The Grab Bag Rides Again… Again.


It has been nigh on two months since I last leaned on the recurring crutch extraordinarily original literary treat that was is the Michael Harris Daily Weekly Monthly Occasional Grab Bag of Sports Hydropower Stuff. But after spending the day raking leaves, mowing the lawn and subsequently sucking down Benedryl as if they were leftover Halloween candy instead of drowsiness-inducing monsters, I imagine that time is of the essence and the clock is ticking before my speech begins slurring and I start drooling on my keyboard.

And with that, we’re off!

1st Quarter

As some of you might have noticed, HydroWorld’s “Premium Content” section is no more, effective as of November 1. The most noticeable change for our readers will be that all of the content that previously resided behind a paywall will now be accessible to everyone.

The most noticeable change for the Hydro Group editors, however, is that we are now without a long-time writer, who was the sole source of HydroWorld’s Premium Content and had been with the publication since long before PennWell acquired it.

So without getting into the economic realities of the industry we chose and all that, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t say a sincere thanks to him here. Most readers probably wouldn’t even recognize his name because he never wanted it in his bylines, but if he reads this — and I would guess there’s a good chance he will — I cannot express enough how grateful I am for his patience in helping me learn the hydropower sector.

Our publisher, Marla Barnes, likes to joke that I got this job when she asked if I knew anything about hydroelectricity in my interview, and spotting an issue of Hydro Review magazine sitting on her desk, successfully identified a tainter gate and spillway. But the truth is that I knew infinitely less about the complexities of energy policy, business practices and sourcing information in this field, and far more about successfully executing the zone-read option, the Triangle Offense and the fastball/changeup combo. So, John, for all the phone calls, emails, suggestions, corrections and guidance, thank you. 

2nd Quarter

Though it might not please those working the aisles in Washington, D.C., to push hydro-related legislation through Congress in the waning months of the Obama Administration, my gut tells me that the proverbial lame duck season is already upon us.

Granted, my gut also told me that third bratwurst whilst tailgating before a football game this past weekend was a good idea so perhaps take that as a grain of salt — but with a recess rapidly approaching and campaigns kicking off fast in 2016, I’m guessing our federal taxes are going to be paying for even more hemming and hawing than usual pretty quickly.

That’s a shame with a pair of Senate bills to expand hydropower in Alaska and, perhaps of more national significance, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 all potentially dying in committee with no guarantees that the next President or Congress will be nearly as keen on renewables legislation.

This, however, is not to say that everything should be doom and gloom on the policy front. Even though my personal feeling is that tangible legislative movement in the United States is about to come to a standstill until the Presidential Inauguration in January 2017, the United Nations’ upcoming 2015 Paris Climate Conference (or COP21) still represents a significant opportunity for leaders from around the world to shape long-term philosophies.


For your halftime entertainment today, I bring you the musical stylings of Oklahoma’s own Turnpike Troubadours because modern Top 40 country is (Michael checks calendar… sees HydroVision International isn’t returning to Nashville in the foreseeable future… Sorry, Music Row, but your music sucks) pop trash.

So in my continuing quest to spread the gospel of good country music, please enjoy this cut from the band’s recently-released self-titled album. Or else.

3rd Quarter

It’s been a few weeks now since the National Hydropower Association unveiled its new UnlockHydro initiative, but I wanted to draw attention to it one more time because I think it’s a pretty nifty campaign.

The effort is designed to educate both the American public and its policymakers about hydropower — and more importantly, to put into plain terms the regulatory hurdles hydroelectricity must clear relative to other forms of energy production.

UnlockHydro’s website also serves as a portal to NHA’s excellent legislative resource center that, among many other things, provides contact information and form letters that can be sent to both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.

“But Michael,” you may find yourselves saying, “you just said you don’t think any hydro-related policy will be enacted by the 114th Congress during its remaining assembly.”

True, friends, true. I did say that. But regardless of what might or might not ultimately happen during the remainder of the current administration at the federal level, the message is one that will still be important as states continue shaping their own renewable portfolio standards per the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan.

4th Quarter

Michael Harris’ Week 11 College Football Top 10, because it’s my blog and I do what I want:

  1. Clemson (9-0)
  2. Michigan (Because Power Group senior vice president Rich Baker is a Michigan Man)
  3. Ohio State (9-0)
  4. Oklahoma State (9-0)
  5. Baylor (8-0)
  6. Alabama (8-1)
  7. Iowa (9-0)
  8. Notre Dame (8-1)
  9. Stanford (8-1)
  10. Utah (8-1)

Dropped from the Rankings: Broken Bow High School (Because PennWell’s new President & CEO, Mark Wilmoth, is an Idabel Man, and boy, do those schools just hate the everloving hell out of each other).

Postgame Quotes

“We tried out there today. We really did. But we had a poor week of preparation and I just don’t feel like we executed very well.” – Coach Harris, on today’s edition of Hydro Talk

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