In this issue
- People's Climate Movement March on April 29
- Sun 2.0 Solar Grants
- Upcoming Workshops in March and April
- Take Action on Methane
- The Anti-Renewable Senate Bill 309, An Update
- Reflections on the SB 309 Hearing on February 9
- Three Testimonies before the Senate Hearing
- Check the Events Calendar
- Consider a Donation
People’s Climate Movement March on April 29
Remember the People’s Climate March in New York City in September 2014, in the lead-up to the UN climate summit? The US’s leadership in the Paris COP 21 meeting of December 2015 was strengthened by this clear signal that American citizens were urging action on climate change. To date, 133 countries all over the world have ratified the Paris agreement to reduce our carbon emissions, and on November 4, 2016, the Paris climate agreement came into force.
But days later, the participation of one of the world’s most carbon polluting nations, our own, came under threat with the election of a president who has pledged to “cancel Paris.” While our government cannot cancel a worldwide agreement, it does have the power to withdraw the U.S., impairing the agreement’s effectiveness severely. It will also cause us to give up our place in history’s largest cooperative effort, and to fall behind China, India, and other nations not only in moral leadership but in renewable energy design and technology. All this despite the fact that a large majority of U.S. citizens now support decisive American action on climate change, as this Yale research on American opinion shows.
The destruction of the U.S.’s central decarbonization efforts are now underway with the dismantling of the Clean Power Plan and the methane rules introduced under President Obama. Now is the time to join other Americans in making our voice heard and our wishes known.
April 29 will mark President Trump’s 100th day in office. A massive climate march is being planned in Washington D.C. for that day by dozens of organizations working together, including H-IPL’s parent organization, Interfaith Power & Light. A sister march is being planned in Indianapolis, and other cities are invited to plan marches as well.
Can you join in?
- Can you work with others in your community to charter a bus to carry marchers to DC?
- Or can you organize a sister march in your city, or organize transportation to Indianapolis’s march?
- If so, or if you are interested in working with others who speak up in your community, please let Trisha Tull know. All plans that have been made by March 21 will be announced in the next H-IPL newsletter.
Sun 2.0 Solar Grants Are Coming
The Solar Uniting Neighbors Program, administered by Prosperity Indiana, has received funding for solar projects. This second phase of the program, known as SUN 2.0, is focused on benefitting low income Duke Energy electric customers. Approximately $400,000 will be available as grants and/or low-interest loans for organizations, such as nonprofits and congregations, that serve low-income Duke Energy customers, and individuals who are low-income Duke Energy residential customers.
Prosperity Indiana plans to announce program details and solicit project applications in April. To stay updated on the SUN 2.0 Program, subscribe to Prosperity Indiana's monthly email newsletter, Rebuilding Indiana Monthly or follow Prosperity Indiana on Facebook and Twitter (@INCommDev).
If your congregation is a Duke utility customer and has already begun, or begun planning for, energy conservation measures in your building, and might wish to apply for this program, please contact Trisha Tull for details and for help preparing for and developing your application. For tips on preparing your congregation for this possibility, go to our Solar page.
Upcoming Workshops in March and April
Eating “Green” in Kokomo
Can we be better stewards of the earth and improve our own health through "green" foods? Come and learn about the benefits of plant-based eating on Thursday, March 9, 7pm at Christ Lutheran Church at 3401 S. Dixon Rd in Kokomo.
Speaker Amanda Hosier is Community Outreach Coordinator for Sunspot, will explain the health benefits of plant-based diets for ourselves, the planet and its ecosystems and other inhabitants. She will discuss the undesired effects of confined animal feeding operations, the differences between various alternative diets, and suggest ways to ease into eating habits that are better for ourselves and for the earth.
Kokomo Creation Care is an affiliate of Hoosier Interfaith Power and Light. We welcome members of all faith communities as well individuals interested in learning be better stewards of the Earth. Doors open at 6:45 with refreshments and fellowship. For more information please contact Carol Chen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Second Annual Tri-State Creation Care Conference in Evansville
One year ago, Tri-State Creation Care hosted its first very successful conference. TSCC intends to continue that spirit and passion for care of the earth at this year's annual gathering on March 25th, 2017, 9 am - noon at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 5130 Lincoln Ave, Evansville.
Keynote speaker: Kyle Kramer, executive director of the Passionist Earth & Spirit Center in Louisville, speaking on “The Great Work and Spiritual Transformation: A Path of Healing for Ourselves and Our Planet.”
- Frank Nellis: Garden planning
- Dr. John Scott Foster: Engaging our children with nature
- Matt Skuya-Bos and Tom Bogenschutz: Environmental Activism in the Faith Setting
Free and open to the public. For more information and a downloadable flyer, go to H-IPL’s Calendar.
Using Energy Prudent Workshop in South Bend and Richmond
The next Using Energy Prudently Workshops will be held on Saturday, April 15, 1:00-5:00 pm, at the Islamic Society of Michiana (3310 Hepler Street, South Bend, IN) and on Saturday, April 22, 11am-3pm at First Friends Meeting in Richmond (2010 Chester Blvd, Richmond, IN).
H-IPL’s Using Energy Prudently workshops equip congregations with the tools they need to greatly reduce energy use in houses of worship and save significant funds for other purposes.
Gain practical information about sealing your building's envelope; maintaining and replacing HVAC equipment; using zoning and thermostats to slash energy waste; lighting technologies for various rooms; and detecting energy hogs in your building.
Who should attend? Send a team of two to four people, including a leader from the Building or House Committee, a trustee, and green team member.
Savings: Your congregation can save a lot on utility bills by cutting out waste. And these funds can go straight into mission. One of our congregations cut its energy use by 50% – and is saving $10,000 a year.
How-To Help: You can do this! With stories and step-by-step tools, we’ll show you how to cut your congregation’s energy use and get your congregation on board. You’ll have time to figure out what will work for you. You’ll get just what you need to put your learning into action.
Support: And you’ll leave with a community. The workshop will give you a network that can support you as you save your congregation money for mission.
Watch for registration on the H-IPL Calendar. Advance registrations helps with planning, but participants may also register at the door.
Workshop Leaders Are Available
Would you like to host a Hoosier IPL workshop in your area?
- If you are interested in hosting a Climate Boot Camp or Using Energy Prudently Workshop, please contact Trisha Tull to make arrangements.
- Or you can contact directly one of our many fine volunteer workshop leaders to ask them to come speak on one of the areas of their expertise.
Take Action on Methane
The U.S. senate vote on the BLM methane rule will be happening soon—perhaps this week. The Bureau of Land Management’s methane rule prevents the waste of natural gas on public lands. Every year, about $330 million worth of publicly owned natural gas escapes, costing taxpayers and impacting our health. American innovation has produced low-cost technology to fix this problem. But Congress is poised to eliminate this rule and let the oil and gas industry keep polluting on our public lands.
The Anti-Renewable Senate Bill 309
An Update by H-IPL Board Member Ray Wilson
Senate Bill 309 was initiated by Senator Brandt Hershman through the Senate Utilities Committee. After five hours of testimony, most against the bill, and several amendments, the bill passed by an 8 to 2 vote and was sent to the full senate. On February 27, 2017 the Senate voted by a 39 to 9 margin to approve the bill. The bill as amended will now be sent to the House Utilities Committee.
SB 309 will carry out the investor-owned utilities’ wish to kill net metering on privately owned solar energy generation. As the bill stands now, anyone who has solar installed before July 2017 will have access to net metering until 2047. But if the owners add to, upgrade, or sell their systems, they will forgo their grandfathering status. Solar systems installed between July 2017 and 2022 will be able to use net metering only until 2032. Systems installed after 2022 will not have access to net metering.
After these dates are reached, there will be no net metering. Any electricity sent to the grid from owned solar panels will be paid only a fraction of the value of the electricity generated—around one-fourth the purchase price per kWh. The bill also allows utilities to impose additional fixed fees upon customers with solar panels.
Current Indiana law requires the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to encourage alternative energy production (IC 8-1-2.4-3): “Sec. 3. The commission shall encourage the participation of utilities in alternate energy production facilities, cogeneration facilities, small hydro facilities, and private generation projects.” This bill would conflict with previous legislation. It is also very confusing and complex.
Those who oppose the bill must now concentrate on the House Utility Committee and try to have it voted down there.
To find the legislators on the House Utility committee, go here. They can also be reached by calling 800-382-9841.
It is vital that everyone call, email or, best of all, visit with your legislator personally and tell him or her to vote “NO” on this bill. Tell your story, explaining in your own words why this is a bill that Indiana’s leaders should not adopt.
Reflections on the SB 309 Hearing on February 9
Hundreds came to the Indiana statehouse for the Senate Utility Committee hearing on February 9, to participate in democracy and make sure their voices were heard on Senate Bill 309. Hoosier IPL members from across the state were there—from Evansville, Bloomington, Muncie, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Zionsville, and elsewhere. According to the Rev. Brian Flory of Fort Wayne, the Senate floor, gallery, and hallway outside were packed when the meeting began at 9:00 am. Testimonies were presented all day—far more voices speaking words of opposition to and caution about the bill, even with the amendments that removed some of the most unfavorable measures. You can read Brian’s own testimony in the next article.
A large group from Bloomington traveled together to the hearing (see photo).
H-IPL volunteer Dr. Ben Brabson, Indiana University climate scientist and leader in the H-IPL Climate Boot Camps, pointed out the need for the Indiana Utilities Regulator Commission to carry out a full study of the impact of net metering on the cost of electricity in Indiana, since the utilities argue that solar panel owners make the cost of electricity substantially higher for other. Careful studies show that this is not the case. (See this report by the Brookings Institution, for example.) It is likely that distributed generation (solar panels and wind) actually lower the cost of electricity for everyone, he argued. He also volunteered as a physicist with extensive experience in energy to help the IURC with these calculations.
H-IPL board member Cindy Whitaker of Zionsville said she was surprised to hear how many schools would be affected by the bill. Twenty or thirty school superintendents attended, and one mentioned having saved $2.9 million per year in utility costs. Although schools were looking for an exemption for themselves rather than for a “no” vote on the bill, she was glad to hear how many schools had invested in solar. Read her testimony in the next article.
Another H-IPL board member, Dori Chandler of Indianapolis, said she appreciated the camaraderie in the room among many different people: school administrators, environmentalists, small business leaders, and other citizens. H-IPL supporters Susan Sirnic and Carol Oglesby drove from Evansville and spent the night to attend the meeting (pictured). Susan was among those whose testimony you can read in the next article.
H-IPL supporter Wayne Meyer of Muncie reflected on the significance underlying a phrase used several times during the hearing by Sen. Brandt Hershman, author of the legislation: “technology neutral.” Though the phrase sounds impartial, Meyer observed, it actually favors fossil fuel, since by it Senator Hershman means that the value and impact of energy produced by fossil fuels, such as coal, is comparable to—or of the same kind as—the value and impact of clean solar energy. “It tacitly assumes that their environmental impacts, for example, including their climate change-producing CO2 impact, are comparable. This is blatantly false,” Meyer noted. “‘Technology neutral’ turns out to be a sophisticated, veiled form of climate change denial.”
Meyer went on to express appreciation for Hoosier IPL members who testified, saying:
So were there other basic values, other bases for evaluation, and other standards for good government expressed at the hearing? Yes, indeed, lots of them, hour after hour, and all of them in opposition to SB 309. And none were better articulated than the heartfelt and morality-based testimonies by Indiana faith leaders, such as the Rev. Brian Flory of Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, Fort Wayne. They made the case for the “general welfare”—not for just themselves, their own families and class, not even for their own state and country, but for “We the People” everywhere and for all of Creation—for the foreseeable future. They made a clear case for justice, and also for humility and gratitude in light of the great gift of life itself.
“In interfaith unity there is strength,” Meyer concluded. “We are going to need a lot of it.”
Three Testimonies before the Senate Hearing
Before contacting your reps, read these testimonies for inspiration
Three H-IPL members who testified at the February 9 hearing shared their words to the committee. Such testimonies help the rest of us formulate our thoughts for the next round of political action, when the House Utilities Committee takes up the bill in coming days. Go here to read their complete testimonies. Here are teasers:
Testimony by Brian Flory, Fort Wayne: Good morning. My name is the Reverend Brian Flory and I serve as the pastor of the Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren, a Christian congregation located at 2810 Beacon Street in Fort Wayne. Numerous scriptures in both the Old and New Testament speak to the importance of being good stewards of God’s creation.....
Testimony by Cindy Whitaker, Zionsville: My name in Cindy Whitaker. I live in Zionsville, and Mike Delph is my senator. In 2014, I built my very green home with solar panels all over the home and garage—a 22 kw system. I believe we vote with our dollars. I work for a custom home builder and hired them to build a green home so that they would learn green building technology….
Testimony by Susan Sirnic, Evansville: Good morning! My name is Susan Sirnic, and I am Chair of the Green Team at Bethlehem United Church of Christ, which is located on the north side of Evansville…. On December 21, 2016, our congregation completed a 54.4 kW solar project that will provide 85% of our electrical needs. We did this because, in the United Church of Christ, we have a strong faith edict regarding stewardship of God’s creation….
Check the Events Calendar
Check the H-IPL on-line calendar for future events in your area, including movies, lectures, and workshops.
Consider a Donation
Grassroots efforts to address climate change are more important than ever. Please consider a gift to help H-IPL continue to grow and build the movement to care for creation in 2017.