City Fruit 5th Annual Cider Tasting!

City Fruit’s 5th Annual Cider Taste fundraiser will be held on Thursday, November 12th between 6:30 and 9:00 PM at the Pike Place Atrium Kitchen (1433 First Avenue). Tickets are limited, and must be purchased online. 

All tickets include one event passport, souvenir glass, tastes from ten Northwest cidermakers, and five small plates plus one amuse bouche from local chefs. Participating cideries include Alpenfire Organic Hard Cidery, Dragonhead Cider, Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Grizzly Ciderworks, Nashi Orchards, Seattle Cider Co., Schilling Cider, Snowdrift Cider, Tieton Cider Works, and Whitewood Cider Co.

For the first time, this year’s event will feature six outstanding chefs including Ethan Stowell, Jerry Traunfeld, Thierry Rautureau, Daisley Gordon, John Sundstrom, and Erik Jackson who will create original small plate pairings to accompany the ciders. The evening will also feature a live auction and the chance to bid on cider-themed prizes and unique local experiences.

All event proceeds will benefit the 2016 harvest, which brings fresh, local fruit to over 50 meal programs and food banks across the city.

Hope Lives at The Grassroots

Hope lives at grassroots.  

By Stu Hennessey, VP, Sustainable West Seattle

I don’t know why things cannot get done when folks get elected and are paid well. A lot could be learned by our elected officials if they would come down to the grassroots level.

I have served on the board of Sustainable West Seattle for the last 3 years and have experienced a lot of reason to be hopeful. With an all volunteer staff and a small working membership I have seen many accomplishments in the past 3 years. Instead of complaining and retreating these folks that I have been associated with roll up their sleeves and get things done. Being a part of these local victories for the greater good fills me with hope for the future.

You too can be a part of the solution as openings are becoming available. If you are not at the table you might end up on the menu.

I am at the end of my 3 year term limit but I will not disappear.

To reflect on a few highlights, I am most impressed with the collaboration and facilitation of various projects such as Solarize Southwest  Seattle, The annual Greenlife Festival and the West Seattle Bike Connections.

In 2014 Solarize Southwest Seattle with help from SWS signed up 667 registrations and solarized 111 households creating 684 kilowatts of renewable power.  This helped to create a record year for rooftop solar installations in Seattle. Sustainable West Seattle hosted and advertised workshops in partnership with Seattle City Light, Northwest Seed and Sustainable Burien to get the word out and sign up customers.

This year we also saw a record attendance at our annual Greenlife Festival during the West Seattle street fair.  The information that was shared and the community coalescence that occurred were ravenously consumed by a diverse crowd.

The West Seattle Bike Connections group made great strides to enhance a healthy and happy alternative to the usual gridlock leaving West Seattle. Safer and improved routes to work centers and other neighborhoods are now being implemented due to the advice and experience of our local everyday cyclists.

More accomplishments with the West Seattle Tool Library and the Community Orchard of West Seattle or the community gatherings at West Seattle Meaningful Movies and the growth of the West Seattle Time Bank offer many opportunities to get involved. Bring your talents to any of our remaining board meetings for 2015 and begin to be a voice in your community for environmental, social, economic and soothing justice. See you there!

 

 

 

What Its Like to Buy an Electric Vehicle

Local West Seattleite Andy Silber discusses his recent purchase of an EV:

 

I’ve joined the ranks of Electric Car drivers

 

For years I’ve been saying that when our Honda Civic died, we’d replace it with a Nissan Leaf.  Well, the Honda died and we just bought a Leaf. I thought I’d share our process.

Why a Leaf? There are lots of electric cars on the market. Several are just too expensive (e.g. the Tesla). Others are available only in states like California that have a mandate that require manufacturers sell a small number of electric cars. Those models are hard or impossible to find in states that don’t have a mandate (like Washington). That leaves basically the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt (which is a plug-in hybrid that burns gasoline when the batteries are empty). Though I like the Volt, it’s a bit more expensive and I liked the simplicity of a pure electric vehicle: no gas stations, oil changes, or tail pipe. The 85-mile range of the Leaf is sufficient for our daily driving and with charging stations becoming common, even longer trips are possible. For instance, Catherine wants to visit a farm in Sultan, over 50 miles away. Since there’s a level 3 charging station at the Sultan visitors center, it only takes 20 minutes of charging before heading home with a nearly full “tank”.

Why now? We considered being a one-car family, just our trusty 1996 Subaru wagon. I take the bus to work, we live 3 blocks from a rent-a-car office with great weekend rates, and there are Car2Go cars in our neighborhood. I’m sure we could have made it work. Heck, we know people who are car free, and they don’t live next to two bus routes like we do. When we went to test drive the Leaf, it was just to check it out, not buy one. After we drove the car and liked it, they shared the deal: $6,500 off of sticker from Nissan, an interest free loan worth over $2,000, $7,500 tax credit from the feds, and a sales tax exemption from Washington State worth over $2,000. They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.

We could have waited a few months until the 2016 Leaf comes out, which will have a range of over 100 miles. We could have waited a few years until the Tesla 3 comes out, which I’m sure will be amazing and much cheaper than the current Tesla. If you think about it in the terms of disruptive technology, something new (e.g. electric cars) replaces what came before (e.g. internal combustion engines) not because it’s all around better, but because it’s good enough on most elements (e.g. range, safety, driving experience, purchases price) and better on a few elements that the previous solution hadn’t focused on (e.g. low greenhouse-gas emission, total cost of ownership). A small percentage of the population will start buying the new solution because they care about the previously ignored values, which will spur development until the new technology becomes the standard. For us, the Leaf is either good enough (e.g. on range) or better (e.g. greenness) across all fronts. So why wait? Also, Nissan’s generous rebates are designed to get the 2015 cars off the lot before the 2016 model shows up: I’d rather pay $6,500 less and not get next year’s model.

“This Changes Everything” Movie Screening 11/7

On Saturday, November 7
 
West Seattle Meaningful Movies presents
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING
A new film directed by Avi Lewis and inspired by Naomi Klein’s bestseller
This Changes Everything—Capitalism vs. the Climate
90 minutes
What if confronting the climate crisis is the best chance we’ll ever get to build a better world?
By featuring seven communities on the front lines, this movie connects the carbon in the air with the economic system that put it there. It shows how we can seize the climate crisis to transform our failed economic system into something radically better.
6:30  doors open for snacks and social time
7:00 movie (come early to be sure to get a good seat)
6400 Sylvan Way SW, Seattle 98126
Bus numbers 21 and 128
NO CHARGE, but donations gratefully received.
Help us minimize waste—bring your own mug.

“The Secret of Change” Documentary Teaser

Just received a little note from our friends over at OWL Positive Broadcasting. SWS met with them as part of their journey down the west coast. Here is the teaser from their upcoming documentary “The Secret of Change”.

Hello Friends!

We have now finished filming, can you believe it!? Can’t believe how quickly the time has passed, seems like only yesterday we were staying with you guys in West Seattle. At the moment we’re in California staying with friends until we fly out to Mexico on Sunday, very exciting!
We’ve had an incredible journey filming with so many people and initiatives over the last few months and we have put together a very brief teaser (which you feature in) to give an idea of what is to come so I thought I’d share it with you.
I hope you enjoy it and please feel free to share with as many people, in as many ways as you please ;-).
We are beginning work on a crowd-funder as we speak and aim to have that completed by the end of the month so we’ll let you guys know when that launches.
With love and gratitude
Chris & Zoe

Guest Post: Andy Silber on Electric Cars

Electric Cars: Opportunity and Risk

Tesla Image

It’s been five years since I’ve written about electric cars. In those years the Leaf has replaced the Prius as the environmental car of choice and the Tesla Model S has won more automotive awards than Bryon Cranston has won Emmys. As I expected, electric cars are driving down the road towards the mainstream.

While the cost, range, and quality of electric cars has improved dramatically, the way those cars are charged has remained relatively unchanged.  Sure Tesla has installed a network of fast chargers that in twenty minutes can add sufficient charge that road trips are now possible and many businesses have installed charging stations in their parking lots, but most electric cars are still changed at home overnight.  The driver gets home, plugs in the car and in the morning the car is ready for another day of driving. Depending on your system and how far you’ve driven, charging may take from two to ten hours. Currently, the electric grid treats an electric car just like a blender.

As electric cars become mainstream, there will be a new rush hour on the grid right after the rush hour on the roads: millions of cars plugging in around 6 p.m., drawing power at the same time as stoves and heaters and TVs are firing up. This is a challenge not just to produce the electricity, but also to distribute it to all of those garages. If we don’t deal with this intelligently, then we might see a gridlock of electrons (i.e. brown-outs).

Light Pole

But this challenge is also an opportunity to make the grid better. The electric grid needs to be sized for peak demand. The rest of the day, those resources are underused. Creating  off-peak demand helps the utility.

Very few drivers need their car charged up as soon as possible, but just want it ready for their daily commute by the next morning. How do we build a system that does the bulk of the changing when the grid has underused capacity (i.e. the middle of the night)? There are several approaches, each with advantages and disadvantages:

  • Time-of-day metering, where the retail price of electricity drops during the time of day when the wholesale price of electricity is low and the grid is operating at much less than capacity (e.g. 11 pm to 8 am). This is fairly straightforward to implement, but is inflexible to events (e.g. a transformer goes down). This only requires advanced power meters and chargers that know what time it is and what time they should start charging.
  • Real time pricing, where the utility can set the price based on the current situation and sends a message that appliances (e.g. car chargers) can respond to (e.g. delaying charging). This requires a much smarter system (i.e. the Smart Grid), but allows the utility to manage challenges like a substation fire or high wind-production during a time of low demand.
  • Build a system that can handle increased peak loads; more generators, wires, transformers, poles… This is almost certainly the most expensive and dirtiest way to meet the challenge.

Currently in Seattle, we’re not doing any of these things. The cost of electricity is the same at 6p.m. as it is at 2 a.m. and the chargers that people are installing in their garages don’t know what time it is, much less the cost of electricity at that moment. I expect electric car growth to follow a hockey-stick pattern, which is common for new technology adoption (think smart phones): sales will grow linearly and moderately for a few years, then the next time that gasoline prices hit $5.00 a gallon, electric car sales will explode. Are we building the electric network that can handle this opportunity?

Solar in Washington Needs Your Support

Sign this petition to keep WA solar incentives going! Details below.

West Seattle Rooftop Solar

West Seattle Rooftop Solar

Those greenies in the know have heard about Washington State’s solar incentives. If you haven’t, check out the DSIRE database for the scoop.

In short:

Above the 30% Federal Income Tax Credit which everyone gets…

Washingtonians pay no sales tax on photovoltaic (electric) solar installations. 

Washingtonians are paid, by the utility company, an incentive of $0.15-$0.54 for every kilowatt-hour their solar energy system produces. 

Plus, each kilowatt-hour you produce is one you don’t have to buy.

SO MANY PEOPLE have gone solar since these state incentives were instituted in 2006, that utility companies are slated to hit the legislative maximums and REDUCE THE INCENTIVES. 

If this happens, solar is going to get very expensive in a hurry because the Federal Income Tax Credit (30% of purchase price) is set to expire in 2016 if its not extended.

With both of these incentives gone, we could see solar prices increase dramatically next year. We can’t afford to let this happen.

If you want to keep solar a viable option for our local grid as well as keep the local solar economy vibrant, please follow this link to sign a letter to your WA legislators and let them know. 

Lets keep solar booming!