Thursday Roundup: Renewable Energy

Obama promotes retooling of E-Rate program •LGBT center serves youth in rural Idaho •Supporting rural business incubation • South Carolina reopens lake swimming in state parks.

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A bill that requires rural electric cooperatives in Colorado to double their renewable-energy target was signed yesterday by Gov. John Hickenlooper. The governor said that the bill was what the whole country was looking for, but acknowledged that it was imperfect, and issued an executive order to review the plausibility of the deadline and the cost. The new law requires co-ops to supply 20 percent of power from renewable sources by 2020.

The signing of the bill was met with different reactions.”The 20 percent by 2020 is imminently doable,” said John Nielsen, energy-program manager for the environmental-policy group Western Resource Advocates.

Kent Singer, executive director of the Colorado Rural Electric Association, said “Twenty percent by 2020 is an impossibility,”

The committee that will oversee the bill is set to file a report six months from now.

E-Rate Expansion. President Obama is looking to expand a program that provides discounted high-speed Internet service to schools and libraries. The president is expected to ask the Federal Communications Commission to revamp its Schools and Libraries program, known as E-rate, at an event Thursday in Mooresville, N.C. The goal is to provide schools and other institutions with Internet speeds of up to 1 Gigabit per second, among the fastest speeds commercially available today.

The Obama administration expects that the new E-rate fund will provide, within five years, new high-speed broadband and wireless service in 99 percent of American communities. E-rate is designed to help underserved areas, including rural ones.

Rural LGBT Youth. Advocate.com, an online publication that covers LGBT news, published an interview with Tom Nestor, co-founder of All Under One Roof, a center for LGBT youth in rural Idaho. The center, located in Pocatello Idaho, has received tremendous support in its inaugural year, Nestor said.

Business Incubation. A study available in the NBIA’s new publication, “Best Practices in Rural Business Incubation: Successful Programs in Small Communities,” about rural business incubation, is getting attention. Members of the NBIA (National Business Incubation Association) and ARC (Appalachian Regional Commission) addressed the study Tuesday during a discussion at the Ohio University Innovation Center. The study was cited to promote the benefits for developing and cultivating rural business.

“Ideas are everywhere. People have great ideas whether you’re in New York City or you’re in Appalachian Ohio,” said Jennifer Simon, director of the OU Innovation Center. “The point is that the way that we can help people recognize their dreams and recognize what they can do with their entrepreneurial talent is to have the system that supports them.”

Swimming Holes. Five state parks in central South Carolina have reopened their lakes to swimming. Most state parks closed their waters to swimmers over a decade ago after low attendance and difficulty finding lifeguards. After the popularity of an experiment at an unstaffed, shallow swimming area in Cheraw State Park last year, park leaders have had a change of heart.

The new swimming areas will be smaller than ones of yesteryear, but Phil Gaines, director of state parks, thinks it’s better than nothing.

“You go to the park in the summer, it’s hot, and you want to get your feet wet,” Gaines said. “Now you won’t have somebody telling you you can’t do that.”

 

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