Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Another Ohio River power plant could shut down soon

... but this time it's not a coal-fired plant.

FirstEnergy says it wants to retire three nuclear plants in the next three years. One of those is Beaver Valley at Shippingport, Pa. It's the only nuclear plant along the Ohio River, and is one of the largest in terms of generating capacity.

The other two plants are in northern Ohio.

From the FirstEnergy news release:

The total capacity of the nuclear plants to be deactivated is 4,048 megawatts (MW). In 2017, the nuclear units contributed approximately 65 percent of the electricity produced by the FES generating fleet.

"The decision to deactivate these facilities is very difficult and in no way a reflection on the dedicated, hard-working employees who operate the plants safely and reliably or on the local communities and union leaders who have advocated passionately on their behalf," said Don Moul, president of FES Generation Companies and chief nuclear officer. "Though the plants have taken aggressive measures to cut costs, the market challenges facing these units are beyond their control.

"We call on elected officials in Ohio and Pennsylvania to consider policy solutions that would recognize the importance of these facilities to the employees and local economies in which they operate, and the unique role they play in providing reliable, zero-emission electric power for consumers in both states. We stand ready to roll-up our sleeves and work with policy makers to find solutions that will make it feasible to continue to operate these plants in the future."

M/V John Vaughn

With all the changes in the towing industry and cargo movements in the past few years, some familiar boats rarely make it to my area anymore and some unfamiliar ones are taking their places.

Yesterday evening I noticed a boat called the John Vaughn was in the area, so late on an overcast evening I went to old Lock and Dam 27 to get a look at it.

Note that there was no name near the pilothouse, on the tow knees or on the stern. Something about the boat seemed familiar, but I couldn't place it. I looked it up later and found that it is the former Kevin Flowers of ACBL. The Coast Guard lists its current owner as Knight Manufacturing Corp.

And while I was at old Lock and Dam 27, I  saw the usual litter that plagues public places in this region.

At least this cup lay peacefully and whole surrounded by those little purple flowers, whatever they're called.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I may have been hacked

So far it appears no damage has been done.

Still, be careful if you receive any communications from me.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

This can't be good: Jeffboat is closing for good

That's what this story says. Jeffboat built a lot of the boats you see on the Ohio River, but like Dravo and St. Louis Ship, it apparently couldn't keep up with the competition down South.

Or as, here in this part of the Ohio Valley, Marietta Manufacturing in Point Pleasant, W.Va., which shut down years ago.

Or as, here in this part of the Ohio Valley, the manufacture of rail cars — covered hoppers in Huntington, W.Va., and open hoppers at Raceland, Ky.

But we can compete when it comes to building cars and trucks. Toyota has plants near Evansville, Ind., Charleston, W.Va., and Lexington, Ky. Its Hino subsidiary builds medium-duty trucks near Parkersburg, W.Va., and is about to begin assembling heavy-duty trucks there. My home area has several factories that make auto parts.

Smaller operations turn out small boats, but the building of big boats left the Ohio years ago, and it looks like it won't be returning to Jeffboat, at least.

Friday, March 23, 2018

News and stuff, 3/22/18

A landslide along Ohio 7 north of Marietta has closed that busy road, so the Sistersville ferry will operate a special service beginning Monday, March 26, to help people get around it.

The ferry receives minimal state support, so it normally runs only May through October. Because of the road closure in Ohio, the ferry will run 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday until Ohio 7 re-opens. The Ohio Department of Transportation says that should happen on April 2.

The ferry's regular season begins May 3.

# # #

In my part of the Ohio Valley, it's not unusual for big bridges to be lit up at night to show off their architectural features. The mayor of Pittsburgh says he would like to see the same for all major bridges across the three rivers in his city.

# # #

How to stop Asian carp from spreading into the tributaries from the main stem of the Ohio? How about bubbles and noise?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

How many people live near the Ohio River?

At 12:01 a.m. today, the Census Bureau released its county population estimates for July 1, 2017. Being a numbers nerd, I had to see which of the 73 counties along the river had gained population since the April 1, 2010, census and how many had seen a net loss of population.

Here are the numbers for all 73 counties. Each county on the list has part of its border on the river, whether it’s a couple of miles or a dozen or two. Counties are listed by state beginning with Allegheny County, Pa., and ending with Alexander County, Ill. That way it starts in Pittsburgh and ends in Cairo. That’s how all Ohio River lists are supposed to work, right?

If you don’t want to wade through the numbers, here are some quick takeaways:

In this decade, the total population of all Ohio River counties has increased by about eight-tenths of 1 percent.

Only two states showed population growth in their Ohio River counties. Indiana counties gained 12,383 people while Kentucky counties gained 61,904. The two Ohio River counties in Pennsylvania lost 4,699. Ohio’s Ohio River counties lost 1,918. West Virginia’s 12 river counties showed a net loss of 15,130. The six counties in Illinois lost a combined 4,588 people. Not one of the six counties in Illinois showed a net population gain in this decade.

Alexander County, Ill., where Cairo is located, had the greatest percentage decrease, but the county had a small population to begin with. In small counties, a change that would be insignificant in a large one is magnified.

Of the 73 Ohio River counties, 12 had 100,000 or more residents last year, and 25 had fewer than 10,000. As fate would have it, Cabell County, W.Va., where I live, is very conscious about its population numbers, and it fell short of 100,000. It ranks 13th on the list.

Of the counties with more than 100,000 people, Boone County, Ky., had the greatest percentage growth and Columbiana County, Ohio, had the greatest percentage loss.

The complete list is below:

CountyApril 1, 2010, CensusJuly 1, 2017, estimateChangePct. Change
Allegheny County, PA1,223,3481,223,048-3000.00%
Beaver County, PA170,539166,140-4399-2.60%
Columbiana County, OH107,841103,077-4764-4.40%
Jefferson County, OH69,70966,359-3350-4.80%
Belmont County, OH70,40068,029-2371-3.40%
Monroe County, OH14,64213,946-696-4.80%
Washington County, OH61,77860,418-1360-2.20%
Athens County, OH64,75766,59718402.80%
Meigs County, OH23,77023,080-690-2.90%
Gallia County, OH30,93429,973-961-3.10%
Lawrence County, OH62,45060,249-2201-3.50%
Scioto County, OH79,49975,929-3570-4.50%
Adams County, OH28,55027,726-824-2.90%
Brown County, OH44,84643,576-1270-2.80%
Clermont County, OH197,363204,21468513.50%
Hamilton County, OH802,374813,822114481.40%
Hancock County, WV30,67629,448-1228-4.00%
Brooke County, WV24,06922,443-1626-6.80%
Ohio County, WV44,44342,035-2408-5.40%
Marshall County, WV33,10731,190-1917-5.80%
Wetzel County, WV16,58315,437-1146-6.90%
Tyler County, WV9,2088,795-413-4.50%
Pleasants County, WV7,6057,512-93-1.20%
Wood County, WV86,95685,104-1852-2.10%
Jackson County, WV29,21128,976-235-0.80%
Mason County, WV27,32426,801-523-1.90%
Cabell County, WV96,31994,958-1361-1.40%
Wayne County, WV42,48140,153-2328-5.50%
Dearborn County, IN50,04749,741-306-0.60%
Ohio County, IN6,1285,828-300-4.90%
Switzerland County, IN10,61310,696830.80%
Jefferson County, IN32,42832,089-339-1.00%
Clark County, IN110,232116,97367416.10%
Floyd County, IN74,57877,07124933.30%
Harrison County, IN39,36439,8985341.40%
Crawford County, IN10,71310,566-147-1.40%
Perry County, IN19,33819,081-257-1.30%
Spencer County, IN20,95220,394-558-2.70%
Warrick County, IN59,68962,53028414.80%
Vanderburgh County, IN179,703181,61619131.10%
Posey County, IN25,91025,595-315-1.20%
Boyd County, KY49,54247,979-1563-3.20%
Greenup County, KY36,91035,518-1392-3.80%
Lewis County, KY13,87013,339-531-3.80%
Mason County, KY17,49017,174-316-1.80%
Bracken County, KY8,4888,267-221-2.60%
Pendleton County, KY14,87714,573-304-2.00%
Campbell County, KY90,33692,48821522.40%
Kenton County, KY159,720165,39956793.60%
Boone County, KY118,811130,7281191710.00%
Gallatin County, KY8,5898,7761872.20%
Carroll County, KY10,81110,713-98-0.90%
Trimble County, KY8,8098,561-248-2.80%
Oldham County, KY60,31666,415609910.10%
Jefferson County, KY741,096771,158300624.10%
Bullitt County, KY74,31980,24659278.00%
Hardin County, KY105,543108,07125282.40%
Meade County, KY28,60228,154-448-1.60%
Breckinridge County, KY20,05920,111520.30%
Hancock County, KY8,5658,8012362.80%
Daviess County, KY96,656100,37437183.80%
Henderson County, KY46,25045,928-322-0.70%
Union County, KY15,00714,668-339-2.30%
Crittenden County, KY9,3159,084-231-2.50%
Livingston County, KY9,5199,269-250-2.60%
McCracken County, KY65,56565,385-180-0.30%
Ballard County, KY8,2498,039-210-2.50%
Gallatin County, IL5,5895,080-509-9.10%
Hardin County, IL4,3204,046-274-6.30%
Pope County, IL4,4704,325-145-3.20%
Massac County, IL15,42914,344-1085-7.00%
Pulaski County, IL6,1615,509-652-10.60%
Alexander County, IL8,2386,315-1923-23.30%
Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; the Ohio River Blog

One thing to remember is that these numbers are estimates based on births, deaths and migration. As we get further out from the actual headcount at the beginning of the decade, the estimates can veer off from the actual population numbers.

According to the Census Bureau, from 2016 to 2017 Allegheny County ranked fifth of the list of counties nationwide in numeric decrease. Close to the Ohio River, Kanawha County, W.Va., was 10th on that list. For Mississippi River fans, St. Louis, which I assume is separated from a county, was fourth on the list.

No Ohio River county appeared on the list of fastest-growing counties.

A final note: Now that I have a list of Ohio River counties all nice and sorted, I can work on other things. I’ve been thinking about one economic indicator that I might work on soon.