Energy Sovereignty

Archives from the Stop the PSU Pipeline Campaign and the early days of CITY-GREEN

Monday (Early Afternoon) Pipeline News – April 22, 2013


Public Rallies

  • Organizers put together two community demonstrations last week. On Thursday, students and community members protested at College Ave. & Allen Street from noon to 5 p.m. Demonstrators displayed a solar panel, a windmill and posters about tuition dollars “going up in smoke,” the inefficiency of many Penn State buildings, and the need for the university to get efficient, go geothermal, go cogeneration. Another demonstration ran from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the HUB.

Highlands Civic Association Letter-writing

  • The Highlands Civic Association met last week and decided to send a letter to Penn State trustees and executives concerning their proposed gas line project. Highlands residents who have have specific item(s) they want addressed in the letter should send a concise statement of the information to be included,  to Jackie Sobel by 5 p.m. today (April 22).

New Flier

  • Community organizers have drafted an excellent new informational flier, and circulated copies around town during Blue-White Weekend. 4.19.13 Citizen Pipeline Flyer

New Websites

There are two new pipeline-related community-run websites.

  • P.R.E.S.S. – Protecting Rights to Environmental Sustainability and Safety focuses on community organizing.
  • – altPSUenergy focuses on the technical aspects of designing and building alternative energy systems on the Penn State campus, including conservation, geothermal, solar and other strategies.


As far as I know, no lawsuits have been filed yet, although none of the parties has removed the litigation option from the table.

Evidence of fraud committed by Penn State and Columbia Gas officials on Borough officials and residents is gradually being compiled. Readers with documents illustrating the variable description of the proposed pipeline as a “distribution” line or a “transmission” line are welcome to send electronic versions of those documents. For example: scanned hard copies of handouts from the two informational meetings held on October 25, 2012 and March 12, 2013, transcripts of the March 18, 2013 and April 1, 2013 Borough Council meetings, copies of PowerPoint presentations prepared by Penn State and Columbia Gas officials, etc.


Not much news on the engineering front. On April 16, Erik Foley in the Sustainability Institute forwarded, by email, Matt Dahlhausen’s list of additional building-level energy use data to Rob Cooper and Alex Novak at the Office of Physical Plant. Matt needs the following information to expand his feasibility analysis:

  • For all campus buildings: Monthly utility for steam, chilled water, electric, service water. Hourly data would be nice for large/high use buildings on the district systems.
  • Both steam plants: hourly fuel consumption (gas, coal, diesel), steam output (pounds per hour), make-up water, condensate return, power production from cogen
  • Chilled water plants: hourly electric consumption, gpm, temp of supply, gpm, temp of return (or otherwise tons). If hourly data for the chilled water and steam plants is not available, daily data will suffice.
  •  Electric feed for campus: Megawatts of power – 15 minunte interval data (to get peak), and costing data for this ($/mwh, $/peak kw)
  • Any reports on the strategic utility plan, energy master plan or Greenhouse Gas reduction plan.
  • Any existing feasibility studies on renewable energy generation, especially geothermal
  • Any reports or initial disaggregation studies on campus buildings and retrofit plans underway


Penn State University and Columbia Gas

Penn State planners decided to ask Columbia Gas to reevaluate pipeline routes. Centre Daily Times coverage:

Community members are also circulating Penn State’s Sustainability Strategic Plan. It’s not clear who wrote the sustainability plan, when, or which official committees/boards/departments have adopted it. The full document includes Penn State’s vision:

“Penn  State’s  vision  is  a  comprehensive  integration  of  sustainability  into  the  University’s  research,   teaching,  and  service  that  will prepare students, faculty, and  staff  to  be  tomorrow’s  sustainability leaders.”

Conspicuously absent:

“…integrating sustainability into the University’s physical plant to support today’s sustainability leaders..”

Borough of State College

To my knowledge, the Borough Council and Borough Manager have not taken any official steps to implement provisions of the Community Bill of Rights or address community-led energy planning since the resolution and letter refusing to issue a permit to Columbia Gas. The Borough Manager’s office has cooperated with Right-to-Know requests in a courteous and professional way.


Community discussions this past week have focused on a few key questions:

  1. What’s the best way to handle the potential gap between people who don’t want Penn State to commit to natural gas as an energy source at all (through the plant conversion and pipeline installation) and those who would accept the gas commitment so long as the pipeline runs across Penn State’s campus?
  2. If Penn State students don’t mobilize resistance against a campus route, how much work are community members willing and able to do to carry the fight onto campus, given the personal, family and professional costs of dedicating large amounts of time to volunteer community organizing work?
  3. Are there employees within the University and within the Office of Physical Plant who are struggling to steer Penn State toward conservation and renewables? If so, how can pipeline opponents connect with them, support them and help them gain traction in their efforts, rather than isolate them inside the university along with the natural gas proponents?

  4. What’s the best way to inoculate the campaign against portrayals of pipeline opponents as “NIMBY liberals,” “loonies,” “liberal professors from up at the college,” “rabble rousers,” and “eco-extremists.”
  5. What’s the best way to bring other groups throughout the region – downtown business owners/Chamber of Commerce members and residents outside the relatively wealthy State College core – into the movement for community rights and energy sovereignty? Note: Some of the very first communities to adopt the CELDF rights-based strategy were small rural communities with conservative, independent-minded farmers serving on the local township councils and fed up with the corporations ruining their land and sickening their children with sewage sludge.
  6. Columbia Gas employees are currently doing work on 2-inch pipelines within the Prospect Avenue right-of-way where the 12″ pipeline was proposed. Is that a back-door way to gain legal access for the larger project?
  7. Before and since October 2012, Penn State and Columbia Gas public relations professionals have worked to delay release of public information and to portray the pipeline as benign and only in preliminary stages of planning, even though the project has been in development since 2010 and possibly earlier. What specific liability issues are they trying to avoid by controlling public information so tightly?
  8. Some Borough Council members and Planning Commission members have reportedly been frustrated with the lack of information produced by Penn State and Columbia Gas. How much information has been withheld from public officials? Has it been provided to some and not to others? For example, who attended the October 10, 2012 briefing of the State College Mayor by OPP administrators, when and where was that meeting held and what specific information was presented?
  9. Some reports say seven alternate routes were considered before Penn State and Columbia Gas settled on the Prospect Avenue route. Other reports say four alternate routes were considered. What’s the best way to find out who was involved in route analysis from the beginning of the project planning process, when and where they met, what information they considered in evaluating potential routes and whether any department of Penn State or Columbia Gas conducted risk assessments?


Centre Daily Times

Daily Collegian

Energy Planning Statewide:


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