Gimme Shelter

PO BOX 176 • AMHERST, WI 54406 715-677-4289

What Are You Missing?

Need some back issues of Home Power?

If you don't know what you're missing, check out the index in HP#48. Issue 48 contains an index of articles in issues #1-#47.

You can buy them individually: $3.25 each for #11, #13, #14, and #16 through #20 $4.75 each for #21 through #45 (except for #36) $5.75 each for #46 through #50

Deal #1: buy all 36 available issues for $112 Deal #2: buy 6 or more issues (of #21 through #49) for $4.00 each (sent bound printed matter).

for U.S. ZIP codes only, see page 81 for international back issues.

(Sorry, we're out of issues 1 through 10, #12 , #15 and #36). We are planning to compile them into a book. Until then, borrow from a friend. If you have a computer (or a friend with one) download the article you're missing by calling the Home Power bulletin board at 707-822-8640. Or check with your local library; through interlibrary loan, you can get these back issues. Jackson County Library in Oregon has all issues as does the Alfred Mann Library at Cornell Univ.)

Home Power, PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520 • 800-707-6585 • 916-475-0830 visa/ mc

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association Spring Workshop Schedule

MREA is a grass-roots, non-profit educational organization whose mission is to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency through education and demonstration.

Membership and participation in the MREA are open and welcome to all interested individuals and organizations.

February 24-25: Energy Efficient Construction Techniques

Instructor: Mark Klein of Gimme Shelter Construction Location: Amherst, WI Cost: $200

In this workshop you will learn about residential siting and how to incorporate passive and active solar design, daylighting, hydronic heating, energy efficient and environmentally friendly building materials, and super insulation construction methods into your design plans.

March 30-31: Batteries and Inverters

Instructor: Bob-O Schultze of Electron Connection and staff member of Home Power

Location: Tomahawk, WI Cost: $250

Through demonstrations you will learn about batteries and inverters including performance, characteristics, installation, and safety considerations. There will be am emphasis on the Trace 4000 watt sinewave inverter. Basic knowledge of electricity recommended. Includes housing and food for the weekend.

April 13-14: Photovoltaic Systems

Instructor: Jim Kerbel of Photovoltaic Systems Location: Amherst, WI Cost: $200

This course includes siting, design, and sizing, charge controllers, batteries, inverters, wiring, and installation methods of PV systems.

April 27-28: Solar Domestic Hot Water

Instructor: Chuck Gates of Altech Energy

Location: Forestville, WI Cost: $225

Through hands-on demonstrations and an actual installation of a two panel system you will learn different types and components, siting, sizing, transfer fluids, and controllers for solar hot water systems.

May 4-5: Grid-Intertie Wind Systems

Instructor: Mick Sagrillo of Lake Michigan Wind & Sun Location: Milwaukee, WI Cost $225

This workshop covers siting, system sizing, installation, zoning, and utility issues. For utility intertie wind systems in the 3 KW to 20 KW range. There will be several site visits of working systems and equipment will be on hand for demonstrations.

Significant others may attend with you for 1/2 price. Workshop fees cover instruction, handouts and lunch on both days.

For more information call or write

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association

PO Box 249, Amherst, WI 54406

(715) 824-5166 phone (715) 824-5399 fax

Restructuring Utilities & Government

Michael Welch

©1995 Michael Welch

Ever since the largest electrical consumers in California decided they didn't want to pay the high costs of the state's nuclear-powered electricity, there has been a struggle between factions about restructuring.

California's efforts are an example of what is now happening with utility restructuring everywhere. The battle started there, and what happens there may be repeated throughout the nation.

California's restructuring factions can be divided into several categories, each with its own goals. The utilities have the goals of maximizing their profits and minimizing their losses. Minimizing losses means making sure that they don't have to eat their investments in power plants that are uneconomic to build and operate, i.e. the nuclear ones. Maximizing profits means making sure the utilities have control over the transmission lines that power producers and consumers need for access. They also want their more economically viable power plants to be competitive with other power producers. On a company per company comparison, California's utilities are some of the most politically powerful organizations in the state. You can bet they won't lose much in whatever deal is finalized.

The most powerful faction in the state may be the coalition of manufacturers that started this whole process. They just want cheaper rates, and don't really care about anything else. It is interesting to note that we barely heard from them as the state's nuclear boondoggles were foisted upon the ratepayers. It was only after a few years of increasing rates that they started to complain. Their tactic is to threaten to take their business and jobs to other states unless things change. They also have been successfully using this tactic to reduce business taxes, fight environmental regulation, and minimize worker safety laws.

A faction growing in power across the nation is the independent power producers. They are entrepreneurs and corporations that are building mostly small and mid-sized power plants in areas where the resources they need are plentiful. Usually, those are plants that burn things like wood chips, garbage, tires, rice straw and natural gas. There is a lot of "alternative energy" used by these plants, but very little of it is considered "renewable". The independent power producers' goals include maintaining their market access and making sure that they can continue to economically compete with the larger power producers. Their fear of being left out of utility restructuring has been the impetus to organize solidly and invest in lobbying and influence.

The final faction encompasses those that have a difficult time gaining power and influencing decisions. In general, their goals are societal in nature and aren't the strictly economic goals that accompany wealth and power. They include consumer advocates, environmental groups, social justice organizations, and renewable energy trade organizations. Though their goals are diverse, they are grouped together because they have been stymied in becoming a viable part of the restructuring process. But in California, they have recently banded together to offer alternatives to what the more powerful factions have come up with. They are the true voice of the citizens, environment, and fairness. They represent the public interest.

Last summer, the utilities, manufacturers, and independent power producers got together and produced what is being called a Memorandum of Understanding. The MOU is a back-room deal designed to give those most powerful factions what they want. Public interest organizations that have been involved with California's restructuring efforts from the beginning were intentionally excluded from this process. The saddest part is that the PUC is appearing to embrace the MOU fully.

To the Rescue

These previously excluded organizations are pushing their own proposal in a similar manner to the way the limited-party MOU was presented. The California PUC granted submission of the MOU, gave it an exclusive full-panel hearing, and asked for comments specifically on the MOU. The PUC shakily justified this in response to nothing more than what they called "public speculation" about the existence of the MOU.

The public interest faction, feeling rather left out of the process, decided that if they presented their own proposal in the same way that the MOU was presented, that the PUC should have to treat it the same way, as well. They collaborated on a "Framework for Restructuring in the Public Interest", and presented it in such a way as to obtain the same considerations given to the MOU. Hopefully this tactic will work, but we must keep in mind that California's PUC was politically appointed by Governors well known for favoring business interests over public interests. They may figure out a way to ignore the Framework.

That would be a shame, because the Framework appears far more favorable in scope to anything previously presented. It includes "a better balance between all affected interests and superior resolution of restructuring issues than is achieved by the MOU." The Framework is meant to replace the MOU because it "fails to provide for meaningful, beneficial change for all classes of electric customers and fails to ensure that this state's public policy and public interest goals and laws... will continue to be maintained and improved."

The general principles of the Framework include: electric rates be reduced for all customers, at least part of the losses from uneconomic power generating facilities be born by the utility that decided to invest in the uneconomic plant, the market power of large, investor-owned utilities should not threaten the benefits of utility restructuring, competition and efficiency in the electric market place should be supported, direct access for small customers should be adequately addressed, and low income and minority communities should also benefit from restructuring.

The Framework also gives strong consideration for programs and goals for the environment, renewable resources, and public policy.

The Framework suggests and requests detailed recommendations in all areas. The one most interesting to Home Power readers may be a recommendation that all "investor-owned utilities that continue to supply generation shall maintain a supply portfolio with a minimum level of renewable resources consistent with 1993 levels and diversity." And, in order to "increase the level of resource diversity and expand the commercialization of renewable energy technologies, a portion of the system benefits charge shall be allocated to a renewables development fund."

The Framework is a ray of solar hope shining on a bleak landscape. Californians can support it by writing the California PUC (see access).

Restructuring California Government, too

I have often written that the only way to make the politicians pay attention to the people that elected them is to finally do something about election financing and access by lobbyists. This effects renewable energy because some of the biggest offenders are the fossil fuel, nuclear, and automotive industries. Additionally, such reform is necessary to limit political appointments of the sort that have effected California's PUC and the way it favors big business over the consumers.

This situation may soon change. People in California are beginning an initiative process to get political reform on the 1996 ballot. CALPIRG is the sponsor of the effort to make meaningful headway in decreasing the size of donations, where the donations come from, and the kind of access lobbyists have to elected officials.

CALPIRG's efforts have brought forth some interesting statistics for California. 96% of politicians' contributions come from big donors. 90% of their contributions come from outside their district. 70% of California candidates' money comes from PACs and Corporations.

Many state's laws have been ineffective because they were pseudo-reform that didn't really do much, or because there were huge loopholes. The CALPIRG initiative will set strict contributions limits, require candidates to raise at least 75% of their money from their own district, ban gifts from lobbyists, and set strict limits on campaign spending. The measure is modeled after those in Missouri, Montana, and Oregon.

This is a solid step in the right direction. We will still need similar laws passed on the national level. Unfortunately, Congress would have to pass these laws, and it is very difficult to get these entrenched institutions to pass laws to regulate themselves.


Author: Michael Welch, PO Box 293 Arcata, CA 95518; • E-mail: [email protected] • 707-8228640 computer BBS • 707-822-7884 .

CALPIRG's Committee Against Political Corruption, 11965 Venice Blvd. #408, Los Angeles, CA 90066 • 310-397-3404 phone • 310-391-0053 fax.

Attorney for the Framework document organizations: Sara Steck Myers 122 28th Ave., San Francisco, CA 94121 • 415-387-1904 phone • 415-387-4708 fax.

Send Comments on California's proposed restructuring "Framework" to: Public Advisor, California PUC, 107 S. Broadway Room 5109, Los Angeles, CA 90012.



Kathleen Jarschke-Schultze

"O Lord, won't you buy me a dishwashing machine, My dog licks each plate twice, they still don't come clean, My friends think I'm the biggest slob they've ever seen, So, O Lord won't you buy me a dishwashing machine."


When you start looking for an appliance you need to identify all the features that are important to you. In an RE system you need to know the limits of your power system. You'll need to know how to find and read the small, usually metal, information plaque hidden somewhere on the machine.

I am looking for an efficient dishwasher. It has to be a low water user. It doesn't need a water heating element. Our solar water system supplies very hot (150° F) water. It has to work well and be made to last. I don't need a 'garbage disposal' feature as I have a compost/worm box. It has to be efficient in water use. I want an under the-counter-model. It must be so easy to install that I can do it myself. This usually means it must be accompanied by clear, coherent installation instructions.


One of our readers on the Isle of Man was kind enough to send me a packet of manufacturer's handouts on all kinds of appliances available in Europe. As with washing machines, the Europeans have a much larger choice of very efficient dishwashers. They come in all sizes. Some models are small enough to fit on top of the counter, like Mrs. Rumpole's Crock-a-gleam. Some models are called 'slimline' which are about two thirds the width of a regular machine and yet still hold 12 place settings.

Another interesting difference is that European appliance manufacturers have several models each to choose from. I learned from a saleswoman at a local appliance store that American manufacturers have many models each which change and are discontinued regularly. I explained that I lived on RE and was researching a purchase and would not be buying a dishwasher for at least two months. She said that the models on display might not be available then. Two of the models on the floor had notices that they had been discontinued and the floor models were the last of that line. That kind of makes me wonder about parts availability.

Available Features

Apparently, a really big selling point with dishwashers is how quiet the machine is. From what I could determine, the more you pay the quieter the dishwasher is. The more expensive models had more sound dulling insulation. So you must choose, quietness or cost. In our house the kitchen is open to the living room, Bob-O's office and what we laughingly refer to as the dining room. For us noise level would be a factor. Our clothes washer is loud, but it is in the basement.

The higher priced models also have a high temperature wash option. This is described as 140°F water essential to dissolve greasy food. The interesting thing about this is that most of the models I looked at instructed that 140°F water be introduced to the unit from your hot water line. So what is the power hog heater for? I don't need the high temp feature if my input water is already 150°F. The price just went down.

Adjustable racks are really cool. Be sure to check what the dish racks are covered with. If it is a really good, long lasting coating the manufacturer will usually brag about it in the attached literature. One model I liked had a flat removable silver ware holder in the door. Great use of space and it keeps the silverware well contained so it can't be blasted out of a basket and fall into the spinning water spray arm.

There is also a hot or cool dry option. Obviously I will want to leave the control on cool dry to keep the heater off as much as possible. I have heard from friends who have dishwashers that you can just turn off the machine and open the door at the beginning of the dry cycle and let the dishes air dry. That appeals to me. In my youth I could never convince my mother that air drying dishes was more sanitary than drying with a dish towel.


Water pressure from your water system to most of the machines I looked at needed to be between 15 to 120 psi. There are slight differences between manufacturers. Some needed at least 18 psi and some models could tolerate up to 176 psi. Our gravity fed water system pressure is approximately 60 psi at the house. Just about mid range for all the models I saw.

Home & Heart

You will need to decide where the machine is going to live, usually right next to the sink. Measure the area and be open to making the adjustment of several inches in width to make your chosen model to fit.

Info Plaques

On every model there is an info plaque that you need to be able to decipher. It will tell you the model number, the serial number, the motor amps, the heater amps and combined total amps. The volts and Hz are also listed, but on every model I looked it was 120v and 60Hz.

model no. 000XX00X000

Serial no. 1234567890

120V 60Hz

120V 60Hz motor 2.6 A heater 5.4 A

total current 8.0 A

Formula for Success

You need to multiply the number of amperes by the amount of volts to get the amount of watts used. (See "Back to Basics" in HP#29) So if the motor only uses 2.6 amps without using the heater this machine would use 312 watts. (2.6Ax120v). With the heater in use the combined 8 amps times 120 volts would equal 960 watts. Quite a difference between the two. Our Trace inverter won't have any problem with this wattage draw.

Water Use

Water use is something American manufacturers don't list with other features or options. I will have to call each manufacturer with specific model numbers to get that information. European models list water usage prominently and even have an Eco-wash option that uses even less water.


I told the saleswoman I will not be choosing a dishwasher soon. There is more homework and studying of the machines available before I decide. Most salespeople are of two minds when you pre-shop. Either they are interested enough in the fact that you live on renewables to try to find the information you need or they write you off as a probable no-sale and leave you to ferret your own information.

Here's some hints if you get left on your own. The info plaque is usually located somewhere on the edge of the open door or door casing. There is usually an installation manual and owner's manual stuffed between the machine and counter top if it is not already in a plastic bag inside the machine itself.


Author: Kathleen Jarschke-Schultze is letting her dishes air-dry at her home in northern-most California, c/o Home Power Magazine, POB 520, Ashland, OR 97520 • 916-475-0830 • Internet Email: [email protected] or [email protected]

Manufacturers: Whirlpool • 1-800-253-1301, General Electric and Hotpoint • 1-800-626-2000, Jenn-Air • 1800-536-6247, Roper • 1-800-447-6737, Kelvinator • 1800-944-9044

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