The deadline to send comments to the KCC is Friday, 26 May 2017, 5:00pm.
After Westar Energy asked the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) in 2015 if they could raise their monthly residential service charge to $50 for folks with rooftop solar or small wind, Westar withdrew the request and agreed to hearings to determine a fair rate structure. A series of hearings has begun, and the public comment period is now open.
Depending on how these hearings go, Kansas may get a solar tax of such magnitude that it would severely punish many existing solar customers and make going solar prohibitively expensive. To forego such a punitive solar tax, it’s important to flood the KCC with public comments in favor of waiting, and carefully studying the solar issue before making major changes in rates. Cromwell Solar, who is an intervenor in the case, said “The anti-consumer proposals put forth by the utilities hurt Kansans by forcing additional fees onto solar customers without first determining the appropriate amount of those fees, or even the necessity of those fees at all. The new rate structures suggested are designed to penalize those going solar, and not to fairly distribute costs”.
A very good explanation of the issue can be viewed at – Protect Solar Choice in Kansas. Cromwell Solar suggests you make some key points when commenting:
- The KCC should study the real impact that the 450 solar customers (of 690,000 total) has on Westar, before imposing new rates
- Westar’s proposed solar tax of higher flat fees and a new demand charge are arbitrary, not based on a cost-benefit analysis
- A study of the benefits and costs of solar is needed by a neutral 3rd party
- Net-metered solar does benefit Westar with greater transmission efficiencies and lower fuel costs
- Punitive rooftop solar rates restricts one’s ability to enjoy their property by freely choosing solar electricity
- Net metering and parallel generation are different in type and scale, and should not be lumped together in rates
After reading Protect Solar Choice in Kansas, there are three ways to submit comments:
- Use the KCC comment form at – Send Public Comments on Solar Rate Docket 16-GIME-403-GIE.
- 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.
- Send comments through – CREDO mobilize: Protect Solar Choice in Kansas.
In August of 2016, we reported that an earthquake of 5.6 magnitude with an epicenter near Pawnee OK was felt on 27 August across the Midwest, including in Lawrence KS. The Oklahoma Geological Survey said that it considers the cause very likely to be wastewater wells from oil and gas fracking operations. With virtually no significant tectonic activity since the Pennsylvanian and Permian periods, Oklahoma has seen an unnatural jump in earthquakes in direct parallel with fracking operations. In 2009 there were only 3 quakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater, yet in 2013 there were 109, in 2014 there were 585, and in 2015 there were 907. Oklahoma has thousands of fracking wells, far more than does Kansas, in part because the geological formations are more favorable, but also because their former Attorney General worked hand in glove with the oil industry – Scott Pruitt.
Fracking was invented at the University of Kansas in the late 1940’s, and the first vertical fracking well was drilled in 1947. Since 2009, the industry has turned to horizontal fracking, extending sideways for thousands of feet from the bore hole. In 2012 over 140 horizontal wells were drilled in the state, up from 50 in 2011 and 10 in 2010. The Kansas Geological Survey links earthquakes to fracking waste disposal, and has increased restrictions as a result of the 2016 frackquakes – Kansas tightens fracking restrictions.
Until now, Kansas fracking has clustered near the Oklahoma border, but in January of 2017, the Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) received a fracking application for near Burdick KS. This is in the heart of the Flint Hills, about 100 miles north of Wichita, and 30 miles south of Junction City. The application has been wending its way through the KCC hearing process, and receiving lots of opposition from farmers and ranchers, as well as city dwellers – Fracking the Flint Hills?. In addition to being only 14 miles from the National Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, the site is in the Humboldt Fault Zone near the Nemaha Uplift. This geological fault zone has been of serious concern for the Wolf Creek Nuclear Plant, though the operators say it is designed to withstand a 7.0 Richter scale earthquake. If you are concerned about pressurized fracking waste water being injected into the rock under the Flint Hills, you might want to send you comments to the KCC at – Stop fracking operations in the Flint Hills of Kansas near the National Tall Grass Preserve.
Acacia logs, Sumatra island, Indonesia
The world’s forests hold 50% more carbon than the atmosphere. According to estimates by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the net loss of forests releases around 1.2 billion metric tons of this carbon to the atmosphere each year, or about 15% of total annual man-made emissions. More importantly, as trees grow, they breath in carbon from the atmosphere to photosynthetically make their cells. Absorption of CO2 is a key ecological service of forests that cannot be done as effectively or cheaply by carbon capture technologies like deep geological injection of CO2, or in the form of mineral carbonates. Considering that the atmosphere is now at 410 parts per million of CO2, humans must not just reduce our emissions, but we must remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Forests do that, without any effort by humans.
But not only are humans making climate disruption worse through deforestation, we’re shooting ourselves in the collective foot by killing our best ally for fighting climate disruption. A progressively hotter and dryer climate is weakening forests by drought and disease and fires. In turn, the forest loss is driving climate disruption to further extremes. Huge sectors of the Amazon rainforest suffered drought die-off in 2005 and 2010, a highly unusual sequence of events. As the world’s largest forest, the Amazon forest growth absorbs more than 25% of total CO2 annual absorption by plants. But scientists are projecting a possible 85% shrinkage of the Amazon forest. if the Amazon switches from a carbon sink to a carbon source that prompts further droughts and mass tree deaths, such a feedback loop could cause runaway climate change – We’re Cutting Down One Of Our Best Defenses Against Global Warming. Similar phenomena are happening elsewhere – Global warming increasing tree deaths in western US, scientists warns. The prime example of a triple handicap is the Canadian tar sands mining, which not only have destroyed more than 2 million acres of boreal forests, releasing all the carbon in the wood and eliminating the trees’ CO2 capture, but also is pumping 1.3 billion tons more CO2 into the atmosphere than would the same amount of conventional oil, according to 2015 EPA testimony. Canada’s boreal forest is 54% of world’s total, and boreal forests capture and store twice as much carbon dioxide as tropical forests.
The two essential steps that must be done are to stop destroying the forests, and to plant more trees. Some progress is being made on the deforestation front. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, deforestation has declined since 2005, based on several different sources of data. But there can be considerable fluctuation from year to year, depending on climate shifts and market pressures. We can hope the trend continues. People can act individually or by organizing groups to plant more trees. In Kansas City MO, the Parks & Recreation Department is partnering with the Heartland Tree Alliance to provide free trees to property owners, plant it along the street, and ask only that you water it for the first two years. Sign up for the program at – Free Trees for KCMO – Heartland Tree Alliance. Other places to get trees for cheap are – Missouri Department of Conservation: tree seedlings, Kansas Forest Service Trees, and Arbor Day Tree Nursery.
Friday, 10 February 2017
6:00pm potluck, 7:00pm Bryan Welch
Unity of Lawrence, 900 Madeline Lane
Lawrence KS 66049 (4 blocks west of the Merc)
At this year’s Sustainability Action Annual Meeting, we’re proud to have Bryan Welch as our keynote speaker. Bryan was formerly the publisher of Mother Earth News, and founder of the Mother Earth News Fair. He is now the CEO of B The Change Media, which promotes ethical businesses that operate by a triple bottom line of people-planet-profit, in equal proportion.
His address is titled “Business as a Force for Good”. We feel this is a strong counterpoint to the self-aggrandizing billionaire class that is about to privatize the institutions of our Federal government for their personal gain – leaving people and planet as an afterthought at best. Bryan also takes interest in Slow Money, Earthships, overpopulation, raising grass-fed cattle, sheep and goats, and ingenious frugality. Download a Bryan-Welch-flier_10Feb17.pdf
Our ninth Annual Meeting will start with a pot luck dinner at 6:00pm, followed by Bryan’s talk at 7:00pm. We’ll then indulge a little, and celebrate our 2016 accomplishments. After a brief business meeting, there will be casual mingling for the remainder of the evening.
Bryan Welch approaches ecological sustainability from many angles, with each bringing a unique solution to the mix. He understands that our ecological footprint can be lightened by agriculture that builds the soil, by preserving healthy ecosystems, by reducing human overpopulation, by renewable energy and resource recycling, by human ingenuity and shared knowledge, and by businesses that operate with these ethics foremost in mind. He includes as his influences people like Wendell Berry, Robert Frost, Jane Goodall and Joel Salatin. Watch this delightful video of Joel Salatin & Bryan Welch on Ecology Ethics.
Bryan and his wife, Carolyn, raise organic, grass-fed cattle, sheep and goats at Rancho Cappuccino near Lawrence, Kansas. For 19 years he ran Ogden Publications in Topeka KS, as the publisher of Mother Earth News. Before starting Ogden Publications in 1996, Bryan was a reporter, editor and publisher at newspapers in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Washington, Connecticut and Minnesota. He has served on the boards of the Magazine Publishers Association, the Social Venture Network, Down Home Ranch Foundation and several other nonprofits. His award-winning book, Beautiful & Abundant: Building the World We Want, appeared in 2011.