrowded beach in southwestern Portugal, is the meeting place.

To get there, you drive past a boat harbor, oceanside hotels and apartment buildings, then park near a sleepy seafood restaurant and walk down a wooden path that cuts through a sand dune. Yellow Bitcoin flags blow in the wind. The conversations about cryptocurrencies and a decentralized future flow.

“People always doubt when to buy, when to sell,” said Didi Taihuttu, a Dutch investor who moved to town this summer and is one of Bam Bam’s owners. “We solve that by being all in.”

melted down, and crypto companies like the experimental bank Celsius Network declared bankruptcy as fears over the global economy yanked down values of the risky assets. Thousands of investors were hurt by the crash. The price of Bitcoin, which peaked at more than $68,000 last year, remains off by more than 70 percent.

But in this Portuguese seaside idyll, confidence in cryptocurrencies is undimmed. Every Friday, 20 or so visitors from Europe and beyond gather at Bam Bam to share their unwavering faith in digital currencies. Their buoyancy and cheer endure across Portugal and in other crypto hubs around the world, such as Puerto Rico and Cyprus.

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In beach towns like Ericeira and Lagos, shops and restaurants show their acceptance of digital currencies by taking Bitcoin as payment. Lisbon, the capital, has become a hub for crypto-related start-ups such as Utrust, a cryptocurrency payment platform, and Immunefi, a company that identifies security vulnerabilities in decentralized networks.

“Portugal should be the Silicon Valley of Bitcoin,” Mr. Taihuttu said. “It has all the ingredients.”

news outlets covered his family’s story, Mr. Taihuttu’s social media following swelled, turning him into an influencer and a source of investment advice. A documentary film crew has followed him on and off for the past 18 months. This summer, he settled in Portugal and quickly became something of an ambassador for its crypto scene.

He has goals to turn Meia Praia, the beach where Bam Bam is located, into “Bitcoin Beach.” He is shopping for property to create a community nearby for fellow believers.

“You prove that it is possible to run some part of the world, even if it’s just one,” said Mr. Taihuttu, with a Jack Daniel’s and Coke in hand. He has shoulder-length black hair and wore a tank top that showcased his tan and tattoos (including one on his forearm of the Bitcoin symbol).

Ms. Bestandig was among those who Mr. Taihuttu drew to Portugal.

collapse of Mt. Gox, a Tokyo-based virtual currency exchange that declared bankruptcy in 2014 after huge, unexplained losses of Bitcoin.

If cryptocurrency prices do not recover, “a lot of them will have to go back to work again,” Clinton Donnelly, an American tax lawyer specializing in cryptocurrencies, said of some of those gathered at Bam Bam.

Even so, Mr. Donnelly and other bar regulars said their belief in crypto remained unshaken.

Thomas Roessler, wearing a black Bitcoin shirt and drinking a beer “inspired by” the currency, said he had come with his wife and two young children to decide whether to move to Portugal from Germany. He first invested in Bitcoin in 2014 and, more recently, sold a small rental apartment in Germany to invest even more.

Mr. Roessler was concerned about the drop in crypto values but said he was convinced the market would rebound. Moving to Portugal could lower his taxes and give his family the chance to buy affordable property in a warm climate, he said. They had come to the bar to learn from others who had made the move.

“We have not met a lot of people who live this way,” Mr. Roessler said. Then he bought another round of drinks and paid for them with Bitcoin.

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Canada begins long cleanup after Fiona sweeps homes out to sea

PORT AUX BASQUES, Newfoundland, Sept 25 (Reuters) – It will take several months for Canada to restore critical infrastructure after the powerful storm Fiona left an “unprecedented” trail of destruction, officials said on Sunday, as crews fanned out in five provinces to restore power and clean up fallen trees and debris.

One 73-year-old woman died during the storm in Port aux Basques, one of the hardest hit towns on the southwest tip of Newfoundland with just over 4,000 residents, police said.

“The woman was last seen inside (her) residence just moments before a wave struck the home, tearing away a portion of the basement,” police said earlier. The coast guard and local rescuers recovered her body from the ocean on Sunday afternoon, according to a statement.

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Port aux Basques is “like a complete war zone,” said Brian Button, mayor of Port aux Basques. More than 20 homes were destroyed and more than 200 people need shelter. The cost of damages “is in the millions (of dollars) here now,” Button said in an interview.

“We’re going to be months rebuilding. I think months is a conservative estimate for some of these people,” Rosalyn Roy, a resident of Port aux Basques, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Fiona slammed into eastern Canada on Saturday, forcing evacuations as wind gusts reached up to 170 km per hour (106 miles per hour) and the storm surge swallowed up homes on the coastline.

While the full scale of Fiona’s devastation is not immediately clear, the storm could prove to be one of Canada’s costliest natural disasters.

Scientists have not yet determined whether climate change influenced Fiona, but in general the warming of the planet is making hurricanes wetter, windier and altogether more intense.

Canada’s federal government is sending in the armed forces on Sunday to help clear fallen trees and debris, which will in turn open the way for crews to restore power, Emergency Preparedness Minister Bill Blair told Reuters.

The province of Nova Scotia requested the troops and machinery to clear debris Saturday, “and we said yes, and so they’re being deployed today,” Blair said.

On Sunday, Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Newfoundland and Labrador also requested federal support and troops are going to be sent, Blair said. About 100 troops are heading to each of the three provinces, Defense Minister Anita Anand told reporters.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre estimated that Fiona was the lowest-pressured storm to make landfall on record in Canada.

In 2019, Dorian hit the region around Halifax, Nova Scotia, blowing down a construction crane and knocking out power. Fiona, on the other hand, appears to have caused major damage across at least five provinces.

“The scale of what we’re dealing with, I think it’s unprecedented,” Blair said on Sunday.

“There is going to be… several months’ work in restoring some of the critical infrastructure – buildings and homes, rooftops that have been blown off community centers and schools,” he said.

Hundreds of thousands of residents across Nova Scotia, PEI, Newfoundland, Quebec and New Brunswick remained without power on Sunday. Blair said hundreds of utility crews had already been deployed to restore power, including some from the United States.

In Nova Scotia, police urged people to stop going for fast food because drive-thru lines “are blocking roadways, which is impeding recovery efforts” and the situation is prompting calls to police dispatchers “who are already handling very high call volumes”, according to a statement on Twitter.

In PEI there were long lines at gas stations as many had to fill generators, and several communities were told to boil water before drinking because water purification systems were offline.

Officials warned on Sunday that in some cases it would take weeks before essential services are fully restored.

The storm also severely damaged fishing harbors in Atlantic Canada, which could hurt the country’s C$3.2 billion lobster industry, unless it is fully restored before the season kicks off in few weeks.

“Those fishers have a very immediate need to be able to access their livelihood once the storm passes,” Dominic LeBlanc, minister of intergovernmental affairs of Canada, said on Saturday.

($1 = 1.3589 Canadian dollars)

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Reporting John Morris in Stephenville; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa, Denny Thomas in Toronto, and Eric Martyn in Halifax; Writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Lisa Shumaker and Diane Craft

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In Ukraine’s South, Fierce Fighting and Deadly Costs

AT THE KHERSON FRONT, Ukraine — The commander banged on the door furiously.

“I need help!” he shouted.

When Tetiana Kozyr opened up, the commander rushed in, carrying a young soldier on his shoulders. She said the young man was sunburned, thin and gravely wounded.

The Ukrainians were trying to recapture her village, the smallest dot on the most detailed military maps. Russian forces had just blown up three Ukrainian tanks. Flames leaped off the roofs of neighboring houses.

refused to let his commanders retreat from the city of Kherson, according to American officials.

recently said that Ukraine was losing 50 soldiers a day.

officially announced the beginning of the offensive. She fled a few days later and now lives in a displaced persons shelter in the city of Zaporizhzhia.

She said that when the commander first arrived with the wounded soldier, she panicked.

“I was yelling at him: ‘Why did you bring him here? The Russians will kill us all!’” she said.

But the commander just stepped through the doorway, desperate to find shelter. The village was on fire, in the middle of two armies blasting each other.

She shrunk back as her husband and the commander pressed bandages to the young man’s wounds. Shrapnel had sliced through his back and lungs. Her kitchen floor was soon covered in blood.

That night, she and her husband slept in their cellar. The commander curled up next to the wounded soldier on the kitchen floor.

When Ms. Kozyr stepped outside the next morning, to check on her calf and pigs, she passed by the kitchen and peered through the window.

The soldier’s hands were curled, his body stiff. He was dead.

She started crying at the memory of it, pulling a small rag out of her pocket and wiping her eyes. But she did not question the counteroffensive.

“It needed to be done,” she said. And then she repeated herself, a little more softly. “It needed to be done.”

Oleksandra Mykolyshyn and Oleksandr Chubko contributed reporting from Mykolaiv, Ukraine, and Thomas Gibbons-Neff from Pokrovsk, Ukraine.

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This Year Marks The Fifth Anniversary Of Hurricanes Maria And Irma

By Newsy Staff
September 20, 2022

Five years on, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still rebuilding and repairing after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

This month marks five years since hurricanes Irma and Maria tore through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.  

Both Irma and Maria were Category 5 hurricanes that made their way through the regions within two weeks of each other, killing dozens of people by the official count — although many experts believe the actual tally was far greater. The hurricanes also caused billions of dollars in damage to both those island regions. 

In the U.S. Virgin Islands in particular, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Maria damaged or destroyed 70% of the buildings on St. Croix, the region’s largest island. The hurricanes tore through a lot of the island’s infrastructure, including schools and the island’s only hospital. The power and communications networks in most of the USVI went down, with 80% to 90% of transmission and distribution systems destroyed. It was damage that would take months to repair and restore. 

That’s a daunting task for any region, but especially so for one that’s as small and isolated as the USVI. 

“It’s almost scary at times because you think ‘how do you do an $11 billion repair with 87,000 people and a workforce of only about 42,000?'” said U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. 

Bryan spoke with Newsy about the challenges and successes in their recovery, and where there is still work to be done.  

While acknowledging the intense damage, Bryan said the recovery efforts offer new hope for rebuilding in a way that better prepares the homes and the power grid in the area for future hurricanes or similar natural disasters. 

“But what we’re seeing is better building codes produce more resilient buildings. And then we’re having an opportunity through this storm. We built our our power grid three times in the last 30 years, completely. This time, we’re undergrounding more than 50% of the grid. You have some opportunities for renewables. That’s going to make every Virgin Islander a little more energy independent. And we’re just seeing a way now to because the most debilitating factor in our economy is the price of power,” said Bryan. 

The price of power is no joke. The USVI has some of the highest electricity rates in the U.S. and the world.  

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, midway through 2021, the average price of electricity paid by U.S. Virgin Island residents was about 43 cents per kilowatt hour. To compare, the average for the U.S. was about 14 cents for that same time period.   

Now, that pricing is in part because of petroleum fuel surcharges. The island relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to power its grid. But in rebuilding since the hurricanes, Gov. Bryan says the goal is to rely more on renewables like wind and solar energy. 

“So we depend a lot on the tropical wind making that power shift, the things that we’re able to do, adding new generators to the plant, creating a microgrid, adding a whole lot of solar power will allow us to get our power built a little bit closer to what normal Americans or mainland Americans [experience]. And that alone is going to just strengthen our families so much and, of course, create some resounding effects in our economy,” he said. 

Bryan also mentioned the caveat of climate change. Its growing effects could complicate life on the Virgin Islands further and increase hardships for its residents. Many of those residents are still coming to terms with the toll of Irma and Maria — not just in the physical aspects of their lives, but also in the mental aspects. 

“I think when you see in the Virgin Islands, we look at the mental health wholeness that’s in our faces, the people on the street, whether drug addiction, alcohol, they’re self-medicating themselves. But the real problem is a deeper problem, a deep seated problem, where as people of color, we don’t like to talk about our mental health. And we if there’s such a stigma around it, we’ve come a long way it with that. But we have a lot to go,” said Bryan. 

While the USVI’s rebuilding efforts have seen relative success, many areas of Puerto Rico are still struggling to recover from the massive devastation the hurricanes brought five years ago.  

Puerto Rico is not only a much larger territory, but it is also governed in a different way. It has 78 mayors through whom relief efforts and money needed to be individually funneled and utilized, while the USVI has a unitary executive branch. That means there are no mayors, and governors hold those responsibilities. 

Puerto Rico’s power grid also runs mainly on fossil fuels, but its recovery has not been on par with the USVI. And the company that currently controls its power grid has a problematic record. Newsy has previously reported on the damage from Maria and Irma in Puerto Rico as part of our documentary series, “In Real Life.” We investigated the region’s continuing power failures and how a private sector monopoly over the grid could be what’s keeping Puerto Ricans in the dark. 

Source: newsy.com

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How a Quebec Lithium Mine May Help Make Electric Cars Affordable

About 350 miles northwest of Montreal, amid a vast pine forest, is a deep mining pit with walls of mottled rock. The pit has changed hands repeatedly and been mired in bankruptcy, but now it could help determine the future of electric vehicles.

The mine contains lithium, an indispensable ingredient in electric car batteries that is in short supply. If it opens on schedule early next year, it will be the second North American source of that metal, offering hope that badly needed raw materials can be extracted and refined close to Canadian, U.S. and Mexican auto factories, in line with Biden administration policies that aim to break China’s dominance of the battery supply chain.

Having more mines will also help contain the price of lithium, which has soared fivefold since mid-2021, pushing the cost of electric vehicles so high that they are out of reach for many drivers. The average new electric car in the United States costs about $66,000, just a few thousand dollars short of the median household income last year.

lithium mines are in various stages of development in Canada and the United States. Canada has made it a mission to become a major source of raw materials and components for electric vehicles. But most of these projects are years away from production. Even if they are able to raise the billions of dollars needed to get going, there is no guarantee they will yield enough lithium to meet the continent’s needs.

eliminate this cap and extend the tax credit until 2032; used cars will also qualify for a credit of up to $4,000.

For many people in government and the auto industry, the main concern is whether there will be enough lithium to meet soaring demand for electric vehicles.

The Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden signed in August, has raised the stakes for the auto industry. To qualify for several incentives and subsidies in the law, which go to car buyers and automakers and are worth a total of $10,000 or more per electric vehicle, battery makers must use raw materials from North America or a country with which the United States has a trade agreement.

rising fast.

California and other states move to ban internal combustion engines. “It’s going to take everything we can do and our competitors can do over the next five years to keep up,” Mr. Norris said.

One of the first things that Sayona had to do when it took over the La Corne mine was pump out water that had filled the pit, exposing terraced walls of dark and pale stone from previous excavations. Lighter rock contains lithium.

After being blasted loose and crushed, the rock is processed in several stages to remove waste material. A short drive from the mine, inside a large building with walls of corrugated blue metal, a laser scanner uses jets of compressed air to separate light-colored lithium ore. The ore is then refined in vats filled with detergent and water, where the lithium floats to the surface and is skimmed away.

The end product looks like fine white sand but it is still only about 6 percent lithium. The rest includes aluminum, silicon and other substances. The material is sent to refineries, most of them in China, to be further purified.

Yves Desrosiers, an engineer and a senior adviser at Sayona, began working at the La Corne mine in 2012. During a tour, he expressed satisfaction at what he said were improvements made by Sayona and Piedmont. Those include better control of dust, and a plan to restore the site once the lithium runs out in a few decades.

“The productivity will be a lot better because we are correcting everything,” Mr. Desrosiers said. In a few years, the company plans to upgrade the facility to produce lithium carbonate, which contains a much higher concentration of lithium than the raw metal extracted from the ground.

The operation will get its electricity from Quebec’s abundant hydropower plants, and will use only recycled water in the separation process, Mr. Desrosiers said. Still, environmental activists are watching the project warily.

Mining is a pillar of the Quebec economy, and the area around La Corne is populated with people whose livelihoods depend on extraction of iron, nickel, copper, zinc and other metals. There is an active gold mine near the largest city in the area, Val-d’Or, or Valley of Gold.

Mining “is our life,” said Sébastien D’Astous, a metallurgist turned politician who is the mayor of Amos, a small city north of La Corne. “Everybody knows, or has in the near family, people who work in mining or for contractors.”

Most people support the lithium mine, but a significant minority oppose it, Mr. D’Astous said. Opponents fear that another lithium mine being developed by Sayona in nearby La Motte, Quebec, could contaminate an underground river.

Rodrigue Turgeon, a local lawyer and program co-leader for MiningWatch Canada, a watchdog group, has pushed to make sure the Sayona mines undergo rigorous environmental reviews. Long Point First Nation, an Indigenous group that says the mines are on its ancestral territory, wants to conduct its own environmental impact study.

Sébastien Lemire, who represents the region around La Corne in the Canadian Parliament, said he wanted to make sure that the wealth created by lithium mining flowed to the people of Quebec rather than to outside investors.

Mr. Lemire praised activists for being “vigilant” about environmental standards, but he favors the mine and drives an electric car, a Chevrolet Bolt.

“If we don’t do it,” he said at a cafe in La Corne, “we’re missing the opportunity of the electrification of transport.”

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Hurricane Fiona Slams Dominican Republic After Pounding Puerto Rico

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 19, 2022

Fiona was centered 35 miles southeast of Samana in the Dominican Republic Monday morning with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph.

Hurricane Fiona roared over the Dominican Republic Monday after knocking out the power grid and unleashing floods and landslides in Puerto Rico, where the governor said the damage was “catastrophic.”

No deaths have been reported, but authorities in the U.S. territory said it was too early to estimate the damage from a storm that was still forecast to unleash torrential rain across Puerto Rico on Monday.

Up to 30 inches was forecast for Puerto Rico’s southern region. As much as 15 inches were projected for the eastern Dominican Republic.

“It’s important people understand that this is not over,” said Ernesto Morales, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in San Juan.

He said flooding reached “historic levels,” with authorities evacuating or rescuing hundreds of people across the island.

“The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi.

Before dawn on Monday, authorities in a boat traveled through the flooded streets of the north coastal town of Catano and used a megaphone to alert people that the pumps had collapsed and urged them to evacuate as soon as possible.

Brown water rushed through streets, into homes and even consumed a runway airport in southern Puerto Rico.

Fiona also ripped up asphalt from roads and washed away a bridge in the central mountain town of Utuado that police say was installed by the National Guard after Hurricane Maria hit in 2017 as a Category 4 storm.

The storm also ripped off the roofs of several homes, including that of Nelson Cirino in the northern coastal town of Loiza.

“I was sleeping and saw when the corrugated metal flew off,” he said as he observed how the rain drenched his belongings and the wind whipped his colorful curtains into the air.

Fiona was centered 35 miles southeast of Samana in the Dominican Republic, with maximum sustained winds of 90 mph on Monday morning, according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center. It was moving to the northwest at 8 mph.

Tropical storm-force winds extended out for 150 miles from the center.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to emerge over the Atlantic in the afternoon and pass close to the Turks and Caicos islands on Tuesday. It could near Bermuda as a major hurricane late Thursday or Friday.

Fiona hit Puerto Rico on the anniversary of Hurricane Hugo, which slammed into the island in 1989 as a Category 3 storm, and two days before the anniversary of 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria — from which the territory has yet to fully recover.

That hurricane caused nearly 3,000 deaths and destroyed the power grid. Five years later, more than 3,000 homes still have only a blue tarp as a roof.

Authorities announced Monday that power had been returned to 100,000 customers on an island of 3.2 million people, but power distribution company Luma said it could take days to fully restore service.

U.S. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in the U.S. territory as the eye of the storm approached the island’s southwest corner.

Puerto Rico’s health centers were running on generators — and some of those had failed. Health Secretary Carlos Mellado said crews rushed to repair generators at the Comprehensive Cancer Center, where several patients had to be evacuated.

Fiona previously battered the eastern Caribbean, killing one man in the French territory of Guadeloupe when floods washed his home away, officials said.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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