"Switch" with Sustainable Princeton

On Monday March 23rd at 5:00 pm and Thursday, March 26th at 10:00 am, the Princeton Public Library's Environmental Film Festival will be showing Switch.  This 2012 documentary explores the question of how we will transition from traditional energy sources such as coal and oil to renewable sources.  The Washington Post calls it "Smart and refreshingly free of hot air." The film is part of a project that seeks to educate about energy conservation and efficiency. In anticipation of the film's showing, Sustainable Princeton will share an energy efficiency tip each day from the project. Check our Facebook page & Twitter @sustainptn to get your energy efficiency tip of the day and be sure to come see the film at the Festival.  

Energy & Waste Are Represented in Princeton Pubic Library's Environmental Film Festival Official Selections

 The Official Selections have been announced for the Princeton Public Library's 9th annual Environmental Film Festival (PEFF). Amongst the line up of thought provoking and notable films are selections that explore the implications of the energy and waste choices that are being made around the world.

Here's a run down of the films that focus on energy and waste:

Friday, March 20th

7:00 pm

WASTE:  Just Eat It - Directed by Grant Baldwin and produced by Jen Rustemeyer, 2014 75 minutes

Filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant dive into the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they pledge to quit grocery shopping cold turkey and survive only on foods that would otherwise be thrown away. In a nation where one in 10 people is food insecure, the images they capture of squandered groceries are both shocking and strangely compelling. But as Grant’s addictive personality turns full tilt towards food rescue, the ‘thrill of the find’ has unexpected consequences.

Sunday, March 22nd

1:30 pm

ENERGY:  Oil and Water - Produced and directed by Francine Strickwerda and Laura Spellman-Smith

Oil & Water is the true story of two boys coming of age as they each confront one of the world’s worst toxic disasters. Hugo and David were born on opposite ends of the oil pipeline. Hugo comes to America to fight for the survival of his Cofan tribe in the Ecuadorian Amazon, while David leaves the U.S. and goes to Ecuador to launch the world’s first company to certify oil as “fair trade.” Their journeys lead them to explore what could be a more just future, not just for the Cofan, but for all people around the world born with oil beneath their feet.

Monday, March 23rd

4:00 pm

ENERGY:  No Pipeline: Say the Friends of Nelson - Produced by Julie Burns, George Mccullough and Anna Savoia, 2014 29 min

The effects of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) are felt far and wide. “No Pipeline” looks at a community in Nelson County, Virginia fighting a gas pipeline which threatens the beauty of the countryside and change the way of life they have come to love.

The screening will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers George McCollough and Anna Savoia. 

6:00 pm

ENERGY:  Switch - Produced by Harry Lynch and Geologist Dr. Scott Tinker, 2012 98 min

Every energy resource — fossil, nuclear and renewable — is undergoing profound changes. This sweeping transition is the subject of “Switch” and travels the world to discover how it most likely will happen, with a focus on the practical realities and balanced understanding about changing the way we use energy, to realize the many economic and environmental benefits of efficiency.

7:30 pm

ENERGY:  Above All Else - Produced and directed by John Fiege, 2014 95 min

In this first-hand account of activists on the front line of the climate fight, one man risks it all to stop the tar sands of the Keystone XL oil pipeline from crossing his land. Shot in the forests, pastures, and living rooms of rural East Texas, “Above All Else” follows David Daniel, a retired stunt man and high-wire artist, as he rallies neighbors and activists to join him in a final act of brinkmanship: a tree-top blockade of the controversial pipeline.

Tuesday, March 24th

4:00 pm

ENERGY:  The Walking Revolution - Produced by Every Body Walk, Rigler Creative, 2013 30 min

Cities were once designed on a human scale. As more and more people took to the roads, the suburbs quickly became the new frontier. After 75 years of planning that produces a sedentary lifestyle, a radical redesign of our cities and open space has begun. Parks and paths are making a comeback to create truly walkable communities through partnerships between residents, businesses, developers, municipalities, urban planners and health care providers.

Thursday, March 26th

10:00 am

ENERGY:  Switch - Produced by Harry Lynch and Geologist Dr. Scott Tinker, 2012 98 min

See above.

12:00 pm

WASTE:  Racing to Zero - Produced by Diana Fuller directed by Christopher Beaver, 2014 59 min

By substituting the word “resource” for the word “garbage,” a culture can be transformed, and a new wealth of industries can emerge, presenting new solutions to the global problem of waste.  The film examines how the mayor of San Francisco pledged to achieve zero waste by 2020, and tracks San Francisco’s waste stream diversion tactics and presents innovative new solutions to waste. This film documents a surprising, engaging and inspiring race to zero.

7:00 pm

Screening Location: Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts, James M. Stewart '32 Theater 185 Nassau Street, Princeton

ENERGY:  The Overnighters - Produced and directed by Jesse Moss, 2014 100 min

In the tiny town of Williston, North Dakota tens of thousands of unemployed hopefuls show up with dreams of honest work and a big paycheck when hydraulic fracturing in that region unlocks a vast oil field in the nearby Bakken shale. Upon arrival, however, busloads of newcomers step into the sad reality of slim work prospects and nowhere to sleep – the town lacks the infrastructure to house even those who do find gainful employment. A modern-day “Grapes of Wrath,” the film engages and dramatizes a set of universal societal and economic themes: the promise and limits of re-invention, redemption and compassion, as well as the tension between the moral imperative to “love thy neighbor” and the practice of one small community when confronted by a surging river of desperate, job seeking strangers.

Saturday, March 28th 

6:30 pm

WASTE:  Trashion Show

Walk that red carpet in an outfit made from...trash! Well, recyclables anyway! And we are offering some design help in creating your outfit this month, with two workshops lead by Princeton Day School teacher Olivia Rutigliano. The workshops are intended for children, teens and college students. Workshop Dates: Saturday Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. and Saturday Feb. 28 at 10:30 a.m. in the Princeton Public Library. Details here.


Sunday, March 29th 

11:00 am

WASTE:  Divide in Concord Produced by David Regos and Jaedra Luke directed by Kris Kaczor, 2015 82 min

Jean Hill, a fiery octogenarian, is deeply concerned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—the world’s largest landfill. She spends her golden years attending city council meetings and cold-calling residents. Since 2010, she’s spearheaded a grassroots campaign to ban the sale of single-serve plastic bottled water in her hometown of Concord, Massachusetts. So far, her attempts to pass a municipal bylaw have failed. As she prepares for one last town meeting, Jean faces the strongest opposition yet, from local merchants and the International Bottled Water Association. But her fiercest challenge comes from Adriana Cohen, mother, model and celebrity publicist-turned-pundit, who insists the bill is an attack on freedom.  When Adriana thrusts Jean’s crusade into the national spotlight, it’s silver-haired senior versus silver-tongued pro. In the same town that incited the American Revolution and inspired Thoreau’s environmental movement, can one little old lady make history? A tense nail-biter of a vote will decide.


For the full line up of the selections, check out the PEFF website and don't forget to follow on Facebook. Hope to see you there!



Understanding Third Party Green Electricity Providers

Updated October 27, 2017

For those who want to search for a renewable electricity provider and want to skip the Q&A, Green-e provides a search tool to find Third Party Electricity Providers that source electricity from renewable sources. To use their search tool: Go to Green-e Certified: Find Certified Products and Companies and search for Residential Renewable Energy in New Jersey.

Why should I care about my electricity provider?

According to the EPA, 32% (2012 data) of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are produced from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity [1]. In New Jersey, 23% (2009 data) of greenhouse gas emissions produced by the state are produced from electricity generation [2]. Generating electricity from a renewable source instead of fossil fuels can significantly reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and their impact on climate change. Since it may not be feasible to generate your own renewable electricity, switching to a Third Party Electricity Supplier (TPES) provides a way to support the generation of renewable electricity.

What are Third Party Electricity Suppliers?

In 1999, legislation was passed to allow consumers to shop for their energy provider opening up the market to providers other than traditional utility companies. Today, consumers like you have several electricity providers to choose from, and many of them claim to provide cheap or green electricity.

What is Renewable Electricity? What is Green Power?

Renewable electricity is electricity generated from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power. Some renewable electricity technologies, such as large-scale hydroelectric, can have environmental trade-offs associated with them.

Green Power, while often used synonymously with renewable electricity, is defined by the EPA Green Power Partnership program as a subset renewable energy that represents only those renewable energy resources and technologies that provide the highest environmental benefit, including solar and wind.

A number of TPES claim to provide Green Power. To understand how the electricity provider is providing Green Power, you must first understand the options that exist.

What options do I have?

Among TPES that claim to provide electricity from renewable or green sources you will find three models:

- a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC)-only option

- RECs combined with electricity from any source, which could include fossil fuels or nuclear energy

- RECs combined with generated renewable energy (sometimes referred to as a Green Power Program)

What is a REC?

A REC is simply a certificate that represents the environmental benefits that were accrued when some renewable electricity was generated somewhere.

How much “do” RECs actually help the development of renewable electricity is currently a matter of debate. Furthermore, RECs are traded in a relatively non-transparent marketplace, making it difficult for an end-consumer to know the true cost of the RECs.

What should I take into account when deciding on a TPES that claims to provide renewable electricity?

The age and location of a green energy project are considered two of the most important criteria in determining how much the project promotes the growth of renewable electricity.

A TPES that sources electricity from local green energy projects that have been built within the last 15 years are considered ideal. Green-e is a non-profit organization that provides a tool to search for TPES available to New Jersey residents and organizations. Their tool can help you identify a TPES that sells electricity from local renewable energy projects as well as those that offer a Green Power Program.

When in doubt, one should examine the Environmental Disclosure Statement (EDS), which is required for all TPES and lists the fuel used to generate the electricity you are buying.

Do I have to pay more for renewable electricity?

Renewable electricity may be more or less expensive than electricity drawn from conventional sources, such as coal. Prices for electricity, both from conventional and renewable sources, do fluctuate, so when prices for conventional electricity are high, renewable electricity may be cheaper. To determine if the TPES rate for renewable energy is cheaper than the conventional supply from your utility, locate the Price to Compare (PTC) on your electricity bill. If the TPES price per kWh is less than your listed PTC, you could save money by choosing the TPES supplier. 

What kinds of plans are available?

TPES offer various plans. Some plans offer a fixed price for electricity per kilowatt-hour for a specified amount of time that can range from 1 to 12 months. TPES may also offer variable rate plans where the price of electricity per kilowatt-hour can change from month to month. Variable rate plans allow consumers to benefit from falling market prices, but they also have increased risk for higher rates if electricity prices spike due to natural disasters, cold winters, or adverse market conditions. Some may also include an early cancellation penalty. Before deciding on a plan, be sure that you understand how the cost of your electricity may change and read through the TPES agreement or contract carefully.

[1] http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/usinventoryreport.html

[2] http://www.nj.gov/dep/sage/ce-ggi.html