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The solar panels are up, but not yet on – Renewable Journal for 10/1/2014

The SolarCity solar panels took six weeks to schedule, two days to install, and it may be another two months before they’re finally turned on.

For more posts in this series, please click here.

Six weeks ago my family got back from a vacation and my wife called SolarCity to schedule the installation of solar panels on our roof. She and I expected it to be a week or two, but were surprised to find that SolarCity is busy enough in the Denver metro area that it would be six weeks before their installers could get to our roof. We weren’t exactly thrilled – we’d been hoping to get the system operational as fast as possible to start saving up energy credits for the winter, when we’ll generate less electricity and yet consume more.

We were quite happy to see the SolarCity installers when they showed up yesterday, and over the last two days my home went from having a bare roof to having a full set of solar panels. In addition, all they upgraded the electrical box and installed all the electrical systems required to support the system. While I spent most of that time at work, it was still cool to come home today to find out that they were done and that we were now waiting on Xcel Energy – the electricity supplier for most of Colorado – to come out and install the net meter.

It was less cool to find out that it could take Xcel as much as two months to get to us. Again, we’d really like to store up some electricity credits before winter. Unfortunately, I’m no longer convinced that’ll happen. It’s not like we were banking on it or needed it financially, it just would have been even nicer financially than having a solar on the roof will be regardless.

If you look at it from Xcel’s perspective, they have no incentive to come out and hook up the solar system any sooner than they absolutely have to. Sure, they’ll want to have it hooked up before the end of the year so they can claim the system for their renewable energy requirement, but they more they can delay it without breaking the law, the more money they make from my utility bills. Still, maybe we’ll be one of the lucky ones that get hooked up faster than that.

I’m not holding my breath.

Nota Bene #119: Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet

“My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #117: Wake Up!

“Hollywood is so crooked that Mafia gangsters are entirely outclassed and don’t stand a chance. People in Hollywood are smarter. They have more sophisticated knowledge of money and deals and how to steal legally rather than illegally.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #99: Heed the Peace Gnome

“You just pick up a chord, go twang, and you’ve got music.” Who said it? Continue reading

Nota Bene #98: A More Glorious Dawn Awaits

“The man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.” Who said it? Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: new data reveals human-caused warming at both poles

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According to a new paper published in Nature Geoscience and available online here, scientists from the UK, US, and Australia have detected anthropogenic influence on the climate of both the Arctic and Antarctica. Ana according to a Scientific American article on the paper, one of the paper’s reviewers, Andrew Monaghan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, believes that the paper may be understating the effect of anthropogenic carbon emissions on Antarctica. Monaghan’s reason? The new paper gives equal weight to cooling in the interior of Antarctica as to heating on the periphery, while interior cooling is suspected to be a result of the CFC-caused ozone hole. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: traditional media errs on latest permafrost study

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Scientists are understandably concerned about the impact that thawing and decaying permafrost will have on the world’s climate. Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide (CO2), and there’s a massive amount of organic matter stored in the world’s permafrost, up to 1/6 the entire amount of carbon in the atmosphere just in North America’s permafrost, never mind offshore methane hydrates and permafrost in Asia that is already showing signs of melting. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: a bit of everything

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Due to the large size of this week’s Carboholic, I’ve busted it up into sections for readability.

Science

When you’re talking about Antarctica and global heating, there are some serious problems. The few satellites that are in polar orbits to monitor the poles can’t directly detect how thick the ice shelf is, or what the salinity and temperature of the water beneath the ice shelf is. Floating sensor buoys can’t get beneath the ice shelves and are rather limited in their operational depth. And sending people out to drill deep holes and manually measure temperature and salinity is far too expensive and dangerous. And given that what the water under floating ice shelves is doing may be key to understanding how Antarctica will respond to global heating, the problems represent serious limitations. Which is why the key to understanding what’s happening immediately around and beneath the Antarctic ice shelves may well be elephant seals. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic: public opinion shifts from the environment to drilling and mining

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The AAA overnight survey of gasoline prices found that the national average price for gasoline is at $4.108, and the cheapest gasoline in the U.S. is still $3.930. With prices that high, SUV drivers are increasingly finding themselves members of an unfortunate group, the triple-digit club, people whose large gas tanks and low mileage make every fill-up cost over $100. As more and more people have budget for high fuel prices, their support for environmental conservation has fallen and their support for more energy development and exploration has increased. According to last week’s Pew Research Center for the People and the Press report, support for energy conservation has fallen 10% and support for more energy exploration and development (drilling, mining, etc.) has increased by +12% from February to June and support for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling has increased 8% to 50% of the survey respondents. Continue reading

The Weekly Carboholic

Today I’m starting up a regular feature, the Weekly Carboholic, where I’ll be pointing out interesting nuggets of global heating information from around the world. The information will range from new websites of interest, global-heating news, renewable energy technologies, businesses doing global heating-responsible investment, etc. Enjoy!

The BBC reported this week that new geophysical research has shown that the IPCC’s estimated sea level rise may be half of what can really be expected. The IPCC estimated earlier this year that the sea level rise from thermal expansion of the oceans and glacial melting was likely to be no more than 81 cm (32 inches), but the new research suggests that during prior transitions from an ice age to a warmer period, the average sea level rise per century was more like 163 cm (64 inches), double the IPCC estimate. This goes along with news earlier this year that the Antarctic Ross Ice Shelf and Greenland’s glaciers are a) melting much faster than expected and b) the new data from both was too late for inclusion in the IPCC estimates. Continue reading

Novak: ‘08 Democratic sweep of Presidency, Senate, House ‘probable’

Sometimes it’s hard to tell, when our old buddy Bob Novak scuttlebutts, whether he’s been interacting with actual people or talking to his fist like Señor Wences. And then, if there’s good reason to believe he’s not winging it on his own, you have to figure out if he’s sharing legitimate insider analyses or just passing on Karl Rove’s latest crateful of fat red herring to hapless readers. That’s what makes him fun to peruse.

If we got no-bullshit Bob in his latest political newsletter, then Republicans are in for an even more miserable 2008: Continue reading

Pennies from heaven – a personal view of renewable energy

Solar energyBy Robert Silvey

In much of the US, it’s now cheaper to install a solar-electric system than to buy your electricity from the grid. If your house is in the right place—it gets enough sunshine and it’s in a state that provides a solar rebate—a photovoltaic system is simply a good personal investment. You’re not just reducing your carbon footprint, you’re actually saving money—and the resale value of your house is likely to rise by almost exactly the amount you invest, while you get free electricity, year after year.

That was not always the case. Continue reading