Energy Sovereignty

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

Research Ongoing – PSU Energy Docs from Mid-1990s

Nittany Energy Project Paper Trail – Analysis

Reality Therapy – “Reality therapy maintains that the individual is suffering from a socially universal human condition rather than a mental illness. It is in the unsuccessful attainment of basic needs that a person’s behavior moves away from the norm…The reality therapy approach to counseling and problem-solving focuses on the here-and-now actions of the client and the ability to create and choose a better future. Typically, clients seek to discover what they really want and how they are currently choosing to behave in order to achieve these goals. According to Glasser, the social component of psychological disorders has been highly overlooked in the rush to label the population as sick or mentally ill. Reality therapy attempts to separate the client from the behavior. Just because someone is experiencing distress resulting from a social problem does not make him sick; it just makes him out of sync with his psychological needs.

What does Penn State OPP want?

  • 600,000 pph steam capacity or equivalent energy and space heating capacity.

Patterns of Institutional Behavior

  • Penn State demonstrates pattern of interest in and skill at leveraging public status for cost cutting.
  • Penn State demonstrates pattern of seeking to avoid regulatory exposure
  • Penn State demonstrates pattern of interest in and skill at alternatives analysis including systematic site evaluations and multi-decade fuel cost projections.
  • Penn State demonstrates pattern of interest in and skill at secret-keeping. OPP, Finance and corporate partners and consultants make plans and explicitly exclude public information and participation.
  • Penn State demonstrates pattern of disinterest in and poor skills at community engagement.

Institutional Penn State has no genuine interest in community engagement – small solar outreach projects notwithstanding. The first sign of a culture change on that front will be full public release of the current Energy System Master Plan, followed by community members as community members sitting in the backroom planning meetings with OPP, Finance & Business, Deloitte & Touche, Wiley & Wilson, McQuaid Blasko and the rest.

There is an opportunity here to turn the Borough of State College into a public utility – negotiate solar panel installation on Borough homes and businesses to feed into the local grid for purchase by Penn State, meeting Penn State’s interest in outsourcing energy services and the Borough’s interest in increasing local energy security.

But projections about campus growth, student population growth, and fuel cost growth are essential to University and community planning. Those projections are included in the mid-1990s documents but not in the documents released to the public regarding the West Campus Steam Plant Project to date.

If Penn State either has or shortly will peak in size, then it can either hold steady or decline. And in a steady-state or contracting scenario, energy decisions will be very, very different from what Penn State appears to be interested in pursuing.

It will be the mirror image of debt-financed “peak energy demand planning:” trough energy demand planning, in a pay-as-you-go financial landscape driven by systemic economic contraction.

In concrete terms: Penn State will be a smaller, leaner university, with fewer occupied buildings, fewer students, faculty and staff, colder rooms in winter and hotter rooms in summer.

[For more on link between peak energy demand and debt-financed economic expansion – the energy-economy nexus – see Tverberg and Heinberg.]


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