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Understanding the Power of the Sun


An interesting take on understanding the value and importance of solar has been related by Thomas Burnett, a communications employee at the National Academy of Sciences within the USA.

He relates that as a young kid growing up in the 80’s, he remembers seeing solar installed on the rooftop of his grandfather’s house. His granddad liked to save money and such installed these strange-looking panels. As a youngster, Thomas couldn’t quite fathom the significance of such a move.

It wasn’t until almost three decades later, when Thomas himself decide to purchase a home, that it made sense to save money using the many benefits of solar energy.

It was not just the fact that solar panel cost effective came into play, it was the fact that every time he used something that utilised a lot of energy, he had images of coal-run plants producing horrendous amounts of pollution which warms the planets and then devastates the lives of many poorer communities.

Not wanting to live with a guilty and ignorant conscience, Thomas weighed up he’s options, which ranged from living without the A/C and giving up small luxuries. But at the same time he didn’t want to have guests over and have them feeling uncomfortable.

It was during this period of Thomas’s life that he came across the option of buying 100% wind-powered electricity that he actually seriously considered utilising alternate energy to power he’s home.

The realisation hit home hard with regard to just how much everyday appliances may be affected by the weather conditions on a particular day when using renewable energy sources. Thomas learned to appreciate the fact that we live in a day and age whereby wind and the sun create enough power to be able to enter mainstream energy markets at a competitive rate. It was then that he decided to chronicle he’s journey of turning towards solar in order to share it with those who wish to follow in he’s footsteps.

Once an option was decided upon, Thomas and he’s wife struck a deal with Clean Currents, a company that sells renewable energy to utility clients. This option was quite viable for the first few months, but during the extremely cold winters of 2013/14 when wholesale energy prices skyrocketed, which meant that Clean Currents filed for bankruptcy.

Finding himself back at the beginning, he began to take notice of how many houses in the DC area had boards outside proclaiming that their homes have switched to utilising solar. The question still remained as to whether it would be cost effective in the long run?

The stigma attached to solar was the that it was for rich liberals, but after conducting thorough research on the subject, Thomas realised that solar panel cost effective was the reason that so many newer households could afford panels. Prices had dropped by 80% since 2008, and the best part was that upfront payment costs were not an issue either as the panels could be leased instead.

When leasing panels, the company will come over and install them onto the roof. Instead of paying for the panels, the cost is worked out depending on the amount of electricity generated. There are various agreements to select from, whereby you may be charged for all the electricity generated while the extra flows back into the grid which will then generate a credit of sorts from the local utility to reduce the overall bill. Another option is being charged a fixed fee from the solar company which is not dependant on the amount of energy the panels produce.

Throughout the US, lots of cities have solar prices that are lower than bills received by a utility. So the fact that Thomas would be saving money while at the same time preserve the planet sounded like a win-win situation to him.

Before he signed on the dotted line to lease the panels, Thomas researched a little more by having few local solar businesses assess he’s needed and create a system specific towards he’s financial situation. Through this research he came across a neighbourhood co-op that works on buying bulk solar in order to save homeowners even more money. He advised neighbours about this awesome bulk deal and four of them signed up on the spot.

Once the process was agreed upon, the real issues began to materials, with the most complicated part being Solar Renewable Energy Credits. This is when those states that have great renewable energy portfolios may penalize utility companies for not generating enough power through alternate energy sources.

In order to avoid paying penalties, these utilities may buy credits from homeowners that have solar, whereby every time the panel produces 1Mw an hour of electricity, a credit is produced that may be sold within the market. These credits are quite lucrative in certain states, which create a big financial reason to purchase solar. As Thomas resided in Washington, he could earn quite a few dollars from SRECs.

There was also much paperwork to be completed before installation could begin, fortunately for Thomas he’s installer took care of all of that, though only three months later could the real work actually begin.

Permission was needed from the local utility, a building permit was needed in order to install the panels and a letter had to be sent to Pepco in order to let them know when the installation was complete. Once everything was finalised from Pepco’s side, Thomas was able to sign up to sell he’s SRECs in the market.

The installation itself truly fascinated Thomas, so much so that he took a day off work just to watch what goes on behind the scenes. The entire process took only four hours while the electrical component added an hour or two.

Once the system was completed. The installers gave Thomas access to online applications which monitor the energy production levels in real time. This device also calculated he’s energy credits which were produced.

Electricity is part of a staple lifestyle for most of us today, imagine still having to reply on candles or kerosene lamps to function and run a household. Not only is it highly inconvenient but these types of energy sources produced high amounts of pollution and soot.

Electricity was one of the greatest discoveries of our times, Thomas Edison truly lighted the path for future technological developments to take place. The only problem arose years later when the world realised that we couldn’t keep using Mother Earth’s skies and water to dump all waste from electricity production.

Much research over the years have finally come to the forefront and such cost-effective solar panels are a very viable option to power all activities without destroying the planet.

Thomas certainly has no regrets turning to solar, even in the middle of winter, he’s system may produce close to 5,000 kWh annually, which works out to about 14kWh a day. It’s through he’s system of management that Thomas realises what a positive impact he’s choices are making on the world at large, and it feels pretty awesome doing the right thing!


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