Tag Archives: off the grid

Solar Struggles to Pay for itself in some States

LAFAYETTE, Calif. — It was only two years ago that Elroy Holtmann spent about $20,000 on a home solar array to help cover the costs of charging his new electric car. With the savings on his monthly electric bills, he figured the investment would pay for itself in about a dozen years.

But then the utilities regulators changed the equation.

As a result, Pacific Gas & Electric recently did away with the rate schedule chosen by Holtmann, a retired electrical engineer, and many other solar customers in north-central California. The new schedule will make them pay much more for the electricity they draw from the grid in the evening, while paying those customers less for the excess power their solar panels send back to the grid on sunny summer days.

As a result, Holtmann’s solar setup may never pay for itself.

“They’ve taken any possibility for payback away,” he said with resignation, looking up at the roof of his 1970s ranch-style house in this suburb a short drive east of Berkeley, California.

The paradox is playing out around the country. Even as policymakers at the federal and state levels promote clean energy to fight global warming, the economics of electricity can often be at odds with those goals.

Thrust in the middle are utility regulators. Even if they support greening the grid through technology adopters like Holtmann, the regulators are also responsible for ensuring that the utilities can afford to supply power to the largest number of customers at the most equitable rates. That includes people without the money or inclination to install solar collectors.

“The grid is no longer just a cheap way to get electrical commodities to people,” said Michael Picker, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. “People want choices, they want customized services,” he said. “And how do you make that fair to everybody, because not everybody is moving as adopters at the same pace?”

Similar dynamics are playing out in some parts of Europe, including Spain and Britain, as public officials push for green energy to justify its costs.

For more than a century in the United States, the public utility rate system assumed a one-way flow of electricity from central power plants to their customers. The role of utility regulators was to adjudicate reasonable rates for the consumer, while allowing an adequate rate of return on the money power companies spent generating and distributing the electricity.

But now, even though rooftop solar energy still accounts for less than half of a percent of the energy generated across the country, its growing popularity is challenging regulators and utilities to rethink their old ways.

read more at: http://www.bendbulletin.com/business/4532481-151/why-home-solar-panels-dont-pay-in-all

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Considering Wind Power? Is a Home Wind Turbine Right for You?

wind

So maybe you’re thinking you want to generate your own electricity, and home wind power has crossed your mind. After all, who really enjoys paying a utility bill? Small wind energy is renewable, non-polluting, and, in the right circumstances, can save you money.

Will a wind turbine add value to your property?  Contact the appraisers at www.scappraisals.com for your value questions.

But is home wind power a good choice for you? The answer may surprise you, because living in a windy area is not necessarily the most important factor. In fact, many properties are not a good fit for installing a wind turbine even if they have a lot of wind (for reasons we’ll get into). On the other hand, if you want to go off-grid and produce your own electricity, you almost certainly want to consider installing a home wind turbine, even if your location is not notably windy.

Off-Grid Residential Wind Power

Here’s the deal: For a home wind turbine to be worth your investment, you really need to live on an acre or more. That’s the guideline from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Guide to Small Wind Electric Systems, a free publication for homeowners. Living in a rural area helps, because if you’re in a residential neighborhood, you’re likely to run into conflicts with zoning and local homeowners associations. Additionally, you’re more likely to find a high average wind speed in wide open spaces far from windbreaks such as buildings and trees. Altogether, while installing a small wind turbine in a city or suburb is certainly possible, you’re much more likely to have the right conditions for home wind power if you live well outside city limits.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/renewable-energy/home-wind-power-zm0z13amzrob.aspx?newsletter=1#ixzz2TebNj4FH

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A Guide to Self-Sufficient Living

Turn your lawn into an edible garden

Environmental concerns, uncertain financial markets and general burnout from overwork and consumption have created a recent surge of interest in self-sufficient living. Who among us hasn’t daydreamed of living off the grid in an efficient, mortgage-free house, generating everything we need to sustain ourselves, unfettered by the bills, pressures and responsibilities of modern life?

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” was a common credo just two generations ago, when most women knew skills such as sewing and food preservation while men routinely handled home repairs and chores such as changing the oil in the family car. Modern conveniences and consumerism have largely replaced our society’s self-reliant spirit, creating an endless cycle of spending, overextending and debt—and accompanying stress and dissatisfaction.

Self-sufficient living can be labor-intensive, but the tenets are simple: Slash expenses, eliminate reliance on fossil fuels and municipal utilities, and maximize what you grow and produce. The good news is that even if you’re a suburban homeowner or an urban apartment dweller, you can take steps toward a more independent lifestyle.

Read more: http://www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/green-living/tips/self-sufficient-living-zmfz12sozmel.aspx#ixzz24Tjyich8

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