Friday, December 31, 2010

Leaving the Light On, Act II

I wanted to show you what I got for Christmas*. It's a 22 kilowatt photo voltaic solar array and it's just what I wanted! I haven't been this excited about a gift since that BB gun in '63 and I expect to do far less damage with this one.

Let me explain that we live here in Vermont on top of a bald hill in a great big energy sucking house crammed full of electronics, washers and driers, wood shop, voice studio, and two little kids who never met a light switch they couldn't turn on and leave that way. We use on average 200o kilowatt hours of electricity per month which has been generated by an aging nuclear plant situated about 10 miles from here, some coal plants in Ohio, and a dam in a river somewhere up in Quebec. Now it's all being generated out in our field by sunbeams. Our carbon footprint has gone from the size of a cross country snow shoe to a sporty little Keen hiker. And boy has it put some spring into my step.

I've always enjoyed sunny days. Who doesn't? But now I ADORE them. In fact I'm starting to think that this business of the sun affecting our serotonin levels is quite literal and immediate. Take this graph, for example, of our power production on Wednesday and Thursday.

On dark and cloudy Wednesday I was feeling kind of low, as illustrated above. Yesterday I sure did perk up with those clear blue skies and, presto, my mood is perfectly represented on this read-out. I can't wait to show this to my therapist if I ever get one. It could be soon. Using graphs in your blog is one of the early warning signs of trouble, I'm told.

We have what is called a grid-tie system, which means that we are still connected to the grid and selling our surplus power back to the electric company who actually pay us more for our wattage than we we pay them for theirs. It must be because ours is such a happy power. And we will produce about 20 percent more than we use on a yearly basis.

Our little monitor also tells us how much carbon emissions we have avoided. Since we went online on December 17th we have saved 1227 pounds of CO2. Think about it -- that's nearly 6 Congressmen!

I'm pretty much guaranteed to be remembered as the guy who leaves the light on everyplace he goes. It will be in my obit. It might be on my gravestone (although I've promised to haunt my family eternally if that happens) In any case, I want to add a subscript to my inevitable epitaph: "He left the light on, and didn't stink up the planet doing it!"

Oooo....the sun is coming up. I have to go. It's looking like a very good day.

*I say "gift" because Federal Tax Credits and Vermont State rebates paid for enough of the costs to make the whole thing feasible and possible. Check it out.

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