Just another spring day on campus

Here is a typical gathering of UMM students, honoring the god of electricity.

UMN Morris is a clean energy leader and destination. We are carbon neutral in electricity. UMN Morris produces more clean electricity per student of any campus in the United States.
-100% carbon neutral electric status achieved in 2020
-1,000,000 lbs + of organic waste diverted from landfills by campus and community
composting program
-10 Million kWh electricity produced each year by two wind turbines
-Gold STAR rating (Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher


  1. Robbo says

    quick! the dean should call the cops to quell this anti-capitalism display!1!!!!!11!!1!

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Robbo @ 1
    Yes, not burning oil and leaving a sooty cloud behind is anti-American. That is why I burn the dirtiest petrol possible in my car.

  3. Walter Solomon says

    Since electricity and magnetism are the same force, he’s obviously referring to Magneto.

  4. magistramarla says

    Yay for UMM and the students!
    They will be the new leaders in environmentalism that this country desperately needs.

  5. robro says

    That’s great but there are some not-so-great consequences to the move to solar at least here in California, mostly because of the way incentives are set up and the fact that the system is incomplete.

    Washington Post ran this story recently: Rooftop solar panels are flooding California’s grid. That’s a problem. A key point in the article: “There is so much solar on the grid that, on sunny spring days when there’s not as much demand, electricity prices go negative. Gigawatts of solar are ‘curtailed’ — essentially, thrown away.”

    So one problem is we’re throwing away lots energy. According to a friend who is an energy consultant the amount of solar and wind energy “curtailed” (thrown away) since 2014 totals 11,632,447 MWh. That’s a lot. He also noted that while almost all new homes built in California are required to have solar, battery storage to store excess energy is not required.

    The other problem is that people with solar pay a smaller share of maintaining the grid than people without solar, and the people without solar are generally poorer. The grid has to be there for everyone, including the solar folks. That’s where they get their energy at night or on cloudy, rainy days. The “grid” is the poles and wires and other infrastructure elements, and very importantly here in California, tree removal and other maintenance activities to prevent fires. We’ve had some horrific fires in the last few years started by trees in the power lines.

    So a consequence of the incentives to go solar means electricity rates have gone way up…which I can verify…for those least able to pay them.

    These are solvable problems if we can get everyone onboard including the big power companies.

  6. magistramarla says

    We’re in CA and we have both the solar panels and a storage battery. It has certainly been nice to have much lower bills to PG&E this winter.
    The big complaint here on the Monterey Peninsula is that PG&E hasn’t used the money that they were supposed to use for under-grounding cables for delivery of power. Instead, it allegedly went to their stockholders. I’ve read that their CEO has an incredibly huge salary, too.
    Meanwhile, people here have lost houses when those trees entangled in wires have landed on them. Even the residents of Pebble Beach hare being affected. Perhaps they will be able to convince PG&E to do better.

  7. robro says

    magistramarla @ #6 — There’s no question in my mind that the three big “investor-owned” power utilities…PG&E, SoCal Edison, and SDG&E…are playing it for their own benefit. I wouldn’t be surprised that they aren’t using money for safety upgrades properly and dodging their responsibility to secure the grid or any part of the power system. The 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion and fire that left 8 dead showed just how profits rule over safety. Personally, I think public utilities should be in the hands of the public, not “investor-owned” companies driven by profits.

  8. magistramarla says

    Agreed. We have a local advocacy group that is working to take our water system back from CAL AM, a division of a national for-profit corporation that bought up the water rights in the ’70s.
    I’ve lived in 6 states, and I’ve never seen the outlandish water bills that I see here in any state.
    Local public utilities are always more fair to the public.

  9. ANB says

    I’m with you Robro.
    I think ALL utilities need to belong to the “state.”
    (I think a lot more than that needs to belong to the people, but that’s a beginning.)
    It’s always the rich that get theirs first (or always) and the poorest to suffer the most. So empathy for them/us is “socialism” since it “takes the money away from the wealthy” (who steal it from the workers).

  10. Pierce R. Butler says

    UMN Morris produces more clean electricity per student of any campus …

    How do they rank in syntax errors?

  11. seachange says

    The California Public Utilities Commission allows or prevents rates changes by fiat and by law, full stop.

    Using the arguments like robro’s they have weakened solar by removing subsidies, and increased costs to everyone in order to maintain the grid because the utilities aren’t making as much money as they had planned because 1) people are conserving power and 2) power is now cheaper than when they first made plans and 3) led lighting also has dropped demand for electricity

    If any of all y’all who are poor and in CA think this is ‘because of solar’ it is not. It is because the CPUC is sucking big companies’ uncut and unwashed dicks slurpily and with massive amounts of saliva. There is a difference between a regressive tax to maintain the infrastructure, which they are doing and which I can afford and all y’all can’t, and the usual way that the progressive costs and rates are usually distributed to make things cheaper for those who cannot afford it. CPUC (used to?) collectively do that all the time. Poor people now use less electricity but the base rate has been made higher so you (all of us but more harmful to you) pay more whether or not solar happens.

    Did they remove solar subsidies? Yes they did. Did they kill progressive solar subsidies that would have helped disadvantaged residents get this cheap power you jealously talk about? Yes they did.

    Solar will happen! Ludditely pretending it won’t is silly. Yeah, it’s good for life, but the thing that matters: it’s cheaper. Don’t like that the CPUC has been captured by these companies to screw all of us over Texas-style the same way that billionaires get the public to finance their pet football stadia? Write/call your representatives and the CPUC directly.

    These same companies have charged me extra for ‘green power’ or the promise of the same, but fucked me and everyone else over by just plain not-doing-it. It’s worse than greenwashing. It remains to be seen if they actually do do the improvements they now have been luxuriously granted the money for.

    You mention that batteries are needed. YES. I talk to people in my city’s planning commission about this need for new housing to do that. You should be doing this too. Find out who your state assemblyman and state senator and scream about how/whythehell more people die in California heat wave than happened in Texas’ cold snap, because we’re better than them dammit why are we dying. The deaths would have been worse if CA hadn’t been putting a bunch of batteries at old disused gas stations and closed carbon power plants.

Leave a Reply