Leading the News
Power Companies Don’t Plan To Reinvest In Coal.
The New York Times (4/5, Davenport, Subscription Publication) reports that power companies say, regardless of President Trump’s proposed rollback of the Clean Power Plan, “coal is simply no longer the fuel of choice for keeping the lights on in America,” nor do they expect it to make a comeback. Executives at large power utilities said they “still plan to retire coal plants — although perhaps at a slightly slower pace — and, more significant, they have no plans to build new ones.” Coal has been replaced by “cheaper natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar power.” Jeff Burleson, vice president of system planning at Southern Company, said, “We’ll continue to grow the renewables portion of our business and meanwhile rely on natural gas, but we don’t see investing in new coal.”
Reuters (4/5) reports that only one of twenty utilities contacted for survey said that President Trump’s executive order would have an “immediate positive impact.” According to North Dakota’s Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s spokesperson Dale Niezwaag, “We’re in the situation where the executive order takes a lot of pressure off the decisions we had to make in the near term, such as whether to retrofit and retire older coal plants.” He noted that Trump could be a one-term president, “so the reprieve out there is short.”
Some Coal Companies Advocating On Behalf Of Paris Agreement. Fox News (4/5) reports that Cloud Peak Energy and Peabody Energy in recent weeks told the White House that “staying in the climate deal may give U.S. negotiators a change to advocate for coal in the future.” U.S. official familiar with the talks explained, “The future is foreign markets, so the last thing you want to do if you are a coal company is to give up a U.S. seat in the international climate discussions and let the Europeans control the agenda.”
Student Loan Borrowers Concerned About Fate Of Debt Forgiveness.
NPR (4/5, Kamenetz) reports that over a half a million student loan borrowers are concerned about a new legal filing by the Education Department that could jeopardize their qualification in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, which forgives the balance of their student loans after “ten years of both on-time payments and eligible work in the public sector.” The program began in 2007, meaning the first debt was expected to be forgiven this fall. A small group of borrowers learned last year their eligibility for the program had been revoked because they worked for nonprofits that are not 501(c)3 charities or foundations, such as the American Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Four people affected by the change “argued in a lawsuit last December, joined by the bar association itself, that their status shouldn’t have been revoked, certainly not retroactively.” NPR notes that the Trump Administration or Congress may eliminate the program or set a cap on it.
Department Of Education Found Westech College Non-compliant With Title IV Requirements.
The Victorville (CA) Daily Press (4/5, Johnson) reports US Department of Education officials found “recently shuttered Westech College seriously non-compliant with Title IV requirements, leading to its transfer to a heightened cash monitoring program.” In a progress review by Education Department officials of the for-profit trade school last December, they “identified that Westech also had failed to pay refunds and complaints indicated lacking financial and administrative capability.” The college was then informed by the a regional group under the Education Department that it “had been transferred from the Advanced Method of Payment to the Heightened Cash Monitoring 2 (HCM2) method.” Under this oversight, “Westech could disburse institutional funds to eligible students and be reimbursed by the DOE for properly documented expenditures.” Moreover, the college was required to “demonstrate it properly determined, awarded and used its own funds to make disbursements under Federal Pell Grant, Direct Loan and other funding programs to eligible students.” Following three months of being forced to self-fund all of its expenses, the college admitted to students that it had run out of money and “can no longer maintain the business.”
US Senator Proposes Debt Relief For Young Entrepreneurs.
U.S. News & World Report (4/5) reports that Senator Maggie Hassan is sponsoring legislation that will allow recent college graduates who are founders or full-time employees of small business start ups to defer on their federal student loans for up to three years. The bill goes further by making students eligible for up to $20,000 of debt cancellation if they start businesses in “economically depressed” areas. Hassan says relieving students of their debt will prompt students to “launch innovative new businesses.”
Research and Development
Boeing, JetBlue Invest In Start-up Developing Electric Aircraft.
Bloomberg News (4/5, Schlangenstein, Johnsson) reports Boeing Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp are investing in Washington-based start-up Zunum Aero which is developing a electronic-powered aircraft that will be able complete trips of up to 700 miles by 2020 and as much as 1,000 miles by 2030. Bloomberg reports that the plane is designed to seat 10 to 50 people and the first plane is expected to be completed by 2020. According to Bloomberg, Zunum “said it’s been working with the Federal Aviation Administration on development of certification rules for electric aircraft, with a complete set of standards expected by 2018.”
Lockheed Martin Unveils 3D Holographic Research Lab.
The Denver Post (4/5, Worthington) reports that Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Littleton, Colorado recently displayed 3D holographic imaging technology in its Collaborative Human Immersive Laboratory. The article describes how “a life-size holographic engine floated in midair” and how the lab’s Darin Bolthouse “slowly rotated the engine and pulled out thrusters and propulsion systems to set aside, as journalists wearing 3D glasses watched.” The systems “allow engineers to continually evaluate their designs, discovering potential problems faster than if they examined only 3D drawings – and before parts are machined and assembled. Aerospace and automotive manufacturing companies are among those that have pioneered industrial uses for VR, which often is touted solely for its entertainment potential.”
Schott-Supported Consortium Debuts Ultra-Thin Flexible Glass.
EETimes (4/5, Flaherty) reports on a new glass developed by the Konfekt research consortium, which includes “the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, SCHOTT, VON ARDENNE and adhesive tape maker tesa” as members. The consortium’s new glass can be as thin as “150um and is produced at Schott’s plant in Grünenplan, Germany, using a down draw process for direct hot forming where the molten glass is pulled through a nozzle in the desired thickness levels.” EE Times notes the glass can also “be used on a roll-to-roll process for low-cost, high volume manufacturing,” adding that such a flexible substrate could bring “a wide range of benefits in optical quality, temperature stability, chemical consistency, gas density and mechanical resistance.” EE Times quotes Thomas Wiegel, application engineer for ultra-thin glass at SCHOTT on the glass, saying “Printed electronics is an interesting growth market where ultra-thin special glass can represent the optimal substrate for it.”
Artificial Pancreas Devices Help Young Children Keep Blood Sugar Levels Within Target Range 75% Of The Time, Researchers Say.
In continuing coverage, the STAT (4/5, Thielking) “Morning Rounds” blog reported, “New research being presented at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting finds that” artificial pancreas “devices helped children ages 5-8 keep blood sugar levels within a target range 75 percent of the time, compared to less than 50 percent of the time without the system.”
MedPage Today (4/5, Monaco) reports that 12 youngsters participated in the three-day trial.
New Report Analyzes Global Military UAS Market.
A press release carried by KTEN-TV Sherman, TX (4/5) announces the release of a new report on the global military UAS market, which contains forecasts to 2021. Key companies covered include AeroVironment, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Textron Systems, Aeryon Labs, American Dynamics, BAE Systems, and Boeing.
New Report Analyzes Global SUAS Market. A press release carried by WhaTech Channel (AUS) (4/5) announces the release of a new report on the global small unmanned aerial vehicles (SUAS) market, which features forecasts to 2022. Key companies assessed include Aeronautics, DJI, AeroVironment, Airbus Group, Boeing, Elbit Systems, Finmeccanica, Israel Aerospace Industries, Lockheed Martin, Textron Systems, Xi’an Aisheng Technology Group, Ehang, HobbyKing and Horizon Hobby.
New Report Analyzes Global UAS Flight Training And Simulation Market. A press release carried by Digital Media Net (4/6) announces the release of a new report on the global UAS flight training and simulation market, which contains forecasts to 2021. Key companies covered include CAE, Israel Aerospace Industries, L-3 Link Simulation and Training, Selex, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Textron Systems, and Thales Training & Simulation.
Major Companies Continue To Dominate Cloud Market, As Smaller Companies Exit.
Market Realist (4/5, Shields) reports Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM are continuing to dominate the cloud market and Synergy Research expects them to benefit more as smaller, competing companies continue to lose its market share. The Street (4/5, Jhonsa) cites VMware’s decision to team up with Amazon Web Services, Cisco’s decision to shutdown its Intercloud platform, and HP Enterprise’s decision to shut down its Helion Public Cloud platform in favor of partnering with Microsoft as recent examples of how major players in the market have benefit from smaller companies’ decline.
Engineering and Public Policy
Trump Says He May Speed Introduction Of Infrastructure Bill.
The New York Times (4/5, Thrush, Haberman, Subscription Publication) reports that in a Wednesday interview, President Trump “said he was considering ‘accelerating’ the introduction of his $1 trillion infrastructure bill.” Trump said, “Infrastructure is so popular that I might want to use it for another bill. Infrastructure is so popular with the Democrats and pretty popular with the Republicans. A lot of Republicans want infrastructure, too.” However, Trump “pointedly refused to say” whether the plan would fund a new train tunnel between New York and New Jersey and a Manhattan subway extension that are currently funded by an “Obama-era infrastructure program” that Trump’s proposed budget would defund. The President said, “Well, I may support them. I’m going to look at them.”
Fact Check: Trump “Distorted The Facts” About 2009 Stimulus Package. Fact Check (4/5, Farley) writes that “while calling for new infrastructure investments, President Trump distorted the facts about President Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill.” Trump described it as “an ‘infrastructure bill’ but ‘nobody ever saw anything being built’ and most of the money was used on ‘social programs.’” While about one-third of the package “went toward social programs such as unemployment benefits, food stamps and Medicaid assistance to states…there were thousands of infrastructure projects funded by the bill.”
Seventeen States File Legal Challenge To Trump’s Over Climate Change Moves.
Reuters (4/5) reports a coalition of 17 US states, led by New York, filed a legal challenge on Wednesday in opposing efforts by the Trump Administration “to roll back climate change regulations, deepening a political rift over this emerging energy policies.” The coalition said the Administration has a legal responsibility to regulate emissions that scientists believe worsen global climate change. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement announcing the challenge, “The law is clear: the EPA must limit carbon pollution from power plants.” The coalition asked the judge to throw out the EPA’s request to delay court proceedings on reviewing implementation of Obama’s Clean Power Plan, saying the delay “would waste the substantial resources already expended in this litigation.”
Cybersecurity Expert Testifies On Role Of DOE Research In Front Of Senate Committee.
E&E Daily (4/5, Behr, Subscription Publication) reports that Andrew Bochman, senior cyber and energy security strategist at the Idaho National Laboratory, testified before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee regarding “a new Energy Department and national laboratory research project that seeks to defend against the most virulent state-sponsored hacking attacks on critical infrastructure.” Called the Consequence-driven Cyber-informed Engineering methodology (CCE), the pilot program seeks to identify areas “exposed to high-national-secury-level risks.” The hearing follows the release of President Trump’s proposed budget, which would “but $2 billion from 2017 spending levels from the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE), three other DOE agencies, and federal building weatherization support.”
Dems Ask House Appropriators To Maintain Funding For Renewables, Efficiency.
Greenwire (4/5, Hess, Subscription Publication) reports that more than 135 Democrats sent a letter to House appropriators demanding “strong funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs at the Department of Energy, an area where they might find common ground with climate-friendly GOP lawmakers.” The letter focused on the risk to national security if funding for government research falls behind. “By prioritizing funding for EERE, Congress will be signaling to our scientists and engineers at home and around the world that we are serious about rising to meet the growing demand for cheaper, more sustainable energy,” stated the letter.
Senators Introduce Bill To Fund Carbon Capture Projects For Power Plants.
The Hill (4/5, Henry) reports that Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) introduced a bill on Wednesday to open up new financing opportunities for carbon capture energy projects. Both senators said the bill would “incentivize carbon capture technology among energy and industrial firms, a strategy they say would help both reduce carbon emissions and support the construction sector.”
EPA Changes Electronic Reporting Requirements For Power Plants.
The Hill (4/5, Devaney) reports that the Environmental Protection Agency has temporarily changed “the electronic reporting requirements for coal and oil power plants. … The changes go into effect immediately.”
Girls In Tech And S&P Global Team Up For Tech Online Education Course.
S&P Global announced a partnership with Girls In Tech, “a global nonprofit dedicated to eradicating gender disparity in technology,” to offer girls and women around the world access to a free online technology course, Venture Beat (4/5) reports. The eight-week offering, known as Global Workshop, aims to teach “critical science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills needed for a career in computer programming, while also providing participants with mentors from a digital data and analytics company.”
Wednesday’s Lead Stories
• Popularity Of Programming Courses Soars.
• University Of Hawaii Awarded $1.4 Million Grant To Help Minority Students Pursue STEM Fields.
• University Of California At Riverside Researchers Develop Self-Healing Cellphone Screen.
• Facebook Partners With South Korea To Support AR, VR Startups.
• Samsung May Hold Off On A Foldable Phone Because Bezel-Less Display Sales Are Strong.
• Coal Companies Want US To Remain In Paris Climate Agreement.
• Ivanka Trump Stresses Importance Of Introducing Girls To STEM Fields.