Wednesday, September 25, 2013

when friends go solar...

Members of my community are going solar, inspired in part by the outrage we all feel over AEP/SWEPCO's massive EHV 345 kV transmission project they have foisted upon our community. I am still reviewing testimony and helping our attorney and legal team to file briefs.

A member of our UU church is getting solar power installed as a DIY project and it is written about in his blog. It provides a meaningful overview and describes the steps required.
The author of the blog  (Gary) notes:
"SWEPCO ABCs: Voting with our dollars

The prospect of major transmission lines running through our land has finally raised the cost benefit analysis to A Bigger Context (remember your ABCs!). When we consider the environmental and social costs of conventional power generation and distribution, it becomes clear we cannot continue to support them with our dollars. We are switching our vote to solar and the entire movement toward more people and earth friendly technologies. Our goal is net zero: to generate as much electricity as we use."

I can see why the power companies are lining up against solar and demanding foolish projects like the one they are trying to force on us. They're dumb. And in the meantime,  Corporate America is abandoning the grid. If we do the same thing, the huge coal dependent power companies will become dinosaurs.
"So what will happen to the dinosaur utilities? Look at this wonderful statement from a top executive at American Electric Power: “Am I going to just sit here and take it and ultimately be a caretaker of a museum?” Deciding against that path, he further suggested that perhaps the big power companies ought to give in and make themselves useful by helping companies install their own electricity-generating equipment."
Another article tells that Citi Corp has endorsed solar energy, not for environmental reasons, but for economic common sense. In reading the AEP/SWEPCO application to desecrate our community, we all become convinced of their utter stupidity. Seems like the nation's most powerful bankers are lining up in agreement. New Report from Citigroup: Solar energy is here to stay. Today in the wood shop, my lower elementary school students finished their musical instruments, finished their boxes and began making toy vehicles.

The middle school students worked on drop spindles, knitting spools, spool knitting, and boxes.

Make, fix and create.... choose the path that leads to the greatest possible direct, personal engagement in real life.


  1. This is complete nonsense!

    The ONLY reason solar is growing at all is because of outrageous government subsidies ... both to the solar industry and to individuals.

    From an absolute power generation (scientific) point of view, solar doesn't hold a candle to any other form of power generation. In an absolutely free market, NO ONE would employ solar. Hand cranked generators in sub-Sahara Africa are more attractive than solar ... unless there are US Government subsidies.

    Solar requires at least a 40% subsidy to break even in comparison with any other form of power generation.

    Of course, you can rant against the profits of big business especially when your delight is financed by your neighbor's taxes.

    Botton line: Solar is one of the Utopian forms of spreading the wealth. It'll work fine until you run out of other people's money!

  2. Bob, The only reason conventional utility transmission companies profit is because of guaranteed rates assured by public service commissions in each state.

    The tax credit is only 30%

    You should consider reading more. Cost of solar is dropping and it is becoming a more reliable and cost effective option in some areas.

  3. If you are considering putting up solar panels, please remember to check with your insurance company before doing so, or at least tell them after you mounted the units. In Denmark there have been some cases whre the roof started leaking due to improper mounting. And the insurance companies don't want to cover because they were not informed that a system had been put up. In addition there have been talk about that fire fighters could reject putting out a fire in a building with solar panels due to the risk of electric shock. I don't know if the same will be the case in Arkansas, but it is better to check it out before the eventual problem will arise.

  4. If power companies were wise, they would realize that they could be the leaders in alternative power generation. They own the lines, after all, so they would benefit from all those small power generators, distributing it over their grid.


  5. "The tax credit is only 30%"

    That's the credit to the consumer. Add the credits the panel manufacturers' get and the special deductions for large companies specializing in solar installation, and you'll discover the American taxpayer is indeed paying over 40%.

    You mention public service commissions effectively propping up prices. Actually, that started as a return for the huge investments needed ti build the distribution systems. Imagine what those rates would be like with absolutely free markets. Talk about price drops!

    Speaking of reading ... how about reading on energy conversion efficiency? There'll you'll find why solar needs such huge subsidies to even exist in the marketplace:

    Efficiency in converting energy into electrical power:
    - rooftop solar = 15%
    - coal (arrgh!) = 33%
    - natural gas = 56%

    As I mentioned in the first comment, in an absolutely free market, solar would be a no show!

  6. Bob, when the solar panel converts 15% percent of the sun's energy to power, it isn't burning fossil fuels to do so. Yes, some of the sun's power is converted to heat, and reflected light, just as it would hitting the roof without the panel in place. Burning fossil fuels is more efficient in the conversion of energy to electricity, but the costs to the environment are enormous.

    I have done business with a manufacturing company in Massachusetts for over 30 years that is now getting over 90% of its power from its roof mounted solar. You may think that's dumb, and perhaps you would prefer they be burning coal instead.

    I would prefer that there be some government subsidies in place to encourage development of solar, cut greenhouse emissions, stop the melting of the ice caps, cut our dependence on foreign supply of oil, etc.

  7. Ahhhhh ... melting ice caps.

    I'll unsubscribe now and you can go back to reading Greenpeace propaganda.

    Best luck with your NINBY campaign.

  8. Bob, you missed the spelling on that. It's NIMBY with an M. And you forgot to mention my concern for Eskimos and polar bears.

  9. The Solar Power is considered as the new energy for us and it is green power for the environment. We should encourage more people using it in the life.