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The mpg to power ratio puts the Firebird way ahead of the Golf, but the Golf can burn biodiesel (something I'm experimenting with) and its (dino) fuel costs 66 to 69 cents a litre... about CDN$3.00 an imperial gallon on average compared to the Firebird's 84 to 89 cents a litre. For the V-8 to cost the same to operate as the Golf, it would have to get around 70 mpg!

Overall I love Home Power magazine, keep up the good work. Now I'm going to try to get past the author's bias and see if there's any salvageable info in that article. Kindest Regards, Stephen Bungay [email protected]

Hello Stephen, I'm glad you were interested in the Honda Insight article, and I hope you read the Toyota Prius article in the next issue as well. If so, you found that I agreed that hybrids serve a useful purpose for some situations. You certainly are a perfect example of a driver for whom a hybrid would be an excellent choice, due to your long commute.

As for issues of battery toxicity and power plant emissions... funny you should mention them. I just happened to address those topics in my article in this issue (see page 98 ). I also notice that, as I mentioned in the hybrid articles, you are one of many households that have multiple cars. Perhaps one of your fleet that is used only for local errands could be pure electric. Biodiesel is also an excellent alternative.

No, electric cars cannot fill everyone's needs all the time. But there are a huge number of vehicles on the road that could be pure electric, without cramping the owner's style in the least. If we only replaced those cars with electrics, it would make an enormous difference in our air quality and our petroleum dependence.

By the way, since you are in Canada, I hope you will contact the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association listed in the Access section of my article in this issue. Even if you live on the other side of the country, they can supply useful information, and may be able to put you in touch with an EV club near you. Shari Prange [email protected] com

Hi Stephen, I have two major disappointments about the two "hybrid" vehicles on the market. First is that they are completely gas powered. You cannot plug these cars in. It would be nice if you could use RE or even grid electricity for battery charging, since it is both cleaner and more convenient. Second is that the electric component is so minor. The Prius'battery is only 110 pounds, while the Insight's is half of that. These are small battery banks, so they primarily offer a "boost" to the car for acceleration and some slow-speed operation with the Prius. However I look at it, these "hybrid" designs seem to be completely stacked in favor of non-renewable fuel use.

These new vehicles are certainly a step in the right direction, but I don't see it as a big enough step. But, it's not an either/or situation. We can have these types of vehicles and pure electrics, since there are many different needs to fill. Ian Woofenden

Lightning and Boilers

Richard, I just noticed your comment in HP83 on page 142 on boiler systems, and page 151 on lightning problems. I have short comments on those two topics to share experience and opinions that are exceptions to what you stated.

On boilers, those I have encountered have been bad phantom loads, though one was possible to modify by using a line voltage thermostat on the AC side of the transformer. But the boiler does not store water, so there is an extra pumping stage plus the control loads that makes them electrically inefficient. Of course, a good quality tank style gas water heater eliminates all the electrical problems of the boiler, but trades them for inefficiency of BTUs going up the stack.

On lightning, my experience says that systems with buried wires have the most lightning damage to inverters and sometimes charge controllers. Wires going underground to PV, or underground AC wires to outbuildings always seem to be present in lightning damaged systems. We recommend placing the arrestors on these wires where they enter the power room. It seems that a lightning strike to a tree will send emf ripples centrifugally outward like ripples in a pond, and a wire parallel to those lines will pick up the inductive pulse. In fact I have seen the sparks jump out the ends. Systems with modules on the building and no outbound wires at all have to suffer a direct hit to be damaged. That said, lightning—being unpredictable— will prove us both wrong.

And a request: I have long been sending folks to the California state energy Web site for comparisons of efficiency for appliances like refrigerators and freezers. They seem to have cancelled that page now, and I find more difficult to use data at and also in spreadsheet form. Is this the best you know of presently?

Finally, thanks for the guide to RE incentives at—it's just what customers need. I will be promoting that in our next Backwoods newsletter. Steve Willey, Backwoods Solar Electric Systems • [email protected]

Hello Steve, Thanks for this information on boilers and lightning. I totally agree with you on the fickle nature of lightning. My experience with buried conductors has been the opposite of yours. Perhaps this has to do with soil composition and moisture content. The more I hear from others about lightning damage, the more I realize that our understanding of lightning is akin to the parable of the five blind men describing an elephant.

I find the best source of info for efficient appliances is: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20036 • 202-429-0063 [email protected] Richard Perez

Guerrilla Inverters Still Available

Dear friends of guerrilla solar, I have heard of lots of disappointment in our world of rebel solar because Trace Engineering is no longer selling their MicroSine inverters. These little units allowed guerrillas like us to slap together a 100 watts of modules, stick them in the sun, and plug them into our household circuits, for our own use or to turn the meter backwards. They are safe, and they work pretty well. It is too bad that Trace stopped selling this great little tool.

But the very same OK4U-100 inverter is still being manufactured by the maker in The Netherlands, and is still available. They have about 1,000 in stock that carry the original UL listing. And once those are gone, the newer units' safety is still certified by the strict European CE and by the Dutch Kema Keur rules. They are also still making the OK485 computer interface to allow monitoring and fine-tuning of the inverter's operating parameters.

They can be ordered individually or with price breaks for greater numbers directly from the manufacturer. Shipping to the U.S. is no problem. To order or get pricing information, call, write, fax, or email to: NKF Electronics B.V., PO Box 415, NL-2800 AK Gouda, The Netherlands • +31 182 592 497 • Fax: +31 182 592 123 [email protected] Sincerely, Maka Rukus & Jenny Freely, solar guerrillas

Net Metering Help for Missouri

Dear Michael, I live in a state that I believe could care less about renewable energy. Missouri has no net metering law, and I would like to start writing some of the representatives in my state to encourage them to pass the laws I need. I want to have my own grid intertie system and keep my electric company from messing with me. I've looked at the net metering link on your Web site, and I've seen what some states have and what others are proposing. I don't know the politics and what's fair between me and my utility. I figure this is something you guys talk about all the time. What I'm wanting is for Home Power to tell me what I should propose in my letters so I can help the energy-conscious in my state who have my interest, but who will never write a letter. Can you help me? Donald R. Culver, 15448 Old 40 Hwy., Higginsville, MO 64037 [email protected]

Hello Donald, We are printing your letter so that others in Missouri can contact you and help out. A good resource for net metering laws is Tom Starrs 206-463-7571 • [email protected]. Michael Welch

Alastair's Desulfator Circuit

Hi Richard, Alastair Couper has suggested that I get in touch with you to let your readers know that parts kits are available for his battery desulfator (see HP77, page 84 or I've modified the linked circuit to use a programmable micro controller—a "Stamp"—to drive the FET. The BASIC Stamp 1 is a small computer (about 4 times the size of a 555 timer chip or a 28 pin DIP) that runs Parallax BASIC (PBASIC) programs. The BASIC Stamp is programmed via a custom cable that attaches to your computer's parallel printer port.

I sell the parts kits for both the original and Stamp-driven circuit for those folks having a difficult time finding the parts (see

Motorcycle batteries seem to sulfate just by looking at them. I have saved a ton of money desulfating motorcycle and UPS gell-cell batts using the original circuit. The Stamp is a bit easier for most folks to set up. I am currently developing a battery analyzer (conductance testing) using the Stamp and a small part of the desulfator circuit: The Stamp is a hoot to play with. Have fun! Don Denhardt, Clinton Township, Michigan • [email protected]

Solar Clothes Dryer to the Rescue

Hi, Richard, My daughter-in-law just dropped off the Feb/Mar and Apr/May issues of your magazine. I hadn't looked at one for a while, and I was very impressed with the quality of your information and everything else. Good work. I especially was impressed by the article about passive cooling in hot, humid climates (although there is obviously a lot more to be told in the next issue). It was an excellent primer in the basic physics of energy, heat, etc.

In the Feb/Mar issue, you wrote, in Ozonal Notes, on the subject of infrastructure, and how we will eventually produce a lot of our energy with PV, but with the utility companies still being involved in transmission. You also mentioned that, eventually we could use some of this solar energy to produce hydrogen, which could then be used in pure hydrogen fuel cells for those times when the sun isn't shining. I agree with this idea; however, I also think that, in the short term at least, perhaps the problem of no insolation at night could be overcome by storing energy by pumping water up to storage sites during the day, then retrieving the energy by running the water back through turbines for nighttime production. If we put storage facilities at a high enough elevation above the pumps and turbines, we could minimize the size of the storage facilities.

Another thing: recently on the Jeff Golden show on NPR, a man called in, and claimed that if everyone in California stopped using their clothes dryers, there would not be an energy "crisis." Nothing else. I strongly suspect this to be true. Flash—I just went to your PDF on load calcs, where your two example families each run their clothes dryers for four hours per week. The loads given in your example were for a gas dryer, I guess. I didn't see any figures for electric clothes dryers on your site, so I found a number on another site: 4,350

watts. This seems reasonable; a dryer circuit requires a thirty amp, 240 volt circuit. So if we assume there are 8,000,000 families in California, and all of them converted from electric to solar clothes drying, that would be 8,000,000 x 4.35 KWH x 4 hours per week = 128 gigawatt-hours per week.

Another way to look at it is, assuming that an average family uses 1 KW continuously, on average (a number I've heard kicked around, but can't confirm), then switching to a solar clothes dryer would save about ten percent of their total energy use. Rolling blackouts are only occurring when the "margin" at the power plants gets down to, what, 1 percent? This means that just the clothes dryer issue would give them plenty of margin to stop the blackouts, while we convert to RE sources.

I realize that everyone in California doesn't have an electric clothes dryer, but even if they have gas dryers, they still use a similar amount of energy. I also realize that there are a few brave souls who already use clotheslines, but as far as I can tell, we're a tiny minority. One of the callers on Jeff Golden's program said that he gets teased because he uses a clothes line! Another says that clotheslines are prohibited in her neighborhood.

I have another question: since California pays up to half the cost of a PV system, do you think it is prudent for us Oregonians to wait on purchasing a PV system until Oregon follows suit? After all, we're a progressive state, right?

Along these lines, do you know of any efforts being made to influence the Oregon Energy Department, or legislature, or governor to move in this direction? What can I do? Who should I write? Who should I shake? Great magazine you guys have going there. Thanks, Malcolm Drake, Grants Pass, Oregon • [email protected]

Hello Malcolm, I think your calculations regarding electric clothes dryers are right on target. In sunny California, a simple, outdoor clothesline is a real winner. I'm often distressed when I receive email from Californians living in subdivisions that prohibit outdoor clotheslines. Get a grip, folks!

I wouldn't hold my breath for Oregon to have a PV buydown program similar to California's—Oregon just isn't that rich. But Oregon does have some very attractive RE tax incentives. Contact Christopher Dymond, Oregon Office of Energy, 625 Marion St. NE, Salem OR 97301 • 503-378-8325 [email protected]. us

In terms of political organizing for RE programs in Oregon, contact John Patterson of the Oregon Solar

Energy Industries Association (OSEIA) [email protected]. Richard Perez

Electric Tricycle

Hi Richard, I liked the "Electric Tricycle" article very much (HP83, page 84); it gives enough detail to inspire doing your own not identical but similar design.

There is one thing that gives pause—the charger circuit. There is a shock hazard with this design, and whereas I'm glad to see that people are still winding transformers, this is an auto-transformer with no line isolation and where one side of the AC line is directly to the battery/motor. In the U.S.A., 220 volts is either side of neutral rather than one side being neutral.

Also, it is worth reminding people that they can die touching twelve (even four!) batteries in series. It only takes about 7 watts to kill you (locked up chest muscle). I hope no one gets hurt and we continue building stuff, but I continue to be concerned that HP doesn't seem concerned about publishing material that may be hazardous to inexperienced users without safety disclaimers. I want HP to continue to publish forever (Fuel Cells From Plastic Wrap?).

In this particular article, the charger isn't a requisite part of the fundamental design. On the other hand, I'm wondering where all these cheap Chinese drills are (grin). Anyhow, thanks for the wonderful magazine! Premena • [email protected]

Hello Premena, You are correct, the autotransformer design carries with it a shock hazard. Folks either buying or winding their own transformers should use models with fully isolated windings, not autotransformers. My apologies for letting this slip by in print without warning folks. Richard Perez

Hydrogen Technology

Thanks for a great magazine. I have subscribed to Home Power since issue #2, and all issues since are part of my library. I have gained most of my knowledge about alternative energy by reading Home Power.

I live on a farm (off the grid since 1992) in central Portugal. I have a 2.6 KW solar-electric system that supplies all the electricity for my two houses (one is a guest house). The energy is stored in two battery banks of 900 amp-hours and 1,850 amp-hours. I also have a backup generator, but I have only used it for 800 hours in nine years. Keeping in mind that it is cheaper to save energy than to produce energy, I only use energy-saving lamps, and always buy the most energy efficient appliances I can find. My houses have all the modern amenities like any house in the city. I also have a submersible pump, which lifts all my water from a 70

meter deep well. So far, I always have had enough electricity, even in winter.

This winter it was a different story. It started raining in early November and it did not stop until the beginning of this month. We had storms and floods in Portugal unknown in the history of this country. In six months, there were only fourteen days of sunshine. My solar-electric system survived this extreme weather, but my diesel generator broke down. For the first time, I experienced an energy shortage.

The experts say that this extreme weather is only the beginning, and that it will get worse. We have to live with this kind of weather extremes in the future—the consequences of global warming. It seems that the climate change is accelerating. Higher temperatures mean more evaporation. The more water goes up, the more comes down. Higher temperatures also mean more heat radiating from the surface, creating more powerful storms.

If there is no sunshine for six months of the year, I must reconsider my energy supply. I have no stream nearby and therefore no hydro power option. I live in a valley and I cannot make use of wind power. In the summer months my two battery banks are fully charged at around 11:00 in the morning. If only I could store all the electricity that I could harvest after 11:00, it could be enough for the long winter.

The answer could be hydrogen storage and fuel cells. How long will it take until I will be able buy the necessary hardware, as I now buy charge controllers, inverters, and batteries? I would very much appreciate if you could run some articles about the availability of the hydrogen technology for home power applications. Best regards, Robert Kuchta, Tabua, Portugal [email protected]

Hello Robert, We ran a fuel cell article in HP72 and the situation has not changed very much since then. I wish I had a crystal ball and could predict when fuel cell technology would replace engine-generators as backup energy sources for RE systems. My best guess is that we are at least two to five years from this happening. Richard Perez

HP Advertisers: Take Note

Hello everyone, Today (5-1-01) I made the decision to put Hydrocaps on two flooded deep-cycle batteries in the solar-electric system that powers my ham radio rig. Naturally, I grabbed the latest issue of Home Power to find a friendly dealer for this product by going to their Web site.

Guess what? This simple task consumed more than one hour! And why did it take soooooo long for me to part with about $60 of my money? Because not too many of the advertising sites have enough brains to put search functions into their sites!

I and others are not going to spend stupid amounts of time wandering around in product listings and other trappings of a Web site. If your living depends on selling the various products of renewable energy, don't waste my time! Get smart! Review your site and make sure that the search function is right out front, or your site will not make it into my (and perhaps others') favorites folder. Bill Bowes, N7MOB, Federal Way, Washington [email protected]

Todd Engineering $$

Howdy Home Power, I, unfortunately, purchased two Todd Engineering chargers last year. The chargers failed and the folks at Todd were real nice. They sent replacements and took a credit card number to guarantee the return of the defective units. I returned the units last year, and I thought the matter was closed.

I was wrong. They charged my credit card for one of the returned units. I tried for three weeks to contact Todd Engineering to no avail. Finally, I challenged the charge with my credit card company. Soon I heard from Todd Engineering's bank. They are out of business and the bank has taken over their accounts. They are charging everybody everything they can because Todd's problems also led to a huge debt that the bank wants repaid.

The person I spoke with at the bank was very nice and agreed to cancel the outstanding debt that they showed on my account. I suppose many of your readers have had similar problems. My main reason for sharing this information is to pass on the contact information for the bank. You cannot get through to Todd because they are gone. The contact is: Kenneth E. Lust, Vice President, Special Assets Manager, National City Bank of Indiana, Fort Wayne Office, 110 West Berry St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802 • 219-461-7404 • Fax: 219-461-7471.

Please pass this info on to your readers who might be pulling their hair out trying to get in touch with Todd Engineering. Please withhold my address because I don't want my whistle blowing to alter my status with the bank. Thanks. (Name withheld at writer's request)

To Light Our Darkest Hour

Greetings, I have been following HP since my interest in RE turned from fantasy to fact in 1991. Recently, I built a small 100 watt RE system to provide energy in the event of a blackout. Power outages are not common for Austin Texas. Usually when they occur, it's due to downed power lines from high winds. On May 20, we had a severe storm blow through our northeastern Austin neighborhood.

As many as 25,000 customers were without electricity. The darkness came across my block as power lines snapped in the 80+ mph winds. The only light was from the lights reflected from the city and the light in my house. Thank you HP! If it were not for your insightful magazine, I would not have been able to light our darkest hour. My system was assembled for less than US$500.

I would like to add on a sad note that the solar-electric panel I used in my system was taken from me by the high winds. Ironically, it was just after I read an old article on how to properly mount PV panels. Cheers, Thomas, Austin, Texas • [email protected]


Richard, Renewables are great, but the California energy problem is a lot more about greed then it is about a real shortage of electrical energy. The PUC got us into this mess and I really doubt if they can get us out. Thanks for keeping Home Power available on the net. I hope you keep your advertisers informed of this unbelievable benefit. Mike, Vacaville, California [email protected]

Apartment PV Retrofit?

I've begun searching for any PV product or prototype that would work in an apartment building with excellent solar exposure. I'm envisioning a product like mini-blinds, with each blind turning sunlight to KWH (with or without battery backup). I have about 39 square feet of south-facing glazing, with no obstructions, and the same east-facing, for a total of 78 square feet. In spite of the view of Mt. Rainier from two windows, I often have to keep my blinds partially closed to block glare on computer screen. Also, if I return to working five days a week away from home, the blinds could be closed with no loss of light or view.

Is there anything like this under development? I would be happy to cooperate with product developers if they need a test site. With more than fifteen years experience in energy efficiency and renewable energy (including solar site survey thirty years ago), I would be a conscientious product tester. Of course, I would prefer that the building owner take advantage of the electric utility's 70 percent loan to weatherize this 1912 building, and then go a step further and add solar rooftop panels. But she has not responded to the info package I provided. Therefore, anything I can do with the interior of my apartment that does not violate the tenant/landlord contract would be my next best option.

It seems to me that window washers and mini-blind cleaners would be proactive on any emerging product that turns window treatments into solar collectors. Looking forward to reading an article in HP if the industry is already heading this way. Thanks. Dulce Setterfield • [email protected]

Hello Dulce, Several PV manufacturers, notably BP, are developing semi-transparent photovoltaic glazing. These thin-film products are being very slowly introduced into the commercial, building-integrated PV market. There are no similar products on the near horizon for the residential market. And if and when they do arrive, they'll probably be in the form of window glazing. So installing the systems will mean replacing the windows—not a solution for people in rental situations.

I'd suggest approaching your landlord again about a rooftop PV array. With all the energy issues in the news, they might be more willing to work with you. If your building has a flat roof, the array could be ballasted (weighted down) and the roof membrane wouldn't even need to be penetrated. I've been thinking about writing an article detailing the status of building-integrated photovoltaics. Thanks for your input. Joe Schwartz

Voltage Drop

Dear Home Power, Code Corner, HP81 dealt with sizing wire for a small simple system. As usual, Mr. Wiles did a very thorough job of explaining the issues and showing sample calculations. As sometimes happens, I would reach a somewhat different conclusion. I'll lay out the issues as I see them.

1. I agree with John that 5.5 volts drop (23%) on a 24 V RE system is way too much.

2. John describes what I think is more accurately called a 34.6 volt system, and not a 24 volt system, based on the peak power point (per ULCI703) and no battery, with a 24 volt load (motor/pump).

3. Using John's calculations, the 5.5 V drop (using peak power point as John did) leaves us with 29.1 V at the motor—over 21 percent higher than nameplate. If the 2 percent drop is used, the motor will see about 34.1 V—about 42 percent higher than nameplate. On a clear cold winter day, the voltage could be higher yet, while a hot hazy summer day reduces the voltage. As an engineer who has worked with two different motor manufacturers, this concerns me. Most 24 volt motors should work just fine up to 28 volts or so, with higher voltages resulting in reduced life. Check the motor/pump information. Many solar pumps will work PV direct with up to 30 volts. Higher PV current output can be achieved under some conditions, but it would be very surprising to end up with a low motor voltage under high current conditions.

4. Depending on the type of motor and pump, the higher voltage can result in short motor life due to higher loads at high speed, brush arcing and excessive wear, and a host of other factors. High voltage, and hence high speed, can also quickly wear out some types of sliding vane and diaphragm pumps. Under low light conditions, the power available can drop substantially, stalling out the motor.

So what do we do? I would recommend using a #14 cable. With more information on the motor than is given in John's prelude, we could fine tune this. A lower rated motor current than 4.33 amps might convince me to use a #16 control cable, if this was my own system.

The user should talk to a local RE dealer or electrical supplier. They can probably obtain a suitable cable, or may suggest a conduit from the panels to the ground to eliminate the need for sunlight resistance. The disconnect could then be located in a weatherproof box adjacent to the panels, with the transition from conduit to buried cable made at the junction box. Low temperature (60°C) wet-rated wire can be used from the box to the pump. Your final purchase may involve a linear current booster. That will keep the pump pumping under conditions that may not normally allow the pump to operate. I'd much rather see the few hundred dollars spent on an LCB than heavy wire—I believe you'll get more water for your buck!

One last issue from the article I'd like to clarify involves grounding. In the same Code Corner column, John unintentionally suggests that the negative "may be" attached to the ground rod at the PV, and "will be" connected to the ground rod at the pump location. In general, I suggest avoiding ground loops. I would ground the electrical system at one location only, if at all. I would not ground the negative at both the PV module ground rod and at the pump. Bonding both the module frame and pump to ground is a different issue. Patrick Cusack, Arise Technologies, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Hello Patrick, It is good to see these types of letters in Home Power from our friends in Canada. You raise some good points. It was not my intent to present information on designing a water pumping system, but to show how voltage-drop calculations are made. While my experience with PV water pumping is somewhat limited, I do not recall any limitations on the maximum voltage, other than the nominal system voltage (12, 24, or 48 volts). I have seen few discussions of voltage drop or high open-circuit voltages in cold weather. As the voltage goes higher (above 48 volts nominal) with the electronically commutated designs, I suspect that the voltage range may be more carefully restricted. I'll leave it to the PV pump suppliers to discuss this in more detail.

As far as the comments on wear and tear on conventional DC motors operating at higher voltages, I agree with Patrick's comments. We must keep in mind that many of these PV power pumping systems do not use conventional DC motors, but use solenoid types of pump drivers and electronically commutated AC motors. I agree again with Patrick—check with the pump supplier.

Copper is pretty cheap these days. Up-sizing the conductors should always be evaluated in a cost vs. performance tradeoff, keeping in mind that the upgrade is a one-time cost that must be balanced against the power and energy losses over thirty years or more. Power lost due to increased resistance in smaller copper conductors is lost forever. Even when a current booster is used, they too, can benefit from higher power inputs (less voltage drop). The output power (higher currents at lower voltages) of such a device will always be limited by the input power (usually at higher voltage and lower currents), minus any losses in the current booster. When the input power is reduced by wire losses, so will the output power.

Where the PV array is located some distance from the power electronics/battery/pump, it is acceptable to bond the negative circuit conductor to ground at the PV array and at the power center, as long as no equipment grounding conductor or other metallic path is used between the two locations. This saves the cost of one

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V_410-391-2000_y conductor (the equipment-grounding conductor), and that money can be used to upgrade the size of the circuit conductors. See "Grounding the South 40" in Code Corner, HP74 and NEC section 250-32.

I visited the local building supply store yesterday and found that all of their THHN was dual marked THWN-2 (an excellent conductor for use in conduit), and that the price of that wire was less than conductors with lesser ratings from other sources. In many cases, the larger production runs and demands in other industries for the better cables gives those of us in the PV world the opportunity to get the best cables at a lower price than would otherwise be possible. John Wiles, Program Manager, Southwest Technology Development Institute, Las Cruces, NM • 505-646-6105 • Fax: 505-646-3841 [email protected]

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Richard Perez

©2001 Richard Perez On 24 May 2001, I received the following email from a Home Power reader:

"Hello again, Richard. Since I got your four Solar CDs from my son for Christmas, I have spent many hours reading the back issues. One page stood out today—HP22, page 4, and I thought you might want to be reminded of it. Perhaps you could run it again and save yourself a little time! Reminds me of the old saw, "Like father, like son." Hope to see you at the MREA fair in June. Cliff Anderson, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota'.'

I didn't remember what Cliff was referring to, so I pulled out a copy of HP22 and looked. Here is a verbatim reprint of that editorial. We first printed it in the April/May 1991 issue of Home Power.

Bush's Energy Non-Policy for the Suicidal and Terminally Stupid

Bush's new energy policy assumes we are fools with a death wish. There is nothing new in drilling Alaska till it hurts, or in building more nuclear power plants. This is the same short-sighted BS that has gotten us in environmental trouble and into war. Let's look at the facts.

Sucking Alaska Dry

There really isn't that much oil in Alaska. How much? Well, look at it this way. Alaska contains less oil than we'd have saved by sticking with the EPA automobile mileage guidelines modified in the 1980s. When the government lessened these EPA requirements, auto makers stopped making more efficient vehicles. This one dumb move has consumed more than all the oil in Alaska. Drilling Alaska only postpones the inevitable, destroys Alaska, and pollutes us all in the process. We need alternatives to oil burning, not more oil.

More Nukes

No one is building new nuclear power plants. Nukes under construction are being decommissioned. The reasons for this are simple: One, no one knows what to do with the radioactive leftovers. Two, the nukes operating now are more expensive and have more down-time than any other type of power plant. Three, when the Washington Public Power System (WPPS) failed financially, it took the entire nuclear power industry with it. The third reason is what has really stopped nuclear power. The WPPS bonds (AAA rated municipals) went from valuable to worthless in a single day. No one will finance new nukes because they are financial disasters. Let us give thanks for small favors because if nukes were cost-effective, then we'd have to deal with their radioactive waste. And no one has the answer to that.

Something Else?

Yes, we want something else! We're tired of the same old dreck that is visibly poisoning our planet and picking our pockets. We're ready to do whatever it takes to give this planet a sustainable energy future. And here's what it takes.

Use Renewable Power Sources

Make power from sunshine, wind, and falling water. There are between 30,000 and 50,000 households now doing this in America. Home power producers have their own power company. No monthly bills, no blackouts, and no pollution.

Conserve Electricity

If you can't get your power from a renewable source, then conserve every watt-hour. Use efficient appliances. Turn off appliances when not in use. Be aware that the cost of grid power is much higher than your electric meter shows. Treat every watt like it will come back and bite you— because it will. Coal, nuclear, and oil power plants all extract a high price from our environment.

Drive Clean

Keep your vehicle in top shape. Drive only when necessary. Drive slowly. Keep your tires pumped up. Use an electric vehicle. Demand automakers produce emission-free vehicles. Then buy one and smile as you drive it.

A Green Dream

Green certainly, but this is no dream. Look at the articles in this issue alone. These are people who are living the Green Dream. Check out Huckleberry Homestead on page 6—they're doing it. Check out the electric car on page 85—they're doing it. If we just plain ole'regular folks can accomplish this on our budgets, then government and big business has no excuse. It's a dream until you decide to live it...

After reading this, I got slack jawed. Did I really write this ten years ago? I thought about opening up a hotline—call 1-900-Solar Psychic. Then I realized that I'm not psychic, it's just that nothing has changed in the U.S.A.'s energy policies during the last ten years. About the only thing out of date in that editorial is the number of RE users, which is well over 180,000 now. As far as our government's energy policy, it's the same old BS.

President Bush is following his dad's ten-year-old policies—more oil, more coal, and more nukes. Is this effective? Hardly. We are now having utility blackouts, and the price of gas is higher than it ever has been. We have train loads of nuclear waste waiting to cruise the tracks looking for a home.

Psycho-logic Dark Age Mindset

Jason Powell ©2001 Jason Powell

A psycho-logic, Dark Age mindset manipulates many of the two-leggeds

A psycho-logic, Dark Age mindset masquerades as yet another emperor wearing yet another new skin

In Washington, it's Bush 2, son of Bush 1

same stage, same storyline more "family values"

from the family with killer connections

CIA, defense industry, big oil that is


sugarcoated (lines of junk)



(The children watch)

puppets of politick play hand in hand with priests of industry, making war and drilling for oil in the Garden of Eden

(The children watch) the stewards turn junkie pumping the juice like a mainline habit never getting enough, even though it kills

Sin, sham, or shame, what's the difference?

(The children watch)

a psycho-logic, Dark Age mindset toasting tomorrows, as in burning futures with clean air and clean water sacrificed, blown away, as in wasted, by the engines of profit and progress who needs clean air and clean water anyway?

(The children watch) a psycho-logic, Dark Age mindset babbling on and on blah, blah, blah in crazed, grinning self-delusion spewing a litany of garbage philosophy "acceptable" levels of pollution and "clean" coal brainwash propaganda is the junkie's junk trying to shoot you in the head psycho-logic warfare

On sale!

Buy now, while supplies last!

hits of oxygen and plastic bottled water

(hey kid, get to the back of the line)

will that be cash or charge?

paper or plastic?

Bush's energy policy doesn't work and history shows this. It seems like the folks making real progress in the energy field are home power people—we've tripled in number in the last decade. What do we know that they don't?

PV Module Alert

If you are planning to buy PVs this summer, you may be disappointed. Demand for PV is now exceeding the supply. People are buying PV modules faster than they are being manufactured. This increase in PV sales is being driven by the recent utility blackouts.

In late May, I surveyed over 124 renewable energy dealers nationwide. I asked them how long it would take to get a PV module if they ordered it at that time. I also asked them if their businesses had grown within the last six months. Thirty-six dealers responded. They are waiting an average of two weeks for delivery of smaller PV modules, and an average of two months on modules larger than 85 watts. They also reported business increases from 50 percent to over 300 percent.

This clearly shows that many more folks are considering PV as an alternative to grid power. It also shows a need for more PV production to meet this increased demand. We need more PV dealers too, especially those who design and install complete systems.

Solar Energy Future

Bush's energy policy takes us back ten years into an instant replay of his dad's energy policy. This policy of increased coal burning, increased oil burning, and increased use of nuclear power didn't work ten years ago, and it won't be any more successful today. This policy is what has gotten us into today's energy shortages, high energy prices, blackouts, and environmental degradation.

While Dubya is stuck in the past, many Americans seem to have other ideas. They are buying photovoltaics faster than ever before. They see the bright future of solar energy, even if Bush cannot.


Richard Perez, Home Power, PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520 • 530-475-3179 • Fax: 530-475-0836 [email protected]

Jason Powell, c/o Home Power, PO Box 520, Ashland, OR 97520 • 541-839-4662 • [email protected]

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Getting Started With Solar

Getting Started With Solar

Do we really want the one thing that gives us its resources unconditionally to suffer even more than it is suffering now? Nature, is a part of our being from the earliest human days. We respect Nature and it gives us its bounty, but in the recent past greedy money hungry corporations have made us all so destructive, so wasteful.

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