SVEC Members: Demand More Solar Options!

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Do you get your electricity from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC)? If so, you can speak out so all SVEC members can benefit from solar. SVEC’s mission statement is “We Exist to Serve Our Member-Owners,” yet its management has ignored repeated requests for more solar options from its member-owners. Further, SVEC refuses to firmly support policies ensuring the right of solar producers to get the full value of the energy they produce with solar. SVEC management has a duty to respond to member-owners interested in expanded solar options so that we can all benefit from the energy choice, job creation and grid resilience that solar provides.

Here’s what you can do:

Contact SVEC Leadership, including members of the Board of Directors, now to let them know you support solar!
Let them know, as a co-op member, you demand solar options. Call CEO Michael Hastings, 540-434-2200 or mhastings@svec.coop. Contact Barbara Frye, Manager of Consumer Services, 540-574-7241 or bfrye@svec.coop. At the end of this message, there is suggested language which you may find useful.

Attend June 8th SVEC Annual Meeting and Speak out for Solar!
Make your voice heard for solar on Thursday, June 8 at the SVEC annual meeting in Harrisonburg. The meeting will be from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center, 895 University Blvd, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.
Members get a free dinner and could win a variety of prizes, including gift certificates for electricity bills. Tickets will be mailed to members in mid-May.
As part of the agenda, there will be a question and answer session for members. This will be your opportunity to make it clear that SVEC member-owners demand their solar rights. See below for suggested language and questions.

Suggested Language for Use in Contacting SVEC and When Attending June 8 Member/Owner Meeting:

“I’m an SVEC member who values solar energy because of its benefits in energy choice, job creation and grid resilience. SVEC should ensure that every co-op member/owner can benefit from solar in a variety of ways. “

“As a member-owner, I want SVEC to guarantee that homes, farms and businesses in SVEC territory will retain their right to the full value of the energy they produce through ‘net metering’.”

“As a member-owner, I want real options for shared ‘community solar’, allowing SVEC member/owners with sites not suitable for solar to benefit from a central solar installation.”

“As a member-owner, I ask SVEC management to install solar on the new SVEC headquarters building. I recommend that SVEC join the Mountain and Valley Solar Co-op by July 15, 2017, to receive the pricing benefits from bulk purchase that this co-op can provide.”

“As a member-owner, I strongly believe that any SVEC support for policies that would short‑change solar ‘net metering’ customers, or oppose community solar is unacceptable.”

“What is SVEC doing to guarantee that homes, farms, and businesses in SVEC territory will retain their right to the full value of the energy they produce through ‘net metering’?”

“What is SVEC doing to provide real options for shared ‘community solar’ allowing SVEC members with sites not suitable for solar to benefit from a central solar installation?”

“What is SVEC doing to install solar on its new headquarters building?”

“Why shouldn’t SVEC join the Mountain and Valley Solar Co-op by July 15 to obtain the discounted pricing for solar panels that this co-op can provide?”

More about this effort from VA SUN here: Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative Member Energizes Push for Solar

Top photo by Cathy Strickler of members of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley showing support for solar initiatives outside SVEC’s 2017 Annual Membership Meeting at JMU’s Convocation Center in Harrisonburg on Thursday, June 8.

Paris: We’re Still In!

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Thanks to everyone who participated in this rally and to Christopher Clymer Kurtz and WMRA for covering it: Harrisonburg Citizens Affirm Paris Climate Accord!

Scroll down for more photos.


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Join CAAV and Renew Rocktown at Pale Fire Brewery, THIS Saturday, June 10, 1-2 pm

PARIS, WE’RE STILL IN!–Make the Planet Great Again—Show the Valley we care!

Even though the President withdrew the U.S. from the U.N.’s 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Americans are standing up to SHOUT that we still want to see our country take major steps to mitigate today’s greatest global threat: Climate Change.

Residents of Harrisonburg City & the Shenandoah Valley will be doing just that when they rally in Downtown Harrisonburg on Saturday to demonstrate our commitment to serious climate action. Hosted by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley and Renew Rocktown, the event will include speakers from local government and action groups highlighting examples of what we have been doing and can continue to do to make Harrisonburg a regional leader in climate action.

Together, we can make our community, state, and country climate resilient. Join us on Saturday to celebrate our successes, learn what else we can do, and enjoy the music of local bands. And if you missed the first Postcard to Paris celebration, you can sign that postcard Saturday!

PARIS, We’re Still In!
MAKE THE PLANET GREAT AGAIN: A RALLY TO RENEW OUR COMMITMENT TO THE PARIS CLIMATE ACCORD
When: Saturday, June 10th, 1 – 2pm
Where: Pale Fire Brew Pub
Who and what: timeline and line up
1 pm Music—Doug Hendren, Dave Pruett, Carol Snell-Feikema, Nancy Beall
1:10 Pete Bsumek with opening remarks, history of Postcard, request to sign Postscript and letter
1:15 Speaker—activities of local groups—Charlotte Shristi
1:20 Speaker: City Councilman Richard Baugh
1:25 Music
1:30 Speaker–Kai Degner for Brent Finnegan (Wilt was invited)
1:35 Gov. McAuliffe’s and mayors’ statements (Joni Grady)
1:40 Speaker–Les Grady
1:45 Jeff Heie with closing words, call to actions—signing Postscript and letter to City Council, etc
1:50 – 2:00 Music for celebrating taking action!


Photo at top and photos below by Carl Droms:

 

Fighting Climate Change in the Courts

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US Marshalls like Wyatt Earp helped clean up the lawless old West—can Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) lawyers help clean up the chaos of climate change? Can a small group of kids (Our Children’s Trust) and their lawyers demand their, and our, right to a livable planet?

We can meet, we can march, we can lobby, write letters, sign petitions, and put up solar panels. But when it comes right down to it, we live in a nation governed by the rule of law, “of the people, for the people, by the people,” and when laws are unjust, or when just laws are attacked by special interests, we also have recourse through the courts.
The “SELC believes that everyone in this region deserves to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy environment. This nonprofit organization gets consistently impressive results because we know how to work effectively in all three branches of government—and at the national, regional, state, and local levels—to create, strengthen, and enforce the laws and policies that determine the beauty and health of our environment.“

Speaker Will Cleveland has worked on Virginia’s Clean Power Plan, uranium mining, solar power, retiring outdated coal burning plants, biomass energy, and the power of energy efficiency among other issues, in his years at SELC so he can address almost any problem you’d like to bring up.

Our Children’s Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations …”
Recently U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken declared “Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”

“The decision means that the youth, age 9-20 and from all over the U.S., now have standing because their rights are at stake, and now their case (Juliana vs U.S.) is headed to trial.”

See short films about the case and some of the youth involved and learn the background and current status of this groundbreaking lawsuit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
6:30 – 8:00PM
Massanutten Regional Library
174 S. Main St., Harrisonburg

Hosted by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley

What a Wonderful World Earth Day Celebration

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Despite the gloomy forecasts for life on Earth, we have much to celebrate! Join the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley for a program of live music, dance, readings, poetry, song, images of beautiful places, and a walk in Court Square for Tree identification.

All to honor our planet home and the lovely habitat it provides for all living things.
Free and for all ages.

Saturday, April 22, 2017
1:00-2:30pm at Massanutten Regional Library, 174 S. Main Street, Downtown Harrisonburg

Hosted by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley with support from the Shenandoah Group of the Virginia Sierra Club

Adventures in Advocacy

door-1574304_960_720Do you know that Representative Bob Goodlatte’s local staff has regular “open door meetings” for area constituents in several communities?  Here’s a link to the schedule:  http://goodlatte.house.gov/constituent-services/open-door-meetings.htm.  Here’s what happened when I went to one of these meetings recently.

I dropped by the Grottoes Town Hall and spent an hour speaking to Debbie Garrett, District Director for the Congressman, who works in the Staunton office.  I gave her a one-pager of talking points and then covered the gist of them through a very cordial conversation.  Because there was no one else there, she and I had plenty of time to “just chat”.

I began with a “Thank you” for the Congressman’s recent support of federal legislation to provide funding for the mental ill (one of my personal interests).  After that, I mentioned that I had looked at the web site, seeking to understand Mr. Goodlatte’s position on environmental matters.  I pointed out that, despite specific items touting his support of and actions about fossil fuel energy matters, I found nothing about renewable energy (RE) or energy efficiency (EE), even though the web site says he belongs to the RE and EE Caucus.  And I commented specifically on the absence of his positions on the importance of conserving natural resources or of addressing the realities of climate change.  I added that, while I don’t know whether he believes that climate disruption is at least partly the result of human activities, I do believe that, as a representative in a state whose coastline and other areas are experiencing negative effects from the changing climate, he should at the very least understand and promote ways to mitigate their risks to VA, which I see as matters of fact and not conjecture.

Because our discussion was not very time-constrained, I was also able to tell Debbie about the Congressman’s constituents’ interest in solar energy, as evidenced by the many solar co-ops that have happened in the 6th District since spring 2014.  I also noted the economic benefits to VA that can result from greater use of solar power.  I made the point that the interest in and desire for RE options is NOT partisan.  Neither is the desire for clean air, access to clean, safe drinking water, and protection of land and its resources, property rights, and the freedom to choose one’s energy sources.

Finally, I shared with Debbie the gist of what I wanted and expected the Congressman to do (my “asks”).  I list them below.

  • Demonstrate Commitment to and Leadership for increased RE and EE to promote jobs that are stable, non‑outsourceable, and well-paying.
  • Join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
  • Work with groups such as RepublicEn, headed by former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis.
  • Hold Town Hall Meetings allowing real dialogue between the Congressman and his constituents (Last minute telephone conference calls do not accomplish this.).
  • Support Fee and Dividend legislation that provides a market-driven way to reduce US dependence on fossil fuels and is revenue-neutral.

joyincircle-250My visit with Debbie was a good experience and I found her to be a good listener.  I plan to go again.

– Joy Loving, February 2017

Joy is member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

Please note that Congressman Goodlatte’s Harrisonburg office is open most weekdays if you don’t want to wait for an “open door” meeting:
Harrisonburg Office
70 North Mason Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
Phone: (540) 432-2391

Retreat 2017

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The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley’s Steering Committee and other committee members held their annual retreat on Saturday, February 4, to review the past year’s work and to strategize and re-energize for the coming year.

Diana Tovar Rojas, Peacebuilding Network Coordinator for Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, facilitated the afternoon discussions on goals and strategies.

Thanks to CAAV Steering Committee Chair Joni Grady for her great work in organizing the productive day, Steering Committee member Lynn Smith for the use of her home despite her inability to attend and CAAV Recording Secretary Rickie Wertz for the photos.

 

Apocaloptimists

Following the fall 2016 elections, the need and idea for an “Apocaloptimists” group emerged. The group met over the first half of 2017.


climatenewsFeeling apocalyptic but want to have hope and be optimistic?
You are not alone.
Come for coffee and cookies, conversation and support.

APOCALOPTIMISTS*
Meeting for being heard without agenda. The last Tuesday of each month. Next meeting:

Tuesday, May 30, 7PM
Harrisonburg Mennonite Church
Room A-3, the first right, down the hall
1552 S. High St., Harrisonburg

Access the church NOT from S. High St. (42), but from Central Ave. that runs between Pleasant Hill Rd. and South Ave. parallel to S. High. Go up Emery St. to the top, then follow the detour around to parking and to the east door, which is what you’ll see when you get to the top of Emery St.

Come in front (east) door marked “SANCTUARY”

Hosted by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV)

Co-sponsored by the Creation Care Group of Harrisonburg Mennonite Church and Pastor Mark Keller


* Just what is an Apocaloptimist?

Apocaloptimist: one who knows it’s all going to hell, but still has hope that somehow, some way, everything will be just fine. Apocalypse + Optimist = Apocaloptimist

The Spirit: The Apocaloptimists’ Club is part social club, part support group for all those Apocaloptimists out there trying to make a difference in the world. The club aims to create an inviting, attentive space to connect with other folks who might find themselves feeling weary, isolated, or just plain bogged down with the world’s ills. The AC won’t necessarily be a place to follow an agenda or make plans. It will be a place to share laughter, tears, ideas, and–fingers crossed–hope. Because, if we’re really going to hell in a handbasket, we may as well try to get a little fun out of it along the way.

The Details: Sometimes it feels as though none of us needs one more thing to do or one more place to be. In honor of all of those filled-to-the-brim hours, here’s how the Apocaloptimists’ Club proposes to go: we’ll set a parameter of several months, say January to June, in which we’ll meet once a month. Meetings will last around one-and-a half hours (unless the crowd clamors for more!) and can be anything from a group conversation to a movie viewing, to a guest speaker, to sitting in silence. Perhaps food and drink will be involved. Perhaps not. The point is, this will be an evolving entity as we go along. Not totally free-wheeling (the meetings will have some structure), but evolving. Attendees can come to as few or as many gatherings as they like. Come June, we can all evaluate what direction the Apocaloptimists’ Club should take: do we all shake hands and say “thank you very much, it was lovely”, or do we carry on?

The Seed: The Apocaloptimists’ Club grew out of a CAAV-sponsored discussion of the film “How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change.” At that discussion, there was a palpable need for those present to share personal emotions raised by the film and what it means to live under the ongoing threat of climate change. It was then that CAAV realized folks could use an ongoing time and space to both express AND take a break from their woes.

If times feel bleak, remember, humor helps. If nothing else, you’ll be able to spell “Apocaloptimist” after all is said and done.


Resource page HERE.

Global Warming, Global Perspectives

Thanks to Marites Cortes, Francis Lopaka and Diana Tovar for their perspectives on changes in their countries due to global warming! We hope to keep the conversation going.


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Personal Stories of Climate Change

The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley presents speakers from the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia on Monday, November 28th at 7:00pm, Simms Center Auditorium, to share their experiences of climate change with us.

People around the world are being affected right now by extreme weather events, ocean acidification and droughts made much worse by climate change.  All but the richest countries are struggling to improve the lives of their citizens with more electricity, better transportation, and greater industrialization. All of these increase CO2 emissions if done with fossil fuels.  It is even more important now with the Paris accord under attack that you join us so that we can all begin to understand the immensity of the problem and the necessity for working together to solve it.

Marites Cortes, Francis Lopaka, and Diana Tovar will be speaking.

Facebook event page here.

1 on 1: CAAV Events and Education Committee Chair Joni Grady with Bob Corso on WHSV Monday, November 21 discussing this upcoming event:

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Letter to Goodlatte

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LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD

Wednesday, Oct. 19th, (heavy rain date the 20th)  4-6 PM at Rep. Goodlatte’s office, 70 N. Mason St., Harrisonburg

Our U.S. Congressional Representative does not represent us on environmental issues.  His career scorecard is 7 % as researched by the League of Conservation Voters.  His 2015 score was 0%!  That score was based on over 30 bills that were important to protecting us from dirty water, dirty energy and dirty air.

Over the last month, the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley has gotten over 130 signatures on a letter that states our deep disappointment in this record and how we deserve and expect representation that reflects the importance of our children’s health and the beauty of our Shenandoah Valley.

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Click here to read our letter to Goodlatte.

We will read our letter aloud at 4:30 on the steps of Rep. Goodlatte’s office and hand deliver it afterwards.   Come out and help us hold the big banner to show passing motorists on their way home that WE CARE AND WE ACT!

Let YOUR voice be heard.  Hope to see you there.

Talkin’ Trash on Oct. 27

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Talkin’ Trash: Harrisonburg garbage updates and options

Thursday, October 27 | 6-7:30PM

The Gathering Place
Common Good Marketplace
841 Mt. Clinton Pike
(behind Everence and Bowl of Good)
Harrisonburg

It’s been over a year since the City of Harrisonburg switched from single stream recycling to an all-in-one trash stream sent to a sorting facility east of Charlottesville. With the closing of the incinerator at JMU and rising local landfill tipping fees, this alternative promised an improved recycling rate at an affordable cost.

How’s it going? The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) is hosting a public forum to find out.

On Thursday, October 27 at 6PM at The Gathering Place in Harrisonburg, some of our local waste managers will be on hand to address solid waste management issues for Harrisonburg. All are welcome to attend and hear from:

• Harsit Patel, Business Services Manager with Harrisonburg Public Works who oversees the city’s solid waste management;
Linda Zirkle with Rockingham County recycling;
Eric Walter of Black Bear Composting;
• and a representative from van der Linde Recycling where most of Harrisonburg’s household trash is currently being sent.

Some questions.

What kind of recycling rates are being achieved with Harrisonburg’s new trash collection method over the past year? Is the quality of recyclables an issue?

Rockingham County offers separated recycling. How effective is this process?

The local landfill has a limited life. Can recycling and composting be maximized to extend its life? What are the options for future local landfills, if any?

Anaerobic breakdown of organic waste in landfills is a significant source of atmospheric methane, a potent greenhouse gas contributing to climate change. Currently, Harrisonburg’s organic wastes end up in a Richmond-area landfill. There has been a commercial-scale composting facility in the valley for five years where almost 30% of our waste stream could be converted into valuable soil amendments. It is now scheduled to close due to lack of demand for organics recycling. Why has it been underutilized?

What can we do to create more robust recycling streams and landfill diversion for Harrisonburg’s garbage?

Attend the forum, bring your questions and hear from our local waste managers on updates and options for our trash!

CAAV is pleased to have JMU political science professor Rob Alexander to moderate the forum. He brings with him extensive facilitating skills and experience from numerous environment-related arenas.