Summer Sizzle

(#266) — Local solar electric and wind turbines are spinning the meters backward like never before in these first weeks of summer.  Summer is usually the slow season for wind power but with wind speeds changed by variations in heat, and weather patterns more volatile than seen in decades, many are taking another look at the potential for wind turbines. Longer hours of sunlight and cool breezes to sweep away the heat collected at the site of solar electric installations, is producing more than 10% more electricity than in 2011.

Since electricity, not natural gas, is the fuel for the industrial world for the next generation, homeowners, businesses and government should be rapidly developing local capacity to capture the tremendous savings.

Maybe we all need to remember savings. Today’s commercial culture practices fantastic fraud and disdain for savings.  But the daily reality of over half of our citizens is punctuated by myriad experiences that the cost of living is beyond our ability to pay.  Although public surveys indicate there is less concern for the costs to planet earth and to human health by our energy  choices, science and more mature economic analysis indicate that weather related costs are becoming a significant part of every budget and toxic pollutants continue to increase their assault on the health of all forms of life.

We can save ourselves, our businesses and our public services from this relentless destruction and gain very significant economic benefit at the same time.

For example, let’s say we have 50,000 electric accounts in Sullivan County with an average electric consumption of 10,000kwh/year at $.10/kwh.  (The total is larger but the actual amount is not available but coming soon). In this example, 500,000,000 kwh at $.10 or $50,000,000 is our cost. Over the next  25 years, which is the guaranteed life of high efficiency for solar electric panels, the average cost is projected at a minimum of $.20/kwh. Many think the actual cost will be $.25, $.30 or more. We should all be aware that the most recent brown out cost just one section of the United States more than $8 billion – as a kwh of electricity cost several dollars rather than a few cents and that the entire US electric grid loses far more power in transmission than it delivers, is vulnerable to cyber attack and along with our water systems, is the most neglected sector of our life support infrastructure. Those who know it best describe it as rickety.

Back to our calculations on the small example above.  If we decide to form community owned or not for profit energy companies, through lease agreements with power developers at almost no cost to ourselves, we may save $.04/kwh right away and over 25 years, $.10/year/kwh.  At a savings of $.04/kwh, the savings is $2,000,000 in the first years.  Over 25 years, the savings amounts to $50,000,000.  The more likely savings would be several times greater. If we decide to locally finance our electric companies, add another multiplier as we economize by keeping jobs local and gain the efficiencies of  local control and management.

While educating yourself and others about these immediate opportunities, be certain to apply for a free home energy audit and no up front cost energy efficiency retrofit.

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