I believe this article needs little additional comment: “…if history tells us anything, renewable energy will be one of the answers”: Read all about it.
Here’s my response to this recent piece in the New York Times Opinion Pages: ‘To Those Influencing Environmental Policy But Opposed to Nuclear Power.’
When I was a kid, I read a lot of science fiction, and was a believer that nuclear energy was the power that would take us to the stars.
But when I was 21, I got a night job working a security job at the Shoreham nuclear power plant, and saw first hand – as well as heard many stories – about the safety violations, construction, and financial debacles. Suddenly, the nuclear energy that was going to be “too cheap to meter” saw nuclear power plant construction prices go from $300 million to over $7 Billion.
Three Mile Island was a “near miss” that still released massive amounts of radiation into the Pennsylvania (and NY) air. Then came Chernobyl. And most recently Fukushima.
After my Shoreham experience (it bankrupted the Long Island Lighting Company), I did additional research and discovered that besides incredible construction costs, unforgivable safety issues (try to tell any Long Islander that there was a way to quickly get off Long Island in the event there was a nuclear accident at Shoreham – and let’s see how we will evacuate millions of people in the tri-state region if Indian Point ever goes critical), and massive government underwriting (the nuclear industry is subsidized with federal liability insurance that caps their liability when there is an accident) there is the “little problem” of dealing with the nuclear waste.
Unfortunately, I have little faith that my government will be able to ensure the stability and safety of the most toxic and radioactive waste on the planet for 100 years – forget 100,000 years!
While nuclear has always been a “great promise” – until clean fusion is developed (still “another 50 years away” every time there’s a prediction) – the safety hazards, costs, and long-term environmental impacts make it a bad choice.
There IS one nuclear power plant that’s just “too good to pass up.” It’s called “The Sun.” With 1,000 times more power than the world uses, and thousands of times more that earth-based nuclear can ever generate, it’s powerful, clean, efficient – and needs only the re-prioritization of our energy policy to make it a reality for everyone.
It’s funny that the nuclear and solar industry have one thing in common: “storage.” While nuclear has to figure out how to store radioactive waste for 100,000 years, solar has to find cost-effective ways to store the sun’s energy for night time and cloudy periods.
Which one would you bet on?
I first heard of Amory Lovins in the 1980s, when he created the concept of “Negawatts,” which recognized that saving energy was more cost-effective than creating new energy supplies, and aimed to give utilities an incentive to invest in energy efficiency. Before then utilities lost money whenever they saved energy. With “Negawatt Demand Side Management” programs, utilities were given incentives to save energy. For instance, instead of building another $4 billion power plant, utilities would spend $2 billion on energy efficiency measures that would save the same amount of energy. Society would gain from the environmental benefits; more jobs would be created than from building new power plants; ratepayers would save money; and the utilities could earn a profit from saving energy (instead of just making money on selling energy supply). This article introduces some of Lovins’s latest thinking on the evolution of energy in today’s New York Times…
I just read this interesting article in the New York Times: Modern Updates to Old-School Building Materials. While it mostly discusses new construction options, the solar electric that Mr. Torcasso uses for his almost zero electric bill in his multi-million dollar home is something that almost any homeowner with sunlight on their roof or in their yard can take advantage of.
If you have sun between the hours of 10am and 4 pm, you can install a solar electric system that “runs the meter backwards” when the sun is shining and the solar system is producing more electricity than you are using. This excess energy goes into the electric grid and you are credited (via “net metering”) for the extra energy you generated.
During the night and on cloudy days, you use utility grid-supplied electricity just like normal – but, because you generated more solar electric in the past, you have a zero (or close to zero) electric bill.
In addition to qualifying for state cash grants and federal and state tax credits – you can now SAVE MONEY IMMEDIATELY WITH NO CASH OUTLAY. With current lease programs, you can install a solar electric system with ZERO cash when financing entities put up the money. They take the cash incentives and tax credits – and you just pay them for the electricity the solar system generates over 20 years. They own and maintain the system, and you can either buy them out or transfer the payments to new owners if you sell your home.
Pretty great plan — with no cash and no risk you just start saving 10% or more compared to your electric utility prices. If you contact me I can gladly help you make an assessment of your solar options and help you get started. Phone consultation free.
For those of us interested in Solar Energy, there is cause to celebrate.
Here are some compelling facts:
92% of American voters agree that it is important that America develop its solar capacity.
The price of solar panels has dropped 80% in the last five years, to $0.70 per watt in 2012.
And it keeps dropping: in 2012, the cost of a completed PV system dropped by 14%.
Solar installations grow by 1400% in the last five years.”
Thanks to Vote Solar for these facts and the great graphic. For more inspiring information on the solar revolution visit Vote Solar.
Humans are great at consuming energy. We have come to depend on energy for everything—powering our motor vehicles, heating and cooling our homes, workplaces, and electronic devices, transporting our food and water from source to marketplace, and so on. For the last 100+ years, we’ve been relying on abundant fossil fuels for our growing energy needs. Today, the scientists at the SUNY Atmospheric Science Research Center calculate that the world uses an incredible 16 trillion watts (16 terawatts, or 16 TW) of power every year.
Here’s the problem: even if we deep drill every last pint of oil; frack every last cubic inch of natural gas; and strip mine every last ounce of coal and uranium, scientists estimate that the world will only have enough fossil energy for about 100 more years—and that’s if we don’t increase our energy use. So far, we’ve been blessed with enough fossil fuels to sustain our energy-dependent lifestyles. But we only need to observe the ever-weirder weather to realize that burning the last of the world’s carbon reserves is having a disastrous environmental impact on our lives today—and will dramatically change the world for our children and grandchildren.
Ray of Hope
When we compare the world’s total energy use of 16 terawatts to non-solar renewable energy sources, we find that wind, hydro and tidal (water), geothermal (Earth), and biomass could supply 80 TWs per year—or more than five times the amount of energy we currently need. Then there’s our planet’s other energy resource, the ultimate source of power: the sun. Compared to the 16 TWs of total world energy use; or the 80 TWs that we can get every year from non-solar renewables; or the one-time 1,600 TWs from all fossil fuels, the sun sends us 23,000 TWs of usable energy every year.
Perhaps more importantly, solar energy saves money. Recent advances in solar—technology, cost reductions, government incentives, and long-term financing—now make solar electricity an excellent cost-saving option for residents, businesses, and institutions.
If you have a modest amount of money to invest in your home or office building, a solar energy system can earn back your investment in only a few years and go on saving for you. Even better, new financing options now provide the opportunity to go solar with small amounts or even no cash at all. Almost any homeowner, business, or institution can now have a solar system that will “zero out” their annual utility electric bill—and save 10% or more every month on your utility costs, even without putting out any cash.
Here are three ways consumers can “go solar and save”:
1) You invest your own capital. The solar installer takes the NYS cash incentive “off the top,” you claim a 30% Federal and 25% NYS tax credit. After the cash and tax incentives, the solar system’s savings from reducing the electric bill pays for itself in three to seven years, providing an annual “return on investment” far superior (and with much less risk) than any stock on Wall Street.
2) You have a third party financing company pay for the entire installation, and the third party takes the incentives and tax benefits. In this case, you have put no money down and still get a solar system. You pay the third party for the energy generated (in either a “solar lease” or “power purchase agreement”), but usually save 10% or more per kilowatt hour compared to the utility cost.
3. You invest in a hybrid “pre-paid lease”—for which you make a one-time payment—then keep all the savings for 20 years. At the end of the lease term, you purchase the system for either $1 or fair market value, depending on the contract terms (make sure you read the fine print!)
In all these situations, solar customers stay connected to “the grid,” and the utility continues to provide power at night and during cloudy days. But, over a year, these “net metered” systems generate as much electricity as is consumed. For people who desire electric back-up for those times when the electric utility lines go down (an ever-increasing outcome of climate disruption)—a solar project can be upgraded to enable short or long-term back-up power options.
Among the installations that have been secured with some assistance from our consulting firm are a solar hot water system at Benedictine Hospital that is saving 2,000 gallons of oil per year, solar hot water systems for two of the residential dorms at Bard College; and a 50,000-watt rooftop solar electric system at the Center for Automotive Education, in Queens. Meanwhile, the Curtis family in Clinton gained a solar electric system that offsets 100% of their family’s electricity with a “pre-paid lease,” for which they made one minimal payment and will keep the entire monthly and annual savings for 20 years, then purchase the system for $1.
The sun is the largest power source on the planet. Now, solar can be installed on our roofs, in our yards, or on top of a new shed, gazebo, carport, or porch—and we can save money, while helping save the planet, and moving toward true energy independence.
We can burn through all the remaining fossil fuels or we can make the clean energy transition today, and leave a legacy we—and our children—will be proud of. The choice is ours.
This article originally appeared in the Dutchess County publication AboutTown and can be viewed on their site.
Can the energy from the sun meet our world-wide energy needs? Find out…
LEEDs Certification is a program that provides third-party verification of green buildings, of which solar is often a component. Building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Celebrating 20 years in the growing, here’s the story… read all about LEEDs from the United States Green Building Council (USGBC)
RHINEBECK, NY, Sept. 18 – EarthKind Energy®, a renewable energy company founded in 2007, today announced that it has sold its Solar Products Division in order to concentrate on its rapidly expanding solar project development business.
“This move is an integral part of EarthKind’s business strategy to focus on and leverage our core competencies of solar project development, including identifying projects, securing government incentives, and structuring project management and financing,” said Ron Kamen, EarthKind Chairman. “We have developed solid relationships with solar equipment manufacturers, distributors and installers who will do a great job of managing warehouses and materials. By concentrating on solar project development, our logistics partners will allow us to do what we do best: use our knowledge, experience and relationships to develop successful renewable energy projects.”
Linda Curtis, President of EarthKind, said that the focus on project development is the next logical step in EarthKind’s evolution. “Over the last six years, our customers have had to contend with fast-paced fluctuations in solar markets and government policies,” said Curtis. “We are excited to concentrate our expertise and relationships to exclusively help our clients develop commercial solar electric, hot water and solar heating projects that save them money while meeting their energy, esthetic and environmental goals.”
Douglas Polley, the former President and CEO of EarthKind who led EarthKind’s transition from a primarily solar hot water products distributor to a Solar PV and Solar Thermal Project Developer, will continue to support EarthKind in an advisory role. Polley said, “I have worked with Ron for the last two years to develop and implement a business strategy that leverages EarthKind’s years of experience in renewable energy. This announcement is the culmination of our efforts. I am proud to continue my support and believe that the changes strengthen the ability of EarthKind to facilitate solar development here in New York State and beyond.” As part of the restructuring, Kamen and Curtis acquired the outstanding shares of EarthKind stock, secured 100 percent ownership, and relocated the company’s corporate headquarters to Rhinebeck, NY.
Kamen and Curtis also co-own Starphire® New Energy Technologies (Starphire.NET), a renewable energy wholesale and consulting firm. Starphire markets the EarthKind Wind®, EarthKind Hydro® and EarthKind Biomass® renewable energy brands to customers, including NYSEG Solutions/Energetix; the NYS Office of General Services; the NY Power Authority; the State University of New York at Buffalo; and other public institutions and private businesses. EarthKind’s Solar Energy division has developed solar electric, solar hot water and solar heating projects for scores of commercial customers throughout the region, including the City of Binghamton, Greater NY Auto Dealer Association in Queens, Benedictine Hospital in Kingston, NorthEast Health’s Hawthorne Senior Living Center in Albany, Wadsworth Terrace multifamily affordable housing complex in the Bronx, and the Millbrook Water Treatment plant in the Town of New Castle.
Kamen stated “EarthKind and Starphire create a unique business synergy that offers clients in the marketplace a powerful ally to lead them from start to finish on cleaning their energy supply, whether from development of on-site renewable energy projects or via the purchase of ‘green power’ through the grid. We look forward to the expanded growth that will be propelled by this next evolution of our business model.”
For more information, contact:
Ron Kamen: 845-266-3723, Ron@EarthKindEnergy.com
Linda Curtis: 845-266-5401, Linda@EarthKindEnergy.com