Vermont and Québec reach new energy agreement

first_imgVermont’s two largest utilities and HQ Energy Services (US), a subsidiary of Hydro-Québec, signed today a 26-year contract that will provide renewable low-emission energy. The contract, announced at a news conference attended by Vermont Governor Jim Douglas and Québec Premier Jean Charest, was hailed by utilities and officials from both governments.‘Our strong relationship with our friends in Québec is vital to the economic well-being of Vermont. This agreement will help ensure a clean competitively priced energy future for Vermonters,’ Douglas said. ‘It will provide stable renewable power at a competitive price for 26 years, starting in 2012, and will help Vermont’s power supply remain arguably the nation’s cleanest. Green Mountain Power (GMP) and Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS) have negotiated an agreement that will benefit customers well beyond their service territories, for which I am most grateful.’‘Following the Vermont legislature’s recognition of the renewable nature of hydroelectricity, regardless of the capacity of the power plants that produce it, this agreement marks an important milestone in Québec and Vermont’s on-going leadership in the fight against climate change,’ said Charest. “For years to come, Québec will maintain an important customer relationship for one of its most valuable exports: hydroelectricity. This win-win agreement will create revenues for Québec, contributing to the affluence of its population and to the reduction of public debt. And thanks to our decades-long energy partnership, Vermonters will continue to benefit from a reliable, renewable low-emitting energy source.’Under the agreement, which will now go to the Vermont Public Service Board for review, Vermont will purchase up to 225 megawatts of energy, predominantly hydroelectricity, from HQ Energy Services (U.S.) (HQUS) starting in November 2012 and ending in 2038. HQUS markets electricity from Hydro-Québec’s generating fleet, whose output is 98% hydroelectric. The agreement includes a price-smoothing mechanism that will shield customers from volatile market prices. The price will start at approximately six cents per kilowatt hour. The final price for deliveries starting in 2012 will be set in December 2010. In addition, HQUS and the Vermont utilities will share any future revenues related to environmental attributes.Other Vermont utilities have identified the amounts of power that they intend to buy under this agreement, which was negotiated by CVPS and GMP on their behalf. They will also be participating in the review process before the Vermont Public Service Board.‘The agreement will ensure that the cost of this renewable power from Québec remains linked to sustained market prices over time, while ironing out the highest of the highs and the lowest of the lows,’ CVPS President Bob Young and GMP President Mary Powell said in a joint statement. ‘The price will be tied to inflation and electricity market price indexes, ensuring we avoid price spikes, and it will begin at a rate comparable to what we pay Hydro-Québec today. This market-following component of the price will also benefit our customers by adjusting downward in the event that future power market prices decline. Overall, we believe it is an attractive deal for Vermont, and are pleased to include other Vermont utilities as well.’‘We are very pleased to continue providing Vermonters with reliable renewable low-emitting energy,’ said Thierry Vandal, President and Chief Executive Officer of Hydro-Québec. ‘With this agreement, Vermonters are helping ensure that they maintain their commitment to renewable energy and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. Like all successful longstanding relationships, ours continues to be mutually rewarding.’Young, who recently announced plans to retire next May (STORY  VIDEO), said completing the contract was one of his top goals for his final year at CVPS. ‘We have made tremendous environmental gains over the past decade, and this agreement will provide long-lasting environmental benefits, especially compared to other baseload alternatives, which are more expensive and would result in significant air and greenhouse gas effects,’ Young said.‘At GMP, a key part of our energy strategy has been to pursue a broader partnership with HQUS and lock in long-term supplies with low economic and environmental costs,’ Powell said. ‘Today we can proudly say we have achieved that goal. This will serve our customers well.’Vermont has purchased energy from Québec for decades. In the early 1980s, the first longer-term power deals were established. The current Vermont-Hydro-Québec contract, which was signed on December 4, 1987, phases out largely in 2016. The current contract has proven to be a sound agreement for Vermont, helping GMP and CVPS maintain clean portfolios and rates that are among the lowest in New England.The energy contract was negotiated by Central Vermont Public Service (NYSE-CV), Green Mountain Power and H.Q. Energy Services (U.S.) Inc., an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Hydro-Quebec. The other Vermont utilities that have confirmed their intent to purchase energy under this agreement are Vermont Public Power Supply Authority, Vermont Electric Cooperative Inc., Vermont Marble Power Division of Omya Industries Inc., the Town of Stowe Electric Department and the Burlington Electric Department.For its part, the Vermont Electric Cooperative, Inc has secured the purchase of up to 17 megawatts of the total 225 megawatts of power contracted for Vermont.‘Our Co-op members have given VEC a clear message that we need to ensure that we can secure stable, long-term contracts that will provide clean, renewable power at a competitive price,’ said Dave Hallquist, CEO. ‘Reaching this agreement with Hydro Quebec will provide power with renewable attributes at prices close to non-renewable power through 2038.’Currently, VEC is purchasing 31 megawatt hours of power from Hydro Quebec, of which 25 megawatt hours expire at the end October, 2012. The new agreement begins in November of 2012, allowing VEC to seamlessly replace two-thirds of the expired portion of its existing contract. This is less power than VEC (and the state) currently receives from the expiring contract, which could mean that utilities will be seeking replacement power from the New England market. The Vermont utilities will continue to seek additional commitments from HQ.In addition to their 17 megawatts, VEC has also negotiated an agreement with its sister cooperative — Washington Electric Co-op — to purchase all or part of their share of the HQ contract during periods of the contract term when WEC is not expecting to need the power, beginning in 2016. ‘We are very pleased with the opportunity to purchase a few additional megawatts from WEC,’ said Hallquist. ‘We anticipate that this additional amount from WEC will be available to VEC for a significant amount of time. The agreement between VEC and WEC is a win ‘ win for both utilities,’ added Hallquist.Vermont Electric Cooperative’s Board of Directors at their June Board meeting gave approval for VEC to enter into this long term agreement with Hydro Quebec. If and when the Public Service Board approves the contract, VEC will then put the contract before its membership for vote, seeking member approval for VEC to proceed with the contracts with Hydro Quebec and Washington Electric Co-op.Brad Ferland, president of the Vermont Energy Partnership, issued the following statement in regards to the new contract:‘This is a very important step for Vermont’s long-term energy policy. Hydro-Québec provides large amounts of renewable electricity, playing an important role in making sure Vermont has a clean, abundant, and reliable electricity supply.‘This long-term power purchase agreement continues a valuable business relationship with Hydro-Québec. The utilities have done a great job with their dedication and hard work putting this deal together.‘Vermont’s low-carbon, low-cost electric power has existed thanks to the ongoing, long-term contracts that state utilities have maintained with Hydro-Québec and Vermont Yankee.‘The natural next step in our energy planning is for a new contract with Vermont Yankee to be finalized, so the largest in-state, base load power source can continue to benefit Vermonters by providing reliable and clean electricity. Furthermore, Vermont Yankee employs hundreds of Vermonters and serves as a key economic engine for the state.’Source: CVPS. VEC. 8.12.2010 -30-last_img read more

Bin Laden’s Death Puts Renewed Spotlight on Islamic Terror Groups

first_img The death of Osama bin Laden has refocused attention on Islamic extremist groups throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. From Ciudad del Este, Paraguay — nicknamed “contraband capital of Latin America” — to Port of Spain, capital of Trinidad and Tobago, isolated pockets of Muslim extremists are suspected to have been involved in uprisings, car-bombings and other acts of violence over the years. The worst of those attacks took place in July 1994, when the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association headquarters in Buenos Aires was obliterated by a car bomb, killing 85 people and injuring more than 300. Two years earlier, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires had been destroyed by a similar car bomb, killing 29. Evidence gathered following both of these attacks clearly pointed the finger at Hezbollah agents. In 1990, local militants belonging to a group known as Jamaat al-Muslimeen stormed Trinidad’s parliament building and wired then-Prime Minister A.N.R. Robinson with explosives, threatening to kill him if their demands were not met. The attempted coup d’etat, led by Imam Yasin Abu-Bakr, left 24 dead and Port of Spain in ruins. Possible links to al-Qaeda have been reported in Honduras and allegations of Hezbollah activity have for years dogged the Venezuelan-Colombian border area of La Guaira as well as the Venezuelan resort island of Margarita. Shortly before bin Laden´s death, local media made accusations that al-Qaeda is active in Brazil with at least 20 high-profile terrorists who recruit, raise money and plan activities for violent organizations such as Hamas, Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. Prominent Brazilian journalist Sérgio Malbergier, a columnist for the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, suggests that the May 2 killing of Bin Laden by U.S. forces was his “second death.” “The first came during the recent wave of democratic protests in the Middle East, with young people seeking modern democracy and not religious fundamentalism and jihad as espoused by the terrorist leader,” Malbergier wrote. “Bin Laden was killed by an American squadron in Pakistan just as Arab street protestors finally rose up against their oppressors and dictators … But what motivates young Syrians, Egyptians and Yemenis to face the bayonets of the Arab dictators is not Islamic fervor shared by Bin Laden and followers, but a yearning for freedom much closer to Western values.” Dr. Fabián Calle, professor at Argentina’s prestigious Torcuato Di Tella and Catholic universities and recognized specialist in South American defense matters, agrees that the Saudi-born terrorist’s death does not necessarily mean failure or an end to al-Qaeda. Therefore, Brazil is not immune to the continuing threat posed by al-Qaeda. According to the Sao Paulo-based weekly magazine Veja, Brazil is home to more than 20 terrorists engaged in fundraising, recruiting and planning activities for al-Qaeda and other Muslim extremist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah. The lengthy Veja article, replete with timelines and photographs, claims that these clandestine activities are taking place beyond the tri-border area shared by Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay — long suspected as a terrorist hideout. Veja’s exposé was derived in part from information supplied by the Brazilian Federal Police. Since publication, the article has been replicated, synthesized and analyzed by media throughout the Western Hemisphere. While its veracity is in question, the directness and severity of its accusations have raised eyebrows around the world. While the Brazilian government itself has not expressed too much concern regarding terrorist activities on its soil, it has recognized the existence of legitimate money transfers to the Middle East. The Veja article indicates that terrorists are not only raising money from Brazil but also planning attacks and coordinating communications. While Brasília is committed to counterterrorism efforts, the article raises doubts about the adequacy of its legal system for dealing with terrorists and terrorist suspects. These suspects, according to the weekly magazine, include Khaled Hussein Ali, who was born in Lebanon but since the 1990s has lived in São Paulo, where he runs an Internet café. From there, Hussein Ali reportedly controls the online communications arm of al-Qaeda — “Jihad Media Battalion” — which publishes speeches by leaders and provides updates on international attacks. Nicknamed “The Prince,” Hussein Ali was arrested by Brazil’s Federal Police in March 2009 for suspicious activities. Found on his confiscated computer were maps of Afghanistan and messages inciting hatred of Jews and blacks. Veja claims that training manuals from the al-Qassam Brigade (connected to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas) were also found on Hussein Ali’s computer. He spent 21 days in prison accused of racism and inciting crime, but was then released since terrorism is not an offense according to the Brazilian criminal code. So far Brazil has not passed any specific anti-terrorism legislation and, in 2009, it disbanded the Federal Police’s anti-terrorism service. According to Veja, Iran’s Mohsen Rabbani — currently on Interpol’s most-wanted “red list” for his participation in the 1994 AMIA attack in Buenos Aires — visits Brazil occasionally on a false passport. That incident still ranks as the single worst terrorist attack in Latin American history. While in the country, this Hezbollah leader proselytizes poor Brazilians in the interior about the virtues of jihad. Veja alleges that Rabbani’s last visit was in September 2010. On Apr. 6 — the day the Veja article was published — Rabbani participated in a friendly radio interview with Argentine protest organizer Luís D’elía. During their conversation, Rabbani denied traveling to Brazil on a false passport and claimed he’s been teaching in Iran since 1997, when he left his post as cultural attaché at the Iranian Embassy in Buenos Aires. He also said he wouldn’t subject himself to the Argentine justice system, calling the accusations against him “smoke curtains” for their lack of evidence. Brazil is a signatory to more than a dozen counterterrorism conventions, and cooperates with the police and intelligence units of many countries, including the United States, through the Three-Plus-One regional mechanism. Three-Plus-One, which groups Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and the United States together, focuses on fighting terrorism in the tri-border area. In November 2003, Brazil complied with a request from the Paraguayan government to extradite Assad Ahmad Barakat, a man of Lebanese origin with ties to Hezbollah. In Paraguay, he was eventually charged with criminal activity. Burdened by a vast territory and porous borders, Brazil has also actively worked to improve its monitoring of entry points. Indeed, it’s hard to believe that Brazil would be chosen to host the 2014 World Cup games or the 2016 Summer Olympics if international authorities were concerned about the domestic terrorist threat. In the last few years, Brazil has shown its willingness to crack down on drug traffickers and narcoviolence in its previously impenetrable favelas. More than a dozen of these slums — once isolated from the outside world — are now patrolled by community police. By Dialogo May 20, 2011last_img read more

A good start to a challenging tourist year: In the first part of the year, 10 percent more overnight stays

first_imgDIRECTORS OF CNTB REPRESENTATIVE OFFICES ABROAD FORECAST THE STATE OF BOOKING FOR THIS SEASON RELATED NEWS: “We are looking forward to a good start to the tourist year, which was marked by an increase in overnight stays of over 10 percent. However, we should be aware that the real challenge is just ahead of us, given that the main part of the tourist season awaits us, which is still marked by a certain deviation in the dynamics of reservations for 2019.”, Warned the president of the Association of Travel Agencies of the Croatian Chamber of Commerce Boris Žgomba, commenting on tourist figures and adding that in the week of the May Day holidays, the agencies expect a satisfactory influx of guests.  In the first four months of 2019, 9,9 percent more tourist arrivals and 10,7 percent more overnight stays were recorded in Croatia compared to the same period last year.center_img According to data from the eVisitor system, from the beginning of the year to the end of April we were visited by over 2 million tourists who realized 5,4 million overnight stays. The largest increase in overnight stays was recorded in family farms (36 percent), followed by private accommodation with 27 percent, and solid numbers were recorded by hotels with an increase in overnight stays of 5,5 percent, and camps with an increase of 14,8 percent.  A slight decline was recorded in nautical where arrivals were 10 percent lower, while the number of overnight stays remained the same as in the same period last year, suggesting that guests on board opted for longer vacations and thus compensated for fewer arrivals.  last_img read more

House keeps problematic bills in Prolegnas, aiming to pass them by October

first_imgThe House of Representatives has decided to proceed with the deliberation of controversial bills included on this year’s National Legislation Program (Prolegnas) priority list with a goal of passing them by October this year, while dropping several much-touted bills.The House held a meeting with the government and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) on Thursday, in which they agreed to revise the priority list, citing the House’s limited capacity to deliberate all the bills included on it. “Some bills excluded from the Prolegnas can still be proposed to be included on next year’s priority list, which will be deliberated in October,” House Legislative Body (Baleg) chairman Supratman Andi Agtas of the Gerindra Party said upon chairing Thursday’s meeting.Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly said the list had to be evaluated because the priority list was unrealistic following the COVID-19 pandemic. “This has always been a debate. Our capacity is far from the target.”There were 50 bills on the 2020 Prolegnas priority list. The legislative bodies and the government decided to drop 16 of them, while adding three more: the national development planning system, judges tenure and prosecutor bills. Among the bills that were kept on the list were the omnibus bill on job creation, as well as the criminal code, correctional center and Pancasila ideology guidelines (HIP) bills. Deliberations for the last three bills are still awaiting approval from the government.Lawmakers of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs had previously urged the government to resume deliberation of the controversial revisions to the Criminal Code and the 1995 Correctional Center Law, despite the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and public disapproval.Deliberation of the criminal code and the correctional center bills was postponed last September following massive student protests in Jakarta and other regions, who demanded the bills be rejected for their threat against democracy and civil rights.Among problematic provisions in the Criminal Code revision were articles that critics fear would overcriminalize activities in the personal domain, such as cohabitation and consensual sex between unmarried people.Meanwhile, the current draft of the correctional center bill contains provisions that would remove prevailing regulations that stipulate strict criteria for issuing remissions and parole for prisoners convicted of extraordinary crimes, including terrorism and corruption.Read also: Govt opts to postpone deliberation of controversial bill on Pancasila amid backlash against HouseDeliberation of the HIP bill, which was proposed by the nationalist Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), was also recently blocked thanks to a coordinated campaign by Muslim organizations and Islamist political parties at the House.Parties opposing the Pancasila bill argued that it would lead to the reemergence of communism in the country due to its provisions saying that state ideology Pancasila will have three basic characteristics called trisila (three principles) consisting of socionationalism, sociodemocracy and cultural divinity. All three values would then be crystalized in ekasila (one principle) of gotong royong (mutual cooperation).Several lawmakers questioned the decision to keep the problematic bills, while others supported the decision to continue prioritizing them.Mulyanto of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) said the HIP bill should not be included on the priority list as the government had opted to postpone its deliberation amid outcry from the public who questioned its urgency and some of its contentious articles.Supratman responded that the Baleg could not do anything about the HIP bill as they were waiting for the government’s official response. “We should wait for the House leadership’s decision. We’ve also sent the bill’s draft to the President.”On the other hand, lawmakers supporting the deliberation of the problematic bills cited the recent passing of a controversial revision to the Coal and Mineral Mining Law as an “inspiration” for the commission to pass them.Indonesian Parliament Watch (Formappi) researcher Lucius Karus said the decision to withdraw some bills from the Prolegnas was questionable as the House still had until the end of the year. The withdrawal, he said, was just a sign of the House’s inability to do its job.”They’re also inconsistent. They drop some bills but add several new bills at the same time,” he said. “It is also possible that such revisions carried out amid the COVID-19 pandemic show the House’s eagerness to pass the controversial bills that are in their personal or group interest.”Lucius also questioned the House’s awareness of what the public wanted, as it dropped bills that people had been hoping for, particularly the sexual violence bill.Center for Policy and Legal Studies (PSHK) researcher Fajri Nursyamsi said the revision to the House’s Prolegnas was not so shocking as the legislative body had always been too ambitious and set its target too high since the beginning.He went on to say that the House should assess its ability to pass bills in line with the government’s goals. “A Prolegnas should be based on our development goals, such as the RPJMN [National Medium-Term Development Plan]. However, we’ve seen the list is often unrealistic.”Read also: Activists, survivors step up campaign for sexual violence bill after another delayThe wiretapping and marine security bills were also replaced by the Bank Indonesia and continental shelf bills.NasDem Party’s Taufik Basari questioned the decision to withdraw the sexual violence bill from the priority list, which had caused public outcry.National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) commissioner Mariana Amiruddin said the House had shown no concern for the victims of sexual violence by delaying the bill’s deliberation. Moreover, many Twitter users were enraged at the House’s excuse that the bill was “complicated”.Supratman said the withdrawal was due to overlapping criminal provisions with the criminal code bill, the deliberations of which had been delayed since September last year. At that time, students held massive protests in several regions across the country, demanding the bills be rejected for being a threat to democracy.“We hope we can include the sexual violence bill in the Prolegnas after we pass the Criminal Code bill,” he said.Topics :last_img read more

UCL: Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick overturns Atletico deficit

first_imgCristiano Ronaldo once again underlined his worth in Europe’s elite competition as his hat-trick overturned a 2-0 first-leg deficit against Atletico Madrid to send Juventus into the Champions League last eight.The fans of the Turin club had yet to see their £99m summer signing produce the sort of displays in Europe that helped Real Madrid to four Champions League titles in five seasons, but that all changed on a thrilling night inside the Juventus Stadium.Having brought the tie level with two typical headers, Ronaldo capped off another remarkable performance and entered Juventus folklore when he smashed in the tie-winner from the spot four minutes from time, after Federico Bernardeschi had been fouled in the area.It was his 124th goal in the Champions League and eighth hat-trick in the competition. The home fans erupted on the final whistle and the players rushed to Ronaldo.“It was meant to be a special night and it was, not just for my goals but for the attitude we showed,” the 34-year-old said.“That is the sort of mentality you need to win the Champions League.“This was why Juventus brought me here. To help do things that they have never done before.”Atletico’s defeat means they miss out on the chance to play the final at their own Wanda Metropolitano stadium on 1 June.The draw for the last eight will take place on Friday at 11:00 GMT.Ronaldo leads outstanding team displayJuve coach Massimiliano Allegri set up his team to play a high line and put pressure on their Spanish opponents from the first whistle, with the onus on full-backs Leonardo Spinazzola and Joao Cancelo to advance forward as often as possible.The home side thought that tactic had paid off early when captain Giorgio Chiellini poked home in the fourth minute. However, following a VAR review it was declared that Ronaldo had fouled Jan Oblak in the build-up.There was no need to refer to VAR when Juve next had the ball in the net through Ronaldo’s first header past the Slovenian keeper.It gave the home fans, who were handed 30,000 flags to wave, hope that their side could produce one of the great Champions League fightbacks in recent times.That became more likely soon after the restart when Ronaldo headed in his second.It was Cancelo who supplied the cross on this occasion. Oblak appeared to claw his effort off the line before goal-line technology alerted referee Bjorn Kuipers that the goal was good by a matter of inches.For the winner, former Fiorentina player Bernardeschi was pushed inside the area by his tracker Angel Correa after making a 50-yard run – the Juve crowd held their breath for a second before the Dutch official pointed to the spot.It was left for Ronaldo to crown a memorable display by himself and his team by firing his spot-kick to the right of Oblak.Allegri praised his side’s measured approach to the task.“The players have shown great maturity,” he said.“There was the risk of having a hysterical match, as if everything had to be done in 10 minutes.”Sloppy Atletico pay the priceIt was perhaps a surprise that Diego Simeone’s Atletico were overwhelmed so easily.Since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, they have kept more clean sheets than any other team in the Champions League (34) but on Tuesday La Liga’s second-placed side looked likely to concede whenever Juve flung the ball in from the wings.It was expected they would concede the lion’s share of possession, but on the rare occasions they did have the ball the three-time finalists were both pedestrian and sloppy.One moment of carelessness led to the opening goal when Alvaro Morata, who started alongside Antoine Griezmann up front, misplaced a header which allowed Emre Can to start the Juve attack.Morata also had his side’s best effort when he headed over from six yards.Manager Simeone said: “I don’t think it was our worst performance, nor did I see a lack of character. They simply played better and we have to congratulate them.” –Source: BBClast_img read more