Category Archives: Energy

Guide to having a “Net Zero” house and other energy tips

A local company, Belmont Solar, has posted a very helpful guide, “Net Zero House: The Definitive Guide to Energy Savings,” to achieving Net Zero energy status, including good tips for any home and helpful links.

The guide shows homeowners how to reduce their carbon footprint and their monthly energy bills, and ideally not only to rely entirely on their own energy output but to receive payments from the utility company.

What is a Net Zero house? It is “so energy efficient that it produces as much renewable energy (on or off site) as it consumes, making it a self-sustainable structure that is carbon-neutral.”

In addition to using renewable energy, “Going Net Zero involves superior building construction, utilizing new technology, practicing energy saving tips, and thinking outside the box.”

A few other details:

• Yes, a 26% federal tax credit still exists.

• Energy savings and renewable systems increase home market value.

• Homes can sell their excess energy production to the utility company and/or store it in batteries (whose technology is advancing rapidly).

• Insulation is really important for any home!

• So easy to do: turn off electronic devices when not in use! Those eat up electricity supposedly for your convenience, so you don’t have to wait a few seconds. Those energy stealers include entertainment systems, cable boxes, video game systems, televisions, audio systems, routers, and phones.

• Heating efficiency: ductless mini splits, smart thermostats, energy-efficient appliances.

• Rainwater harvesting, composting, and recycling also save energy, whether your own or the community’s.

Check out the full article, or see any chapter:

Chapter 1: What is a Net Zero House?

Chapter 2: Why is a Net Zero House Important?

hapter 3: How Do I Get to a Net Zero House?

Chapter 4: Installing a Clean Energy Source For Your Net Zero House – Solar Panels

Chapter 5: Insulation for a Net Zero House

Chapter 6: Reducing Phantom Loads in Your Net Zero House

Chapter 7: Energy Saving Systems and Appliances for a Net Zero House

Chapter 8: Additional Energy Saving Tips and Practices for Your Net Zero House

4CP newsletter, September 2020: the Good and the Not-So-Good

To subscribe to the Chester County Citizens for Climate Protection (4CP) newsletter, email here.  We hope you find it informative. 

THE GOOD NEWS

Microsoft will be carbon negative by 2030 (see here)

“The scientific consensus is clear. The world confronts an urgent carbon problem. The carbon in our atmosphere has created a blanket of gas that traps heat and is changing the world’s climate. Already, the planet’s temperature has risen by 1 degree centigrade. If we don’t curb emissions, and temperatures continue to climb, science tells us that the results will be catastrophic.”

Microsoft is not just to reducing its emissions but going carbon negative, wiping out all the carbon the company and its suppliers have emitted since its founding in 1975. Microsoft has set a new bar for what is considered climate leadership.   

It is a big deal. The company is setting new standards, especially in the rigor and transparency it is applying to the effort, and it is deliberately attempting to bring other companies, both suppliers and competitors, along with it into a world of shared metrics and data. First, some background. 

A quick note on kinds of emissions

In the carbon world, the emissions of a company can be divided into three buckets:

  • Scope 1 emissions come directly from resources the business owns or controls, like furnaces or delivery vehicles.
  • Scope 2 emissions come from the power plants that generate the electricity the business uses.
  • Scope 3 emissions are indirect, “embedded” in the materials and services the business uses, representing the emissions of the full supply chain including products.  This is significant, because for most companies, including Microsoft, scope 3 emissions are substantially larger than scope 1 and 2 combined.

“At Microsoft, we expect to emit 16 million metric tons of carbon this year,” according to president Brad Smith. “Of this total, about 100,000 are scope 1 emissions and about 4 million are scope 2 emissions. The remaining 12 million tons all fall into scope 3. Given the wide range of scope 3 activities, this higher percentage of the total is probably typical for most organizations.”

Microsoft just announced it has completed the largest-ever test running data center servers on hydrogen fuel cells, which can be powered by zero-carbon hydrogen generated from renewable energy. Currently, data centers have diesel generators on site for long-term backup in case of an outage. Power Innovations built a 250-kilowatt fuel cell system to help Microsoft explore the potential of using a hydrogen fuel cells for backup power generation at data centers. In a proof of concept, the system powered a row of servers for 48 consecutive hours.…  With 160 data centers worldwide and multiple generators per data center, that adds up to a lot of diesel generators. The company has pledged to phase them all out by 2030. That’s why it is testing fuel cells as backup power.

In January, Microsoft made a startling announcement: Not only will it reduce its scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions by 55 %; it will continue beyond that and go carbon negative, drawing down more carbon than it emits, by 2030. By 2050, it will draw down enough carbon to account for all the company’s emissions since its founding in 1975.

The January announcement, which came from Smith, the company’s president, backed by CFO Amy Hood and CEO Satya Nadella, laid out a set of principles that would guide the company’s approach [every company should have the equivalent!]:

  1. Grounding in science and math
  2. Taking responsibility for our carbon footprint
  3. Investing for new carbon reduction and removal technology
  4. Empowering customers around the world
  5. Ensuring effective transparency
  6. Using our voice on carbon-related public policy issues
  7. Enlisting our employees

It is now moving to a model where it directly contracts with renewable projects through power purchase agreements (PPAs). it is aiming to hit net zero for its scope 1 and 2 emissions by 2025 — and will compensate for what it can’t directly reduce with negative emissions.

As for No. 3, the company announced it will establish an investment fund that will target early-stage clean energy technologies, aiming to spend $1 billion over the next four years. A billion dollars in VC money is nothing to sneeze at. Nor is the signal Microsoft has sent to other companies by committing to a goal it admits it does not yet have the technology to achieve. It says going carbon negative will require “negative emission technologies (NET) potentially including afforestation and reforestation, soil carbon sequestration, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), and direct air capture (DAC).”

Some of those technologies don’t exist at meaningful scale yet, and Microsoft is making a concerted effort to accelerate them. Especially if it can inspire other companies to make similar investments. Amazon announced a $2 billion climate fund in June — the spillover effects will help boost the entire sector.

Microsoft chief environmental officer Lucas Joppa published an update on Microsoft’s progress. First, Microsoft is joining with nine other large companies — A.P. Moller-Maersk, Danone, Mercedes-Benz, AG, Natura & Co, Nike, Starbucks, Unilever, and Wipro, along with the EDF (Environmental Defense Fund), in Transform to Net Zero, “a cross-sector initiative to accelerate the transition to a net zero global economy.”

“Someday, CO2 removal will be fully commoditized,” says Julio Friedmann, a carbon researcher at the Center for Global Energy Policy at Columbia University, who has helped advise Microsoft on its RFP. “These actions help put us on that course.”

The same day Microsoft published its updates on progress, Apple announced that it would aim to be “carbon neutral across its entire business, manufacturing supply chain, and product life cycle by 2030,” an astonishing goal for a company that manufactures, ships, and disposes of so many devices. “Apple has said their suppliers will all run on renewable energy,” says Bartlett. “It set targets for them.”  Since 2014, Apple has purchased enough renewable energy to offset the usage of all its data centers.  (See here.)

The London-based BritishPetroleum said that it will transform itself by halting oil and gas exploration in new countries, slashing oil and gas production by 40 %, lowering carbon emissions by about a third, and boosting capital spending on low-carbon energy tenfold to $5 billion a year. “This makes the BP the first supermajor to spell out, in detail, what the energy transition will actually entail, in practical terms.” Investment in low-carbon initiatives is set to jump to more than $3 billion by 2025 and $5 billion by 2030, “en route to 50 gigawatts of renewable generation capacity by 2030 alongside scale-up of other clean tech businesses.” And it also will build on its retail gasoline station chain to offer recharging to electric vehicles along with convenience items such as food. 

Nicely reviewed in this short video.

BYD (Build Your Dreams), the world’s leading electric vehicle company with proven innovative technology for cars, buses, trucks, forklifts, and rail systems like SkyRail. BYD is dedicated to creating a truly zero-emission ecosystem offering technology for solar electricity generation, energy storage to save that electricity, and battery-electric vehicles powered by that clean energy. BYD has 220,000 employees across the globe, including nearly 1,000 in North America.  It has completed the delivery of 10 battery-electric K9S buses to Link Transit in Wenatchee, Washington. They will join 8 already in use. In 2018, Link Transit commissioned the nation’s first 200-kilowatt wireless charging system for a battery-electric transit bus from Chester County Momentum Dynamics. The system has been operational on a BYD K9S bus since then. See picture at end.

Malvern 4 min video Wireless charging for electric vehicles. Momentum Dynamics is the market leader. A modular platform technology capable of spanning across multiple vehicle types automatically and without a plug. Up to 450kW systems means faster charging and more miles per minute while charging at > 90% efficiency.

Killer Heat by Congressional District: New Map and Fact Sheets Show What’s at stake.   A new map tool from the Union of Concerned Scientists lets you explore how the frequency and severity of extreme heat are projected to change in your Congressional district in response to global warming. Through the tool, you can download district-specific fact sheets in English or Spanish that show the risks your district faces.  Explore the interactive map.

Rolling blackouts California: 

As we review the issue; lets remember that climate change is causing more heat and we will only  get hotter, resulting in more AC use for longer periods and more wildfires ..

Yes, moving to renewables has problems and we need lots more battery storage and to keep those nuclear plants running.  But burning more CH4  means an even hotter planet with more dead people; dead trees ; dead fish & extinct polar bears.

There were 3 articles in the Wall Street Journal on the rolling blackouts in California.  All three are linked below in order.

WSJ, 18 August 2020, page A18, “Millions in California Stand to Lose Power” = news article.

WSJ, 19 August 2020, page A17, “If You Like Lockdowns, You’ll Love the Carbon-Free Future” = op-ed designed to make renewables look bad.

And then the op-ed piece, WSJ, 20 August 2020, page A16, “California’s Green Blackouts“. This is an opinion piece not news reporting.

The California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) update about the Saturday outage:

“FOLSOM, Calif. – The California Independent System Operator (ISO) declared a Stage 3 Electrical Emergency at 6:28 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15, due to increased electricity demand, the unexpected loss of a 470-megawatt (MW) power plant, and loss of nearly 1,000 MW of wind power. The load was ordered back online 20 minutes later at 6:48 p.m., as wind resources increased.

“A Stage 3 Emergency is declared when demand begins to outpace available supply, and grid operators need to tap electricity reserves to balance the grid. Rotating power interruptions of about 470 MW were initiated across the state.”

Please note the first failure was a gas turbine power plant, and that the outages stopped as wind resources increased that evening.  The rolling blackouts covered the unexpected 470 MW capacity drop from the gas plant.

“In their letter, the regulators pointed to two factors that they think played a role: capacity shortfalls, as well as California’s heavy reliance on importing resources to meet its energy demand during late afternoons and early evenings in the summer. 

But one factor that they said did not cause the rotating outages is California’s broader transition to renewable energy, noting that their organizations understand the impacts of wind and solar on the grid and have taken steps to integrate the resources – although there’s clearly a need to do more.

So moving to renewables is not the root of the problems

– It’s capacity planning and management.

It’s rushing some shutdowns without fully modeling the entire grid.

It’s using infrastructure built in cooler times with lower populations in the desert Southwest.

 It’s depending on hydro during extensive drought and energy imports from states suffering the same heatwave and with larger populations than the past.

  • Note, too, that these were the first rolling blackouts during two decades of energy transition, and happened during an extraordinary regional heatwave — a precursor of things to come.

Remember too that the first issue on August 15 was the sudden drop of a gas power plant . Too often the opinion writers at WSJ and elsewhere point out that wind and solar requires backup capacity, somehow failing to add that so do all other generation sources on the grid — coal, gas, nuclear, hydro, whatever. 

More batteries will help with stabilizing power, and do it faster and more accurately than peaker plants and spinning reserves. Batteries (in cars or fixed-place) will also store daytime solar for use at evening peaks, and use nighttime wind more efficiently, too.

Thermal plants, whether fossil or nuclear, also get stressed in high temperatures (or hurricanes or ice storms) , precisely when needed most, and for coal and nuclear, cooling water is sometimes another cause of unscheduled emergency shutdowns the rest of the grid needs to make up for.

We have to replace our aging power infrastructure. California should keep the Diablo nuclear plant up during that transition, but should also look at improving transmission and hardening local infrastructure.  As EVs and their batteries become virtual power plants, they’ll be able to smooth demand spikes. As the new grid matures, they’d also be able to help local areas run in island mode if the larger transmission grid overloads. 

Higher temperatures and bigger populations will only make the stress on big AC lines increase. More HVDC interconnects will also improve the situation nationally, with the bonus that HVDC cables use the entire cable to carry power, so are less subject to heat stress compared to AC lines.  Sag is one cause of the fires and outages.

Hiding costs of damage from a product is not honest market capitalism, but unfortunately, it runs rampant here. We need to get away from that.  More fossil fuel use in California would make their problems worse, not better.  They should transition carefully, but not go in reverse.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD NEWS

Trump EPA Plows Ahead With ‘Mind-Bogglingly Stupid and Destructive’ Rollback of Methane Emissions Rules: The new EPA policies effectively free fossil companies “from the need to detect and repair methane leaks—even as new research shows that far more of the potent greenhouse gas is seeping into the atmosphere than previously known,” the New York Times says. “Over the past few years there has been an explosion of new research on this, and the literature has coalesced — 80% of papers show that methane from oil and gas leaks is two to three times higher than the EPA’s estimates,” — Robert Howarth,  at Cornell University.

“It’s crazy to roll back this rule,” warned Howarth, who last year published a study on North American gas production and methane emissions. “Twenty-five % of the human-caused warming over the past 20 years is due to methane. Methane is going up. We need it to go down.”

SOILS : We already know that the Permafrost (land frozen at least 2 years) is warming and the microbes are releasing CO2 & CH4.  This change is irreversible.  And could lead to overheating the planet even if we stop burning fossil fuelsNOW: Warming soils in the tropics could cause microbes to release carbon dioxide from storage. One scientist called the finding “another example of why we need to worry more.” 

-An experiment that heated soil underneath a tropical rainforest to mimic temperatures expected in the coming decades found that hotter soils released 55% more planet-warming carbon dioxide than did nearby unwarmed areas. If the results apply throughout the tropics, much of the carbon stored underground could be released as the planet heats up. By warming only the soil, the Barro Colorado Island experiment did not capture how plants would fare under warmer conditions, If plants were to photosynthesize more, for example, they could take up some of the carbon dioxide that soils release, making the overall impact on the climate less severe. Maybe... maybe not.

Greenland: Past point of no return or just close to the cliff? Nature Communications Earth and Environment: “Greenland’s glaciers have passed a tipping point of sorts, where the snowfall that replenishes the ice sheet each year cannot keep up with the ice that is flowing into the ocean from glaciers.” “We’ve been looking at these remote sensing observations to study how ice discharge and accumulation have varied,” said Michalea King, lead author of the study at Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center. “And what we’ve found is that the ice that’s discharging into the ocean is far surpassing the snow that’s accumulating on the surface of the ice sheet.” King and other researchers analyzed monthly satellite data from more than 200 large glaciers draining into the ocean around Greenland.

While Greenland ice loss is very concerning, other experts state the tipping point is not yet reached. Richard Alley (Penn state) provides context: “models show… sustained temperature above some threshold will cause  ice sheet to lose most of its mass, but warming to date… probably not enough.”  Modeling study looked in detail at the thresholds involved, suggested that the threshold for complete loss is somewhere between 1º and 3ºC above pre-industrial (best estimate was ~1.6ºC).  So Greenland is headed toward the cliff but not over yet.

The Trump Administration on Aug  17 finalized its plan to open up part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, a move that overturns six decades of protections for the largest remaining stretch of wilderness in the United States. The decision sets the stage for what is expected to be a fierce legal battle over the fate of the refuge’s vast, remote coastal plain, which is believed to sit atop billions of barrels of oil but is also home to polar bears and migrating herds of caribou.  Senator Dan Sullivan, Republican of Alaska: “Today, we are one step closer to securing a bright future for these Alaskans and their families.”

Interior Department downplayed the risks of climate change in its review. For example, the agency estimated that the refuge could produce as many as 10 billion barrels of oil over its lifetime, but argued that the effect on greenhouse gas emissions would be minimal, since most of that oil would simply displace oil being produced elsewhere in the country.

In comments submitted to the agency, the attorneys general from 15 states, including New York, called this displacement theory “completely unsupported” (NYTimes).

   

BYD is suppling Electric buses worldwide. These are in Spain.

From Ground-Source to Rooftops, From Blower Doors to Net-Zero: The 2019 Clean Energy Tour in Chester County

By Jim Wylie & Paula Kline, The Sylvanian, Winter 2019 Southeastern PA Sierra Club Newsletter, December 13, 2019

On October 19, 2019, Ready for 100/Chester County hosted a tour on the National Solar Tour. We visited 35 sites, covering the better part of the whole county, and welcomed over 200 participants at installed and operation examples of:

  •  Rooftop residential solar systems
  •  Battery storage systems
  • Large commercial solar operations – including a 1.1 MW array at a mushroom farm
  • Green roofs
  • Ground-source heat pumps
  • Air-source heat pumps (owner installed)
  • Net-zero, passive solar homes
  • Solar powered robotic lawnmowers
  • Renewable gas producing digesters
  • Home energy efficiency measures – including an in-progress blower door test by PECO Home Energy Assessments program
  • Electric vehicles and charging stations
  • And much more

The post-tour celebration

The Chester County Clean Energy Tour of 2019 was the culmination of a vision by Paula Kline, Ready For 100/Chester County team leader. Paula committed to joining the national solar tour in the spring of 2019 and spent eight months lining up volunteers (about 15), endorsements from elected officials and energy related organizations and sponsors (commercial) and co-sponsors (env orgs). A huge undertaking that ultimately included four kickoff sites with hosts and presenters and visual materials that can be used for future renewable energy related events….

read more in The Sylvanian

When will Verizon make progress on clean energy?

A 12/22/19 email from GreenAmerica begins:

A lot can happen in a year…except at Verizon.

One year ago, the telecom giant quietly released its first major commitment to clean energy: to reach 50 percent clean energy by 2025.

Unfortunately, Verizon hasn’t announced any progress, meanwhile its competitors have made strides in clean energy.

Urge Verizon to make clean energy a priority for 2020!

This year, T-Mobile announced new wind and solar purchases that will bring the company to 95 percent of its 100 percent clean energy goal. AT&T announced two new deals and stated that its clean energy usage is equal to removing 690,000 cars off the road each year. Sprint also announced its first clean energy project this year, which will provide 30 percent of the company’s energy.

But renewables were a mere 1 percent of Verizon’s total energy use in 2018. Since it hasn’t announced any new contracts, it doesn’t seem promising that Verizon will reach its goal anytime soon.

Read more and sign the petition here.

Looking for a presentation on climate paths forward?

Are you interested in organizing a presentation on paths forward to reverse and protect against climate change? Your civic group or municipality could be a good audience.

Bill Haaf, who lives in Pocopson township and belongs to Chester Citizens for Climate Protection (one of the 4 component groups of the West Chester Green Team), is kindly willing to speak for free.

Bill, retired from DuPont after 38 yrs. was a scientist and Corporate Manager of Product Stewardship. He has been closely involved with the science and risks of climate crisis for 25 yrs.

His 50 min power point presentation on “Climate Crisis: Paths Forward, realistic numbers & solutions” to be followed by questions and discussion.

I you might be interested please contact Bill at 610-675-7131 or billhaaf@verizon.net

The outline of his talk follows

Climate Crisis: Paths Forward, realistic numbers & solutions

• Climate  Change is an existential threat  to  America

• Brief overview: Scientific consensus & biggest  impacts

* Barriers: It’s a cultural war

– Roles of oil & gas: No fossil fuel by 2050                

– America lacks goals & strategy!

•  Harsh data:  Progress is too slow

– How many options? 

– Solar & wind  & electrolysis  & renewable H2 & methane net power; nuclear                

– What  about trees & soils & steel & cement & beef ?       

•  What about Carbon Capture ?

EQAT Action at PECO December 11, 2019

Earth Quaker Action Team (EQAT) protested simultaneously at three PECO locations in Chester County: Phoenixville, Coatesville and Warminster early on Wednesday December 11. Protesters’ demands were simple “PECO, get a plan to combat climate change.”

About a hundred people divided over the three locations delivered the message by songs, banners, signs, and speeches.

PECO has been seriously lacking in its response to climate change by not purchasing nearly enough of its electricity from renewable sources like solar and wind. PECO is not thinking long term and climate change is already causing deadly droughts, floods, and other extreme weather. If we do not take immediate action, the results could be catastrophic.

At the same time, income inequality is reaching historic heights. Working class communities and communities of color are facing staggering levels of unemployment as businesses and the wealthy profit. We believe that there are better ways of doing business that reduce climate change and produce good jobs.

PECO must become part of the solution by increasing the purchases of locally produced sustainable energy.

We demand that PECO derive 20% of the total energy production from sustainable sources produced locally while prioritizing community-owned solar power, ownership by low-income communities in PECO’s service area, and installation by local workers paid livable wages, especially from high unemployment areas in its service area.

So far the response of PECO has been words but no action and we demand immediate action to get to the 20% sustainable power by 2025. Europe just signed their Green New Deal so it’s not like the rest of the world is not moving forward. It’s companies like PECO that need to get with the times and if it takes more protests, then we will up our protests to a level that PECO can not turn away from.

Since 2015 our campaign has grown with actions like the PECO Runaround where 100 runners, walkers, and wheelers circled company headquarters at the “PECO Runaround” (because PECO is giving Philadelphia the runaround on solar). The event raised $10,000 to Power Local Green Jobs.

We will not sit still until PECO comes up with a plan and executes that plan with tangible results.

— Jakob

See also Donna Rovins, “Group continues to push PECO on solar power, green jobs,” Daily Local News, 12/15/19

March For 100% Renewable Energy in the Christmas Parade Dec. 6 💥

CLEAN, SAFE ENERGY. RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NOW.

Will you march with us for 100% renewable energy on December 6th 5:30-9 p./m. in West Chester?

Maybe you are someone who started marching for the climate in DC on a bitter February (2013) or in NY at the People’s Climate Marches (April 2014 and 2017). Or maybe you joined the March for Science or the one in November 2015 before the Paris Climate talks.

Closer to home, you have an opportunity to bring our positive, solution focused message to thousands of residents in southeastern PA at the annual West Chester Christmas Parade on Friday December 6th!

This is one way we can support the Youth Climate movement which is calling for action on December 6th. As world leaders gather at the UN’s annual climate conference, young people across America will join a national #ClimateStrike to take the momentum from their September strike to elected officials’ doorsteps.

We’ve planned a great Clean Energy Contingent. We’ll have signs for each of the 25 communities that have passed  resolutions EV cars dressed as reindeer “pulling” Santa’s sleigh (a red EV) a beautiful sun puppet wind turbines clean energy banners a banner for each of our county groups Come help us share the good news about renewable, clean energy by marching and proudly carrying a sign, poster or banner.

To learn more, register  here, no later than November 20th

Important Upcoming date
Dress rehearsal:  Sunday November 24 2:00-4:00pm (Location to be determined; check calendar here)

Download flyer here: https://wcgreenteam.files.wordpress.com/2019/11/chesco-christmas-parade-clean-energy.pdf

Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom

Power County Wind Farm

As part of the environmental film series, the new documentary Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom will be shown THIS Thursday (11/6) at 6pm in the West Chester University Sykes theater. The documentary “tells the backstory of clean energy from innovation to installation”.

The film will focus on clean energy, but will also cover other themes such as job security, innovation, community benefits, workforce diversity, and much more. If you plan on attending the event, or if you would like to learn more about clean energy, let’s brush up on some fast facts about renewable energy!

Clean Economy

Many people are worried about the cost of switching to clean energy – but actually, in many areas, renewable energy is cheaper than coal and fracked gas (Lazard). Also, the costs of wind and solar power are dropping rapidly.

  • Since 2009, the price of solar has dropped 85%, and the price of wind power is down 66% (CleanTechnica)
  • Solar power is now cheaper than the current cost of utility-provided electricity in 42 of our nation’s 50 biggest cities and in nearly half of all states

People also worry that converting to clean energy will take away jobs from workers in the coal and gas industries. However, there is a predicted 108% growth in wind turbine technician jobs from 2014 to 2024, the largest growth rate of any occupation in the country and double the rate of the second fastest-growing job (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Not only does clean energy create jobs, clean energy jobs can be created anywhere!

Clean Health

A major reason we should convert to clean energy is because fossil fuels pollute our air and water. Large populations of people are impacted by pollution due to fossil fuels, especially in areas of low-income or in communities of color. Once we switch to clean energy, everyone will benefit from cleaner air and water.

  • The switch to clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar has already prevented 12,700 premature deaths from fossil fuel pollution in the United States in this past decade (Nature)
  • Replacing fossil fuel vehicles with electric vehicles and clean transportation could prevent 10,000 asthma attacks annually (Environment California)

Clean Reliability

Our current sources of energy aren’t always reliable. Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear power fluctuate rapidly in price. Many power plants are decades old, and are starting to become a liability in the industry. Something else to worry about? Coal, fracked gas, and nuclear may fail during heat waves because they require so much water to manufacture. And with climate change on the rise, we will be seeing more extreme weather, and perhaps hotter summer. But when we make the switch, we will be working with much more reliable power.

  • In extreme weather events, like a hurricane, renewables are resilient. During Hurricane Sandy, for example, solar panels both weathered the storm and quickly repowered damaged areas (Christian Science Monitor)
  • Even for other uses of energy, like transportation, renewables come out on top on reliability. For example, electric vehicles require far less maintenance than fossil fuel vehicles, and their drivers avoid volatile gasoline prices (Department of Energy)
  • Emerging resources like energy storage, demand response technologies, and new transmission will create a more flexible energy system to produce even greater amounts of renewable energy

If you’d like to learn even more about clean energy, and how we’re going to get to 100% clean, please join us for the film tomorrow! Again, it is Thursday 11/6 at West Chester University in the Sykes Theater, at 6pm. And here is a quick trailer of the documentary:

For more info, please visit reinventingpowerfilm.org

Environmental Film Series at WCU

The Third Annual Environmental Film Series at WCU sponsored by the Office of Sustainability at West Chester University, the West Chester Green Team, and member groups of the Chester County Environment Alliance, in memory of Graham Hudgings.

Sykes Student Union Theater, 110 W. Rosedale Ave., West Chester PA 19382. Door opens at 5:30 p.m., films at 6:00. Films are free!

SEPTA’s 104 and 92 buses stop on High Street, the ChesCo SCCOOT bus stops at the corner of Rosedale and New Streets, and the campus is easily accessible by bicycle and on foot. If you drive, access the lot in back of Sykes side via the streets to the east or west of Sykes.

9/19, Bikes vs Cars, about bicycling in our society

10/17, River Blue, about wasteful and polluting clothing manufacturing.
11/7, Reinventing Power, about renewable energy, with West Chester Sustainability director Will Williams as guest speaker
12/12, Eating Animals, with a vegetarian food tasting buffet by the WC Coop

Speech at Climate Action and Peace rally, 9/21/19

by Ginny Kerslake

Hello everyone and thank you. It is an honor and pleasure to stand before you today. And to follow Isaac. I was at West Chester Borough Council that night in July when he and his schoolmates spoke so passionately and intelligently, and persuaded Council to vote for a ban on plastics. It was an inspiring night. These children, this borough, coming together to make change.

I am involved in a different local movement, but one that is closely linked. When the Mariner East pipeline project roared into Southeastern Pennsylvania, residents started educating themselves and speaking up against this threat to the homes we work hard for, our quality of life, our families’ safety, our community’s safety. We aren’t pipeline activists, but rather ordinary residents defending what we love.

When land agents started knocking doors with easements five years ago, property owners were told Mariner East would be just like all the other pipelines we have been living with. We were told they had eminent domain, so even if we didn’t sign their easements they would put their pipelines on our land anyway and take us to court. We were told that construction would last 2 weeks tops and “you won’t hear us, you won’t see us, you won’t even notice we’re here.”

Well, there probably aren’t many people in Chester County who haven’t noticed Mariner East construction, now into its third year. In townships across Chester County and the state, private water sources have been destroyed, sometimes where there is no access to public water. Streams have been polluted. In West Whiteland Township, where I live, a neighborhood has been destroyed and the families in five homes forced to leave in silence in order to get fair compensation. And we now know that these pipelines are NOT like all the others.

The three Mariner East pipelines will transport over 700,000 barrels per day of ethane, butane and propane liquified under high pressure, making them much more dangerous that the other pipelines we are used to. When there is a leak these liquids convert back to their gaseous state and because they are heavier than air they stay close to the ground and spread like fog. They are odorless, colorless and highly explosive. To evacuate, one must run a half mile, upwind, on foot. We have no credible emergency plan to warn and protect the public. And here’s the thing: all of this is being done to ship ethane from fracking overseas to make plastics – something we need less of, not more.

The problem with plastics isn’t just sea turtles and garbage patches the size of Texas. The problem is also the fracking, pipelines, and cracker plants that are required to produce these plastics. Stopping anthropogenic climate change that threatens the whole world, and the pipeline infrastructure buildout that threatens Chester County and other parts of the US, isn’t just about switching to renewable energy. The solution is also moving away from petroleum-based plastics.

Here in Pennsylvania we can make a huge difference. Although we are a small share of the global population, we are a big contributor to greenhouse gases. We are ranked #2 in the country for natural gas extraction and #3 for coal.

While we stand here today fighting climate change, oil and gas lobbyists are working hard in Harrisburg and elsewhere to make our state a powerhouse for the world and this area a pipeline hub.

But we are the voters. We are the consumers. We can make mindful choices every day about what we buy, how we get from place to place, how we heat our homes…. But even more importantly, every six months we can go to the voting booth. Regardless of political party we need to ask all our candidates and elected officials what they will do to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We need to demand our legislators reject policies that shackle us to fracking, pipelines and plastics production.

We can make every single eco-friendly change in our own lives but the climate crisis demands big bold changes, the kind we need the government WE elect to make.

To quote Margaret Wheatley, “There is no power for change greater than a community discovering what it cares about.”

Defend what you care about. Defend what you love.

Thank you.