One of my Running Issues

If I ever run for office, there are a bucket of issues that I would push. They include universal healthcare, family farming initiative, better prison system, and better energy usage.

I can't even remember why I was just looking at solar energy, but I noticed that an idea I had some time ago is already a reality. Grid-intertie solar systems. More below the break.

In Florida, families can install a solar panel system on their house and tie it directly into the current power grid, with no batteries and all that jazz. When the sun is high and your power usage is low, the excess generated power actually leeches out into the system...and makes you power meter run backwards. Yep, backwards.

1. This is good for the environment.
2. This is good for the power companies because it gives them excess supply during the highest peak usage times (daytime).
3. This is good for your wallet, although maybe not as good as having your own battery system.

My idea was this. There are over 3 million housing units in North Carolina. That does not include businesses, so let's say there are 4 million buildings in North Carolina. That is a conservative estimate. What would be the effect of connecting 4 million solar panel systems to the current grid?

Looking at a couple different sources, it seems like a few solar panels per roof (20X44ish) would create a kWh per day. Thus, that is 4 million kWh of energy per day X 365 days is about 1.4 Billion kWh per year. Of course, I'm not an expert on this and I would love to have someone else's opinion. The typical 500 megawatt coal power plant produces 3.5 billion kWh per year. As you can see below, North Carolina has 14 power plants, some of which produce more or less than that.

Florida already has implemented something along these lines, as I have said, but it is driven by the consumer. I think that what is needed is a private/public partnership where government subsidizes the panel purchases and the electric companies install them and tie them into the grid.

1. This is good for the environment.
2. It is good for the power companies.
3. It is good for the customer.
4. It would create jobs if we insisted that a panel supplier bid the job including the creation of plants right here in North Carolina. Which, for 4 million setups would be a lot of panels and a lot of good paying jobs.

It's still a rough idea, and it won't solve the energy crisis, but it is a start.


Robert, have you ever looked into

Photovoltaic shingles? Seems like new-build houses should be REQUIRED to use this or some sort of technology that will harness the sun's power.

I've read a little about them.

It would certainly make sense on new houses. Of course, with the housing market about to die, that might not be many houses.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

What about existing homes?

I'm looking into renovating my home over the next 5 years or so, and roof-top solar panels are something I'd like to look into. These shingles sound even better.

Of course, the Nosy Neighbors' Association would probably have choice words if we put them on the front of our house. The back gets more sun, anyway, because it's basically facing NNW. Lots of afternoon sun.

Tonight on PBS

design e² might be of interest in relation to this topic. Tonight's episode is entitled "The Green Machine," and is all about incorporating environment-friendly designs into urban landscapes.  I haven't been able to watch any episodes yet, but the material on the design e² website looks interesting. The "podcasts" section (top, right) has several companion video pieces for each episode.

Postscript:  tonight at 8PM, and another episode at 8:30, WUNC. Seemed a critical omission!


C. Diane,

These shingles are suppose to look just like regular shingles, they even come in different colors.
Go to this siteand read more about them...I also google Photovoltaic Shingles and get a number of sites.


as long as people are responsible for fighting this battle by themselves, it is a losing battle.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


I sent the link to this thread to my husband so we can look into more stuff.

Million roofs initiative

Robert, Chapel Hill is part of the Million Roofs initiative (though you wouldn't know it from recent buildouts). More info on the program here, and the town's efforts here.

So, why not run? BOCC? Council? We need some new State representation.

I had forgotten about that.

I tried to contact someone once to find out about it, but never heard back. Thanks for the reminder. I would run for council but I hear there is this great, bearded candidate in 07 with wacky ideas about technology.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.


i also just had to clear my involvement with a volunteer board and learned that elected official jobs with pay are somewhat of a no-no for UNC employees. Who would have thunk it?

So, if I want to run at any point I would have to find a new job with a very understanding employer. Or, go back to law school : )

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

I adore that idea

Once I finally settle down in a place of my own, I will get some solar panels. I would love to see some politicans push this idea of solar power and energy efficency in the years ahead. Robert you have a great idea, and we should run more with it.

I often wonder how can the cost of these projects not be justified in the eyes of all the other pork projects NC wastes money on.

Be just, and fear not.

Our children need to know that some people fought back, when others collaborated.

NC already subsidizes to some extent...

Here's some incentives for both public and private use of alternative power. For instance, NC Green Power, is targetted to non-profits, government, etc.

Here's a quick look at personal incentives:

n 1999 North Carolina's various renewable-energy tax credits were revised and unified into a statute that addresses nearly all renewables. The revised statute provides for a tax credit of 35% of the cost of renewable energy property constructed, purchased or leased by a taxpayer and placed into service in North Carolina during the taxable year. These tax credits took effect January 1, 2000. In September 2005, the credits were extended for another five years.

The credit is subject to various ceilings depending on sector and the type of renewable-energy system. The following credit limits for various technologies and sectors apply:

* A maximum of $3,500 for residential active space heating, combined active space and domestic water-heating systems, and passive space heating;
* A maximum of $1,400 for residential solar water-heating systems, including solar pool-heating systems;
* A maximum of $10,500 for photovoltaic (solar electric), wind, or other renewable-energy systems for residential use;
* A maximum of $2,500,000 for all solar, wind, hydro and biomass applications on commercial and industrial facilities, including photovoltaic (PV), daylighting, solar water-heating and space-heating technologies.

Renewable-energy equipment expenditures eligible for the tax credit include the cost of the equipment and associated design; construction costs; and installation costs less any discounts, rebates, advertising, installation-assistance credits, name-referral allowances or other similar reductions.

Under North Carolina's tax code, the allowable credit may not exceed 50% of a taxpayer's liability for the year, reduced by the sum of all other credits. Single-family homeowners who purchase and install a qualifying renewable-energy system must take the maximum credit amount allowable for the tax year in which the system is installed. If the credit is not used entirely during the first year, the remaining amount may be carried over for the next five years.

For all other taxpayers, the credit is taken in five equal installments beginning with the year in which the property is placed in service. If the credit is not used entirely during these five years, the remaining amount may be carried over for the next five years. The credit can be taken against franchise tax, income tax or, if the taxpayer is an insurance company, against the gross premiums tax.

Robert, while we're at it, we should push for landfill methane gas. I've pushed for it at the local and county levels. The good folks at UNC have suggested using methane recovery for power at the existing 30 acre landfill at Horace-Williams Airport (site of Carolina North). Now Mike Nelson - Orange County Comm. candidate - has jumped on board and is running on a platform to use methane recovery at our current landfill. Methane recovery gives you two bangs for one buck of effort. One, by reducing methane release which contributes to global warming (methane is upto 30 times more effective at warming the atmosphere than CO2). Two, by providing an on-site source of energy - methane can cleaned and used directly or converted into a portable form - like methanol - for storage and further use. I like the idea of creating methanol because current equipment can be retrofitted to run directly on it. Either case, the only missing ingredient is political will.

Oh, one last bit. There's a meetup Sept. 20th, 7-9pm, Chapel Hill library for prospective solar power customers. I'm going to see if I can get a handle on the cost of adding a panel+grid+emergency backup system to my home.

NC Lags in Solar

From today's N&O

North Carolina lags behind other states in harnessing solar energy, despite abundant sunshine.

This state's first commercial-scale solar power project, still under development, will generate enough electricity to power about 100 homes. Though significant by North Carolina standards, it's a mere 1/100th of the capacity of a project being planned in Nevada that would be the largest solar power plant in the world.

I don't see commercial solar being the answer

At least in terms of one big field of panels. In NC I see solar on our rooftops and wind fields. PA has been pushing for wind fields and some people love em, some people hate em. But, they are being built.

Wind + Solar = Less Coal Burning

Now, I come from coal country, so I wish we could develop clean technologies. But, even then, most of our coal is being pillaged from South American countries, so it isn't providing jobs for Americans anyways. I would much rather we invest in the Apollo Alliance and move away from fossil fuels entirely while creating working class jobs for North Carolinians.

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.

delete me please

man i gotta get this lan jack fixed...

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.