Sunday/ going solar

Solar Curious
I am in the central/ southeast area of Seattle that’s targeted for the drive from ‘Solarize Seattle’ to increase awareness of solar power, and how to go about installing solar panels.

Businessweek magazine says there are 3,200 utilities (!) that make up the U.S. electrical grid. They sell $400 billion of electricity every year, mostly derived from burning fossil fuels in centralized power stations, and distributed over 2.7 million miles of power lines. (In the Pacific Northwest we generate up to 70% of our energy with hydropower stations).   Says Businessweek : Regulators set the rates, utilities get guaranteed returns, investors get sure-thing dividends.  It’s a model that has not changed much since Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.  And it’s doomed to obsolescense.  There is a confluence of green energy and computer technology, deregulation, cheap natural gas and political pressure that, says David Crane of NRG Energy, poses a mortal threat to the system.    Rooftop solar in particular, is turning tens of thousands of businesses and homes into power producers : ‘distributed generation’.  Of course, it’s going to be a long haul to see how all of this plays out.  But it seems certain that the energy and technology sectors will no longer be supplier and customer.  They will be competing directly with each other.

Electricity Usage
Here’s numbers from a recent electricity bill for my Seattle home. We have CHEAP power in the Pacific Northwest at $0.0466/ kWh. In many other areas in the US, customers pay double that, and even more. Note: my power consumption bounces up and down since I might be out of the house for the better part of a month – or not! When I am home, I try to not have the whole house ablaze in lights at night, and I definitely do not take 45-minute hot showers in the morning!

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