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Welcome to the Flint Hills Renewable Energy & Efficiency Cooperative, Inc.

Newsletter - August, 2016

Our Next SunRaiser,

this Saturday, Aug 27th beginning at 9:00 am
For the first time in quite a while, this one is in Manhattan
617 Colorado St, Manhattan, KS

Perhaps our recent SunRaisers have been too distant or took too long, to learn how to install your own systems. This is your chance. The rails are already up so we’ll be able to get right to it and should be done by early afternoon. We might just have time to take it easy. We will be expanding a system that is already grandfathered into Westar’s old contracts. For other Westar customers we recommend still waiting until the corporation commission decides if and how big a solar tariff might be. Bluestem members can carry right on. They already know solar is good for themselves and neighboring members too.

From Westar’s customer survey on Kansas attitudes to renewable energy: “From June 5-8, 2015, True North Market Insights conducted an online survey using a sample from Research Now, a premier online consumer sample provider. The sample was pulled from Westar’s trade territory and then screened according to gender, age, income, political affiliation, ethnicity and electricity provider.

Overwhelming Favourability Toward Renewable Energy!

Respondents were overwhelmingly in favour of increasing renewable energy generation sources in Kansas (91%)
  1. Almost all women (94%) were more likely to strongly or somewhat agree.
  2. 65% respondents aged 18-34 were more likely to strongly agree.
  3. Democtrats (64%) and unaffiliated voters (65%) were more likely to strongly agree.
  4. Almost all of those with income $50-$99K were more likely to strongly or somewhat agree.
So What’s Holding us up?


“The Republican Party platform is calling for the abolition of regulations to curtail emissions from coal-fired power plants while also saying that the fuel source is a “clean” energy form. Meantime, its presidential nominee is saying that climate change is a “total hoax.” Trump has apparently been discussing a position of Secretary of Energy with Harold Hamm, fracking king from Oklahoma….reminds me of days with Reagan’s Interior Secretary James Watt. (“A giant redwood log on a flatcar is all we need to show.”) To that end, the House Republicans just took a symbolic vote to reject any attempts to penalize companies for their excessive carbon emissions, saying that it would only raise the cost of electricity. The Democrats, meanwhile, are calling for the country to generate half of its electricity from clean energy sources within a decade. Hillary will have a chance to name Supreme Court nominees who may shift decisions on Clean Power Plan, EPA and FERC mandates.

For now, though, politics will prevail. U.S. lawmakers don’t agree on whether manmade climate change is an issue or if it is, whether the cost of fixing it is worth the benefits.. Money, in fact, plays a critical role — in the form of political contributions: oil and gas interests have given $32 million in 2016, says, while mining groups have donated $3.75 million. Since 2012, the Republicans have received the vast majority of that money. During the 2015-2016 election cycle, Koch Industries has given $8.4 million while Chevron Corp. has allocated $4 million and ExxonMobil Corp. has donated $1.5 million. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, meanwhile, has received $500,000, and Hillary Clinton has gotten $467,000; she believes that shale gas is the key to replacing the more pollutive coal for the purposes of the generating electricity.”


I was told that the chairs of the Senate Utilities Committee, Pat Apple and Jay Embler, were forced by Gov. Brownback into accepting the position on the KCC over the threat that Brownback would field a conservative in the primary elections. With these last primaries, an encouraging event in Kansas is that moderates made a comeback around the state last month. So such threats may have lost their edge. Dennis Hedkie, chair of the House Energy & Environment Committee retired, so in this session solar advocates may have a fighting chance to at least be heard. If Westar officials are faced with a Democratically nominated US Supreme Court Justice and an EPA Clean Power Plan, they will be much more receptive to honest discussion of rooftop solar. I think the Kansas Tea Party now understands that homegrown power on your own roof top is more democratic position to take.

FHREEC’s Other Mission is Energy Efficiency

Up in the air is the Great Plains takeover of Westar you’ve read about. Both the Kansas Corporation Commission and the Missouri Public Service Commission need to approve this take over. And that may also be on hold until the fallout of the elections has settled. It is doubtful that any Westar official will put their job on the line by making big changes in company policy until the takeover is approved. Great Plains also owns Kansas City Power & Light.

The Climate +Energy Project (CEP) states “Kansas City Power and Light is currently seeking approval to implement a suite of energy saving programs in Kansas that have already proven effective to its customers in Missouri. The KCC opened docket number 16-KCPE-446-TAR to address KCP&L's request…. Kansas City Power and Light is currently seeking approval to implement a suite of energy saving programs in Kansas that have already proven effective to its customers in Missouri. The KCC opened docket number 16-KCPE-446-TAR to address KCP&L's request. Westar Energy is also intervening in this case, stating they are interested in "implementing additional energy efficiency programs in the future". So this is a precedent setting case. Along with Efficiency Roundtables around KC, CEP will be holding an Efficiency Roundtable in Manhattan in the next few weeks. Stay tuned, we’ll announce it as our plans are finalized. The gateway to learning more:

It is vital that we ask our representatives in Topeka, what is their stand on efficiency and renewable energy and let them know that 91% of Kansans are on our side. Ask in letters to the editors, at public candidate forums and talk with your neighbors.

Newsletter - January, 2016

“Solar is simply what’s next, and 1 in 5 homes built in California this year will have solar. In 50 years a centralized energy grid predicated upon the consumption of fossil fuels – which must be extracted, refined, transported, burned and transmitted across vast distances – will be viewed as an antiquated practice in the same light as killing whales en masse for their oil. “

Our Next SunRaiser, in Bluestem territory

Joe & Cigi Little, 9:00 Saturday July 16th, Clay Center, KS

Federal IRS 501(c)3

The IRS has rejected FHREEC’s application for not-for-profit status. Their reasoning is that we sell hardware, not necessarily to economically disadvantaged members so someone must unfairly benefit. Our mission as stated in our articles of incorporation: “The Corporation’s purpose shall include, but not limited to promoting the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency in homes and businesses in the Flint Hills region through education, community outreach and barrier reduction.” Our focus has been on installing solar electric systems because:
  1. they have become very cost effective and don’t require large modifications to a house
  2. once installed they are an obvious conversation starter for neighbors and passing motorists into the advantages of solar energy
  3. They have less obvious advantages such as tax credits and, like a large tree, reducing the heat load from that house’s air conditioning.

Until recently awareness and price have been two of the biggest barriers to solar electricity. Buying in bulk reassures our members that they are getting hardware that has been reviewed for quality, and large shipments increase our ability to buy wholesale and share shipping costs…and our members are comfortable that we are not taking advantage of them. In view of our statement of purpose, our board has voted that we are not willing to give those benefits up. So we’ve been deemed a for-profit corporation, in spite of the fact that none or our officers or board are allowed to profit from our work.

In Westar’s own survey, 91% of their customers are interested in renewable energy for their own homes and we are confident that if we advertised widely, we just could not keep up with the work. It is safe to say that the biggest barriers at this moment are the anti-renewables actions of the Kansas Legislature and possible solar tariff rulings by the Kansas Corporation Commission. Once those two issues are resolved, our own ability to handle a large influx of business is the only barrier to a very sunny future.

Fresh Air Cooling (whole house fans)

Weather statistics from last year for Manhattan. Even in July, our worst month for fresh air cooling , 68% of our low temperatures were below 75 degrees F and 42% were below 70 F. During the cooling season the average change between high and low temperature was almost 20 degrees F per day. Great conditions for fresh air cooling.

This is an area where for an investment small enough for many apartment dwellers, much cooling can be done with a fan…not an air conditioning compressor and a fan. There are new controls out which compare inside temperature and humidity with outdoors and switch on when they work to our advantage. Whole house fans:


Eleventh Annual Dialog on Sustainability:
"Paris Agreement on Climate Change and U.S. Clean Power Plan,"
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Fiedler Hall Auditorium and Atrium, in the Engineering Complex at Kansas State University

You are invited to attend the Eleventh Annual Dialog on Sustainability: "Paris Agreement on Climate Change and U.S. Clean Power Plan," Saturday, July 23, 2016 in Fiedler Hall Auditorium and Atrium, in the Engineering Complex at Kansas State University. Registration opens at 8:00 a.m. and the program will run from 8:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. This event is free and open to the public, but each person needs to pre-register to be sure there are enough seats and lunches.

This year's dialog will focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The anticipated audience will include undergraduate students from U.S. universities who are working on sustainability research projects, leaders and members of environmental organizations, K-Staters, environmental professionals, and members of communities.

We invite individuals, communities, and organizations to come prepared to share input, ideas, and information. In addition to the presentations and dialog, there will be displays, posters, exhibits, lunch (provided), and more.

Please pre-register by sending your name, email, affiliation, and phone to Sheree Walsh,, (785) 532-6519.