Town hall discussion on Michigan’s clean energy transition

Clean energy town hall discussion
 6:30 p.m. Monday, March 18
GVSU Loosemore Auditorium
401 Fulton St. W, 49504

 

On Monday, March 18, the Michigan League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, Citizens Climate Lobby and Sunrise Movement will join elected officials, clean energy experts and community members for a town hall event to discuss Michigan’s transition to clean energy. Michigan is at a pivotal moment for its energy future as utility companies develop long-term energy plans. The town hall discussion will focus on how Michigan can transition to clean energy and how the community can get involved.

Speakers include:

  • Senator Winnie Brinks, Michigan State Senate
  • Representative Rachel Hood, Michigan State House of Representatives
  • Commissioner Dan Scripps, Michigan Public Service Commission
  • Jessica Woycehoski, Consumers Energy

    Co-Moderators Cameron Kritikos, CRC Office of Social Justice and Gillian Giem, U.S. Green Building Council – West Michigan Chapter

Participating organizations include Climate Witness Project, LINC Up, Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice, Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business Koeze Business Ethics Initiative, and U.S. Green Building Council – West Michigan Chapter.

#Walk4GoodFood

 

#Walk4GoodFood

 

The 42nd Annual Access Walk for Good Food supports The Southeast Area Farmers’ Market as well as these local agencies which strive to bring healthier food to our income-challenged neighbors:

Please take a minute, click on the links, and learn about the work being done here in the Greater Grand Rapids Area. Then, sign up to walk or donate today! Look for Team: Our Kitchen Table!

Is the Climate Crisis a Crisis of Democracy?

mejc_logo_colorReposted from Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition

As we stare down the barrel of the second polar vortex this year, I can’t help but fear the outcome of another bought of record low temps. Put this on top of ecosystem collapse, and rising sea level– I ask myself, what more can we do to dramatically reduce the Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere to save life as we know it. And with each week I act, I learn new challenges of the democratic system that block, obfuscate, and erode the channels for change at the pace needed to solve this epic disaster. This week DTE Energy was again at the center of a complicated labyrinth of destroying rapid climate solutions.

Few people know what the Michigan Public Service Commission is: a decision-making body at the State, composed of three gubernatorial appointees which establish rates, reliability, and choice for energy consumers. Beyond the statutory requirements of the renewable energy portfolio, they set rates for energy. And right now, DTE Energy is asking the MPSC for a near $900 million rate increase in a deeply problematic case in Lansing. As it’s proposed 1) the rate increase is regressive, so lowest income, lowest use customers will experience the highest rate increase– near 45% in just two years versus 9% of higher energy users; 2) cities will get slammed with a public lighting increase of near 30%; 3) DTE’s infrastructure investments will be concentrated in higher income and growing communities rather than comprehensive replacement of old infrastructure. Ethically, this is totally bankrupt. On all three points it basically says to Michigan’s cities, and to working poor, you should be punished for using less energy, and only wealthier communities deserve newer power infrastructure– even though deaths from down powerlines are higher in low-income communities. You can read between the lines here: expanding investment in wealthier communities has a higher payback, but doesn’t guarantee greater affordability or reliability for aged, low-income communities like Detroit, a classic equation of environmental racism.

And this is the whammy– DTE is stealing dreams of solar generation on homes by lowering the pricing they’ll pay you for generating a kWh of renewable energy, lengthening the payback period, essentially arguing solar producers need to pay rent to use wires we already paid to put up. Add insult to injury, a DTE Energy-backed special interest group called Michigan Energy Promise is spreading falsehoods and misinformation about solar. But guess what– solar could literally save lives. When we get extremely low temperatures like the coming polar vortex, the energy system is working OVERTIME. “Peaker plants” are pumping out the dirtiest energy on high to meet the demand. Peak energy is the most expensive kilowatt on the grid. Remember the emergency alert asking us all to turn the heat down? Arrg matee, batten down the hatches, the system is gonna… blow? Solar energy providers, who have invested above and beyond, are doing a public service to all by taking kilowatts off the overburdened system in extreme energy events without emitting additional nitrous oxides, particulate matter, ozone, or more additional vexing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. Right when we should be expanding distributed solar exponentially, adopters of solar are being choked by the invisible hand of DTE, discouraging solar investments during real and serious crises.

How can we stop this huge jaggernaut that’s stomping on poor people and killing solar efforts? Maybe we can request a public hearing from MPSC? Nope. MPSC refused a request to host a local public hearing by Soulardarity, a non-profit in Highland Park [remember the city whose street lights were repossessed by DTE]. Wanna read the case? If you can find the rate case, let me know. If you find it, you might need to get that engineering, or law degree you never got– because the technical arrangement requires an advanced degree to interpret it. The Governor? Well. She doesn’t exactly have jurisdiction over the PSC. I know– we’ll go to the media. Last week environmental justice advocates took to the streets, and Michigan Radio reported on  it.  If you didn’t catch it, DTE lets ya know that it won’t be definitive, until its definitive– well, then you definitively can’t do anything about it. And then launched a media counter attack. The legislature? Good luck.

Environmental Justice begs us to excoriate the ways in which we can survive and co-create an equitable society– and this is not it. We must create just rates so that average folks afford energy, not punish struggling families for using less with regressive structures;  proliferate solar energy on rooftops meaning direct revenue, money, for homes and schools and community centers all over Michigan, not price control and market manipulation; it means comprehensive climate action investment to build new forms of economic and community well-being, jobs, for everyone that doesn’t poison us and destroy the planet; it means creating and maintaining democratic channels for direct participation to develop and implement this vision and not starve it with closed chambers and market mechanisms.

To me the climate crisis is just as much a crisis of democracy because at the end of the day, if climate justice activists don’t have a say in the future, there simply will not be one.

Right now we are building power to lean in on DTE, the MPSC, and keep up with the issues coming up. If you’d like to sign up for the Work for Me, DTE Campaign, click here.

Deirdre Courtney will present Climate Change and Marginalized Populations

ccl eventFree!
6 – 8 p.m. Thursday Feb. 21
ICCF Assembly Hall, 920 Cherry St SE, 49506 

As climate change makes more impact on our world, those with income challenges—most often people of color—suffer the most. Deirdre Courtney will present Climate Change and Marginalized Populations at ICCF Assembly Hall, 920 Cherry St SE, 49506 from 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday Feb. 21. The free event is co-sponsored by the Citizens Climate Lobby – Grand Rapids Chapter and Our Kitchen Table, as part of its  2019 Women of Color Convenings series.

Courtney, a doctoral teaching assistant in the Institute for Intercultural and Anthropological Studies at Western Michigan University, researches climate change adaptation and mitigation, climate change migration/displacement and cultural anthropology. While the real solution is to take steps to set our world’s climate back in the right direction, the next best plans include finding ways to minimize the harm that is already happening to our marginalized neighbors who are suffering the most.

“The margins are real and make a difference on how and who is affected by climate changes, even in Michigan,” says Jan Strait, co-lead of Grand Rapids Citizens Climate Lobby Chapter. “What do we need to increase our resilience and begin taking action to change the course for ourselves, our families, and our communities?”

OKT will open the event with a healthy cooking demo and tasting. Parking will be available around the building.

Citizens Climate Lobby supports the Bipartisan Climate Solution, HR 763, “Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act”, to drive down carbon pollution and allocate the proceeds directly to the American citizens. All the indicators estimate that in 12 years such an energy policy would reduce carbon emissions by 40%, it’s good for economy to add 2.1 million jobs, saves lives and helps Americans
where it’s most needed.

Save the Date! Walk for Good Food!

#Walk4GoodFood

wfgf-2019-save-the-date-ad-01

Access of West Michigan has again chosen Our Kitchen Table as a recipient of funds raised by the Walk for Good Food. OKT will use these funds to support our Southeast Area Farmers’ Market during its 2019 market season. Please consider supporting the Walk by joining team “OKT,” making a direct donation, or coming on board as one of OKT’s corporate walk sponsors.

Kent County Warming Centers

If you or someone you know needs a place to escape the cold …

Alano Club of Kent County Club: Open 8 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily 1020 College Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Dégagé Ministries: Open Monday through Saturday 7-11:30 a.m., 2-7:30 p.m., and Sunday from 7 a.m.- 2 p.m., and 4-7:30 p.m.  144 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Exodus Place(men only): Open Monday through Friday 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. 322 Front Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Gods Kitchen: Open Monday through Saturday 12:30-2 p.m., and Sunday from 2:30-4 p.m.  303 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

HQ: M 6-8 p for ages 20-24, M-TH 3:30-5:30 for ages 14-19, T/TH 12:30-2:30 for ages 20-24 320 State St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Guiding Light Works: varies based on temps 255 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Heartside Ministry: Open Monday through Friday 1-4 p.m. 54 Division Ave S, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Mel Trotter Ministries: Warming center open daily 7 a.m. – 4 p.m., shelter is open 4 pm – 7 am 225 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Park Church: Open through Feb, Fridays, 10 a.m. -1:30 p.m. 10 E Park Pl NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Westminster Presbyterian Church: Open Monday through Tuesday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. 47 Jefferson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Peace Lutheran Church | 1225 12 Mile Rd NW, | 5 p.m. Tuesday to 12 p.m. Thursday. For a ride, call 616-887-9417.