Fitch: Rules on Coal Investment Could Affect Debt Ratings of Electric Co-Ops and Utilities FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Steven Johnson for Electric Co-Op Today:Electric cooperatives and public utilities have dealt well with past limits on access to capital, but new curbs on coal investment could pose a challenge, Fitch Ratings said.California regulators have called on insurance companies doing business in the state to sell their thermal coal investments, including those in utilities that generate 30 percent or more of their energy from coal, regardless of location.“Should similar policies and restrictions aimed at utilities with existing coal generation versus new investment proliferate, public power systems could be faced with the difficult decision of prematurely retiring existing units or confronting a significant loss of liquidity,” Fitch said.In turn, that could increase operating and debt service costs that co-ops would have to account for in some fashion, the service said.Full article: Fitch: Coal Investment Curbs Could Affect Co-ops
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Pilita Clark for the Financial Times:Citigroup, Deutsche Bank and JPMorgan Chase have delivered billions of dollars in financing for coal, oil and gas companies that is “deeply at odds” with the goals of the Paris climate change accord, a new study claims.The banks rank among the top North American and European private sector backers of coal mines, coal power plants and costly oil and gas ventures over the past three years, according to the report by environmental campaign groups, the US Sierra Club, the Rainforest Action Network, BankTrack and Oil Change International.Deutsche Bank was the top financer of big coal miners, delivering nearly $7bn between 2013 and 2015, according to the study’s assessment of publicly available financial filings.Citigroup was calculated to have supplied $24bn for large coal power plant operators, making it the largest supporter in this category.JPMorgan Chase was ranked the largest financer of so-called “extreme oil”, financing an estimated $38bn for the biggest owners of untapped reserves in ultra-deep offshore fields, the Arctic or tar sands.Dozens of other large banks named in the study have also “engaged in fossil fuel financing practices that are deeply at odds with the global climate agreement” that nearly 200 countries reached at the December COP21 meeting in Paris, the report says.Full article ($): Citi, Deutsche and JPMorgan censured for backing fossil fuel Report Finds Major Banks Out of Step With Changing Energy Markets
New Jersey begins bidding process for 1.1GW of offshore wind FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享The Press of Atlantic City:The state Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously Monday to open a bid process Sept. 20 for the nation’s largest solicitation of offshore wind energy.Companies will compete for ratepayer subsidy of construction costs and 20 years of operation costs for 1,100 megawatts of electric generation capacity, according to the BPU. The window to apply will close Dec. 28, and a decision on which projects will qualify for ratepayer subsidy will be made by July 1, 2019.That should give companies enough time to qualify for federal tax credits, due to expire at the end of 2019, said board President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. The tax credits will save ratepayers about 12 percent of the construction costs, he said.It’s the first step in meeting the state’s goal of 3,500 MW of offshore wind by 2030, Fiordaliso said, and of reaching 100 percent green energy for the state by 2050. Last week Gov. Phil Murphy called on the board to open two additional 1,200 MW solicitations of offshore wind capacity — one in 2020 and another in 2022.Fiordaliso said the solicitation asks companies to estimate a net economic benefit of their projects, compared to the costs to ratepayers. The BPU will provide a guidance document to help developers calculate net economic benefits. The bid — or bids — with the best mix of cost and economic benefit will be chosen for ratepayer subsidy of construction and operating costs, he said. All income from sale of electricity will be returned to ratepayers.Companies may apply to provide anywhere from 300 MW to the full 1,100 MW, he said. But each company must also provide data on what it would cost for it to provide 400 MW, so all companies can be compared on that measure.More: BPU opens bid solicitation for 1,100 MW of offshore wind
FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Reuters:Vietnamese private firm Trung Nam Group said on Wednesday it will at the end of this month start building a 450-megawatt solar farm in central Vietnam that will be the largest of its kind in southeast Asia.The 14-trillion-dong ($593.22 million) facility in Ninh Thuan province is scheduled to start power generation in the fourth quarter this year, the company said in an emailed statement.Vietnam, which is working to limit its use of fossil fuel, said last month it would more than double its power generation capacity over the next decade to 125-130 gigawatts to support economic growth.Trung Nam said it has received an approval from the province to build the solar farm, which will be connected to the national power grid.In a statement, the government said Ninh Thuan province is aiming to have 8,000 MW of renewable capacity by 2030.[Khanh Vu, James Pearson]More: Sun soon to rise on southeast Asia’s largest solar farm in Vietnam Vietnam company set to begin construction of 450MW solar farm, largest in southeast Asia
Wartsila: Electricity system renewable transition likely to speed up in wake of Covid-19 pandemic FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):European responses to the coronavirus have accelerated the electricity system transition by a decade, proving systems can cope with high levels of renewable energy generation, according to analysis Friday by Finnish power engineering firm Wartsila.Coal-fired generation fell 25.5% across the EU and the UK in the first three months of 2020 versus 2019, while renewable energy accounted for a 43% share in the generation mix, according to system data gathered by Wartsila’s new Energy Transition Lab.The impact was accentuated in the month to April 10, coal generation down 29% on year, accounting for just 12% of EU and UK generation, while renewables delivered 46% of generation — an increase of 8% on 2019.“What we can see today is how our energy systems cope with much more renewable power — knowledge that will be invaluable to accelerate the energy transition,” said Wartsila Energy Business’ Bjorn Ullbro. “Electricity demand across Europe has fallen due to the lockdown measures applied by governments to stop the spread of the coronavirus. However, total renewable generation has remained at pre-crisis levels with low electricity prices, combined with renewables-friendly policy measures, squeezing out fossil fuel power generation, especially coal. This sets the scene for the next decade of the energy transition,” he said.System data from Entso-e gathered by Wartsila showed that, in the UK, renewables had a 43% share of generation in the month to April 10, up 10% on year while coal power was down 35% and gas down 24%.In Germany the share of renewables reached 60% (up 12%) while coal generation fell 44%, resulting in a fall in the carbon intensity of its electricity of over 30%.[Henry Edwardes-Evans]More ($): Coronavirus has accelerated energy transition by a decade: Wartsila
Kurt Kornegay won’t tell me where “Fat Man’s Misery” is. “Misery” is the name Kornegay gave to a boulder-choked slot canyon inside Panthertown Valley that very few people have ever explored. “It’s off the side of Blackrock Mountain. That’s all I’ll tell you,” Kornegay says.Apparently, the man still has some secrets. It’s ironic considering he is probably best known for helping to transform Panthertown Valley from a locals-only secret stash of trails into one of the most beloved recreation areas in the Southeast. Kornegay created the first map of the area, the “Guide’s Guide to Panthertown Valley,” which details Panthertown’s user-created trail system and unique bogs, peaks, and waterfalls. The map gives a wide variety of users enough information to explore this remote Western North Carolina valley on their own.Now, the veteran guide hopes he can do it again. Kornegay has recently published an updated map to Panthertown that features two “new” adjacent tracts of land, Bonas Defeat Gorge and Big Pisgah Mountain, large swaths of forests that only locals were privy to in the past. While Kornegay’s desire to introduce more people to these under-used forests is surprising, what’s downright shocking is that there are still pockets of forests in the Southern Appalachians that haven’t been thoroughly explored and accurately mapped yet. Within these two relatively small tracts of land, there are rock faces that have never been climbed, faint trails that have never been mapped, even waterfalls yet to be named.Big Pisgah Mountain is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Brevard, but it’s miles away from the famous singletrack and rock faces that have turned Brevard into a hub of outdoor adventure. Big Pisgah is roughly 1,500 acres of steep slopes and tight mountain streams sitting in the far southwestern corner of the Pisgah Ranger District, where the Pisgah National Forest meets the Nantahala National Forest.On his new map, Kornegay shows only one trail cutting through the northern edge of Big Pisgah. He’s named it West Fork Way because it follows the West Fork of the French Broad as it meanders through a narrow valley floor. The trail begins at a dilapidated Forest Service gate and follows an old roadbed, which has reverted back to singletrack. It contains numerous creek crossings and massive blowdowns left from last winter’s storms. The U.S. Forest Service doesn’t recognize West Fork Way as an official trail, so there is no regularly scheduled forest service maintenance.“I don’t see a lot of people venturing into that area, including the Forest Service,” says Nina Elliott, executive director of the Friends of Panthertown, the volunteer group that works with the Forest Service to manage Panthertown. Even though Big Pisgah is adjacent to Panthertown’s popular trail system, trail crews don’t wander into Big Pisgah.It’s shocking, given the proximity of the mountain to urban centers and popular recreation areas. A luxury second home community sits on the shores of Lake Toxaway, not five miles from the trailhead. Drive 30 minutes farther, and you’ll be in the heart of downtown Brevard. Ten more minutes and you’re sitting at the trailheads for Davidson River and Mills River Recreation Areas, two of the most popular trail systems in the Southeast. Some surmise that the area gets little traffic precisely because of its proximity to such popular trail systems.“People don’t explore,” says Joe Moerschbacher, owner of Pura Vida Adventures, a multi-sport guiding operation based in Brevard. “And around here, they don’t have to. There are so many trails and waterfalls already on the maps and in the guidebooks that most people don’t feel the need to look for new adventures.”Rich Stevenson specializes in finding new adventures—especially new waterfall adventures. The Asheville-based waterfall photographer estimates he’s discovered and unofficially named 40 to 50 significant waterfalls in North Carolina and South Carolina that aren’t listed in any maps or guidebooks. Big Pisgah, which only has one officially mapped and named waterfall (Dismal Falls), is ripe with waterfall discoveries, he says.“We found a 70-footer on accident,” Stevenson says. “It was actually pretty easy to get to, but it’s on an unnamed creek that isn’t on any map, so most people don’t know it’s there.”Stevenson named that 70-footer Rhapsodie Falls. He and a friend had stumbled upon Rhapsodie while bushwhacking towards Dismal Falls, which turned out to be more of a challenge than they’d expected.“Once you get off that main trail, Big Pisgah is a wicked area,” Stevenson says. “Getting to Dismal Creek Falls was brutal. You have to bushwhack steep slopes, then drop into an even steeper gorge, then boulder your way up to the falls.”Stevenson spends much of his time trying to pinpoint those undiscovered treasures by researching topographic maps, looking for a convergence of contour lines.“When you see those lines run together real close, that means it’s steep. If there’s a blue creek running over those steep lines, you’re likely to find a waterfall,” Stevenson says. But you’ve got to be willing to hunt for these treasures through severe terrain. In the book Land of Waterfalls, author Jim Bob Tinsley calls Big Pisgah and Dismal Creek “one of the most foreboding places in the Southern Appalachians.”And Bonas Defeat Gorge is even wilder.“Old timers say it’s like hiking through the barrel of a shotgun,” says Kornegay, referring to the terrain inside Bonas Defeat Gorge. Not only is the gorge narrow and steep, but the river is prone to flash floods and spillover from the dam upstream. It’s as close to a true canyon that you’ll find in the Southeast, with a massive 400-foot rock wall, and house-sized boulders and caves lining the river floor. American Whitewater considered negotiating for recreational releases on the river, which drops 240 feet in under half a mile. After a non-boating test flow of the gorge, some of the best boaters in the state concluded the Bonas Defeat was “inordinately dangerous.”Hiking the gorge can be equally fraught with peril.“There’s no trail, so you’re basically bouldering and spelunking your way up the riverbed,” Kornegay says.Bonas Defeat is dammed, but still has water in it from a few feeder streams, which makes the rocks slick, and any amount of rainfall can raise the water level, making navigation even more challenging. Accessing the gorge can be just as tough, as it is surrounded by private land.“The difficult access and terrain automatically limits the number of people who can enjoy it,” says Mike Milkins, the district ranger for the Nantahala National Forest. Milkins himself hasn’t even been inside the gorge.Professional guide Joe Moerschbacher ran an exploratory trip into Bonas Defeat and concluded that it was some of the best canyoneering in the Southeast. It boasts swimming holes, rock jumps, and a 150-foot waterfall rappel on Wolf Creek Falls.But the Forest Service denied Moerschbacher’s permit request to guide trips in the gorge, presumably because the terrain is too severe.“It’s a world-class day hike, one of the best around,” says Burt Kornegay. “But it’s not for everybody. If a lot of people start trying to hike Bonas Defeat, there are going to be a lot of injuries.”Still, Kornegay hopes his new map will encourage more people to explore Bonas Defeat and Big Pisgah, the way his previous map beckoned them to Panthertown. Of course, dishing local secrets to the masses doesn’t come without controversy. Many local bikers and hikers who had Panthertown’s trails all to themselves still lament the area’s popularity boom.“Old timers who’ve been hiking Panthertown since the mid-80s thought it was their best kept secret. They would’ve liked to build a wall around it and keep it to themselves,” says Nina Elliott of Friends of Panthertown. “But the word is out big time. People know about Panthertown. On a weekend in the summer, it can be a zoo.”Kornegay knows he’s partly responsible for that zoo, but he’s unapologetic.“It’s true, Panthertown is more heavily used now. Some trails show more wear. There are new campsites all over the valley that didn’t used to be there,” Kornegay says. “I know a few people loved it when they had it all to themselves. I’d like to keep these areas to myself too, but it’s unrealistic. In the East, our forests aren’t big enough to keep secrets. Sooner or later, they’re either going to be used or logged. I’d rather see these forests hiked. A thousand backpackers can do some damage to a trail, but nothing like a bulldozer. Try to log Panthertown now. There would be an uproar because it’s so loved. Ten years ago, though, not many people would have known or cared.”Even though Big Pisgah and Bonas Defeat are connected with the now-popular Panthertown, these two outlying tracts are a different animal altogether. More users will inevitably find their ways into the areas because of Kornegay’s map, but it’s doubtful that the masses will respond to Big Pisgah and Bonas Defeat the same way they responded to Panthertown. There may be just as many waterfalls, cliffs, and bogs inside the Big Pisgah and Bonas Defeat tracts, but you still have to bushwhack off-trail to find them.“You’ve got to go rock-hopping up a creek or crawling through rhododendron to find these things,” Rich Stevenson says. “The average person isn’t going to do that.”HIGHLIGHT REELWant to explore these tracts on your own? Kornegay’s map is essential, as is common sense. Be smart, never travel alone, and always pack for the worst. Order a map through Slickrock Expeditions.BIG PISGAHWest Fork Way follows the creek for three miles before connecting with the Devil’s Elbow Trail on the edge of Panthertown Valley.Aunt Sally’s Falls: At .5 miles from the trailhead, you’ll begin to hear this 40-footer from the trail. Take a short bushwhack north through briars and scrub brush to the base of the falls.Rhapsodie Falls: After a mile of hiking West Fork Way, you’ll pass through a tall stand of white pines. When the trail splits, take the left split south and cross the creek and pick up the trail again, passing a small 20-foot waterfall on the way. Follow a faint trail up the right side of the creek to Rhapsodie Falls.BONAS DEFEATWolf Creek Falls: This 150-foot waterfall drops over carved bedrock at the top of Wolf Creek Gorge. From the parking area off Hwy 281, follow the obvious trail to the riverbed, then look for steep scrambles to the top and base of the waterfall.Doe Branch Path: This collection of forest roads traverses the forest south of the gorge, between Tanassee Lake and Rock Bridge Road, where you’ll find a parking pull off.Bonas Defeat Wall: Deep in the middle of Bonas Defeat gorge is a 400-foot rock wall with a handful of established climbing routes.Grandma’s Kitchen: This collection of cascades drops through smooth, perfectly round potholes inside the gorge.
By prohibiting further mining in the Grand Canyon, the U.S. government is effectively protecting more than 1,300 acres from surface disturbance and preventing the diversion and potential pollution of over 300 million gallons of precious fresh water from the region’s aquifers.Dear EarthTalk: I understand that mining was just banned in the Grand Canyon and environs. Why is that an important victory for the environment?— Michael McAllister, Reno, NVYes, in January 2012 Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced that the federal government was prohibiting new mining claims for the next two decades across more than a million acres of public lands surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.In the face of increased uranium mining in the area, environmental advocates have been pushing for the prohibition to stave off the industrialization of the iconic wild lands flanking the park, fearing that new roads, mines, exploratory drilling, power lines and truck traffic would compromise the natural experience most visitors seek, let alone directly pollute and alter the region’s fragile ecology. Pre-existing claims can continue to operate in the parcels in question, but they will have only about a tenth of the surface impacts and a third of the water usage of what mining in the area would cause without the ban on new claims.“The Grand Canyon’s watershed is a complex groundwater flow system that extends miles north and south of the National Park’s boundary,” reports the non-profit Wilderness Society. “If contaminated by uranium mining, those aquifers would be impossible to clean up—a point acknowledged by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.” The group adds that the aquifers in question feed the Grand Canyon’s springs and creeks, which provide habitat for up to 500 times more species than adjacent uplands, including threatened, endangered and even endemic species found only in the national park.“By industrializing the Grand Canyon region and risking permanent pollution of its soil and water resources, uranium mining would also threaten the Southwest’s robust tourism economy—for which Grand Canyon National Park is the primary economic engine,” says the Wilderness Society, adding that the outdoor recreation business in Arizona each year supports 82,000 jobs, generates some $350 million in state tax revenue, and stimulates about $5 billion in retail sales and services.As far as environmentalists are concerned, the Interior Department’s decision couldn’t have come any sooner, with mining companies chomping at the bit to open up over 700 new uranium mining sites and exploration projects on the disputed lands. By halting this development, the U.S. government is effectively protecting more than 1,300 acres from surface disturbance and preventing the diversion and potential pollution of over 300 million gallons of precious fresh water from the region’s aquifers.“The Interior Department’s decision on this ban reinforces the role the agency should play in managing our public lands by evaluating the various uses in the region and safeguarding fragile lands from permanent damage,” concludes the Wilderness Society.Of course, the mining and uranium industries in the U.S. are not lying down so easily. In February the National Mining Association, a trade group representing the interests of the U.S. mining industry, filed suit in federal court to try to overturn the prohibition. While the challenge works its way through the legal system, environmentalists can breathe easy as the ban remains in effect. But only time will tell how long they can keep resource extractors at bay in and around our national parks, especially in light of the lucrative revenues that can be made from uranium mining, logging and other destructive practices.CONTACTS: Wilderness Society, www.wilderness.org; National Mining Association, www.nma.org.EarthTalk® is written and edited by Roddy Scheer and Doug Moss and is a registered trademark of E – The Environmental Magazine (www.emagazine.com). Send questions to: [email protected] Subscribe: www.emagazine.com/subscribe. Free Trial Issue: www.emagazine.com/trial.
As I write this, my legs are sore, my back hurts, and I couldn’t be happier, because it is all due to riding in Jeremiah Bishop’s Alpine Loop Gran Fondo this past Saturday.Before we get into the highs and more highs of this amazing ride, let’s go over the history of the Gran Fondo. First the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo has three different routes (32, 71, and 104 miles), is in its second year, and is one of pro mountain bike racer Jeremiah Bishop’s favorite training loops. After completing the ride I now know why he is so fit. The best part about the Alpine Loop Gran Fondo is that proceeds go towards prostate cancer awareness and bicycling infrastructure.I got into the friendly city of Harrisonburg on Friday afternoon and stopped by Shenandoah Bicycling Company, one of the local bike shops. Do yourself a favor next time you are in the area, and stop by this one of a kind cycling store. Not only is the staff incredibly knowledgeable, but they are also friendly and helpful. They did a quick check over of my bike, answered my questions, and even gave me a beer! After picking up my race packet, stocking up on some ride food, and drinking my complimentary Dale’s Pale Ale, I strolled over to the Bike Capital Gala. The Gala kicks off the whole fondo weekend with good food, great discussion, raffles and more. It was great to see local bicycling advocates, visiting riders, and others all having a great time and sharing ideas and knowledge about cycling and the community.I could bore you with the rest of my night adventures, but that would take too much time so let’s just say I woke up Saturday feeling a bit on the hung-over side. After a few glasses of water, an amazing acai bowl from Pulp Smoothies, and a few good stretches, I was feeling like a $10 bill and pedaled over to the starting line.First thing you notice at the ALGF is that everything is dialed. The ride seems organized, the atmosphere is relaxed, and you feel like you’re in good hands. Over 450 riders, including 2010 USA national road race champion Ben King, rolled out from Court Square and began the ride. Police escort got everyone safely out of the city and onto the gorgeous country roads that the valley is known for. Things mainly stayed together until we hit the base of 33, our first climb, and riders quickly settled into their own paces.I eased into the first aid station and I thought my eyes were deceiving me. Is that Starbuck’s Frappuccino? Are those danishes? Is that fresh fruit? No, my eyes were not playing tricks on me. Every aid station was amazingly well stocked with not only good food, but helpful and friendly volunteer staff. The aid stations are critical in a ride like this because the Alpine Loop is no joke. 104 miles, 11,000 feet of elevation, two gravel climbs, this is a ride that will challenge even the most seasoned rider. For perspective, it took Ben King over 6 hours from start to finish.I continued on over more gorgeous climbs, down ripping descents, and through peaceful valleys on my way through Franklin, W.Va., and then back to Harrisonburg. I had highs of climbing up the dark side of Reddish Knob, a 17 mile climb, and lows of trying to remember if the ride was called a fondo or fondue. In the end I made it back to town, and settled once and for all that I was on a fondo and that fondue is a melted cheese dish.The royal treatment doesn’t end at the aid stations however, because as I crossed the finish line volunteers came running bearing cold wet towels, bottled water, and a handmade Swiss bell for finishing the ride. To top things off, local cycling club Shenandoah Valley Bicycling Coalition had partnered with New Belgium to serve some post-ride brews. So after a delicious Ranger with some of my riding buddies and a quick pic with Jeremiah and Ben the 2012 Alpine Loop Gran Fondo came to a close.As a two-time finisher of the ALGF, and having partaken in a variety of other mountain and road cycling events, you will be hard pressed to find a better event than this. You can challenge yourself with the 75 or 104 mile options, but also bring along less seasoned riders and try the 32 mile option. You can race to the finish, or ride with your buddies and take in the breathtaking scenery. Jeremiah and his wife Erin have something really good going on here, so start training and I will see you at the 3rd Annual Alpine Loop Gran Fondo in 2013!For a more in depth look at the ride, watch this video!
Get fit for adventure this spring with Chaco!Enter below to win a pair of Chaco sandals, either the Men’s Mighty Sandal or the Women’s Fantasia Sandal.This giveaway is now closed, but sign up for more free giveaways here.Rules and Regulations: Package must be redeemed within 1 year of winning date. Entries must be received by mail or through the www.blueridgeoutdoors.com contest sign-up page by 12:00 noon EST on May 15th, 2013. One entry per person. One winner per household. Sweepstakes open only to legal residents of the 48 contiguous United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years of age or older. Void wherever prohibited by law. Families and employees of Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors are not eligible. No liability is assumed for lost, late, incomplete, inaccurate, non-delivered or misdirected mail, or misdirected e-mail, garbled, mistranscribed, faulty or incomplete telephone transmissions, for technical hardware or software failures of any kind, lost or unavailable network connection, or failed, incomplete or delayed computer transmission or any human error which may occur in the receipt of processing of the entries in this Sweepstakes. By entering the sweepstakes, entrants agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and Chaco USA reserve the right to contact entrants multiple times with special information and offers. Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine reserves the right, at their sole discretion, to disqualify any individual who tampers with the entry process and to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend the Sweepstakes. Winners agree that Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine and participating sponsors, their subsidiaries, affiliates, agents and promotion agencies shall not be liable for injuries or losses of any kind resulting from acceptance of or use of prizes. No substitutions or redemption of cash, or transfer of prize permitted. Any taxes associated with winning any of the prizes detailed below will be paid by the winner. Winners agree to allow sponsors to use their name and pictures for purposes of promotion. Sponsors reserve the right to substitute a prize of equal or greater value. All Federal, State and local laws and regulations apply. Selection of winner will be chosen at random at the Blue Ridge Outdoors office on or before May 30th, 6:00 PM EST 2013. Winners will be contacted by the information they provided in the contest sign-up field and have 7 days to claim their prize before another winner will be picked. Odds of winning will be determined by the total number of eligible entries received.
Temperatures are dropping, the turkey carcass has been picked over, and you might have even seen some snow by now. Welcome back, December!!We are ready to go with another great month of free music for you here at Trail Mix. Consider it our gift to you – nineteen tracks to toss on your iPod as you look to get outside and shed that last serving of pumpkin pie you gobbled down last weekend. Please don’t get us wrong . . . we don’t blame you for that fourth piece of pie. We did it, too. We just highly encourage you to hit a trail near you with Trail Mix buzzing in your ears. We know we will be!Trail Mix kicks off with a new track from Quiet Life, a great band from the Pacific Northwest. These guys were hand picked by The Head & The Heart to open a bunch of shows during the band’s recent run through the Southeast. Quiet Life’s new disc, Wild Pack, is top notch. Be on the lookout for a blog post about them soon.This is the first time, in recent memory, that Trail Mix features an entire month of first-timers! No returning artists this month, but don’t let that keep you from listening. Along with Quiet Life, there are seventeen more brand new artists begging for your attention. Featured this month are great songwriters like Jeremy Squires, Pierce Edens, and Jonathan Wilson, the contemporary folkgrass sounds of The Danberrys and The Stray Birds, a bit of French-Canadian folk with De Temps Antan, and the rustic sounds of Jus Post Bellum.Also be sure to check out The Henry Girls, Tommy & The Ohs, Midlake, and Poor Old Shine, along with the rest of the great artists that round out the December Trail Mix.As always, stream or download until you just can’t stand it anymore. Then stream or download it again. And spread the word about these fantastic artists – take to the Twitter or the Facebook and share the link to Trail Mix. Lastly, considering it is the season of giving, head out to your local record store and grab some of these great albums for the music lover in your life.Happy Holidays!