Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sustainability Action Network, Weekly Newsletter, 11 April 2017

11 April 2017


The Community Mercantile grocery co-op, Lawrence's home grown natural foods store, has contracted with Cromwell Solar to install about 200 kilowatts of solar electric collectors.  The 200 KW capacity array will provide 29% of the store's annual electricity demand, save an estimated $1.8 million, and avoid 16.5 million pounds of CO2 pollution.  It will be the largest solar photo voltaic array to date in Lawrence, and will be mounted on the roof as well as on parking lot shade structures.  Added to this will be Lawrence's first solar powered electric car charging station.

Because the solar tax credits for co-ops aren't as beneficial as for individuals, the Merc will be leasing the system instead of outright buying it.  This arrangement has benefits of it's own however.  There won't be a big cash outlay by the Merc, which would have put a large dent in their budget.  They will pay off the lease through Baldwin City's Mid America Bank over 25 years, with an option to purchase the system after 5 years.  Another benefit is that Cromwell Solar is responsible for all maintenance of the system, which otherwise would be quite challenging for the Merc whose expertise is in groceries, not electronics.  Construction will begin this Summer, with an Autumn completion target.  Read more at - The Merc Co+op Newsletter_Spring 2017, page 4.


In March of 2015, Westar Energy filed for authorization with the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) to use any of three residential rate schedules.  The standard residential service charge would have gone from $12 to $27 per month.  For folks with rooftop solar or small wind, the service charge would have been $50 per month, even though they use hardly any utility electricity.  But Westar claimed the rate rise was needed to maintain and upgrade infrastructure such as transmission lines and generating facilities - again all of which are hardly used by folks with small renewable energy systems.  This resembled a pattern in several other states guided by the Koch brother's ALEC group, that burdens small renewable energy folks with excessive fees, making small renewables uneconomic.

A number of solar energy advocates testified in 2015 before the KCC, saying that the proposal unfairly targeted folks with small renewable energy systems.  For one thing, there are only 450 out of a Westar customer base of about 690,000 - or only 0.07%.  After several rounds of hearings, Westar withdrew the $50/mo. solar and wind rate proposal, but they were allowed to raise the standard monthly charge to $14.50.  Furthermore, all parties agreed that a future KCC investigative hearing should be held to determine if there's justification to charge small solar and wind customers a rate different from non-renewable customers.  The rate structure hearing process began in 2016.
The public comment period is open now, until 26 May at 5:00pm, and you can read the explanation at - Rate Design for Distributed Generation Customers_KCC Docket #16-GIME-403-GIE.  There are three ways to submit comments: 
  1. Go to the KCC website - - to enter your comment.  Click on the link under "Your Opinion Matters".  Scroll down to find Distributed Generation Rate Design Docket 16-GIME-403-GIE.
  2. Send a written letter to the Kansas Corporation Commission, Office of Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, 1500 SW Arrowhead Road, Topeka, KS 66604-4027.  Be sure to reference Docket #16-GIME-403-GIE.
  3. Call the Commission's Public Affairs office at 1(800)662-0027

The Prairie Sky Solar Farm, a 1-megawatt facility ten miles N.E. of Wichita, was dedicated on 14 March by KEPCo, a utility cooperative based in Topeka.  The electric co-op wanted to diversify its electricity sources, which already includes some from the Wolf Creek nuclear plant, some from the Iatan coal plant in Missouri, a 20-megawatt diesel generator facility, and hydroelectric power from several locations.  Mark Barbee, the co-op's vice president of engineering, said that "solar PV is cheaper than buying wholesale from other utilities, [and] even if federal tax supports are removed by the Trump administration, solar makes sense".  He added "And in our view the need for carbon reductions will not go away, so we see this as a key part of our portfolio long term".  Read more at - Wichita area gains its first solar power plant.


New York Gov. Cuomo's choice: $7.6 billion for nukes or for solar.
There are four ancient and decrepit nuclear power generators in New York for which Governor Cuomo is considering a $7.6 billion cash transfusion to keep them on life support.  Cuomo's handout would enable four extremely old and dangerous nuclear reactors to continue running, that came online in 1969, 1970, 1975 and 1988 respectively.  Solar proponent, Harvey Wasserman, notes that "Because the electricity they produce is so expensive, they will drain a huge pool of resources from a state-wide economy in desperate need of industrial rebirth".  In upstate New York, a visionary future is emerging with the construction of Elon Musk's "Buffalo Billion" gigafactory for photovoltaic (PV) cells.  It's called a gigafactory because it will produce a gigawatt’s (1 million kilowatts) worth of solar panels every year, about the same as a nuclear reactor.

Wasserman points out that if Cuomo chooses to shore up the dying four nuclear reactors that employ only 1200 people, it will be a state investment of $3.64 million per job retained.  In contrast, a choice for jobs investment in manufacturing and installation of solar and energy efficiency and storage batteries would create thousands more jobs, each at only $148,000 per job created.  Plus, solar technology will produce electricity cheaper, cleaner, more safely and more reliably than any fossil or nuclear source of power, including fracked gas.  The Westinghouse bankruptcy which may take down its parent company of Toshiba, is a stark case of global nuclear energy anemia.  Good money after bad for four old nukes, three of them nearly a half-century old, could do the same to the New York economy.  Read more at - Four Dying Nuke Plants vs. Fleet of Gigafactories: Which Will Gov. Cuomo Choose?.

We suggest readers avail themselves of the following sources for news on the demise of nuclear power: Japan for SustainabilityJapan FocusSolartopia, and Fairewinds Energy Education.


Tuesday, 11 April 2017, 5:45pm
Lawrence City Hall, 6 East 6th St., Lawrence KS 66044

The Lawrence City Manager has recommended a 2018 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that does not fund any of the four bikeway projects submitted by Sustainability Action: a shared use path on 6th St., a shared use path on Naismith Dr., protected bicycle lanes on Massachusetts St., and a bike-walk street on 13th St.  However, ultimately the City Commission decides whether to fund any of these projects.  They can be convinced by a large showing of bicycle advocates speaking at this meeting.  The squeaky wheel gets the grease, as the saying goes.  So we encourage you to be a squeaky wheel, and speak for bicycle wheels in Lawrence.  They should fund at least one major project each year from here on out.
It's recognized that of about 2/3 of the population want to bicycle.  But of that 2/3rds, 88% don't bicycle because they find the streets too dangerous, and the sidewalks too incomplete and slow and dangerous from turning motor vehicles.  Only 7% of the population feel strong and confident, and won't be deterred.  We want the City of Lawrence to provide bikeways that address the needs of the remaining 60% of the population who are "interested but concerned" about getting out there among 4000lb vehicles going 45mph.  If we're ever going to have safe bikeways to get to the library, schools, or shopping, large numbers of citizens will have to speak up for them.  Join the critical mass at City Hall on 11 April.


A popular feature of the Sustainability Action website is the book purchase affiliate program with Chelsea Green Publishers.  Founded in 1984, Chelsea Green Publishing is recognized as a leading publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living.  They publish authors who bring in-depth, practical knowledge to life, and give readers hands-on information related to organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and more.  In 2012, Chelsea Green became an employee-owned company.

You can buy a book from the extensive listings of Chelsea Green, and support Sustainability Action's work.  You'll pay no more than it's list price, but a portion of the purchase price will go to Sustainability Action.  To buy through our affiliate program, simply go to our website at Sustainability Action, choose the "resource" tab, and click on "Chelsea Green sustainability books".  Choose a title from the listings that will display, click on it, and it will take you to the Chelsea Green website where you can buy the book at regular price.  They will automatically credit Sustainability Action a small percentage, so it's a win-win-win.  Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017, 6:30pm
Signs of Life conference room, 722 Massachusetts St., Lawrence KS 66044
Local Solutions for Transition to a Sustainable Economy

Planned agenda topics include:
  • Food Not Lawns planning
  • plastic bag restriction organizing
  • bikeway project strategizing
  • air toxins monitoring update
  • lecture series update
The Sustainability Action Network advances ecological sustainability through societal scale actions.  While we work for personal lifestyle changes for individuals to minimize their carbon footprint, there is an imperative for institutional change to respond to the rapid onset of the triple global crises of Energy-Ecology-Economy.  "Action" is our middle name.  Visit us on the web at - Sustainability Action.


Listen at KKFI-FM 90.1, or link to web-streaming at KKFI 90.1 FM
(courtesy, Mike Murphy, KKFI Programming Committee)

Friday, 14 April 2017, 9:30am - Bioneers Radio Series
Bioneers presents 
"One Percent Solutions: Climate Disruption, Fossil Billionaires and Democracy Deficits".  Conspicuous climate disruption is here now.  At the same time, a global super-elite of fossil fuel mega-billionaires has cinched a political stranglehold on American democracy, energy policies and politics.  How can these rogue financial titans be stopped?  Activist Victor Menotti, legal scholar john a. powell, and author and political operative Steven Hill outline strategies for rapid transformative change.

Monday, 17 April 2017, 6:00pm - locally produced Eco-Radio KC
This Eco Radio KC program 
will feature another of their ecologically minded shows. 

Saturday, 15 April 2017, 10:00am-2:00pm

13th and Oregon St., Lawrence KS 66044
(courtesy Emily Hampton)

The Lawrence Fruit Tree Project of the Sunrise Project recently expanded their community orchard at the east end of Garfield St. by about double.  They've added many new trees including: peaches, cherries, jujubes, pears, and persimmons.  The new areas need cardboard and wood chips spread to eradicate the infestation of turf grass.  You can learn the why and how to create the soil life that supports agroforestry crops.  Refreshments will be available, but bring water, gloves, and boots.  Bring a dish or snack to share if you have time.  Please RSVP if you plan to attend at>.  Future Community Orchard Days will be on Saturday, May 20th, and June 17th.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017, 4:00-6:00pm
Mid America Regional Council, Rivergate Center 2nd floor, 600 Broadway, KC MO

The Environmental Management Commission promotes environmental awareness and resource efficiency to the City's leaders and staff, to assist the progress of Kansas City toward sustainability.  The General public is encouraged to attend and observe meetings and to join and participate in its efforts.  More information is at KC Environmental Management Commission.

12 April 2017, 5:30pm
Fire Station #5, Jayhawk Room, 19th & Stewart St., Lawrence KS 66046

The April agenda includes:  
whitewater gimmick at Clinton Lake, update on the S.A.B. strategic plan and S.T.A.R. program, Transportation 2040 Plan, and land use planning.  The S.A.B. meets monthly to discuss any and all aspects of furthering sustainability policies and practices by the City of Lawrence government and private persons.  The public is welcome.  Minutes are finalized in about a month after each meeting - Sustainability Advisory Board.

12 April 2017, 7:00pm
Lawrence Public Library, Room B, 7th & Vermont St., Lawrence KS 66044
The April agenda includes:  City sidewalk funding plan, City Capital Improvement Plan, Safe Routes to Schools, Safe Routes for All Town Hall, visit by Michael Eglinski (City Auditor) and by Michelle Dillon (Transportation Commission).  The Lawrence Pedestrian Coalition is a joint effort of the Lawrence Association of Neighborhoods and the League of Women Voters.  Monthly meetings are open to the public.  For more info go to Lawrence Pedestrian Coalition, or contact Gary Webber at <>.

Monday, 17 April 2017, 6:30pm
Homestead Kitchen & Bakery, 719 S. 8th St., Baldwin City KS 66006

The April agenda will include:  a pre-meeting presentation at 6:00pm by Lori Gardner, owner of Homestead Kitchen & Bakery.  The Food Policy Council seeks to identify the benefits, challenges and opportunities for a successful, sustainable local food system.  By advising the Douglas County Commission on public policies that willsupport local producers, preserve local agricultural resources and land, and create more local jobs, the F.P.C. hopes to improve the community's access to a local food supply and distribution networks.  For more info go to Dg County Food Policy Council.


Saturday, 22 April 2017, 10:00am-4:00pm - $$
The Light Center, 1542 Woodson Rd., Baldwin City KS 66006 (3.5mi west of US56, 3mi south to Woodson)
(courtesy, Robin Goff, The Light Center)

In south Douglas County there are a number of little known farms that sustainably raise luxury fiber producing animals.  The Light Center has organized a day to learn about raising and caring for fiber producing animals, harvesting the fiber, and the steps to creating finished products.  Some of the animals on view will be Alpacas, Paco Vicuna, Pygora goats, French Angora rabbits, and sheep.  Learn how to needle felt, learn how to use a drop spindle.  Watch a demonstration on sheep herding, shop local fiber vendors.  Tour fiber farms, and enjoy a delicious homemade lunch.  Learn more at - 
Farm to Fiber Festival, or call (785)255-4583.

Saturday, 22 April 2017, 11:00am-4:00pm

South Park, Lawrence KS
(courtesy, Jenica Nelson, Lawrence Waste Reduction & Recycling)

The Lawrence Earth Day Parade begins at the Train Park at 11:00am, and travels to South Park.  The Earth Day Festival goes from 11:30am-4:00pm in South Park.  The celebration in the park features live music, children's activities, and food vendors.  Attendees are invited to learn from exhibits about waste reduction, recycling, composting, alternative fuels and vehicles, energy conservation, land preservation, wildlife and habitat preservation, and more.  The Lawrence Transit System will offer free rides on the "T" all day Saturday.  The Earth Day Parade is organized by K.U. Environs, and questions should go to com>.  For general info go to

Monday, 24 April 2017, 7:00pm - FREE
Lawrence Public Library Auditorium, 7th & Vermont St., Lawrence KS 66044

Three local native plant experts, Kelly KindscherCourtney Masterson and Frank Norman, will engage in a presentation and discussion about how to incorporate native plants into your yard, garden, or landscape design.  The event is sponsored by the Kaw Valley Native Plant Coalition and the Lawrence Public Library.   Please RSVP to  so they'll know how many to expect.  More information can be found at their Facebook page at

Saturday, 29 April 2017
District of Columbia
SCROTUS* Drumph has been running roughshod over decades of environmental and climate protections, developed by bi-partisan administrations since the 1960's, and handing his billionaire buddies fossil fuel goodies like the Keystone XL pipeline.  His EPA Administrator is giddily doing Drumph's bidding, censoring his staff, slashing staff levels by 25%, and saying provocative things like "The Paris Accord was a bad deal", and "CO2 is not the primary contributor to global warming".  This past February was the second hottest February ever recorded (2016 being the hottest), atmospheric CO2 is at 403 parts per million and rising faster than ever before, and the droughts and floods keep coming. 

The good news is that people are more aware, are galvanized, and are resisting.  There are now over 50 organizations working together as the People's Climate Movement, including the NAACP, Earth Justice,, Green Latinos, Public Citizen, and Service Employees International Union - Peoples Climate Movement Partner Organizations.  They are organizing what looks to be a massive climate rally one month from now, the Peoples Climate March 2017.  And if folks aren't able to travel at that time or that far, there will be any number of local marches - Peoples Climate March local events.  Kansas City will host a march at 1:00pm in Washington Square Park, 2354 Grand Blvd., Kansas City MO 64108.
*SCROTUS - So Called Ruler of the United States

Sunday, 30 April 2017, 4:00pm - FREE
ECM Center, 1204 Oread Ave., Lawrence KS 66044

This is a talk by Dr. Richard Randolph, a family physician in Lenexa KS, who serves as the Chief Medical Officer for Heart to Heart International.  His talk is part of a series titled "Climate Change Consequences and the Possible Responses", which is hosted by Lawrence Ecology Teams United in Sustainability (LETUS) and the Sierra Club-Wakarusa Group.  A variety of information booths will be at each event providing opportunity for those attending to choose to be involved if not already so engaged.  Future speakers are planned about how food production will be effected by climate change, and possible species extinctions.  For more information contact .

Monday, 1 May 2017, 6:00pm
Commission chamber, Lawrence City Hall, 6 East 6th St., Lawrence KS 66044

The Lawrence Transportation Commission oversees the establishment of strong multimodal transportation in the City of Lawrence, in order to advance the health, safety, and welfare of all residents.  They make recommendations to the City Commission regarding implementation of its Complete Streets policy to equally accommodate all types of transportation users - people who walk, bicycle, skate, use wheelchairs, motor, or ride transit.  As such, they make recommendations about the priority, location, design, maintenance, and funding of transportation projects.  Find agendas and minutes at - Transportation Commission.  The Transportation Commission is the outcome of the Pedestrian-Bicycle Task Force work in 2016. 

We hope this newsletter informs and inspires you.  Please donate to Sustainability Action.  Click on our PayPal button here >> Sustainability Action.  THANK YOU!

We welcome suggestions for Newsletter items.  Please send items to .  The Sustainability Action Newsletter strives to inform, and encourage people to be active in the Sustainability Action Network, or other action-driven groups.

Join the Sustainability Action Network by clicking this link > >Become a Member | Sustainability Action Network, and when there follow the instructions.

The Sustainability Action Mission is to bring awareness of the global crisis caused by climate change, energy vulnerability and economic instability to communities in the Kansas River bioregion, and the tools needed to re-skill and re-localize our economy, and create a more socially just and ecologically sustainable world.

Sustainability Action Programs include:
1) Food Sovereignty and Permaculture - local control of food and food policy, Food Not Lawns workshops, tours, and crop mobs.
2) Bicycles and Alternative Transportation - promoting bicycles, complete streets, ride sharing, and electric vehicles, including infrastructure and pro-active regulations.
3) Energy Conservation and Renewables - reducing our carbon footprint by promoting a carbon diet, an energy diet, conservation, and decentralized renewable energy.
4) Prime Farmland Preservation - protecting Capability I & II farmland from urban development and industrial land uses.
5) Water Rights and Watersheds - Protecting the water commons from privatization and contamination, and restoring watersheds.
6) Local Money and Local Food - fostering money literacy, and implementing a local currency through a buy-local campaign focused on local food.

Sustainability Action sponsored organizations:
1) Lawrence Creates Makerspace - a co-operative community space with tool sharing, recycling, and innovation incubator.
2) Diesel Health Project - promoting eco-justice in neighborhoods exposed to industrial air and water pollution, by monitoring pollution, and changing policies and enforcement.

Collaborative Organizations:
We build synergy with like-minded groups such as: Douglas County Food Policy Council, Jefferson County Food Council, Lawrence Pedestrian Coalition, Cultivate Kansas City, Lawrence Fruit Tree Project, Flint Hills Renewable Energy & Efficiency Co-op, Kansas Permaculture Institute, and Live Well Lawrence.

To subscribe to this newsletter, please click this link > > Subscribe to the Sustainability Action Newsletter .  Enter your name and e-mail address, and click "sign up".

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