Energy Sovereignty

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

Archive for the category “Community Bill of Rights”


All the content from this website has been moved over to a new website for CITY-GREEN at “”

The new blog editors are Mike Rybacki, CITY-GREEN Interim Chairman, and Scott Patterson of PSU Organizing for Action.

If you want to get posts from the CITY-GREEN organizers in your email inbox, click over to the new CITY-GREEN site and subscribe.

This site is now reverting back to its original Energy Sovereignty title, and will remain as archives only since I’m focusing my writing and editing work exclusively on Steady State College.

Many of the energy-related documents transferred to the CITY-GREEN site contain URLs linking them to “” pages; CITY-GREEN readers will continue to have access to those through the archives.


DIY Solar Hot Water Workshop – June 7

(From Joshua Lambert)

Spring Creek Homesteading Fund is hosting a “Building a Solar Hot Water Heater” workshop on Saturday, June 7 from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm at 156 West Hamilton Ave, State College, PA.

Instructor Johan Zwart will demonstrate how a repurposed glass door, some copper tubing, and an old water heater tank can be converted into a stand-alone solar hot water heater. In addition to the actual build, Johan will provide a parts list and discuss sourcing options and alternative designs for the water heater.

Please register by phone at (814) 237-0996 or by email at  There is a $12 per person sliding scale registration fee.


Steady State College – May 26, 2014 Edition

The May 26 edition of Steady State College has gone to the printer, but will not be published online.

Contents include the calendar of events, reports on Friends & Farmers Cooperative, the Penn State Student Farm and Sustainable Food Systems minor, Centre Region Council of Governments work on the Georgetown University Energy Prize, CITY-GREEN community organizing, Jeffrey Brownson’s Community Solar on State project, Penn State’s strategic energy planning in the mid-1990s, and the ongoing absurdly challenging quest for Penn State’s current Energy System Master Plan.

NEW – Electronic Subscriptions Available!

How to get Steady State College newspapers:

SINGLE COPIES – If you see me walking around town, you can purchase single copies from my bright red Itinerant Newsstand satchel for $2 per copy.

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS – HOME DELIVERY – If you would like home delivery of paper editions, you can order a subscription for $40 per year. Mail checks to Katherine Watt/156 West Hamilton Ave./State College PA 16801.

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS – ELECTRONIC DELIVERY – In response to reader requests, if you prefer an electronic edition delivered to your email inbox, please let me know. Subscription cost is the same – $40 per year. I’ll email PDF editions until the newspaper is being printed exclusively on the hand-powered press; paper editions by home delivery thereafter. [If you’re already getting home delivery and want to switch to electronic delivery, please let me know.]

AUTHORIZED RESELLERS – If you would like to offer copies to your customers, you can purchase copies to resell (increments of five) and sell them at your shop, office, farmers market vendor table, church or other public location. I’ll deliver the copies and buy back any unsold copies when I deliver the next edition.

How to tip-off Steady State College

Readers with information about topics of interest are strongly encouraged to send news tips, reports and opinion pieces about local…

DEMOCRACY – Locally-controlled decision-making activities such as government meetings and legislation, public hearings; community-based organizational meetings.

FOOD – Local food system building blocks such as Friends & Farmers Cooperative; community, school and church gardens; community kitchens; farms & farmers’ markets; potlucks; gleaning programs; and food banks.

ENERGY – Local energy system-building activities such as conservation programs; fossil fuel and renewable energy infrastructure developments.

SKILL-BUILDING – Local skill-building programs including workshops in homesteading skills like cooking, baking, food preservation, woodworking and fiber crafts; Happy Valley Timebank; homesteading book & magazine libraries; and tool libraries.

INVESTMENT – Local investment activities such as microfunding, crowdfunding, credit unions, buying clubs, local currencies, local investment and mutual funds, targeted CDs, slow money clubs and “slow munis” (municipal bonds).


May 29 COG-PSE Committee Meeting Agenda

5.29.14 COG PSE Agenda

“…COG  Staff  comments  regarding  this  project  are:

  • It  is  a  good  idea  for  regional  projects  promoting  energy  conservation  and   environmental  sustainability.
  • The  application  depends  on  getting  levels  of  commitment  from  the  various  groups  by   the  end  of  June.
  • Assuming  that  letters  of  commitment  are  provided,  COG  has  the  staff  capacity  to   pull  together  an  application.
  • COG  does  not  have  the  staff  capacity  to  take  a  lead  role  in  coordinating  (preparing   agendas,  minutes,  communications  &  reports)  a  working  group,  compiling   information  and  preparing  the  energy-­savings  plan…”

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.]

Next COG-PSE Committee Meeting – May 29

(From Pam Adams, Regional Refuse and Recycling Administrator, Centre Region Council of Governments)

The Public Services & Environmental Committee Special Meeting on the Georgetown University Energy Prize is Thursday, May 29 from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.

An agenda will go out Friday, May 23.

The meeting will be advertised, as it is a public meeting, and invitations will be extended to Rob Cooper and Dan Sieminski at PSU and other local community members who have expressed interest in attending.

Calendar of Upcoming GUEP-Related Events:

  • May 27  – CITY GREEN Meeting, 7 p.m. at New Leaf Initiative
  • May 29 – COG-PSE Committee Special Meeting on GUEP, 9 a.m. at COG Building
  • June 4 – COG-PSE Committee Regular Meeting, 8:30 a.m. at COG Building
  • June 17 – Draft GUEP application package  due to COG Executive Committee.
  • June 23 – GUEP application package due to the COG General Forum.
  • June 30 – GUEP application package due to GUEP; online filing.
  • August – November – All “credible” plans submitted by June 30 will go into the quarter-finals, with detailed program plans due between August and November 2014.
  • Throughout the process, GUEP will match community planners with technical energy consultants for advice and support.


Next CITY-GREEN Meeting May 27

(From CITY-GREEN Secretary Nari Soundarrajan)

The next CITY-GREEN Meeting will be Tuesday, May 27 at 7 p.m. at New Leaf Initiative, 243 South Allen St., Third Floor

Proposed agenda:

  1. Nominate and vote for Vice Chairman; and six remaining Board positions.
  2. Prepare for COG-PS&E Committee Special Meeting on May 28 to discuss Georgetown University Energy Prize
  3. Talk about progress on our energy efficiency projects
  4. Review documents that will be posted for vote prior to the meeting: CITY-GREEN support letter to COG, Open Letter to COG – Application assistance; request to COG for recognition as an advisory committee.


Steady State College – May 12, 2014 Edition

The May 12 edition of Steady State College has gone to the printer, but will not be published online.

Contents include the calendar of events, reports on Happy Valley Timebank, community gardening, Fossil Free PSU student organizing, CITY-GREEN community organizing, and the ongoing farcical madcap pursuit of Penn State’s Energy System Master Plan.

newsstandWant to get a copy?

SINGLE COPIES – If you see me walking around town, you can purchase single copies from my bright red Itinerant Newsstand bag. For the month of May, the introductory price is $1 per copy. After June 1, the price will be $2 per copy.

ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTIONS – If you would like home delivery, you can order a subscription. For the month of May, the introductory price is $25 per year (24-26 issues). After June 1, the home delivery subscription price will be $40 per year. To order, send your address and a check to Katherine Watt, 156 West Hamilton Ave., State College PA 16801.

AUTHORIZED RESELLERS – If you would like to offer copies to your customers, you can purchase copies to resell (increments of five) and sell them at your business, farmers market vendor table, church or other public location. I’ll deliver the copies and buy back any unsold copies when I deliver the next edition.


A bunch of reasons.

  1. Less screen time: good.
  2. More person-to-person interaction: good.
  3. Non-digital historical records: durable and portable.
  4. Net neutrality: endangered. Result: slower loading speeds for small free websites like blogs.
  5. Gathering, formatting and publishing local food, energy, democracy, skill-building and investment: hard work. (My goal: 150 single copy sales/paid subscribers per issue by October 30, 2014)
  6. Less community dependence on complex technology and fragile utility grid for news and information distribution: more resilient community.
  7. John Michael Greer’s advice to “Collapse now and avoid the rush:” makes sense to me.

Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush:

“…The way to avoid the rush is simple enough:  figure out how you will be able to live after the next wave of crisis hits, and to the extent that you can, start living that way now. If you’re worried about the long-term prospects for your job — and you probably should be, no matter what you do for a living — now is the time to figure out how you will get by if the job goes away and you have to make do on much less money. For most people, that means getting out of debt, making sure the place you live costs you much less than you can afford, and picking up some practical skills that will allow you to meet some of your own needs and have opportunities for barter and informal employment.  It can mean quite a bit more, depending on your situation, needs, and existing skills.  It should certainly involve spending less money— and that money, once it isn’t needed to pay off any debts you have, can go to weatherizing your home and making other sensible preparations that will make life easier for you later on…”

Two New Spending Plan Drafts

(From Mike Rybacki)

5.5.14 Draft GUEP Spending Plan

5.5.14 Draft GUEP Highlights

Penn State Researchers Submitting $15 Million Community Shared Solar Grant Proposal

(From Sarah Klinetob Lowe, State College Borough Council Member)

Researchers at Penn State will be submitting a proposal for the Department of Energy’s $15 million grant “to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses.”

The project will be on the agenda at this Wednesday’s meeting of the Centre Region Council of Governments Public Services & Environment Committee. 8:30 a.m. at 2643 Gateway Drive.

Applicants include faculty from the College of Engineering, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, and staff at Office of Physical Plant. If the grant is successfully funded, it could complement the Georgetown University Energy Prize, because the Department of Energy grant funds must be used specifically for planning and program development, rather than directly funding the solar photovoltaics deployment.

Dr. Jeffrey Brownson from the Earth and Mineral Sciences College will be at Wednesday’s meeting. He recommends reading the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 2010 Guide to Community Shared Solar for more information; the guide summarizes the methods and motivations for developing community solar projects. Hopefully the reading will provide a good shared overview and context for continuing the community conversation on this topic.

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