PLU getting an electrical rate increase

“I just received a letter from Parkland Light and Water, dated Dec 17th, that effective Feb 1, 2010 that the electrical rate will increase by 7%.  That represents a $4,584 a month increase.  For the remainder of the fiscal year represent a $18,339 increase for all the electrical usage including residence halls.  For next year a $55,017 fiscal year increase next year for all electrical usage.”  Dave Kohler, Director of Facilities Management

What this means is that our current rate of $.0456 per kilowatt hour will be jumping to $ .o49 per kWh.  That might not seem like much, until it is multiplied by the thousands of kWh we use every month.  Last year PLU spent just under one million dollars on electric utilities; making a small 7% suddenly seem much larger.

Parkland Light and Water is a distribution co-op.  They do not generate their own power, but only distribute power that they purchase from Bonneville Power Administration.  BPA increased their rates in October, and now PLW is passing it along.  On July 21st, 2009 BPA released this press release:

The Bonneville Power Administration announced today numerous rate changes that are expected to take effect Oct. 1, 2009.

Rates for customers that buy power and transmission will increase on average by 6 percent.  Transmission rates will stay the same.  Power rates will increase by an average of 7 percent. This is the first power rate increase since 2002 and it’s driven by both rising costs and decreasing surplus revenues.

Power customers will also receive $163 million in returned overcharges due to a 2007 U.S. Ninth Circuit Court decision.   Financial benefits for residential and small farm consumers of investor-owned utilities, which are based on BPA’s power rates as well as other factors, will be $173 million.

BPA’s relatively new rate for wind integration services has been reduced substantially from the initial proposal due primarily to efforts from the wind power industry to improve their operational practices.

The new rates cover the agency’s fiscal years 2010-2011.  Under the rates, the average priority firm rate for wholesale power is $28.77 per megawatt hour.  That compares to the previous rate of $26.90 per megawatt hour.

“Nobody wants a rate increase, and we have worked very hard to keep the increase as low as possible,” BPA Administrator Steve Wright said.  “We tightened our belt and worked with stakeholders to keep the increase to a minimum, while honoring our commitments to fish, wildlife and maintaining system reliability.”

The primary causes of rising costs are actions to improve safety and reliability of the Columbia Generating Station nuclear plant and actions to protect threatened and endangered salmon.  BPA does not own or operate the nuclear plant, located in Hanford, Wash., but markets the power produced by the plant.

The power rate increase is down from the initial proposal of 9.4 percent in February, and it is considerably lower than the potential 15 to 20 percent increase that looked likely in early April. At that time, BPA’s financial picture had deteriorated significantly due to below average water and the poor economy.


Are there dangers in using an uncovered public toilet seat?

This is from an advice column at MIT, and quotes a doctor there (not a prof there, just a doc in Student Health): “”It’s very difficult to get sick from a toilet seat,” Heller says adamantly. “This is especially true for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs),” he adds. (Hmmm… apparently, there’s a reason they’re referred to as sexually transmitted.) However, Heller notes, “a little extra caution might be warranted if one is traveling in an area where enteric infections like cholera are more common.”

But for most diseases, Heller continues, “toilet seat transmission” would require the unlikely coincidence of two factors: 1) the presence of a sufficient number of germs to cause illness, and 2) a way for those germs on the seat to get into your urethra, genital tract, or blood stream. Interestingly enough, the first condition may be even more unlikely than the second. Microbiologists studying bacterial concentrations in offices found, in every case, that toilet seats were, by far, the cleanest surfaces of any sampled-a whopping 50 times cleaner than phone receivers, which were the filthiest. (High germ counts were also found on office desktops, the computer keyboard, and the mouse.) “

New Solar Light in town

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a giant solar driven light down in front of Pflueger and Tinglestad.  This previously dark corner has been troublesome for years; it’s in an awkward location that makes it difficult to run wires out to any light.  For years, PLU staff has been trying to fix the problem, with only dim flickering results.

But over the summer, a brilliant thought!  Solar power is a reliable, and cheaper way to get light to this dark corner.  And now that it’s up, PLU will never have to pay an electric bill on this light.  Sol Lamps in Florida was the company that provided us this light, and the have guaranteed the product for 20 years.  That’s a pretty long lasting source of power.  Not even dams can go 20 years without servicing.

Three panels charge a battery throughout the day, and at night a photocell senses the darkness and flicks on the highly efficient LED bulb.  It’s bright, and and it’s here!  Our fist solar at PLU!  The first 3 of many.

King Corn Film Showing December 8th in the Cave, 8pm

Behind America’s dollar hamburgers and 72-ounce sodas is a key ingredient that quietly fuels our fast-food nation: corn. In KING CORN , recent college graduates Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis leave the east coast for rural Iowa, where they decide to grow an acre of the nation’s most powerful crop.

I was shocked when I first watched this documentary, and scared straight into eating more responsibly.  I can’t believe the crap I put into my body without knowing it!  The social and environmental benefits are astounding.  Anyone would benefit from watching this film, and I highly recommend watching it during this facilitated conversation.  This is a movie you will want to talk about.

Request for Research Proposal


This is an amazing opportunity that really blew me away.  Any student that takes this on will get a major feather in their cap, a paid stipend and a guaranteed way to impact PLU forever.  Take a look at, but here is the basic rundown:

Request for Research Proposal

AY 2009-2010 through 2010-2011

Topic – “Energy Efficiency and Conservation”

Maximum Budget – $10,000; one grant of $10,000 will be awarded in this cycle

Project Completion Date – On or before March 31, 2011

Eligible Institutions –Pacific Lutheran University, Saint Martin’s College, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle University, University of Puget Sound

Deadline for receipt of proposals –March 26, 2010

Sponsor – Funding provided by Puget Sound Energy, Inc., through a grant awarded to Independent Colleges of Washington (ICW)

Application Information

Research Topic – “Energy Efficiency and Conservation”   Proposals should focus on research that would help a utility, business or individual customer become more energy efficient.

Award Level – One award of $10,000 will be distributed beginning in 2009/10 and ends one year later in the 2010/11 academic year .  Funds can be used for any expense related to the research project, including equipment, travel, stipends, scholarships, materials, printing, etc.  Please attach a separate budget sheet detailing how grant funds will be spent.   Any unspent project funds will be retained by the recipient institution at the end of the project period.  The chief academic officer will determine how the remaining funds shall be spent.

Recognition   – Final results of the project, in whatever form presented (written, verbal, electronic, etc)  must include the following statement:  This project was funded by Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Inc of Bellevue, WA  through a grant awarded to the Independent  Colleges of Washington .  PSE and its representatives had no influence in the final selection of the institution receiving the award.

Application Guidelines

  • Research must be conducted by students (graduate or undergraduate), with faculty oversight, enrolled at applying institution.  Please noteProject will span two academic years
  • Research may focus on any individual or interdisciplinary academic subject(s) relevant to the topic (see sample list of selected topics below)

Application Content

  • The proposal should include the following information (weight of response on final selection):
    • A clear statement of the need(s), issue(s), or problem(s) to be addressed (30%)
    • Strategy and description of research process (20%)
    • Results you expect from your project (25%)
    • Timeline (10%)
    • How you will determine if your project is successful (10%)
    • Project budget (5%)
    • Academic status (class year, major, minor, etc.) of research individual or team members

Results – A written report, including results and conclusions of the project, will be provided to Independent Colleges of Washington by March31, 2010A one-page progress report sent to ICW is requested at the half-way point – September 30, 2010.  At the conclusion of the project, final results will be disseminated to Puget Sound Energy.  No requirement is made by the donor to see the research and no control over the research or results may be exercised by the donor or by Independent Colleges of Washington. Results remain the intellectual property of the researchers and their institution for publication or other dissemination.

Applications must be received by March 26th, 2010.  Mail or email proposals to:

Anne Cassidy

Independent Colleges of Washington

600 Stewart Street, Suite 600

Seattle, WA  98101

Sustainability Committee 12/2/09 minutes

Sustainability Committee



  • GREAN- held last meeting of fall semester, guest speaker from Food and Water Watch.  Expressed interest in more lobby activities
  • Dining- donating reusable bags for Christmas Luncheon, waiting for TBTT results
  • RHA- Lids Off had mixed success, still sorting through
  • ASPLU- King Corn film showing Dec. 8th at 8 in the Cave
  • Environmental Services-  RecycleMania starts Jan. 17th. There will be a conference in Portland Dec. 4th open to anyone who would like to get involved
  • Facilities- Solar project underway.  Looking to apply for $2,000,000 grant process in January.  Over 400 kW system
  • Development- Fellowship mini-PSE grants are due!!!  Another PSE grant proposal is due March 26th.  Students are asked to submit a research project centered around energy conservation.  Application at
  • Admissions- just finished transportation survey with mixed results.  Looking to purchase reusable totes for orientation.
  • Brian- 2020 is having their first meeting next week.  Also, future fellows for the sustainability fellowships can be applying now.
  • Sustainability Coordinator- unplug bracket 2 is coming up quick in February.  Need input for promoting it.  The South Sound Sustainability Summit and Expo is running on schedule, check on the website for more info.

Climate Action Plan

McKinstry is the consultant helping with this Climate Action Plan/Sustainability Plan

This is a comprehensive plan, and your input and unique perspective is vital.

Please send comments by Dec. 10th

This will be submitted to ACUPCC on Jan. 15th.  Implementation will begin immediately

2010 Spring Semester Visioning for the Sustainability Committee

Meeting structure

Every other meeting will be brief ½ hour updates, networking.  Opposite meeting will be longer working groups based on specific topics.  Still meeting every other week.


A doodle link is attached to this email asking you to submit your availability for a typical week in spring semester

Possible Working Group Topics (ranked by most to least votes)

Sustainability in Orientation (both student and staff)

Marketing for Sustainability Projects


Student Green Fee allocations

Computer Shut Down

Reducing Transportation

Composting around Campus

Oh Green Christmas Tree, Oh Green Christmas Tree

If you attended the annual Tree Lighting last night in Red Square, you may have noticed a few green practices.  First, all the string lights on Red Square are the most efficient lighting possible, LED lights.  Only the tree itself is not LED lights, and it’s due to the fact that all of last year’s lights were reused on the Christmas tree.  The gold trim, and some decorations are also reused.  And, after Christmas, the tree is composted, not landfilled.

Christmas Trees are one of the greatest aid to sustainable forestry.  It may seem counter-intuitive that cutting a tree down is good for the environment, but it spurs replanting, and contact care for the land (and local farmers) who grow the trees.