Zero Energy House Tour May 2

by Judi Friedman, People’s Action for Clean Energy

A Killingly, Connecticut zero energy house will be open to the public on Saturday, May 2. Tours and seminars will be held at noon and 2:30 p.m. The 2,600-square-foot Net Zero Energy Challenge winner has 12-inch thick walls; solar panels; air source heating and cooling pumps; a heat pump water heater; an ICF foundation; triple glazed windows; ceiling and sub slab insulation; and constant fresh air ventilation.

Other energy-saving features in this ideal retirement home include lighting from LED and compact fluorescent bulbs and energy-efficient appliances (Energy Star). The house has French drains (no gutters, no ice dams) and a permeable driveway. Electric cars will be on display. The tour/seminar is sponsored by People’s Action for Clean Energy (PACE), the only all-volunteer nonprofit public health organization in Connecticut devoted solely to clean energy education.

Additional information will be available on ethanol fireplaces; combination solar hot water for a radiant floor and a solar heated pool; surplus energy for electric cars; affordable retirement homes and minisplit  heat pumps.

Reservations will be accepted in order of receipt for the May 2 tour, which will be held rain or shine. The non-refundable tickets are $15.00 per person. To order tickets, go online to www.pace-cleanenergy.org and click on Events, indicating the choice of time for the tours and seminar.

Tickets may also be ordered by sending $15.00 per person to PACE c/o Donna Grant, 128 Melrose Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016. Include the ticketholder’s name, phone number, address, email address and choice of time. For ticket information, call (860) 623-5487. For tour information, call (860) 693-4813.

Don’t Let Legislators Toss Crumbs to Ratepayers

Frank Panzarella, Fight the Hike

There is a chance for Connecticut legislators in this session to approve large-scale shared solar projects with the passage of SB 928. However, instead of facilitating shared solar throughout the state, the Energy and Technology Committee, contrary to its own commissioned study, revised the bill to allow only two pilot projects (one being a two megawatt capacity and the other a four megawatt) for three years. When public testimony was accepted in March, hundreds of Connecticut residents wrote, telephoned and spoke to their legislators and members of the Energy and Technology Committee to encourage large-scale shared solar projects throughout the state.

pace-peoples-action-for-clean-energy-nuclear-solarNeedless to say, Fight the Hike members are disappointed that the Energy and Technology Committee wants to hold back on increasing the number of sustainable energy projects for CT residents. Large-scale solar investment has been successful in Massachusetts and other states. Pilot projects are not necessary to track its feasibility. It works!

Unfortunately, it looks like our governor, the Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection and others are side-stepping the expansion of solar energy and developed a disastrous policy to broaden natural gas transmission. We rate-payers will pay huge extra costs for increased gas development and have no guarantee of cheaper energy.

In addition, the price of electricity is tagged to the price of natural gas.  Is it an accident that UI and its parent company, the Spanish giant Iberdrola, are also very much involved in the natural gas and renewable expansion industries? The fact is these companies want to stall solar power until they can create rules and laws that will allow them to monopolize and grab the lion’s share of profit from these new industries away from the wonderful competitive pool of small solar companies (many growing right here in Connecticut) while the utilities also benefit from gas expansion. At present they want to hide the true value of solar power so as to control it.

The Energy and Technology Committee’s own commissioned study by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering called for a large-scale shared solar project. Why would they ignore their own scientific report? Has some kind of back-room pressure been applied to sabotage progress, a free market and to keep rate-payers tied to the over-priced energy of corporate monopolies?

Please contact your legislators and the co-chairs of the Energy and Technology committee to let them know you support expansion of shared solar in CT.

Co-chair Rep. Lonnie Reed, 1-800-842-8267 Lonnie.Reed@cga.ct.gov
Co-chair Sen. Paul Doyle, 1-800-842-1420 Doyle@senatedems.ct.gov
Gov. Dannel Malloy, 1-800-406-1527

SB570 – Capping Fixed Electric Charges

The Energy & Technology Committee has made SB570 the committee’s bill to advance the proposal to cap fixed electric charges.

SB570 – originally co-sponsored by Senate leadership – caps residential fixed charges at $10/mo and now includes a set of grid modernization reforms (longer-term initiatives that will complement the cap). Please call your State Representative and State Senator today!

cap-it-ctroundableonclimatejobs

Energy and Technology Committee Tackles Electricity Issues

by Paula Panzarella, Fight the Hike

On Feb. 24 (as PAR goes to print), the Energy and Technology Committee of the CT State Legislature held public hearings on a number of bills. At least six bills were scheduled about capping or lowering the fixed customer charge. Since many different legislators submitted bills on the same topic, the concern of customers from around the state was heard and there is good chance the bills will be merged and go before the general assembly.

Why cap the base rate? If ratepayers conserve but still have ever-rising bills because of the base rate, all the advantages of efficiency, conservation or using solar won’t necessarily result in lower costs. Here are the different bills on this one issue: 5281 (441), 5402 (673), 6014 (1553), 6029 (1811), 570 (2226), 574 (2402). The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs has worked on getting the rate capped for months. You can contact the organizer John Humphries for updates: john.humphries1664@gmail.com or (860) 216-7972.

Other bills scheduled were to ban variable electric rates, Bill 573 (2222); to improve transparency and increase opportunities for public comment on proposed changes in electric rates, Bill 575 (2235); have the tax on electric bills itemized on the monthly bills, Bill 625 (2293); require the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority to develop policies to lower electric rates, Bill 728 (1668); prohibit companies from raising electric rates to cover costs of repairs from actual or anticipated storm damage, Bill 5019 (11); for every five days of power outage, customers to be credited with one day of service, Bill 6013 (510); public service companies prioritize restoration of services for customers with disabilities, Bill 6018 (2706); establish a cap for electric rates and have more public hearings on the rate-making process, Bill 6019 (2686); improve the microgrid development, Bill 6027 (1803).

Written testimony can be sent in up to a week AFTER the hearing. E-mail testimony to ettestimony@cga.ct.gov.  Or write to: Energy and Technology Committee
Legislative Office Building, Room 3900
Hartford, CT  06106

It’s not too early to let your legislators know what you think about these bills. Phone numbers for state senators and representatives are in the box on page 6. The website of the Energy and Technology Committee is www.cga.ct.gov/et/.

News from People’s Action for Clean Energy

by Judi Friedman, PACE

A Pure House in Westport: www.ThePureHouse.com

PACE is excited about this concept : a high performance building envelope that has eliminated carcinogens!

Doug McDonald, owner and builder of a PASSIV house in Westport, has taken the next step! He has built a design/build team which will construct houses that are safe to live in and absolutely energy-efficient! Using pure and natural products he will have a house ready for market in three weeks in Westport, Conn.

More Research to be Done at Millstone Nuclear Power Plant

Each day, some two billion gallons of water are pumped from Long Island Sound into the Millstone Power Station in Waterford, CT – our state’s only nuclear power plant – and used to help cool systems and support the station’s two operating reactors. After it heats up, about 90 percent of that water is discharged back into the Sound at about 20 degrees warmer than when it was taken in, said Ken Holt, a spokesman for Millstone.

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) wants to better understand what, if any, impact that heated water is having on the ecology of the Sound and has reached out to researchers at Stony Brook University’s School of Atmospheric Science, hoping they can determine whether Millstone might be “overheating” the Sound’s waters.

“No one has really studied the broader impacts of this plant,” Mr. Schneiderman said in a recent interview, noting that biology experts have recorded an “undeniable” increase in Long Island Sound water temperatures over the last few decades, which has affected the health of local fisheries, including lobster and flounder populations.

Soon the Waterford plant, which is just under 10 miles north of Plum Island, will need to renew a permit mandated by the federal Clean Water Act. Known as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit, it helps the government regulate pollution – in this case thermal pollution – discharging into ground and surface waters.

Report on Rick Wolff’s January Talks in New Haven

by Allan Brison, CT Green Party

Over 20 people gathered to hear Rick Wolff in January at the Unitarian Universalist Society. He spoke about his evolution from his education attending three of the nation’s most prestigious schools (Harvard, Stamford and Yale), to being one of the rare Marxist economists in the Economic Department at Yale, and, in turn, to his present incarnation as being in great demand for radio and TV interviews across the nation, and having his advice sought by such luminaries as Bill Moyers, as well as being a driving force behind the Left Forum every year in Manhattan.

Contributions were made to Democracy At Work, Rick’s organization to bring real democracy to the workplace and everywhere else in American society (donations can also be made on his website http://www.democracyatwork.info/).

Then Rick spoke to the Yale Political Union for the debate on the question: Should US Banks be Nationalized? But his position is not for either Nationalization or Privatization, but rather what he calls Socialization – a more nuanced form of collective ownership of goods and services by those most affected by those goods or services. Though he believes that Socialization is the way to go, he did point out that there have been some very successful examples of public owner-ship. These include the Bank of North Dakota and the much larger publicly owned Bank of Germany.

Rick gave other examples where public ventures have outperformed their privately owned counterparts, including the Wallingford, CT Electric District, the publicly owned utilities in Los Angeles and Sacramento, and the Green Bay Packers football team in the NFL.

One of the largest and most striking examples of Socialization in the ownership of goods and services is the Mondragon Corporation in Spain. This company started in 1956 and today is the largest corporation in the Basque Region. It employs 74,000 people in 257 companies and organizations in four areas of activity: Finance, Industry, Retail, and Knowledge.

For more on the Mondragon Corporation, see Rick’s website or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondragon_Corporation.

At the end of the YPU debate, the students voted in favor of nationalization of banks by a narrow margin. The debate was captured on videotape for public showings.

Please contact me for more information. Allan Brison, (203) 782-6808

Three updates from People’s Action for Clean Energy

by Judi Friedman, PACE

1) We are breathing a sigh of relief. Vermont Yankee nuclear plant has been a dangerous neighbor for too long.

Thanks to decades of citizen organizing and protest plus the wise backing of the elected officials of the state of Vermont, the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor has been shut down permanently. The Vermont governor, Peter Schumlin, said: “Thanks to investments in renewable energy such as solar, Vermont energy future is on a different and more sustainable path that is creating jobs, reducing energy costs for Vermonters and slowing climate change.”

The lights will not go out. The closing will not affect regional grid stability.
This important information comes from  BEYOND NUCLEAR To see how scary Vermont Yankee was, go to www.beyondnuclear.org  and briefly watch “Shut Vermont Yankee” and/or “The Activists.”

2) A cozy and uniquely informative PACE meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, February 11 at the very special home of Nevin and Julie Christensen on 44 West Mountain Rd. in West Simsbury. Good food included! Note: snow date: Thursday, February 12.
Please come to discuss and act on many of the following subjects: solar expansion in Connecticut, shared solar, hemp agriculture (hemp pellets), solar awards, legislative priorities, cyber security, the status of Millstone nuclear plant and Vermont Yankee, the Pure House, the utility rate structure, and the exciting spring solar tour!

If possible, please bring tasty treats to share and your favorite solar device. See the new iPhone solar cell charger and the amazing Luci inflatable solar lantern… plus meet some really nice people!

3) Listen to this important broadcast about Fukushima if you can: http://www.nuclearhotseat.com/category/uss-ronald-reagan NUCLEAR HOTSEAT is a fascinating weekly radio program on nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. This interview is with Dr. Alex Rosen of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War blasting the UN Report on Fukushima. The second interview with Joseph Mangano is about the US sailors who came to try to help Fukushima victims and were exposed to radiation.

Help Decide Connecticut’s Energy Future!

by Onté Johnson, CT Beyond Coal, Sierra Club

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) is making long-term plans for our state’s energy future and we have until Feb. 11 to weigh in.

DEEP’s plan, known as an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), includes some good things, like an increase in energy efficiency, but also some bad things, including a continued reliance on coal-fired power from the Bridgeport coal plant. These plans are for the next ten years, so it’s important that we make our voices heard for solar, wind and efficiency today! Submit an official comment to DEEP to make plans for retiring coal and replacing it with solar, wind and efficiency in Connecticut’s long-term energy plans.
The Bridgeport plant was rated the 8th worst environmental justice offender out of 431 coal plants across the country and needs to be replaced with clean energy to protect our health and the environment.

Connecticut has the skilled workforce and resources we need to move beyond coal to clean energy, but we need a plan to get there. Help move Connecticut beyond coal to a clean energy future!

Let DEEP Commissioner Rob Klee know that you support better energy efficiency, increased use of solar and wind, and the retirement of the Bridgeport coal plant. DEEP is taking comments on the draft 2014 IRP until February 11. Submit comments at DEEP.EnergyBureau@ct.gov, or via the Department’s Energy Web Filings system.

Thanks for all you do to protect the environment, Onté Johnson, Organizing Representative, Connecticut Beyond Coal–Sierra Club

News from the CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs

by John Humphries, Convener/Organizer

The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is launching their public campaign to pass legislation capping the monthly fixed charges for residential and small business electricity customers. There is a new Facebook page and website to share information and build a broad-based coalition. Like them on Facebook!

Use your social media networks to share information about the campaign with groups all across the state. We posted this meme to the Facebook page as our first public outreach, and our following is already starting to grow.

CTEnergyRelief.org is the new webpage that will serve as a source of more detailed information about the campaign and legislation. It already provides good educational materials to help you understand the details about fixed charges. Use #CTEnergyRelief as the hashtag when sharing info about the campaign via Twitter.

Legislative handout – We have already gathered 16 organizational endorsements for the legislative handout developed in partnership with Acadia Center. We will continue to update the handout, as we receive additional endorsements, so please encourage your group to sign on by contacting me directly. Download the handout: bit.ly/ctenergyrelief-handout

Like us on Facebook to get all our updates and action alerts. We anticipate a public hearing in the Energy and Technology Committee in the coming weeks, and there will be many opportunities to contact your legislators at key points during the session. Donate online via IREJN (our fiscal sponsor); include “Roundtable” in the comment box. Or mail a check, payable to IREJN, with Roundtable on thememo line to PO Box 270147, West Hartford, CT 06127.

In faith and solidarity, John Humphries, Convener/ Organizer, john.humphries1664@gmail.com
The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is a partnership between the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network and the AFL-CIO that seeks to strengthen collaboration among Connecticut’s labor, environmental, and religious groups in advocating for public policies that address urgent concerns about climate change while creating good-paying jobs right here in our state.

SWITCH! Campaign encourages switching to clean energy

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven Healthy City/Healthy Climate Challenge

switch-campaignThe New Haven Healthy City/Healthy Climate Challenge launched an eight week SWITCH!

Campaign to have hundreds of New Haven residents switch to clean (wind, solar, etc) electricity in their homes. Between Dec. 1 and Jan. 19 (MLK Day) the campaign will – with your help – result in a reduction of thousands of tons of green-house gas pollution in the coming years.

By switching residents will:

  • Immediately cut greenhouse gas and other pollution by 3-5 tons per year per person.
  • Send a message to the power industry that they need to move away from dirty fossil fuels to meet growing demand for clean healthy energy.
  • Let the State government know that future investment in fossil fuel infrastructure is going the wrong way.

The SWITCH! Campaign is using public art, posters, PSAs (on WXPN), and tabling to get out the message that it’s very easy to switch.

Please join us and spread the word, get your organization to promote SWITCH! too! The directions are at healthyclimatechallenge.org, or contact Chris at nh@newhavenleon.org for more information or materials.

The campaign launched as the COP 20 [Conference of the Parties] meeting on climate change happened in Peru, where the future widespread use of fossil fuels is being questioned. Ahead of the talks, U.S. Climate Envoy Todd Stern made news by openly acknowledging that it was “obvious” that a proportion of what the coal, oil, and gas companies count as financial assets cannot possibly be dug out of the ground and burned if the world hopes to meet global targets. The solution, Stern said, will ultimately be one that leaves “a lot of fossil fuel assets in the ground.”

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