Last week a student on campus asked why solar energy was so limited in Georgia. At the time I really didn’t have an answer for him. I knew that Georgia had plenty of sunny days but was unsure as to why there was so much unrealized solar potential in the state.
Around the same time I received an invitation to attend a conference on supporting the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy in Georgia. Perfect timing! It was at the event that I read a surprising fact: Georgia spends $33B per year to purchase energy from other states, mainly Texas. This equates to roughly $30B on petroleum, $1B on natural gas from the Gulf region and $2-3B on coal. To put this into perspective the entire budget of the state of Georgia is only $19B!
So why don’t we use other forms of renewable energy available to us, including solar? Well its because of the 1973 Georgia Territorial Electric Service Act (GTESA) which makes it illegal for anybody but Georgia Power to sell electricity to a Georgia home or business. It also prevents anyone who buys solar panels or any other form of energy generation from selling their excess energy to anyone except Georgia Power. This means business and homeowners cannot enter into a popular solar agreements found in other states.
A Solar Power Purchase Agreement (SPPA) is a financial arrangement in which a third-party developer owns, operates, and maintains the solar system, and a host customer agrees to site the system on its roof or elsewhere on its property and purchases the system’s electric output from the solar services provider for a predetermined period.
So rather than financing and owning the solar system yourself, you pay a pre-determined rate for the electricity produced by the solar panels on your roof, to a solar services provider. The provider will take care of installation and maintenance, while providing clean, green, solar-powered electricity to your home or business for years to come—all at a cost less than or equal to your current electricity bill.
If you are deadset on solar energy on your property, you can do it but this DIY route presents an obstacle for many people and businesses because it can be cost-prohibitive to buy the solar panels outright. In addition, it reduces the incentive to make the investment because the excess energy cannot be sold to anyone but Georgia Power, which limits its solar energy purchases.
This conference was sponsored by the Georgia Solar Energy Association (GESA) so I didn’t get to hear Georgia Power’s side of the story. I am sure in 1973 there was a reason that lawmakers voted for the GTESA but times have changed and so has our environment. I would love to see property owners have a way to get affordable solar energy at their homes and businesses.
If solar power purchase agreements were legal in Georgia would you consider solar panels on your home?
Source: EPA.GOV, Residential Solar 101, Atlanta Progressive News
My loyal followers know that I love infographics. What a better way to display information than with pictures.
Source: Mother Nature Network
Did you know that beginning in 2012 there will be major changes in the way that you light your home? In an effort to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions the following changes will take place……..
- The manufacture of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2012.
- The manufacture of 75-watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2013.
- The manufacture of 60- and 40 watt incandescent light bulbs will be banned beginning in January 2014
What does the legislation say?
Between 2012 and 2014, standard A-line 40- and 100-watt incandescent light bulbs must use 30% less energy, but produce the same light output as the incandescent bulbs most of us use today.
What does this mean for me?
While you won’t be required to throw out your existing bulbs, you may be surprised when trying to find the same replacements at the store. After 2012, you’ll find that these bulbs will have to be replaced with energy-efficient options, such as Halogen, Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFL) and Light Emitting Diode (LED) light bulbs.
How much energy can an energy-efficient lighting really save?
The most common alternative to incandescents used today is the CFL. While the upfront investment is more for these bulbs, the cost is more than offset in money savings and product longevity.
Using a GE Energy Smart® CFL vs. standard incandescent bulb
||STANDARD 60-WATT INCANDESCENT
||15-WATT SPIRAL® BULB
|Initial purchase price, per bulb
|Replacement cost (need to purchase 7 more)
|Energy cost (based on $0.10 per kWh over the life of the 8,000-hour bulb)
savings in this example = $34.39
How will this legislation affect you? Were you aware of the changes?
Source: GE Lighting, Business Wire
35 days until Earth Day…test your shooting skills on the Plaza!
It seems as though the traditional Easy Bake Ovens which hit the market in 1963, use a 100-watt incandescent light bulb to produce the heat need to bake. (Remember 90% of the energy produced by an incandescent bulb is lost to heat…rather than to light). Well in 2012 new energy efficiency lighting standards will take effect and these bulbs will no longer be available. (More on these standards next week).
So Hasbro has decided to “upgrade” the popular toys with the introduction of the Easy Bake Ultimate Oven which uses a more energy efficient heating element. So these toys will not necessarily become extinct…but changed forever.
At least I can say I remember when. What did you make in your easy bake oven? Did you have any idea that new lighting standards were on the horizon?
Source: Mother Nature Network
Photo: The David Blahg
The U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are seeking public comment on proposed fuel economy labels to be displayed on new vehicles. These agencies are hoping to provide an easy way for consumers to compare the environmental and energy factors associated with all types of vehicles. The current timeline would have the new labels ready to appear on 2012 model year vehicles.
There are currently two design proposals…the first features a letter grade to communicate the vehicle’s fuel economy and greehhouse gas emissions performance. The second will keep the current label’s focus on miles per gallon (mpg) and annual fuel costs, but will feature an updated design.
For more information…or to weigh-in ….http://www.fueleconomy.gov
Source: Mother Nature News
In light of the excitement on campus yesterday, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to explore natural gas.
- Natural gas is found in 33 states. The dark blue states on this map show you where large amounts of natural gas are extracted. In the medium blue states, moderate amounts of natural gas are extracted. And in the light blue states, just a little natural gas is extracted. Natural gas is not extracted at all in the states that are white.
- Natural gas, a fossil fuel, is more environmentally friendly than other fossil fuels (besides carbon dioxide and water vapor) it does not release any other harmful substance, into the atmosphere.
- Existence of natural gas was known to people of ancient Greece, India, and Persia, in the form of burning springs. These springs were created when fountains of natural gas, seeping out from cracks in the ground, were ignited due to lightning.
- Natural gas was used for the first time in the US in 1816, to light street lights in Baltimore.
- Natural gas is third most widely used fuel in the US, after petroleum and coal.
- Natural gas is naturally colorless, odorless, lighter than air and non-toxic.
- Despite its various uses one of the major disadvantages of natural gas is that it is highly combustible, due to which explosions are very likely.
- By itself, methane is odorless, colorless and tasteless. As a safety measure, natural gas companies add a chemical odorant called mercaptan (it smells like rotten eggs) so escaping gas can be detected.
When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in 1879, I would be willing to bet that he never knew that so many variations were to follow. Today we have lots of options, in addition to conventional incandescent light bulbs, now compact fluorescent (CFL) and light emitting diodes (LED’s) are readily available. But how do you know which is best? Which light bulb is the “greenest”? WellHome has created this great graphic to illustrate the Energy Impact of Light Blubs. The graphic highlights the construction of the bulb as well as its energy profile.
Source: The Daily Green
Many people would agree that in today’s society vehicles have become a necessity (especially in areas without mass transit). Although owning a vehicle may not be an option, choosing the type of vehicle you own is fairly up to you. Some people prefer the spaciousness and sense of safety that SUV’s provide, while others appreciate the comfort of a luxury sedan. Whatever you choose to drive, automobiles produce emissions. But just how much damage to the environment is actually caused by the vehicles we drive? This graphic provided by AutoBlog Green make the facts easy to understand.
What do you do to minimize your vehicles impact on the environment? Think about your next automobile purchase…would you consider a hybrid or electric vehicle?