We talked about a small local project involving wind turbines here:
When the Archbold and Pettisville school districts brainstormed ways to reduce their electricity bills during the mid-2000s, they arrived at a common solution: wind power.
Students, teachers, and school officials celebrated Wednesday the completion and operation of identical 750-kilowatt wind turbines at each community’s main school complex with back-to-back dedication ceremonies that, in part, recognized the two districts’ cooperative effort
Both turbines were heavily funded by federal “stimulus” grants — funding that didn’t exist when Pettisville and Archbold began exploring their wind-turbine possibilities in 2005 and 2006, respectively. So far, the turbine has cut the district’s power bill by about $9,000 monthly, he said.
Now solar. 2011:
Bryan Municipal Utilities broke ground this week for a $7.42 million, 2-megawatt solar array.
“We have been investigating solar power for more than a year,” said Steve Casebere, director of utilities. “As the prices for solar panels came down and the incentives for solar energy increased, the solar option became not only viable but also attractive.”
The project will use primarily Ohio materials, contractors and labor. Rudolph/Libbe Inc., of Walbridge, will develop, design and build the array. First Solar, of Perrysburg, will supply the 24,000 solar modules. Nextronex, of Toledo, will manufacture the inverters, and API, Inc. of Ridgeville Corners, will provide the racks for the modules.
The project will create about 60 construction jobs and will sustain another 300 manufacturing jobs in Ohio. The solar array will be complete in February 2012.
Just 10 weeks after breaking ground, construction of Bryan Municipal Utilities’ solar generation project has been completed, and power is being supplied to Bryan’s electrical grid.
BMU broke ground for the $7.42 million solar array in early December 2011. By mid-January 2012, all 23,530 solar modules were in place, and by the first week of February, the solar plant was fully operational.
“The solar arrays are producing just as expected, and we have seen them perform up to the maximum capacity of 1.8 megawatts on sunny days,” said Steve Casebere, director of utilities.
As of February 13, the solar field has produced 100 MWh, which means it has also produced 100 solar renewable energy credits. BMU sold 2,500 solar RECs produced in 2012 to American Electric Power and Duke Energy for $606,500.
In addition to the power and energy credits, what the solar plant does not produce is valuable. With the energy produced to date, the solar field has saved 76 tons of carbon dioxide and 3.6 tons of methane gas emissions.
Interesting, because these two examples are in very politically conservative areas. Are we looking at the beginnings of a national/local disconnect on energy, where the national lobby shops, paid pundit corps and conservatives in political leadership at the state and national level reflexively OPPOSE anything that could be construed as remotely “green” or “alternative” but people on the ground start to see this stuff in action so become comfortable with it? May be difficult to continue to portray an energy approach as “job killing” when the jobs are right down the road.
Does this sort of destructive initiative by DC conservative lobbyists and libertarian billionaires become less politically viable as “facts on the ground” are quietly established?
The ALEC bill, HB298, dubbed the “Affordable and Reliable Energy Act” was introduced by ALEC member Rep. Mike Hager and repeals the renewable energy standard that barely made it out of committee when two sane Republicans voted against it. One Republican from Charlotte, Ruth Samuelson, said the RES had helped develop a renewable alternative energy industry that benefitted rural communities and created 1,100 clean energy companies that contributed $3.7 billion in annual revenue, created over 21,000 jobs, and lowered residential energy bills by $173 million. In fact, North Carolina’s RES lifted the state to fifth place in the nation forsolar power development and was closing in on fourth place this year leading the CEO of FLS energy to claim “It’s an extraordinary success story that there’s an industry that hardly existed several years ago,” but the Koch brothers mean to destroy the industry with a “filled-in” template courtesy of ALEC.
The Koch’s don’t control that segment of the energy market, so naturally they’re opposed to all of the green energy initiatives and would just as soon build you a nice nuke plant and dump any “byproducts” into your local water table, while they safely administrate from a safe distance.
I’ve been reading a lot about bicycle activism and getting better bike infrastructure in the US and the activists make some really interesting points about how you can’t assume that Democrats will support you and Republicans won’t. Our Democratic governor here in California is very anti-bike, for example. So for things that have not become entrenched tribal markers of All Conservatives Must Believe X, there can be more wiggle room than people realize.
I’ve got an Energy Star house and get a break on my power bills as a result. If these asswipes cause my rates to go up because Boss Pope says fuck conservation, I am personally going to drive around the state and take a dump on each of their front porches until I get caught.
Just to give you a taste of the kind of thing we might see out of a GOP Federal Government in the future.
The Red Pen
One of the problems with solar is the up-front cost of the panels. Some places have “solar leasing.” It’s $0 down, but you split the savings with the leasing companies. Still, you can reduce your energy costs by $50 for no upfront investment.
Not every power company allows this, so check around.
@piratedan: There’s a nasty NIMBY backside to most of Kochistan’s proposals. You’ll notice, for example, that they don’t park their carcasses in close proximity to any of their business holdings. Wonder why that is…
For the rest, there seems to be a knee-jerk reaction amongst the Teahad against anything that is perceived to originate from Washington (or even the state capitol or county courthouse). Show them an individual project with a set price tag and measurable returns (tangible and intangible) and they seem amenable to it; connect that with any state or federal program and suddenly it’s Big Gubmint Intrusion™ and proof that the UN is coming with their black helicopters full of Agenda 21 to take away their SUVs/guns/coalscuttles/incandescent-bulbs/ceiling-fans/whatever.
Real Americans know the lights won’t run on arugula. We can have cheap gas and nuclear or we can have subsidized alternatives that leave us in dark.
Maybe you liberals should move back to the caves you came from.
@The Red Pen: I looked into that for my old place. The folks I talked to offered to match the current utility’s rate and guarantee that for the life of the lease: instead of paying a fixed lease amount we’d pay consumption per kw based on the rates the utility was charging when the array got installed. The one trouble with that is that, with rates expected to go up over the life of the lease, the utility paying retail per-kw on energy bought back, and the array scaled to exceed our consumption, the outfit leasing us the array stood to make a killing. Not that I’m against alternative power making a profit, just that selling that to the entire building was a lot harder with that math.
My local elementary school put in a heat exchange system many years ago as a pilot program for the entire district. It works well, but when the economy collapsed the expansion has not happened yet.
Now that I think about it, there is a great spot on the playground that a nice little turbine would work too :)
@The Red Pen:
It also depends on your state government — for a long time, California was offering rebates and tax incentives to homeowners who installed solar panels. I’m guessing North Carolina does not.
The Koch brothers and ALEC agendas serve as a huge tax liability on the rest of us. Every hurricane, flood, wildfire and drought season, costs us all, yet they just go sailing on sheltering their billions and poisoning the debate.
That actually looks like a correct interpretation of Spanish VAT law, which generally applies to “supply” for self-consumption. Given the current fiscal situation there, good luck arguing for an exemption, even one that makes obvious sense.
You make an excellent point, Kay. There certainly do seem to be lots of green projects bubbling up out of the grassroots in highly politically conservative regions of the country. As global warming and Peak Oil worsen, we’re likely to see more of this.
On the other hand, we’re also seeing the Citizens United decision acting mainly to enable extreme conservative PACs to flood money into state and local races and heavily tilt local politics toward the reactionary lunatic fringe. So it’s a mixed bag.
The military is already pushing huge green initiatives because of the perilous supply of petroleum and its distillates. It’s entirely possible some of the conservative areas are being influenced by that, but I’m just speculating.
Umm…as per NC’s “affordable energy act”, h298/s365 did not survive the committee vote. FAIL
Okay, but I just picked one randomly. The point is ALEC and others are working hard to defeat alternative energy initiatives. Are they not doing that?
@boatboy_srq: That doesn’t seem all that bad to me. It takes a long time for solar to pay for itself. In the example above, it would take almost 12 yrs. The last time I went to a talk about solar, the panels only lasted about 20-25 yrs, but that maybe has changed.
Right, but I saw Citizens-funded ads in 2012 and they were national. There was one I remember where it was impossible to determine what they were objecting to. It was a shot of a sheer rock face, and then this giant chisel (clang, clang, clang) and…freedom, liberty, something, something.
Is that effective if it conflicts with personal experience of these alternative energy sources?
@srv: Your arguments would be a lot more believable if your Real Ahmurrcan™ peers didn’t insist that Real Ahmurrcan Ingenuity™ could solve all our woes – and then promptly denounce the fruits of that ingenuity as Gawdless Soshulism™ the moment it hits the shelves in fits of “my SUV offsets your hybrid” consumption-is-virtuous contrarianism.
This is very much like the local wifi war recently, where a number of states passed laws making it illegal for cities to create municipal wifi.
Does anyone here actually have any experience with residential rooftop solar? I live in sunny SoCal and I’ve honestly just been too busy over the last couple of years trying to stay mostly employed to look into it.
@Kay: The article you cited is in error. I work on behalf of the effort here to stop, or slow, the implementation of the ALEC agenda. When I see something that falsely states a “repeal” of a NC renewable energy program, I must make a correction. Do you not do your homework?
@Mnemosyne: I’ve been reading a lot about bicycle activism and getting better bike infrastructure in the US and the activists make some really interesting points about how you can’t assume that Democrats will support you and Republicans won’t. Our Democratic governor here in California is very anti-bike, for example.:
I know a very conservative local pol who has stated that walking should be the primary method of transportation supported by governments, followed by biking, then public transit, then the dregs go to cars.
I think this kind of stuff can happen in any community, because local politicians have to live where they work – they generally want to live in nice places and they want to cut costs if possible.
but people on the ground start to see this stuff in action so become comfortable with it?
I think it’s important to note that Bryan has a city-owned electric utility, so there is a history of government involvement in what is normally thought of as private enterprise that probably made getting the two facilities built much easier. Plus, if one of the organizations involved (utility or schools) comes out ahead the taxpayers won’t lose either way, which probably also made the projects easier. The question I see is whether the public process that led to the success in Bryan is transferable to other small towns without public utilities.
Wind power is amazing. It is one of the few things that can make conservatives care about wildlife (ZOMG bird deaths) protection.
I have no doubt that the Kochs hate renewable power, if only because expanded use of renewable power makes their fossil-fuel assets less valuable.
One of the perversities of renewable power, from a strict market standpoint, is that it pisses in its own pool. The more renewable power comes online, the more downward price pressure on fossil fuels. The lower the prices of fossil fuel generated power – the worse the large capital investments needed for renewable power generation look by comparison.
And Kochhead funded libertarian groups are always ready to jump into the fray and decry societal spending (federal and state tax credits, portfolio standards for utilities requiring a percentage renewable generation) on generation sources which aren’t the cheapest possible on a cents/kwh basis – externalities, effects on long term pricing, effects on long term energy security, etc be damned.
That’s a function of government that libertarians will never internalize – it is a proper role of government to focus on externalities, effects on long term pricing, effects on long term energy security, etc, that the market ignores.
Which makes them extremely useful idiots for smirking billionaires like the Kochs who simply want to hold off the competition for as long as possible, and maximize their own asset profitability.
I’ll take out the “repeal” part of the clip. I said “initiative” and “introduced” both of which are true, but if you’re telling me it didn’t pass then it isn’t repealed. Sorry.
I don’t know about small towns – but San Antonio (via city owned CPS) a couple years ago issued a power purchase agreement for utility scale solar that required solar-power related economic development within the city as part of the winning bid.
@maurinsky: Same thing here in Charlotte. For many years one of the biggest proponents of bike infrastructure and public transit was none other than Pat McCrory and he took a fair amount of flack for it. When local wingnuts refer to our first light rail line as the “McCrory Line” they don’t mean it as a compliment.
@balconesfault: The Kochs don’t have all the toys. They cannot stop until they have all the toys. Then they will use whatever means to expand their lifespans so they can ensure they will always have all the toys. It really is just basic juvenile thinking writ large.
I’m seeing more and more turbines in NW Ohio and in my frequent travels around the Great Lakes (western Michigan). It’s odd because Democrats had this stump speech for years where they were all talking about “green energy jobs!” (Marcy Kaptur) and I sort of dismissed it. It sounded like when they were telling everyone here to “retrain!” in “health care jobs!” during the Clinton years. This may be a better fit because it’s actually manufacturing.
@balconesfault: Which is why it will ultimately take Oklahoma City falling into a fracking induced sinkhole, Dallas covered in tar sand, and the smoke from the burning oil in the Gulf of Mexico being visible from Phoenix to kill our dependence on fossil fuels. Luckily, I think we’re only a few years away from those.
@Kay: Thanks. It’s been a bad coupla years.
Kay, I went to a meeting last night of the Shelby County Democrats, (Memphis). A bunch of our State Legislators were there and we discussed something in your area of expertise. The Reps in the Lege are going to push through a new “Convenience Voting Act”, which totally sounds ALEC written and pushed. Instead of having 260+ precincts they want us to have 22 super precincts. They are also talking about cutting down on early voting days. The Dems say there is nothing they can do to stop this act from becoming law during the next legislative session. And it will go into effect for the 2014 elections. The law will say there needs to be one precinct for every 10,000 people. So we should have at least 28 precincts, but the Reps are saying we can only have 22 of them. They’re going to do something similar to Davidson County and Knox County and whatever county Chattanooga is in because those all tend to be the bluest counties in the state. One of the folks did the math, and I’m sorry I didn’t write it down, but he did a break down in early voting/ election day for the last 3 elections and figured out that each machine( using the same allotment of machines per average precinct) at each super precinct would have to process something like 600+ voters an hour! When he spread it out over early voting days, it still worked out to more than 200 voters an hour on election day, per machine. Anyway, as I said, this law smells like ALEC, can you look into it and see if it’s going down in other states too?
Another thing they said that scared me was that state Republicans are bragging about some new program they have in place for 2014 called “Red to the Roots”, and they intend to run someone in each district and for each office that is up for grabs. And they say they will have the money to fund this. They said they want to take back Shelby County and the School boards and make inroads into Memphis City Council too. And they are going to do this throughout the entire state. This to me also sounds like that Ed Henry red state project embedding even deeper into all levels of governance. And if it happening in TN it will be happening many other places.
Seriously, the only maybe good news I heard last night was that the Legislature is going to put a horrible anti-abortion measure on the ballot. A woman with The League of Women voters told me that. And yes, I know it will really up the Religious right GOTV efforts. But it MAY also ramp up a bunch of opposition voters to get out and actually vote in a non-Presidential year.
Ughhhhhh, I was soooooo disheartened.
@Kay: Unfortunately the pushback was effective. SOLYNDRAAAAAAAA! But the renewable train is still coming (with jobs!). I think the marketing change you suggest is a good one.
I work with housing and energy and I see a trend in multi-family development to remove objections to renewables as costs are going up. They’re also using smaller scale bolt-ons–like solar hot water heating to use instead of their aged boiler systems (the boiler then becomes the backup for heavy use days or cloudy days).
Who does homework in the summertime?
Which is exactly what the bad guys are hoping for.
What we all need to be is angry. And that anger has to be turned into constructive action.
OT, but here’s today’s fun read: the Statement of Interest of the United States that DOJ filed yesterday in the private litigation in San Antonio over the Texas redistrictting, in which it argues for Texas to be bailed into preclearance.
What Democrats can do if they’re going to multi-precinct polling stations is work on provisional balloting rules. We combined precincts in Ohio and you will end up with “right church, wrong pew” problems, where people are in the correct polling place but actually cast the provisional in the wrong precinct (because the “precincts” are 20 feet apart, and poll workers are sloppy). Republicans use “right church wrong pew” problems to throw out provisional ballots. It was a huge legal battle in Ohio and we won in federal courts and they won in state courts (so we won), but watch for it.
Right church wrong pew provisionals won’t matter in a Prez race where you are but they absolutely matter in close local races. We had a judicial race that was contested for a year. If Republicans had been able to throw out provisionals, the Democrat would have lost. It went to a federal court and the provisionals were counted in so she won, but your Democrats can focus there (on the nit-picky rules part) and mitigate some damage of going to multi-precinct polling places.
It’s not just the world supply situation; it’s also the problems of transportation. Military bases use a lot of energy, and they can’t depend on local supplies when they’re in potentially hostile territory. That means they need supply convoys to get their fuel, and they have to be heavily guarded. A large fraction of our effort in Iraq and Afghanistan was spent defending that logistical tail, i.e. just preserving the military’s ability to function, rather than actually achieving positive military goals. If they can switch to solar for everything except vehicle fuel, they can do away with most of those supply convoys and devote a lot more effort to their actual mission.
Not really. That 12 year time scale is for the solar to pay for itself exclusively by selling renewable energy credits. The big benefit is that the power is almost free once you have the plant up and running.
@Roger Moore: @Roger Moore:
We’ve had solar on our RVs since 1996. With our new rig we got a bigger and better inverter and controller but could have kept the old ones (better tech available now, but the old works anyway; mostly we wanted the ability to use more wattage at times than the old inverter would allow, and better battery charging than the old cheap shunt-type controller allowed). Still using the same old panels we bought back then. In an RV there’s lots of things that go wrong, and we had most everything over the years — water heater, frig, roof, you name it… except the solar. Just goes and goes.
That’s true, but there are still economies of scale to be squeezed out of renewables. The price of photovoltaic cells is still coming down, and it will come down faster the larger demand is. Also, they’re feeding somewhat different markets, which means they’re imperfect substitutes. Renewable energy is most useful for power generation, while fossil fuels are best for vehicle fuel. The likely outcome in the short to medium term is that renewable energy will take over more and more of the utility market and leave fossil fuels powering cars and airplanes.
And in installation and maintenance, which can’t be offshored the way manufacturing can be.
thanks for bringing this up, Kay.
So, spent the last 3 days dealing with a daughter with appendicitis – fun times as a parent. It all turned out fine (she’s now home and resting), and experiences with the health care system are always interesting.
As many know, Kaiser Permanente (SoCal) is my health provider. They’re non-profit insurer exclusively partnered with a physician owned provider network. Doctors are salaried – the whole thing is about as close to single payer as we have in the non-single payer world.
So, we start in the ER at the hospital a mile from my house at about 11PM. The do some simple tests and conclude that some tests look like appendicitis, but other’s don’t (she’s no longer in pain at this point). They’re a bit mystified and the admitting and attending are inclined to send her home, but they’ve called the on-call surgeon (maybe 1AM now) for a 3rd opinion but he doesn’t think she should go home just yet – looks a bit too much like appendicitis in spite of the lack of pain. They’re going to transfer her to another hospital (about 15 miles away) where the pediatric unit is. We’re beginning to think that this is a wild goose chase but she was in a lot of pain, the friend of ours who is an ER nurse and who suggested we go to the ER in the first place said it looked a LOT like appendicitis, so we go along.
Get set up in the other ER, admitting and attending both agree with the previous 3 doctors – looks a bit like it, but also doesn’t. Still no longer in pain. The surgeon comes by and suggests a ct would help them sort it out, would we like to do that, we agree (still unsure if this is anything at all). The ct results come through and they schedule her surgery for an hour later. She goes in, comes out, all went well, she did need the surgery – her appendix was in sort of an odd position and that’s what caused some of the tests to come back negative. Had we taken her home, she’d be back in even worse pain within 24 hours, and not long after that it would have ruptured. It’s now 11AM or so, they admit her to a private room, indicate that she can leave as soon as she’s eating and able to walk, but can stay overnight if need be. Takes her a bit longer to recover, in part because she hadn’t slept for 30 hours prior to the surgery, and so the next day (yesterday) we get her home and set up at home.
So, it all sounds like an ordeal, but an awful lot of things went right along the way. They were neither eager to send her home or admit her. There was no incentive for the physicians at Kaiser to do either. There was no pressure on them to not have her stay, run the ct, keep her overnight to recover. They were eager to consult with additional doctors. All told, 7 physicians weight in on her case – the two admitting, the two attending, the two ER surgeons, the pediatric surgeon who actually did the procedure. We were pretty uncertain of which way to go on most of these. It did seem overkill to us, and we were indicating to our daughter that it was probably nothing and that she’d probably go home after the next test because we really thought that, but each test turned out to be useful.
A lot of other things stand out, too. Two ERs, but they were pretty quiet. No violence cases, no indigent cases, mostly just people that were unexpectedly sick, and I think one car accident that came in. But this isn’t a public hospital. Between the two ERs we were at was the public hospital and I know it’s always packed – enough so that we just spent $600M in taxpayer money for a new hospital to handle it all. That’s really unacceptable that the system as it currently stands isn’t able to better distribute these issues. If we had hit the public hospital ER as our first stop, I’m highly skeptical we’d have gotten as quick of care, or as much tolerance to loiter around getting different tests – and that’s hard for me to say, because I’m affiliated with that hospital and know a lot of the people that work there. And even that hospital has it easy compared to a lot of inner city hospitals. For people that are dependent on public hospitals in high crime, high poverty areas, the quality of care they’re going to get is a lot different than, well, anyone who’s out there bitching about Obamacare. The clinics, particularly inner city clinics, are really critical to helping restore some balance here.
Also because we have an HMO, there were no holdups due to insurance/finances. Nobody ever had to consider if a procedure would be covered. Nobody ever had to ask us before acting so that we knew what our co-pay would be, and so on. We have a $250 copay for an ER visit, and then $20 for prescriptions, and that’s our total cost. It’s an extremely good policy, but even with a lesser policy under a single-payer style plan, the costs would all be sufficiently transparent that the treatment could progress similarly quickly.
Because the hospital was a little slow, she was mobbed with nurses and doctors. They’re just employees, not contractors, so there’s no additional cost to have them do something – so if someone doesn’t have anything to do, they jump in and help.
These are important structural components to healthcare. They change the incentives to all involved – to the patients, to the doctors and nurses and other staff, to employing tests, and so on. But Kaiser is also one of the less expensive employer plans in the area, and deliver better care in spite of being cheaper (my employer has a plan that uses our own resources which is slightly cheaper to the employee, but few of us actually use it because of the structural elements noted above – even my coworkers who are doctors at the aforementioned hospital have Kaiser for the same reasons that I’ve noted).
It’ll be interesting to see how far Obamacare goes to leveling this. I don’t think anyone is under any illusion that it won’t go nearly far enough, but with some momentum in the right direction, getting Congress to make some less public refinements to it should be possible in a few years.
There is absolutely nothing that sells as well politically in this county as “locally-made” fill-in-the-blank.
Republicans. Democrats. doesn’t matter. If you say “we’re hiring here to install these solar panels made in Toledo” you will be met with cheers.
I think it was why there was so much resentment to the 1990’s thru 2009 message of “retrain as physical therapy assistants!” or “medical records is the wave of the future!” I think that was just baffling to people (sounded like bullshit). If you’re just talking about making and installing something new, they’ll happily “retrain”.
@? Martin: My dear SO managed to sit (!) on a nasty nail during our home renovations last week. Since puncture wounds are bad news and he hadn’t had a tetanus since he got his Green card, we took him to the nearest ER (a private hospital in a so-so part of Baltimore). I won’t complain about the wait, because I knew going in that we would be a low priority (it eventually took 4 hours to get something done), though my Greek SO was freaking out (I guess he thought in Greece it would be taken care of right away, but I’m not from there so I don’t know if that’s true).
The crazy thing was the several people who were in various states of distress just being IGNORED by the admitting staff. One poor lady was continually moaning and occasionally screaming, and it was not for effect. I think she was having a heart attack, and they were just like “meh, wait your turn”. It was really hard to listen to her BEG for someone, anyone to help her while she was just sitting in her wheel chair for two hours… I can only imagine how it was for HER. Needless to say my SO was ready to get on a plane for anywhere in Europe after that experience…
So glad she’s okay, Martin.
I had a funny O-care question yesterday. Person I know (and like) called me and asked how to “get” Obamacare. I know where he works, so I said “you have health insurance!” and he said “if it’s free I want it.”
Well, as you know he can’t have it :)
I think he was pleased it isn’t “free”, actually, that they’re not just handing it out willy-nilly come October, because he pays for his employer-provided insurance, obviously.
@Kay: thanks for both your replies. I’ll tell them to strengthen the provisional balloting rules if they can. I also told them that instead of having election integrity as an ad hoc committee they needed to have it be a permanently standing committee and they needed to gather up a bunch of civil rights and constitutional rights lawyers for it and to stay on top of it. I gotta tell you, just because I’ve read you on this topic the last few years, I had a pretty good idea about what needs to be done and how important it was to have well-trained teams ready to go on the ground and at each precinct. So thank you for that.
And yea Burns, I know the Republicans want us disheartened and a bit demoralized and overwhelmed by all the shit they are throwing at us, which is exactly how I felt last night while listening to it. But the more I heard, the angrier I got. And the angrier I got the more determined I got. They pissed me off royally in 2012 when they took control Nationally and in the State House, when they started disenfranchising people I became more involved in the Obama campaign, and I worked like hell for 17 months to get that man re-elected. And the more bad stuff I heard federally the harder I pushed locally. I had no intention of getting involved in these local campaigns and issues because frankly I am kinda burnt out on politics right now and I only went to the meeting last night because a dear friend begged me to go with her. And by the time we left last night I was seething and raring to go to help these local Dems.
Kay any ideas and suggestions you can give me will be greatly appreciated. The local elected officials are wondering if we should opt in to be on of 5 counties to try this “Convenience Voting ” scheme for our May Primary. I think most of them thought no. But I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be better to see where the weaknesses and points of failure are in a relatively unimportant primary so that we can know what needs to be addressed or what we need to do to get folks to the polls for the Nov 2014 election. Any ideas?
The Red Pen
Sooo… you didn’t really save any money, except on rate increases and they made a bundle? That’s just a really lame deal.
The programs I’ve heard of slash your energy bill — not to $0, but a significant amount.
I think if you have really aggressive and vigilant Democrats that’s a great idea, to see how it works before they impose it on you.
It helps, I think, if you know the broader legal idea they are trying to establish with disputes over provisional balloting. Since Bush v Gore, conservative lawyers have been trying to establish that voter intent doesn’t matter. The biggest win in Ohio (besides the county judge who won her race) was getting a federal court to say it DOES matter, that right church-wrong pew is not VOTER error, but POLL WORKER error (the voters were directed to the wrong pew by poll workers) and voters get that allowance.
Conservatives want to tip the balance away from voters- it’s just too-bad-so-sad if state actors screw up. That’s wrong. It’s backwards. Voters are the whole point of this exercise.
@Kay: That’s the thing they aren’t particularly aggressive, vigilant or organized yet. This meeting was the first of it’s kind to try to bring the various local Democratic factions into one umbrella type master group to begin working on 2014. One reason I haven’t gotten involved in the local party is because it is very fractious and frankly a mess, and I hate meetings. But yea, I’ll tell them to look in to provisional ballots. Thanks.
@NCSteve: I’ll drive. You can take the dump. Getaway would be easier.
Yeah, we just finished our first year with our 10kW system here in PA. It’s leased, but the 20 yr lease is paid up front so it feels like buying. Cost 1/3 of purchasing, offsets all of our usage, we keep the SRECs. Nobody really buys anymore. Maintenance and repair is up to the solar company. In 5 yr our 13k cash outlay should pay down in electric bill savings. System will profit for us for 15 years. Lease has option to extend for 10 more after that. We used Astrum Solar. Really happy with it.
I live in Boise, ID. Our electric rates are going up because Snake River levels are low, requiring Idaho Power to rely less on hydropower. For a little bit, there was an anti-wind ad running along with similar branded billboards. They talked about the Big Lie of Wind Energy, but didn’t explain it. Idaho has the potential to generate more electricity from wind than it uses in a year so maybe someone’s a little scared of competition.
Plus the wind generation means a little more spending money to the farmers who lease their land.
Of course, there isn’t near enough infrastructure in place for wind energy to displace other power just yet. And it takes a lot of money to install infrastructure. That was my big take away from the book “Before the Lights Go Out”.
Did the Koch Brothers read “Dune” and think the Harkonnens were a people to be emulated?
@The Red Pen: We didn’t save money with the proposal, but we locked in a not-unreasonable rate for the life of the array. Not such a bad deal considering we weren’t paying for anything but consumption to lease the equipment for 25 years.
The biggest problem was that this was a 2-3 MW array proposal for a 53 unit building. Getting the other residents on board with this made herding cats look simple and enjoyable. They still hadn’t agreed on it when I left four years later.
The Moar You Know
@? Martin: Glad your kid is OK. Had mine out in 2008 at Zion; pretty much exactly the same experience you had, except my doctor sent me there. I thought I had a stomach bug at the worst. He sent me immediately to Zion. I thought he was – for a change – being ludicrously cautious. Turns out it had already ruptured before I ever went in to see him. It never hurt.
I had to spend two days in there because it had burst. That sucked, only because my roommate was a worst case scenario patient – pill addict with a legitimate, very serious injury. He’d start moaning and screaming every time a nurse was in the room, and then stop and get on the phone to his girlfriend as soon as they left. Fortunately, the nurses knew it was bullshit. I wanted to throw him into a woodchipper by the time I was discharged.
ETA: Kaiser SoCal is decent. Not fantastic but decent. I lived in San Francisco for ten years and had to deal with my then-girlfriends mother having a stroke while under Kaiser. I would not send a dog to Kaiser Northern California. I didn’t think it was legal to treat patients that badly. It probably isn’t.
One thing that helped here was we got a Democratic lawyer on the Bd of Elections. It’s a majority R- area, the Democrats on the Board were primarily working class people, and I felt they were intimidated/pushed around by the Republicans (who are not working class, on the Board, anyway). Republicans were just sort of announcing “this is the RULE” – waving paper around- and I don’t know if it’s “the rule” or “the directive” from the Sec of State or whomever. I want someone who will question that. Anyway, the “lawyer” designation intimidates the Republicans, they defer to him on All Things Legal, so that’s better :)
Perhaps late to the party Bob
If you solar system pays back in 12 years that’s a 6% return on a very safe investment. Know any place you can invest your money and get a safe 6% return?
(And I bet you didn’t allow for the increasing cost of grid electricity.)
20 to 25 years is the sort of warranty you get on panels. There are panels on the grid that are now 40 years old and pumping out about 80% of their original power. Panels lose about 0.5% output per year. No one knows how long they will last.
It can be hard to get in the habit of pushing back. I was the volunteer treasurer for a statehouse candidate last cycle and the Republican on the Bd of elections was just driving me crazy, telling me I had to file paper with her at the bd of elections in addition to electronic filing. I don’t. That’s not what the rule says. It hasn’t said that since 2001. She just wanted me to file with her so she could read it. She can read it online, it’s a public record. I felt as if she was really put out that I said “No. I’m not doing that.” It was her rule.
They got drunk with power, in the majority for decades! :)
thanks Kay these are great ideas. I’ll check in on the board of elections thing. From what I remember last night I think since Reps control state level they get 3 Reps on every board and we get 2, even though this county is hugely Dem, I think it’s the same for the entire state. But they did agree with me that we needed serious civil rights atty’s to be on the committee to keep us abreast of this. They even decided that they didn’t need to appoint an atty because he was a friend , or she was a niece, or someone was a nice guy, but they only wanted people with real Con Law props. So I thought that was great news! Got a huge chuckle when they brought it up too, down with nepotism! LOL
Again thanks so much for this. I need to get that power point presentation of how awful it’s gonna be. Anytime you think of anything pertaining to this that you don’t want to front page, just drop me a note in pretty much any thread, I read them all even if I don’t say anything.
I have been touring a wind blade factory in IA since start up. It has put on about five additions in eight years, and keeps adding empoyees. The 59 meter fiberglass blades are cool.
Looking at putting solar on roof as it is sort of against neighborhood by-laws, and will drive my ultra red neighbors nuts. The dirty old hippy will finally have a chance to punch them back. (Has nothing to do with upfront cost and payback, just want to piss those fuckers off.)
Forgot to mention, there is an obscure Jesus channel on the cable that is constantly showing ways to add solar to your home, improve car efficiency, etc. Have read elsewhere that “those” people may actually push the renewables forward, more than reality based folks. Protecting God’s planet. If it works for them, it works for me.
Also too, the wind blade company discussed above recently built a turbine factory in another midwest state to supply the blade towers. More green jobs!
Another Halocene Human
B-b-But Kay your framing must be backwards. Doncha know NYC must bow down to Upstate New York and its power transmission facilities? Don’t you know they own that power [that they transmit from Québec]?! Boy howdy, them Naw Yawk urbanite weenies sure would be hurtin’ if the applejack boys Occupied Power.
Another Halocene Human
Hence why Duke Energy is trying to strongarm local communities into bailing them out, one little community at a time.
Upps, we built a buncha power plants we shore SWORE upndown we needed but gee haw the bidness cycle and *hand waves econometric fooferall* well it’s just gon’ cost you MORE dagdabbit!!
Another Halocene Human
@Zifnab: this shit just guarantees you will have “jungle solar” in the countryside. It’s a big country with a lotta rural areas, not to mention a big black market and a lot of corruption.
They might as well call it the Civil Servant Bribe Act.
Another Halocene Human
@Burnspbesq: something like 40% of Spain’s economy before the bubble burst was estimated to be “dark”, aka black market, under the table, not paying VAT.
Spain never got a high enough percentage paying VAT to really have the virtuous cycle kick it.
Germans won’t even do business with you w/o a VAT # even though I could show there was a 1980s treaty exempting me, as an American performing professional services, from that tax. It would just cost too much for everyone else involved. VAT rebates are sirius biznis.
Another Halocene Human
@mclaren: wow, that was, like, mcarglebargle standard non sequitur in that comment. like 10.0, would mcardle again.
Another Halocene Human
@Kay: Americans love anything shiny and new and hate and resent the suggestion they maintain anything, no matter how irrational this may be in practice.
In the 1990s this attitude truly reached its zenith when Gingrich’s House proposed to both zero out Amtrak’s funding and spend a far more princely sum on a model maglev system. (Thankfully in both cases, sanity prevailed, although Amtrak still got shorted a lot on capital funds related to the NEC and we’re still paying for that robbery today.)
Rob in CT
Regarding rooftop PV arrays… I had one installed last year (it went live just about exactly 1 year ago, in fact). Connecticut has a serious subsidy, plus you get the 30% federal tax credit. In the end, I paid just over 42% of the gross cost of the system. Of course, it was still a significant investment. We put in a big system. A few months later my mother got a system via a lease, which frankly is a better deal. We own our panels, inverter, etc., but that’s not actually great. It means if stuff breaks (after warranty), it’s on us. Warranty is 20 yrs for panels and 10 for inverter – it’s the inverter I’m worried about.
Anyway, we’re looking at hitting breakeven in 10 years (9 now). After that it’ll be gravy. Of course, that’s with the subsidies. Without them, it would be more than 20 yrs. Panel prices keep dropping, which is great, but 1/2 the cost of our project was labor.
It’s worth doing if you live in a state with a solid subsidy program and you can get a lease deal (or, like us, you have enough money to say “eh, what the hell” and lay out a pile of money).
[more generally, we need next generation Nuke plants. Lots of ’em. I read an article the other day that said that Bill Gates has an energy company that’s doing a pilot of one of those “4th gen” reactor designs. I really, really hope it works out.]
J R in WV
Over the last 5 years we built (my hands on, with friends) a small vacation home in SE Arizona. The local electric co-op came out and told us it would be nearly $25K to run the power line to the building site, .75 miles of line.
My cousin (who lives there and is a realtor – which means she knows everyone!) put us in touch with a solar installer. For $28K we installed panels, batteries, and a high-end computer controlled inverter / charge controller. Then we got a $6K check from the power co-op, because that was capacity they didn’t have to build.
Then we got the federal tax credit, which was big enough we’re using it over several years (the CPA understand it, I don’t even try, even though I had accounting in school) – plus the power for completing the building and living in it for several months each winter is free. Same guarantees as mentioned above.
All I really have to do as far as maintenance is putting distilled water in the batteries every couple of months. I have a neighbor looking into the place – he gets out into the rough back country on his 4-wheeler anyways – he’ll look at the batteries and top them off. He just did warn me that the road is washed pretty bad, evidently the decade long drought is easing up just a little.
Anyway, I think solar anywhere the sun shines most days is the only thing that makes sense. .
This thread’s dead, no doubt, but I’m well versed on this subject.
1. Wingnut Governor of Maine is against wind power, for reasons I don’t understand. He just scuttled an agreed deal with a Scandinavian company to build off shore turbines. Why? Who knows – his buddies didn’t get a big enough cut?
2. I put on 7KW of panels two years ago. I’m not in the sunniest location, by far, but I should be able to pay them off in 10 years or so. Like CT, ME once offered a state rebate in addition to the Fed, and it was substantial. I also have a geothermal heating/cooling system which I highly recommend – especially coupled with the solar panels. All total, I pay about 1000 a year for heat/AC/electricity – pretty dang good in the mountains of Maine. And that 1000 bucks is essentially the three power bills I pay in Jan-Feb-March. No oil, no gas.
3. I visit the Southwest often enough, and am continually dumbfounded every building out there doesn’t have solar panels. It should be a requirement. Contrast that with Germany – a very poor solar potential country – and they’ve got widespread use of panels.
@rdldot: Photovoltaic panels are only *guaranteed* for 20 or 25 years. The manufacturers don’t want to pay out on their guarantees, so they set the guarantee period to be shorter than the time they actually expect their panels to last. There are many off-gridders who installed PV panels 30+ years ago that are still functioning at 80% or better of their original power output.