Conservation + Renewables instead of Big Powerlines

jrdwyerNovember 10, 2006

Saw this article in USA Today about proposed big powerline projects so that northeastern and southwest cities can have enough and cheaper power delivered from the midwest and northwest. The price tags are huge and there are always problems associated with big ROWs.

I like reading about what people on this site are doing with local and renewable energy conservation and production. It seems the federal government is looking in the opposite direction. I have not studied it, but one might guess that tax credits for solar, wind, and conservation might be a better alternative to big powerlines.

I do know that our local power company with it's big coal fired plants is proposing a 30% rate hike. So cheap midwest electricity may not always be cheap.

Any thoughts?

Here is a link that might be useful: USA Today Article on Powerlines

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solarjohn

The federal government does indeed seem to be going in the wrong direction. Too much is invested in coal and oil (subsidies), and too little on renewables.

Besides the CO2 emmissions, the major contributor to global warming, coal mining in Appalachia is destroying mountains, creating air and water pollution when it's mined, and causing well water contamination. Poisonus toxic sludge lakes are left behind after the mining process, and the land reclamation that is supposed to occur no way makes up for the damage that was done. Clean Coal Technology doesn't address most of these problems.

I wouldn't mind seeing the rate increases for electricity. If that were to happen, people would conserve more than they now do, contributing to a lighter load on power plants and therefore less pollution. Higher prices for electricity would cause people to consider alternatives like solar and wind.

Fortunately, people like solargary (Gary) are showing others how to implement renewable energy projects and how to conserve. Check out his website. Keep it up Gary, and thanks!

John

    Bookmark   November 11, 2006 at 11:09PM
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jrdwyer

I am for rate increases for things like pollution control. We all benefit, so we all should pay. But our somewhat regulated utility (which is a monopoly) wastes lots of money of useless advertising, fancy new buildings, etc. The regulators don't insist on a frugally operated monopoly, so our utility acts like any Fortune 500 company in their activities (excessive).

The funny thing about the rates in our area is that the more you use the lower the rate (for consumers and businesses). Not much of an incentive to conserve resources!

One area that dosen't get much press related to coal generated electricity is mercury pollution in our lakes. It is really a shame that there are consumption limits for eating fish from lakes in Indiana and other states due to mercury accumulation from pollution fallout.

Gary, nice tips on how to conserve. I just did the hibernate and powerstrip off for the computers. Much more to do!

    Bookmark   November 13, 2006 at 10:46PM
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corar4gw

I live in Florida and have yet to figure out why this state hasn't written into law some major tax breaks and building requirements that would/could show the rest of the country how to live off the grid or at least on a buy-back plan. I was told that most of the U.S. manufactured solar panels were sold overseas. For a larger profit than they could be sold in America. What's your take on this? cora

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 8:30AM
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chazas

Photovoltaic is EXTREMELY expensive. We're doing a 10 Kw grid-tied system on our new house - which, admittedly, is a big system for residential - and the cost is astronomical, with a payback period measured in decades at today's electricity prices, particularly since we live in a state with -0- incentives. Nevertheless, we're doing it because we're in for the long hall, we can afford it, and we think it's the right thing to do.

But it won't catch on more broadly until prices fall substantially or electricity prices skyrocket.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 10:39AM
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solarjohn

I don't think we'll have to wait long for higher electricity prices. My utility company is fighting right now for a 40% rate increase.

For me and my neighbors, this is day four of a utility-supplied electric power outage due to an ice storm. It seems to me that the power company isn't keeping trees trimmed as well as they should.

I'm using my small PV system to run the blowers on a corn-burning stove. If not for that I'd have had to go to a motel, due to lack of heat.

Unfortunately, I have to supplement my PV electricity production with a small gas-powered generator, but I'll continue to upgrade the PV as funds become available. The generator is noisy, smelly, and doesn't produce clean power like the PV system's inverter. I'll be glad when I can do without it.

Sorry to ramble on, but the moral of this story is that although solar seems expensive, it's smart for a variety of reasons to move in that direction.

John

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 2:57PM
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RCMJr

.

I've got a 2.8 kW PV system . . had trouble obtaining the PV panels => supposedly Europe was consuming most production as they've got incentives => they pay YOU more for a kWh of juice produced "green"; than you pay them for the same "dirty" kWh.

They are NOT cheap => and I've heard / read that every dollar spent reducing consumption; SAVES $20 in the cost of a system. A good, quick payback of sorts . . not to mention the greater good it does for us all . . .

As long as many / crucial members of the gov't are oil boys; you won't see much change in the political climate for favoring renewable / efficiencies etc. There's LOTS of money to be made with things the way they are; and those controlling it aren't willing to give up their cash cow. I think they don't care what they leave behind for their children . . . but for a big pile of cash. De-centralized production ( PV, wind, smaller / green plants ) also digs into the power structure => all concentrated in the power plants. Give up the monopoly; give up the power that accompanies it. Keeps all of us mindless general public in line so to say . . .

New York has some pretty good incentives right now; not sure why but they do. They paid $4 / kW of installed PV panels; also net metering required, as is buyback of excess although it's only less than a nickel for a kWh I pay them 15 cents for.

Reduce use, make your own . . conserve. It'll be that much longer until the "big one" when oil essentially runs out some day . . if we make it that long . . then we can burn coal . . . . or nukes . . . or we can conserve / produce now . . . .

Bob

    Bookmark   December 4, 2006 at 7:30PM
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solarjohn

Higher electricity prices are coming chazas. My utility wants a 40 percent increase. And as we speak, I've been without grid-supplied power for five days now due to an ice storm. I'm so glad that I've installed a small PV system and a corn-burning stove. Some of my neighbors have had to stay with relatives or in motels. It's likely that our electricity provider will say it needs more money in order to keep tree's trimmed, preventing another disaster like the one we're experiencing now.

Sure solar PV is expensive, but so are the repair bills for frozen pipes and the cost of replacing spoiled food.

John

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 2:16PM
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bushleague

chazas 10KW system nice deal! Were are you located and do
yopu have enough south facing roof? Are you doing a battery backup, Sunny boy inverters. I live on Cape Cod and now the town is all over this they want permits for everything, guy just put up two windmills big Town meeting got shot down, went back with an Attorney and won (there was nothing to judge on),
however tech is coming along PV panels will be 1/4 the size and jump from 12% to 25% efficiency shortly Thanks for the response.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2006 at 7:21PM
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