FERC Unanimously Dismisses Effort to Undermine Solar Net Metering – Greentech Media News


The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday unanimously rejected a plea to declare all state solar net-metering policies illegal, a victory for solar industry groups and state policymakers. 
All four FERC commissioners voted to dismiss the April petition from the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA), which argued that FERC, not states, should have jurisdiction over sales of electricity from customer-sited generators like rooftop solar. 
“We find that the petition does not identify a specific controversy or harm that the commission should address in a declaratory order,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in Thursday’s FERC open meeting. 
NERA, a New Hampshire-based 501(c)(4) organization that hasn’t disclosed its backers, said FERC should take up the group’s legal argument to assert federal jurisdiction over net metering regulations in 41 states that “overcompensate distributed generators at the expense of all other electricity consumers.”  
That stance drew widespread opposition from solar and environmental groups as well as state regulators and lawmakers, who argued that it could undermine longstanding net metering regimes that are central to state-by-state energy and environmental goals. Comments opposing the proposal were filed by thousands of individual commenters, 30 state public utility commissions and 35 members of Congress, as well as 31 attorneys general from states ranging from Oklahoma to California.
The only publicly disclosed member of NERA, Geoffrey Mitchell, a customer of Connecticut utility Unitil, is a long-time utility consultant and a board member of the Ratepayers Legal Defense Fund, an organization founded by NERA President Marc Brown. 
The Edison Electric Institute, the chief U.S. utility trade group, which has historically opposed the expansion of solar net metering, declined to support NERA’s petition. Members of Congress, including former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, filed a letter arguing that federal law “makes clear that Congress intended for net-metering programs to fall under state jurisdiction, not FERC’s,” and that granting NERA’s petition “would overturn long-held precedent and give the federal government decision-making power that has long belonged to the states.” 
“The Commission appropriately declined to upend decades of its own precedent, and the state energy policies in place in over 40 states and utilized by over 2 million retail electricity customers that rely on that precedent, based on a set of hypotheticals and generic grievances that failed to provide any facts or circumstances that would support massive federal preemption of state law,” Jeff Dennis, general counsel and managing director at the Advanced Energy Economy trade group, said in a Thursday statement. 
But the legal issues behind NERA’s petition weren’t addressed in FERC’s Thursday order, FERC Commissioner Bernard McNamee noted. While McNamee joined other commissioners in dismissing the petition, he pointed out that the order issued “does not address any of the significant underlying issues…nor is it a decision on the merits of the issues contained in the petition.” 
The decision represents another recent important win for clean energy. Last week, a federal court upheld FERC Order 841, which calls for energy storage assets including behind-the-meter batteries to be able to access federally regulated wholesale energy markets. The order had been opposed by utility trade groups that argued that it interfered in their authority over distribution grid-connected assets. 
“SEIA applauds FERC’s unanimous decision to dismiss this flawed petition,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in a statement. “We will continue working in the states to strengthen net metering policies to generate more jobs and investment, and we will advocate for fair treatment of solar at FERC where it has jurisdiction.”

Source : https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/ferc-dismisses-effort-to-undermine-state-net-metering-regulations

New material mimics strength, toughness of mother of pearl – Phys.org


In the summer, many people enjoy walks along the beach looking for seashells. Among the most prized are those that contain iridescent mother of pearl (also known as nacre) inside. But many beachcombers would be surprised to learn that shimmery nacre is one of nature’s strongest, most resilient materials. Now, researchers reporting in ACS Nano have made a material with interlocked mineral layers that resembles nacre and is stronger and tougher than previous mimics.
Some mollusks, such as abalone and pearl oysters, have shells lined with nacre. This material consists of layers of microscopic mineral “bricks” called aragonite stacked upon alternating layers of soft organic compounds. Scientists have tried to replicate this structure to make materials for engineering or medical applications, but so far artificial nacre has not been as strong as its natural counterpart. Hemant Raut, Caroline Ross, Javier Fernandez and colleagues noticed that prior nacre mimics used flat mineral bricks, whereas the natural material has wavy bricks that interlock in intricate herringbone patterns. They wanted to see if reproducing this structure would create a stronger, tougher nacre mimic for sustainable medical materials.
Using the components of natural nacre, the team made their composite material by forming wavy sheets of the mineral aragonite on a patterned chitosan film. Then, they interlocked two of the sheets together, filling the space between the wavy surfaces with silk fibroin. They stacked 150 interlocked layers together to form a composite that was about the thickness of a penny. The material was almost twice as strong and four times as tough as previous nacre mimicsclose to the strength and toughness reported for natural nacre. The artificial nacre was also biocompatible, which the researchers demonstrated by culturing human embryonic stem cells on its surface for one week. These features suggest that the material could be suitable for sustainable, low-cost medical uses, the researchers say.
More information:
Hemant Kumar Raut et al. Tough and Strong: Cross-Lamella Design Imparts Multifunctionality to Biomimetic Nacre, ACS Nano (2020). DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.0c01511
Citation:
New material mimics strength, toughness of mother of pearl (2020, July 15)
retrieved 15 July 2020
from https://phys.org/news/2020-07-material-mimics-strength-toughness-mother.html
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Source : https://phys.org/news/2020-07-material-mimics-strength-toughness-mother.html

Microsoft releases a fix for Outlook crashes after a problematic update causes issues for many users – BetaNews


Microsoft’s track record with updates for Windows has been a little wobbly of late, with many updates introducing problems, or creating more issues than they fix. But it seems that it is not just the famous operating system that is jinxed — Outlook is too.
Following reports from users that the Outlook desktop app was crashing with a 0xc0000005 error, Microsoft launched an investigation. While the company is now in the processing of pushing out a fix, a workaround has been shared online for those affected.
See also:
While Microsoft has not indicated which update it believes may have been to blame, the crashing issues only started on 15 July. The company does say, however, that none of the update release on this particular date are to blame.
On Twitter, Microsoft used its Microsoft 365 Status account to keep users updated:
We’re investigating whether a recently deployed update could be the source of this issue. As a workaround, users can utilize Outlook on the web or their mobile clients. Additional details can be found in the admin center under EX218604 and OL218603.
— Microsoft 365 Status (@MSFT365Status) July 15, 2020
We’ve completed the fix rollout and confirmed via internal monitoring the service has recovered. Please note, users may need to restart the Outlook client to enable the fix. Additional details can be found under EX218604 in the admin center.
— Microsoft 365 Status (@MSFT365Status) July 15, 2020
Now on the Office support site, Microsoft says:
There is a new symptom of Outlook crashing on launch starting on 7/15/2020.   A fix has been published but will take time to propagate to worldwide availability.   Outlook will automatically look for the fix on launch, so if this issue persists through multiple launches please use Outlook Web Access (or your providers webmail interface) for an hour then try again.
This problem is not associated with any of the 7/15/2020 security patches so there is no need to uninstall them if Outlook will not launch.  If this issue persists beyond four hours please contact Microsoft Support by whichever means works best for you.
Additional details can be found in the admin center under EX218604 and OL218603.
As Microsoft explains, the fix may not be available to everyone immediately, so you can use the mobile or web-based versions of Outlook in the meantime. There is also a workaround that has been shared by Appuals.com:

  1. Click Start and Type CMD
  2. Right Click CMD and choose Run As Administrator
  3. Go to C:\Program Files\Common Files\microsoft shared\ClickToRun
  4. Type, exe /update user updatetoversion=16.0.12827.20470
  5. In case you get the Something went wrong error message use this command instead of the one on step-4 exe /update user updatetoversion=16.0.12527.20880
  6. An “Updating Microsoft Office” prompt will now open up and the last stable version will be installed.
  7. If the above doesnt work you can also try starting Outlook in offline or safe mode.

Image credit: Walter Cicchetti / Shutterstock

Source : https://betanews.com/2020/07/16/microsoft-outlook-crash-fix/

Penn State Reverses Course, Will Use Eastview Terrace As Isolation Space – Onward State


Following a change of plans, Penn State will use Eastview Terrace housing to isolate students this fall, the universityannounced Thursday.
Back in June, Penn State said it would use the Nittany Lion Inn to quarantine, isolate, and house students affected by the coronavirus. Instead, it’ll now use the inn as a classroom space and single-occupancy housing for on-campus residents.
According to the university, administrators are still evaluating which Eastview halls will be used for isolating students. However, Penn State confirmed that “entire buildings will be utilized to keep isolated students separate from others.”
Housing’s Assignment Office plans to release room assignments on July 28. Students who were slated to live in Eastview should receive direct communication from the university about options for on-campus housing.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lion Inn, which has 233 guest rooms, will likely absorb a number of former Eastview residents. According to Housing’s website, the inn will keep RAs on-site and provide regular services such as mail cleaning supplies, and board games, among others.
At this time, it’s unclear whether Nittany Lion Inn staff will still face layoffs previously announced in late June. During a town hall, Penn State President Eric Barron estimated 79 employees would be laid off when the hotel was slated to be converted into a quarantine space.
We’ll update this post with more information as it becomes available.
Matt is a junior majoring in journalism and is Onward State’s managing editor. He’s a huge Philadelphia sports fan, fantasy football aficionado, and washed-up drummer hailing from Collegeville, Pa. The quickest way to his heart is Margherita pizza. His favorite shows include Community, Seinfeld, and Arrested Development, and he’ll probably talk your ear off about them. Follow him on Twitter @mattdisanto_ for bad sports takes or email him at [email protected]

Source : http://onwardstate.com/2020/07/16/penn-state-reverses-course-will-use-eastview-terrace-to-quarantine-students/

Will children spread COVID-19 if they go back to school? – MSN Money


Is it safe for children to return to school while the coronavirus is on the loose?
© (Associated Press)
Science teachers check in students before a summer session at a school in Wylie, Texas. (Associated Press)
That depends on whats likely to happen if a student becomes infected. Will the virus jump to his classmates, who could then fuel its spread throughout the student body? Will it find its way to his teacher and hitch a ride to the break room, putting the faculty on campus at risk as well?
Scientists dont have definitive answers to questions like these and they probably wont for quite awhile.
Schools are coping with this uncertainty in different ways. In Southern California, the states two biggest districts Los Angeles Unified and San Diego Unified said they would begin the new school year with full-time distance learning. Sandwiched between them is Orange County, where the Board of Education voted to let students come to campus without requiring masks or social distancing.
A report released Wednesday by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine acknowledges the bind schools are in.
There is insufficient evidence with which to determine how easily children and youth contract the virus and how contagious they are once they do, the report says. This knowledge gap makes it extremely difficult for decision-makers to gauge the health risks of physically opening schools and to create plans for operating them in ways that reduce transmission of the virus.
But decisions must be made anyway. Heres a closer look at what scientists do know about kids and COVID-19 and what it suggests about the risks of sending them back to school.
Do children have some kind of natural protection against the coronavirus?
They do seem to be less susceptible to the virus, and thats especially true for younger children.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, through May 30, the incidence of COVID-19 was 51.1 cases per 100,000 children under 10 and 117.3 cases per 100,000 kids and young adults between the ages of 10 and 19. Both of those figures were well below the nationwide figure of 403.6 cases per 100,000 Americans.
Scientists arent sure what accounts for this phenomenon. One theory is that children’s cells have fewer of the ACE2 receptors that the coronavirus needs to bind to in order to initiate an infection. Researchers analyzed the level of ACE2 gene expression in 305 people between the ages of 4 and 60 and found that it increased steadily with age.
Lower ACE2 expression in children relative to adults may help explain why COVID-19 is less prevalent in children, the researchers reported in the Journal of the American Medical Assn.
But that doesnt mean kids cant get sick. Indeed, a small number of pediatric patients have developed a serious disease called multi-system inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, in children.
While the balance of the data shows that kids are less susceptible to infection and less likely to transmit it, less susceptible doesn’t mean they’re not susceptible, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said this week on Face the Nation.
If children are less likely to be infected, doesnt that mean theyre less likely to spread it?
Probably. After all, you cant spread a virus if you dont have it in the first place.
Some health experts suspect that one reason infection rates have been lower in kids than adults is that theyve been relatively isolated at home while their parents have left the house to work, shop or socialize. Once kids are back in school, they might start to catch up.
Even so, theres evidence that kids just dont have the same coronavirus-spreading power as adults. Studies that tracked how infections spread through households in the U.S., Switzerland, and several countries in Asia have shown that adults are far more likely than kids to bring the virus into their homes, said Dr. Naomi Bardach, a pediatrician and policy researcher at UC San Francisco.
Most often, the adult in the household was the one who was originally infected, added Dr. Ibukun Christine Akinboyo, medical director of pediatric infection prevention at Duke University Medical Center. If it was the child, there seemed to be a less than 15% risk that the child would transmit across the household.
Should we be thinking about kindergartners the same way as high school seniors?
No. For one thing, infection rates are lower for elementary school-age kids than for teenagers.
Another consideration is that secondary school students can do more to protect themselves than young children. For instance, they should be able to wear a mask the whole time they’re on campus, something kindergartners probably cant handle. Older students ought to be better at social distancing as well.
And when they get home, high schoolers can operate more independently than elementary school kids. That could help mitigate the risk that a teenager, if infected, would pass the virus along to family members at home, said Dr. Charlene Wong, a pediatrician who also studies health behaviors at Duke University.
Is it safe for kids to be on campus if theyre too young to keep a mask on their face?
Pediatricians recognize that younger kids may not wear masks at all times, stay apart from their classmates, or keep their hands away from their faces. But since theyre less vulnerable to infection, thats probably OK, they said.
Data from the Netherlands back up the idea that children play a minor role in the spread of the novel coronavirus, said Dr. George Rutherford, an infectious diseases expert at UCSF.
That country allows children up through the age of 12 to get close to both kids and adults without having to worry about social distancing, he said. Even teens ages 13 to 17 can be in close contact with each other. But since adults account for the bulk of viral spread, they need to stay at least six feet away from each other whenever possible.
What has happened in other countries when students went back to school?
Generally speaking, not much. For example:
A report from Australias National Center for Immunization Research and Surveillance examined 15 schools in New South Wales that reported COVID-19 cases in March and April. Nine students had confirmed coronavirus infections during that time, and they may have spread it to a grand total of two fellow students out of 735 who were considered close contacts. Nine adults in those schools caught the coronavirus as well, but they did not spread it to any of their 128 close contacts among teachers and staff, health officials concluded.
Irelands first known COVID-19 patient was a child who visited Northern Italy in early March, just as that countrys coronavirus crisis was beginning to take off. Schools in Ireland were closed soon after, on March 12; by then, health officials had identified a total of three infected students one in primary school and two in secondary school along with a teacher and two other adult instructors. None of the kids 924 fellow students caught the virus from them at school, nor did 101 school-based contacts of the three infected adults. Even outside of school, the six infected people didnt spread the virus to any of the 1,001 children who were among their close contacts, according to a report in the journal Eurosurveillance.
A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases traced what happened after an English tourist who caught the coronavirus in Singapore visited a ski chalet in France. He spread the virus to 11 others, including one child who later visited three schools and a ski class. None of that childs contacts became infected.
In the Netherlands, schools and childcare centers began reopening on May 11, and by June 8 students had returned to campus full time. The countrys National Institute for Public Health and the Environment said it received a few reports of infections among school employees since resuming normal operations, but none of them caught it from children on campus. In addition, the average number of people who contract the virus from a single infected person has remained below one since March.
Although no significant coronavirus outbreaks have been traced to schools, that doesnt mean it couldnt happen in the future, Akinboyo said, especially since the virus is more widespread in the community now than it was in the early days of the pandemic.
We should also keep in mind that the U.S. population is more diverse than in most other countries, so their experiences may not reflect what is likely to happen here, said Lisa Gennetian, a Duke economist who studies childhood poverty.
Closing down schools and switching to distance learning were hugely disruptive. Did it actually help slow the pandemic?
It seems like the answer ought to be yes, but it might have helped less than youd think.
Several studies have tried to quantify the benefits of measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, including quarantines, stay-at-home orders, school closures and social distancing policies. Together, these policies did seem to impede transmission of the virus, though by how much isnt clear.
One preliminary study that focused on Hong Kong found that measures aimed at keeping people apart may have reduced community spread by as much as 44%, but the authors did not estimate how much of that benefit could be attributed to closing schools.
A review in the journal Lancet Child and Adolescent Health turned up only one study that used models to estimate the impact of school closures on community health. Members of the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team calculated that if all primary and secondary schools were closed, along with 25% of universities, COVID-19 deaths in the United Kingdom would be reduced by 2% to 4%. In part, those numbers are low because the benefit of keeping children out of school was offset by a 25% increase in their time spent in the community, not to mention a 50% increase in close contact with family members.
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Source : https://www.latimes.com/science/story/2020-07-16/will-children-spread-covid-19-if-they-return-to-school

Universe is 13.8 billion years old, scientists confirm – Austin American-Statesman


The universe is about 13.8 billion years old, according to new research recently published by an international team of astrophysicists.
While this estimate of the age of the universe had been known before, in recent years, other scientific measurements had suggested instead that the universe may be hundreds of millions of years younger than this.
The scientists studied an image of the oldest light in the universe to confirm its age of 13.8 billion years.
This light, the “afterglow” of the Big Bang, is known as the cosmic microwave background and marks a time 380,000 years after the universe’s birth when protons and electrons joined to form the first atoms.
Obtaining the best image of the infant universe helps scientists better understand the origins of the universe, how we got to where we are on Earth, where we are going, how the universe may end and when that ending may occur, according to a statement from Stony Brook University.
“We are restoring the ‘baby photo’ of the universe to its original condition, eliminating the wear and tear of time and space that distorted the image,” explained Stony Brook astrophysicist Neelima Sehgal, a co-author on the papers.
“Only by seeing this sharper baby photo or image of the universe, can we more fully understand how our universe was born,” Sehgal said.
By using observations from the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) in Chile, the new findings match the measurements of the Planck satellite data of the same ancient light.
The ACT team estimates the age of the universe by measuring its oldest light. Other scientific groups take measurements of galaxies to make universe age estimates.
The new research adds a fresh twist to an ongoing debate in the astrophysics community about the age of the universe, said Simone Aiola, first author of one of the new papers on the findings, in a statement from Princeton University.
“Now we’ve come up with an answer where Planck and ACT agree,” said Aiola, a researcher at the Flatiron Institute’s Center for Computational Astrophysics in New York City. “It speaks to the fact that these difficult measurements are reliable.”
The ACT research team is an international collaboration of scientists from 41 institutions in seven countries.

Source : https://www.statesman.com/article/ZZ/20200715/NEWS/200719981

‘GTA: San Andreas’ Has Been Remade With Stunning Photorealistic Graphics – LADbible


Despite the immense popularity of 2004’s Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, it’s highly unlikely that developer Rockstar Games is in a hurry to remake it. After all, there’s still plenty of money to be made from bringing Grand Theft Auto V to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X… and presumably every future console between now and the end of time.
If Rockstar won’t remake San Andreas, all most of us can do is dream. Some of us, however, are talented enough to recreate the open world epic in Unreal Engine 4 and give us a substantial look at what the game might look like if it were released for PS5 and Xbox Series X.
As you can see below (or via this link), the result is… glorious.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way before we go any further. This project, as beautiful as it is, is not playable. It’s simply the dedicated work of three incredibly talented fans who wanted to use Unreal Engine 4 to put together an idea of what San Andreas might look were it to be remastered.
ArcadiaSquad is a “team of three people who like to create audio-visual incredible things,” according to their Patreon. “Our focus, for now, are Rockstar games, like Grand Theft Auto, but with an unprecedented quality perspective. We have a simple philosophy: quality over quantity.”
Certainly, Rockstar could release this as an official trailer and I don’t think many of us would bat an eyelid. The quality of the textures, lighting, and clouds are really something. I’m particularly impressed by the quality of the water, and the way it actually reflects the light as it gently laps against the shore.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas In Unreal Engine 4 / Credit: ArcadiaSquad
If you want to see more from ArcadiaSquad, you might consider chucking them a few quid over on their aforementioned Patreon. I have to stress again that this was the work of three people, so let ’em know how much you enjoyed what they put together.
In the meantime, the channel does direct fans towards a San Andreas remake that’s being designed in such a way that fans should be able to play it… eventually. It looks like it’s very early stages for the project, but you can head over to the appropriately named GTA SA in UE4 for consistent updates on how that project is shaping up. Spoiler: It’s looking absolutely fantastic.

Source : https://www.ladbible.com/technology/gaming-gta-san-andreas-has-been-remade-with-stunning-graphics-20200716

2020 USTFCCCA Track & Field Academic Awards – U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association

NEW ORLEANS — In the classroom.
On the track.
In the field.
Here are those individuals and teams who stood out in all phases of the student-athlete experience during the 2020 NCAA and NAIA track & field seasons and were honored on Thursday with All-Academic Awards by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA).

Source : https://www.ustfccca.org/2020/07/featured/2020-ustfccca-college-program-divisions-track-field-academic-awards

Dog in Charleston County tests positive for virus that causes COVID-19 – WCBD News 2


CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) A dog in Charleston County has tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19.
A doctor with Clemson University, Dr. Boyd Parr, said a private veterinarian decided to test the dog for SARS-CoV-2 after one of its owners was confirmed to have coronavirus.
Dr. Parr is a state veterinarian and director of Clemson Livestock Poultry Health.
He said there continues to be no evidence that pets play a significant role in spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people based on current knowledge.
It remains a good idea to restrict contact with your pets and other animals, just like you do with other people, if you are infected with COVID-19 in order to protect them from exposure to the virus as recommended by the CDC, he said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Veterinary Services Laboratories confirmed the virus in the dog on July 9.
Dr. Parr said the dog, which was an 8 or 9-year-old Shepherd Mix, had to be euthanized due to his chronic condition.
It is the first confirmed animal detection of SARS-CoV-2 in South Carolina.
Clemson LPH and the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) continue to investigate this case with USDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to assure any information relevant to COVID-19 is documented.

Source : https://www.counton2.com/news/local-news/charleston-county-news/dog-in-charleston-county-tests-positive-for-virus-that-causes-covid-19/