As your home heating bill goes up — and it will — don’t blame renewable energy- VyWhy

Last updated on 2022-06-01 20:41:46

2021-10-13

Illinois leaders should explain where price increases really come from before Illinoisans turn their frustrations on the green power sector.

No sooner did the Illinois Legislature pass an important bill this fall to boost clean energy than another worry cropped up: soaring natural gas prices.

Elected officials will have to do all they can to make sure players in the industry don’t jack up prices on consumers, as Russia is doing to Europe right now and as Enron did to California two decades ago.

Illinois leaders’ should get the word out that now is a good time to insulate homes and find other ways to conserve energy. And they should get out their megaphones to explain where those price hikes are coming from before the frustrated people of Illinois sour on the whole idea of a green power sector.

Nicor, which provides natural gas to businesses and to heat homes in the suburbs, estimates gas prices could go up by 48% this winter. In the city, which is served by Peoples Gas, prices might go up even more. Those predictions refer to the cost of gas itself, which is only part of ratepayers’ bills. Fixed costs, which for many homeowners are the biggest share of the bill, won’t be affected. But even so, the costs could be catastrophic for many people if it is a frigid winter. Natural gas prices in the United States already have climbed rapidly this month, reaching a 13-year high last week.

Already, 30% of the people in Chicago can’t afford to pay their gas bills, according to the Citizens Utility Board. If prices soar, more people will cut back on medicines to pay utility bills, or they will unsafely keep their homes too cold, or they will try to warm their homes in dangerous ways, such as by using their ovens. Existing programs to help people pay their gas bills, including those listed at ChiCookilRentHelp.org, should be expanded if the winter is indeed severe and prices do go as high as expected.

Higher natural gas prices also translate into higher electricity prices, because gas is used to generate some of the electricity Illinoisans use.

Last winter in Texas, when nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses went without power for weeks because the state for years had ignored calls to protect its fossil-fuel-burning power grid against severe storms, demagoguing politicians tried to blame the disaster on Texas’ nascent renewable energy infrastructure.

We shouldn’t let that dishonest game play in Illinois.

Ironically, what happened in Texas sent natural prices soaring even beyond that state’s borders because the natural gas market is regionalized. And the costs of the Texas freeze still are being passed along to ratepayers in the Chicago area. Yes, Texas messed with Illinois.

Other factors driving up costs include increased demand after the worst of the pandemic because the fossil fuel industry — similar to other supply chain issues — cannot ramp up easily after cutting back due to reduced demand; more liquefied gas is being exported to other nations; gas used to generate electricity for air conditioning in last summer’s heat left supplies low, and Hurricane Ida temporarily knocked out much of the gas production offline in August near the Gulf of Mexico.

Also, Nicor is asking for its third rate hike in four years.

We’ve been heading in this direction for years. When gas prices were low, utilities raised other costs without it being apparent immediately. Those higher costs won’t go away even as gas prices rise.

When people can’t pay their gas bills, power companies write it off as bad debt and other ratepayers pick up the extra tab, currently more than per customer a month. The fixed fees on customer bills can run to more than , according to Illinois PIRG, and a fee that allows gas utilities to spend heavily on replacing pipelines and other projects averages about . People can easily get hit with total charges of almost before they burn a therm of gas.

With rising prices, the siren song of “drill, baby, drill” — revert back to fossil fuel — could begin to resonate in Illinois.

But burning natural gas sends heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and gas pumping and pipelines leak methane, a more potent greenhouse gas.

In just three weeks, on Oct. 31, the United Nations’ 26th Climate Change Conference will convene. And in a month, the traditional heating season in Illinois will begin. This is no time to backtrack on our state’s commitment to clean energy.

Send letters to [email protected].

White Sox, manager Tony La Russa had correct response …

23-05-2022 · 1 day ago · But there is no good sense in that, no need to put a runner on base who could become a winning run, no need for anyone to risk injury from a pitch or another melee that …

23-05-2022

Give White Sox manager Tony La Russa credit for not ordering someone on his pitching staff to stick one in Yankees instigator Josh Donaldson’s ribs.

After everything that went down Saturday, with Donaldson taunting Sox shortstop Tim Anderson by calling him ‘‘Jackie,’’ Anderson taking offense and a benches-clearing fracas resulting because of it, everyone wondered what the Sox response would be.

Donaldson, after all, had mixed it up with them before.

So a message pitch from veteran Johnny Cueto in Game 1 of the doubleheader Sunday wouldn’t have surprised anyone.

But there is no good sense in that, no need to put a runner on base who could become a winning run, no need for anyone to risk injury from a pitch or another melee that might have followed.

And La Russa, a 78-year-old as old-school as they come, gave his team a chance to react in the best way possible — on the field.

‘‘You know what? It’s the way we’re going about it,’’ La Russa said after the Sox won Game 1. ‘‘You want to score because that’s how you [respond]. We went after that game. Guys went after it.’’

The Sox then completed a doubleheader sweep of the team with the best record in the majors in what easily was the best day of their season and probably their best day since Anderson homered against the Yankees in the ‘‘Field of Dreams’’ game Aug. 12.

Anderson homered in his final at-bat Sunday, a three-run shot to the opposite field that looked a lot like his walk-off home run against the Yankees in the Iowa cornfields. He didn’t talk with reporters before Game 1, during which he rested, and declined to talk after Game 2.

Fans were talking at him, though, booing him and calling him ‘‘Jackie.’’ But Anderson’s bat did his talking, and it silenced a Yankees crowd that watched him put his finger to his lips as he rounded third and touched home plate.

‘‘When somebody disrespects him, he should get upset,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘I know I would.’’

Meanwhile, the Sox came together at a time when they desperately needed to. A World Series contender going into this season in the middle of their championship window, their first month and a half has featured lackluster defense (not unexpected) and bottom-of-the-majors hitting (unexpected). But with 78 hits on a 5-3 road tripthat started in Kansas City, the Sox showed hints of rounding back into form. The next step is hitting with runners in scoring position.

‘‘We’re working on that,’’ La Russa said.

Emotionally, there’s no work to be done. Donaldson did that for them, putting a charge into the clubhouse.

What’s more, the sweep of the Yankees was fueled by starting pitching that was — and will be — the Sox’ backbone. Cueto was unscored on for the second second time in as many six-inning outings, and Michael Kopech (1.29 ERA) looked dominant again.

Lucas Giolito and Dylan Cease well might be in the Cy Young Award chase, and Lance Lynn, a regular in the same class, is coming soon. Dallas Keuchel and Vince Velasquez might be getting squeezed out of a group that leaves no room.

So things aren’t as dim for the Sox (21-20), who didn’t expect to be chasing the Twins in the American League Central, as they were a few days ago. That’s what being smart and unemotional about responding to Donaldson — and taking a series from the Yankees — will do.

Channel the emotional energy in the right way, as Anderson did by going 3-for-5 with a three-run homer Sunday in Game 2.

‘‘That speaks huge to Tim’s character and what we’re trying to be in this clubhouse,’’ Kopech said. ‘‘And that’s a family.’’

Courtney Vandersloot following Sue Bird’s lead — but will she …

19-05-2022 · Neither Quigley nor Parker have discussed in any conclusive way whether 2022 will be their last season, but speculation is swirling. If the Sky and the league say goodbye to them, Vandersloot’s ...

19-05-2022

Before she played a minute in the WNBA, Courtney Vandersloot was drawing comparisons to Storm star and three-time WNBA champion Sue Bird.

In Vandersloot’s rookie season, Bird said the comparisons were legitimate because of the Sky point guard’s court vision, passing and shooting. Since being drafted third overall in 2011, Vandersloot has proved to be in a lane all her own.

“Anytime they put my name and Sue’s in the same conversation, it’s an honor,” Vandersloot said. “She’s one of the best to ever do it. She’s a winner, a true point guard. She’s been able to do it for so many years and is the epitome of what a point guard should look like.”

Bird leads the league in career assists with 3,073, but Vandersloot has broken some of her records recently — most postseason games with double-digit assists (10), most assists in a playoff game (18) and becoming the first player in WNBA history to average double-digit assists in a season.

She also entered the Sky’s game Wednesday in Seattle in fourth place on the league’s career assist list, 870 behind Bird. Vandersloot had 12 assists (and Bird seven) in the Sky’s 74-71 loss.

“I’m always a little bit honored,” Vandersloot said. “I have so much respect for Sue and what she did, especially being from around here. I’ve watched her since she got drafted here.”

Before Bird announced she’d be coming back for a run at what would be the Storm’s fifth title, speculation swirled that Vandersloot, who’s from Kent, Washington, could be headed home. Bird is expected to retire after the season.

Vandersloot’s free-agency motives always have been clear. She wanted to win a championship with the organization that drafted her and was always motivated by that goal to re-sign. After the Sky won the title in 2021, Vandersloot said she was intrigued by the idea of playing in her home market, but she would entertain all that free agency had to offer.

She met with the Lynx, the Storm and, of course, the Sky.

When Bird re-signed with the Storm for the league’s veteran minimum of ,141, all signs pointed to Vandersloot’s re-signing to a one-year, 5,000 contract with the Sky.

At this point, the Sky are just beginning their title defense, and the Storm are looking to turn around a poor start to what was expected to be a title-contending season with Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd back in the fold.

What awaits in the not-too-distant future is the end of Bird’s career, as well as what could be the end of two other Hall of Fame careers in Candace Parker and Allie Quigley.

Neither Quigley nor Parker have discussed in any conclusive way whether 2022 will be their last season, but speculation is swirling. If the Sky and the league say goodbye to them, Vandersloot’s departure for Seattle could become all the more probable.

Before the 2016 Olympics, reports circulated about Bird passing the torch to Vandersloot as the next leader of the WNBA’s greatest basketball dynasty, and they never materialized.

Time will tell if Bird’s torch will go to Vandersloot in 2023.

“It feels like a whole new arena,” Vandersloot said about playing in Climate Pledge Arena, which received a makeover from its days as KeyArena. “It’s Seattle, and it feels like home. It’s always fun to come back home and play.”

‘Dog’ review: Channing Tatum movie shows off no new tricks ...

17-02-2022 · ‘Dog’ shows off no new tricks but nails the old ones Channing Tatum plays a military dog’s reluctant escort in a buddy movie that masters all the mainstream moments.

17-02-2022

The whole deal with “Dog” sounds like something out of a hokey movie trailer from the 1980s, with one of those Voice of God narrations:

“HE was an Army Ranger who had lost his way. SHE was a military dog whose services were no longer needed. But now they need each other on one last mission and they just might save each other along the way — unless they kill each other first ...”

From the ridiculously simple title to the elevator-pitch premise of Channing Tatum as a broken-down former Army Ranger who has to deliver a troublemaking retired military dog to the memorial service for the dog’s human partner, we know exactly where “Dog” is going to take us; it’s as predictable as the route we take every day when we walk our pups. Yet even as we can count the beats between the Powerful Dramatic Moments and the Slapstick Comedic Hijinks, even as we watch Tatum sharing most of his scenes and dialogue with a co-star who can’t exactly talk back, we’re enjoying this well-crafted, earnest and thoroughly mainstream effort.

Sure, give us the obligatory scene in which Tatum’s Briggs pretends to be a blind wounded veteran so he and Lulu the dog can stay in a luxury hotel for free, and do you think there’s going to be a moment when Lulu gets loose and creates havoc? Why yes, we’ll take a heaping helping of sentimentality, as Briggs reads from his fallen colleague’s scrapbook, which is filled with writing about how Lulu is more than a dog, she’s a fellow soldier and his best friend. And, let’s sprinkle in those scenes in which Briggs has long “conversations” with Lulu, who somehow seems to understand most of what he’s saying.

What makes this all palatable is the lack of cynicism, the authentic heart, the, um, DOGGED determination of this movie. Tatum is leaning into his Lovable Big Lug persona, and the three Belgian Malinois portraying Lulu — their real names are Lana, Britta and Zuza — are amazingly talented, whether they’re playing anxious, frightened, tense, potentially violent, comforting or mourning.

Channing makes his co-directing debut (alongside Reid Carolin) in this fictional story that was inspired in part by the actor’s experiences with his beloved late pitbull-Catahoula mix, named … Lulu. In the classic buddy road trip movie formula of “Rainman,” “Planes, Trains & Automobiles,” “Midnight Run,” et al., you gotta get your two main characters taking a trip together and overcoming all sorts of personality conflicts, breakdowns in the system, unexpected challenges and setbacks, etc., as they try to make it from Point A to Point B. That one of the buddies in this particular buddy film is a large and uncooperative military dog is but a wrinkle to the formula.

In fact, Briggs and Lulu are both former Army Rangers who made great sacrifices for their country but have rotated out and are having enormous difficulties adjusting to life stateside. Briggs is estranged from his 3-year-old daughter Sam and Sam’s mother, he can barely keep various minimum-wage jobs, he’s on medication and has PTSD. Lulu has been retired from active duty but has too much military training, too many killer instincts, to join a family. Briggs has been trying to land a high-paying and dangerous civilian gig overseas, but he needs a recommendation from his former captain, who has refused to do so because of concerns about Briggs being concussed, on medication and prone to dizziness.

But we need a movie, so the captain has a proposition. If Briggs will transport Lulu from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state to Nogales, Arizona, for the aforementioned funeral service for Lulu’s former partner, the captain will make that phone call and Briggs will get his job. As for Lulu, that will be the end of the line for her. After the service, Briggs will hand her off at a military base where Lulu will be put down. (Given what we know about Briggs’ condition, it seems problematic for his former CO to be striking bargains that will send Briggs back into the heat of battle. But hey, it’s a dog movie.)

Off we go in Briggs’ battered 1984 Bronco, and it has to be an old beater so it’ll break down somewhere along the way — although mechanical failure is maybe the least daunting setback and least challenging adventure faced by Briggs and Lulu on their trip. They encounter a seemingly dangerous old couple (Kevin Nash and Jane Adams) who turn out to be something quite different, a former Army Ranger (Ethan Suplee) who teaches Briggs how to relate to Lulu, a thief who breaks into Brigg’s car and steals his medication along with some valuable mementos, and even a pair of free-spirited, New Age women who invite Briggs home for the evening. (We also get the briefest glimpse of Briggs’ daughter and his ex, who is played by Q’orianka Kilcher from “Yellowstone,” and it makes for a curious moment because to have such a talented actress in a role that’s essentially a glorified extra, with less than a minute of screen time, is jarring. There must be more of Kilcher on the cutting-room floor.)

Choppy at times and indulging in familiar dog-movie scenarios on a steady basis, “Dog” isn’t going to enter any annual conversations about the best canine films of all time, but Lulu is basically a good girl and Briggs is basically a good guy, and we’re glad they were given the high-concept road trip adventure they deserve.

99-year-old Dinkel’s Bakery might move, but its baked goods are …

14-02-2021 · The 99-year-old German bakery, located at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave., is taking offers on the building, but Dinkel said he plans to keep selling the stollen, cakes and paczki they are beloved for. While ...

14-02-2021

The building that houses Dinkel’s Bakery, a Lake View neighborhood mainstay since it opened in 1922, is for sale.

But owner Norman Dinkel Jr. wants to make one thing clear — they have no plans to stop serving their customers.

The 99-year-old German bakery, located at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave., is taking offers on the building, but Dinkel said he plans to keep selling the stollen, cakes and paczki they are beloved for.

While Dinkel said his plans aren’t set in stone yet, more modern amenities could be in the family-owned bakery’s future.

“No doubt the location has served us very well for almost 100 years,” the 77-year-old Dinkel said. “But if you look at other people in the food business, they have parking lots, they have drive-thru facilities. We’re never going to have that where we are located.”

The building, anchored by its iconic vertical neon sign, includes the bakery’s storefront along with two residential units, Dinkel said.

A view of Dinkel’s Bakery’s vertical neon sign on Saturday outside its storefront at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lake View.

A view of Dinkel’s Bakery’s vertical neon sign on Saturday outside its storefront at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave. in Lake View.

Kyle Stengle, senior vice president of investments for the commercial brokerage firm Marcus and Millichap, which handling the sale, said the building could be bought and used as it is now — commercially and residentially — or there is potential for a buyer to apply for a zoning change and develop a larger building at the location.

If the building does sell, Dinkel said he’s looking at a number of options to continue to serve baked goods, including remaining in a small part of the building. Dinkel said other considerations include moving to a drive-thru business model, or transforming into an exclusively mail-order operation.

“If we sold the building, I would want to make sure that the people buying the building were going to make it better for the community,” Dinkel said.

The sale is the first step in a “million-mile journey” according to Dinkel, and the decision wasn’t an easy one to make.

“It’s got a lot of history, a lot of nostalgia,” Dinkel said. “I think the bakery is selling more than baked goods, we’re selling stability in a very unstable world.”

The bakery has operated through a world war and now, a pandemic. However, Dinkel said one of the biggest challenges he faces is shifting traditions. Dinkel grew up working at the bakery and has witnessed how the city’s culture has changed, especially since he started running it 30 years ago.

Customers line up inside Dinkel’s Bakery Saturday afternoon in the Lake View.

Customers line up inside Dinkel’s Bakery Saturday afternoon in the Lake View.

In the early days of the bakery, people would walk — or as Dinkel described it, “use the two foot express,” to go to shops multiple times a day. Now, those practices aren’t as common.

“Shopping habits have changed, driving, walking habits have changed,” Dinkel said. “It’s a fast-paced world and so the new model has to be reviewed.”

The outpouring of concern from community members after the sale was announced is a testament to why the shop has remained in business for nearly 100 years while other stores on the block have come and gone, according to Dinkel.

“Of course, we’re part of the community, of course, we love the community,” Dinkel said. “We’re part of Chicago. We hope we can remain a part of Chicago.”

For now, Dinkel’s is still open for customers to grab their fresh baked goods — and one of the 27,000 Paczkis the bakery are planning to prepare for Paczki Day on Tuesday.

“Everybody should sit down, take a deep breath, have a cup of coffee or a glass of milk, eat a Paczki and enjoy the tradition,” Dinkel said.

A customer exits Dinkel’s Bakery Saturday afternoon with an armload of goods.

A customer exits Dinkel’s Bakery Saturday afternoon with an armload of goods.

Dinkel’s Bakery to close after 100 years on city’s North Side

05-04-2022 · Dinkel’s Bakery, 3329 N Lincoln Ave., founded in 1922, has been in the family for three generations. There were rumors of it closing in recent years, but current President Norm Dinkel decided the time has finally come, setting April 30 as the last day of operation. “No one lives forever,” Dinkel said.

05-04-2022

Dinkel’s Bakery, at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave. in the Lake View neighborhood, will be closing on April 30 after 100 years of operation.|

Dinkel’s Bakery, at 3329 N. Lincoln Ave. in the Lake View neighborhood, will be closing on April 30 after 100 years of operation.|

After 100 years on the North Side, the Dinkel family announced Tuesday it has made the difficult decision to close its beloved bakery.

Dinkel’s Bakery, 3329 N Lincoln Ave., founded in 1922, has been in the family for three generations. There were rumors of it closing in recent years, but current President Norm Dinkel decided the time has finally come, setting April 30 as the last day of operation.

“No one lives forever,” Dinkel said. “It’s a bittersweet time, but it is what it is.”

Dinkel, 79, says he has helped the business longer than any of his relatives —“My grandfather, my father — they would say, ‘Hey pal, it's time to move on.”

Dinkel was overwhelmed by the immediate outpouring of support following news of the closure. “A lot of sad people today in Chicago,” Dinkel said as he looked out around the store.

“I’ll miss my staff; I’ll miss my products,” Dinkel said. “You can travel to about any bakery in the country — I still think we’re one of the top dogs.”

Mary Kaufman was in shock when she saw the sign in front of the store announcing the impending closure. She stops by the bakery at least three times a week.

Kaufman and her family have lived in the neighborhood for decades. Her grandparents even went to school with Joseph Dinkel at nearby St. Andrew’s, she said.

Every one of her birthday cakes, since age 1, has been a Dinkel’s cake.

“You just can’t get this stuff anywhere else,” Kaufman said.

Norman Dinkel, owner of Dinkel’s Bakery, stands in his shop Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Dinkel’s Bakery will be closing April 30 after at least 100 years in business.

Norman Dinkel, owner of Dinkel’s Bakery, stands in his shop Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Dinkel’s Bakery will be closing April 30 after at least 100 years in business.

As the bakery neared closing time Tuesday, crowds continued to file into the store. Little kids jumped with excitement as they walked in.

Erin Chen brought in her two sons, 4 and 5, for sugar cookies after a successful parent-teacher conference.

“I told them Dinkel’s was going to close, and they were really upset — they wanted to know why,” Chen said. “And I told them 100 years is a long time.”

Philip O’Reilly has worked at Dinkel’s for eight of those years, coming to the shop right after high school.

O’Reilly was devastated to learn of the closing but happy Dinkel’s will be able to go out on its own terms.

“It’s a somber note, but we're going out with a bang instead of a whimper,” O’Reilly said. “Everyone will come in here every day until we close. … It’s a last chance to make people smile.”

Customers place orders at Dinkel’s Bakery on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Dinkel’s will be closing its doors on April 30.

Customers place orders at Dinkel’s Bakery on Tuesday, April 5, 2022. Dinkel’s Bakery will be closing its doors on April 30.

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