In our latest podcast, Dillon brings you down with the latest current events, and Roger brings you back up with the good news. We cover water contamination and coal pollution followed by bicycles powering your home and community solar systems around the country.
Roger Williams- It’s Clean Power Arizona CPAZ, January 12th 2014. Happy New Year. [Jazz music]
Dillon Holmes- Happy New Year
RW- How are you doing buddy?
DH- Fantastic. How are you?
RW- Good to see you. It’s Dillon Holmes with Cambio Energy. My name is Roger Williams with Roger Williams Media. We are glad you are listening. We have a good show for you today. Today, we’re going to go over a whole bunch of news regarding energy and power and stuff in the world. Dillon brought in a list of a complete bunch of downers. We did a little bit of extra work and found some positive stories to make everybody feel good.
DH- It’s my responsibility to expose the downers.
RW- Let’s start with the downers then and then we’ll end on high notes.
First one dealing with Fukushima in Japan.
DH- We had the earthquake in Japan and (the nuclear) reactors were all blowing up and contaminating the water and the air. The U. S. was there and offered support. I guess there has been a lot of bad health as a result. It was poorly handled and is still very active. The reason I wanted to throw this in, do you read much about Fukushima?
RW- It seems like the media coverage died down a lot, as if they didn’t want to talk about that story anymore. Every once in a while it comes up, like now where the government was using the mob to round up homeless people in Japan to come and do the cleanup work at Fukushima. There were a couple of places that ran that headline. There were some legitimate sources.
It’s a total mess. You remember when it happened, the older engineers at the plant told the young guys to leave The old guys stuck around to keep it from completely blowing up. They were like, hey, we’re old, we’re going to die. This does not make me excited about our nuclear generating plant.
DH- Palo Verde. It is a different type of plant. But, nuclear is bad, it’s pretty dangerous. You need to check out this website, Arnie Gundersen, he’s a nuclear whistleblower. He’s been in this industry for a long and is a genius. fairewinds.org
He exposes a lot of what is going on, bringing it down to our level so we can understand it. It’s an ongoing disaster, which could have a significant affect if it’s not handled properly. There are still a lot of fuel rods that need to be taken out. There is years of cooling down of this plant.
RW- What is going on in Nevada? I remember reading about where they were going to build a cave where they would store all of U. S. spent nuclear. Then they found this huge fault line right in the middle of this storage facility. So that’s not going to work.
DH- I don’t know what happened with that. I do know that storing nuclear waster seems like a finite solution.
RW- Until Superman comes along and takes it all to the sun for us. [laughing]
Well, that is definitely a downer. I hope they figure that out.
DH- I’m sure they will. We have our best on it. Check out his website(Arnie Gundersen) and he has podcasts that he reports on these things. It’s fun to keep in touch with that.
RW- The next story dealing with coal plants.
DH- This is our coal series now which is just rot with downers.
RW- There is nothing great about coal to begin with.
DH- I haven’t come across anything, other than it’s cheap, except that it isn’t. Or they claim that it is cheap.
RW- Sure, on the front end of it’s cheap.
DH- But none of these companies pay for the environmental health damages associated with coal. For them, it’s super cheap. For all of us, we have a socialized system that we pay through taxes the losses.
First, I have a list of closures since 2013 just to outline the fact that we are closing a lot plants in the next few years. In the next decade, there is 28,000 megawatts set to close because it’s too expensive to meet the EPA standards. I stuck this in here because it’s a good opener for the next one which is Arizona based.
APS just bought the Four Corners Plant, or another large stake in it for $182 million. Their claim is, let me just read the line from APS CEO, “We’ve completed a transaction that will benefit the environment…” I could just stop there. It’s a total misinformation, silliness. Essentially, they are filing to have ratepayers cover that $182 million through the ACC (Arizona Corporation Commission). They will probably get it because they don’t do these things unless they how it’s going to go down. APS waited quite a while on buying this plant until the deregulation deal died. That was another thing considered by the ACC, was that we deregulate then APS would have competitors. They put the purchase of this plant on hold until deregulation went away. It went away and now sure enough, they’ve purchased this plant. We purchased it from California because California was mandated to get rid it because it’s too dirty. So, we bought it in place of them and again, it’s a “transaction that will benefit the environment” according to APS.
Another thing they talk about is how it’s a boost for the Navajo Nation because there are 434 workers. They (APS) said they won’t loose their jobs because they are going to transition a lot of their workers to decommission half the plant that they are not going to improve, they’re going to shut down. They don’t expect to let their jobs go except through attrition. So in other words, once they decommission, this isn’t a move to save jobs. It’s a move to get the cheapest possible power for APS. However, they’re making these economic and environmental claims for helping the world.
RW- How much do you think rates will increase for Arizonans?
DH- What I read was 2% like from $140 to $142, a $2 difference for the average monthly bill. It’s not a lot, but you are splitting it between 1.1 million customers.
RW- Sure, but it’s money you didn’t have to spend on power before.
DH- Right. And, we didn’t get a choice. We are all investing in this though this if they pass the ACC thing, so we all pay for it.
RW- We didn’t get to see any of the specifics of the purchase and where the costs actually went and how much of it went to straight profit for somebody.
DH- Right, I don’t know if that is open knowledge. But yet, we’ll be the one paying for it. Because, we elect officials that support APS.
That is one coal story. A lot of people have been exposed to this story in West Virginia of the chemical used to clean coal or process coal, that spilled into the river from a holding tank. Now 300,000 people are without water. Today is the 4th day. That, needless to say, has had a huge effect on their economy. They are trucking in water. There is no real retail happening.
RW- West Virginia really gets screwed a lot. Didn’t they have a huge sludge spill a couple of years ago.
DH- I’ll have to look into that one.
RW- It was a coal sludge pond, millions of gallons, broke and it flooded a huge area with coal sludge.
DH- And their in there again. No joke.
The coal companies are saying it’s not really coal related because the coal company didn’t do it. Even though we only need that chemical because of coal.
RW- The coverage on that one again, the mainstream media is not really covering these stories or cover them very quickly. Then, it’s really the internet, the resource you have to go to if you want to learn about any of this stuff.
Alright, this looks really positive, major victory.
DH- This is “Major victory for clean water battle”, in Washington. The railroad that is transporting coal, essentially they transport coal uncovered. Each car full of coal is dumping coal dust during transport, 500 pounds from each car. In this particular area in Washington, they have 2 trains per day of 120 cars.
RW- It’s 4 trains a day.
DH- Excuse me, 4 trains a day.
RW- Bottom line, it estimates a quarter million pounds of coal dust every day.
DH- Right. That is getting into the waterways because the a lot of the railroads are traveling along rivers and it’s a real contamination screwup. It says, “ Each violation of clean water act carries a fine of $37,500 per car” times 120 cars times 4 trains a day. That is huge for a daily fine. Which is fantastic that they could potentially be fined that much.
DH- A lot of this is happening because there is a proposed expansion where they have 42 trains a day instead of 4. Pretty ugly stuff, that’s the transport of coal. I guess nobody ever thought to cover it.
RW- That is for the export terminals in Washington and Oregon. This is for coal we are shipping to other countries?
DH- It looks like it’s coming from the mine to the plant, I think. If they were to ship to other countries, they would still have to get it to a port. So, what’s the difference.
RW- Even if we were to shut down all the coal plants in the U. S., there is still this issue that we are still selling coal to other places and we are still getting affected by it.
DH- Right, we export a ton of coal. As long as the world is using coal, there is going to be contamination from coal.
RW- Something else to think about.
Now, this looks like good news too, “Energy company to pay $3.2 million, penalty to resolve clean water violation in West Virginia.”
DH- That is a minuscule fine for some fracking companies that are back filling creeks to make it easier to drive to the point of their wells. They are being fined these tiny little fines. This one says it’s the larges one ever levied by the federal government for violations of this Clean Water Act (CWA). It’s pretty small but I think these fracking companies are dealing with it. I don’t think it’s hurting their ROI to heavily.
RW- Probably a right off.
So the fracking is messing up the environment.
DH- Yes. Fracking is bad. It messes up such a large area.
RW- Have you seen Gasland? That was a rough film. After I saw the first one, I didn’t feel good for a couple of days, I think a week.
DH- We have to keep exploiting the land just to keep with our supply levels now. We are having to continue just to maintain. It’s not like we’re drilling and drilling and drilling and getting more capacity. We’re doing a lot of drilling just to maintain capacity. Because the flow doesn’t work the way you might think. All around, it’s pretty nasty stuff.
And the final one, this isn’t so negative. It’s more just a comical story where the Salt River Project (SRP) started up a solar program a few years ago.
DH- They call it community solar. It couldn’t be much further from what community solar really is. It’s kind of a PR thing to get people to by into it.
For those that don’t understood what community solar actually is in other states, they have a power plant and you can opt to pay a surcharge and a portion of the power from that power plant would be allotted to your bill. The idea that power is produced somewhere else and virtually applying to your bill does have a sense of community solar. But, the way they’ve structured it, you have no ownership and you’re just paying a surcharge. You’re paying more, instead of less. Where, if you invested in solar, you would be paying less. So, sure enough, nobody has bought into it.
RW- [laughing] Wait, so I have to pay MORE for the exact same energy and there is no other benefit really?
DH- You can lock in that portion of your energy. Potentially, in X number of years from now, you might hit that break even point. Then, you could make money off of it because they locked that price in.
RW- In the meantime, you should have just bought solar for your house.
DH- Right. Essentially, you’re renting off of their investments, helping them pay off their investment and you’re getting nothing to show for it, except you’re paying extra.
RW- The thing is, their solar plant is feeding into their grid and it’s a generic method anyway. The power it’s generating is going anywhere on their grid, where it’s needed. Even if you’re not paying the surcharge, you’re still getting the power.
DH- It’s more of an accounting thing.
RW- It sounds like a marketing gimmick.
DH- It is. The way community solar should be, which we don’t have here, is say your home couldn’t fit as much solar on it as you’d like or you have shading from trees that you don’t want to cut down. You are not a good candidate for solar on your rooftop. The idea then would be that you could own a portion of a large solar plant a little bit out of town or on a parking lot somewhere. Then the power produced by that system would offset your own power bill. As if it was on your own rooftop. Even though that power is traveling through the grid and powering your own house, it’s virtually allotted to you. It’s behaving just as if it was on your house. You can see the similarity there. The idea is that you would own it. You would get all the benefits of it. If you wanted to sell your ownership of the system to somebody else so they own it, there is resell, like owning a car for example.
RW- It could increase in value.
RW- Where is community solar happening?
DH- It is happening in Colorado, they have a good program. California has a program. There is several states that are finally putting this together.
RW- Why can’t Arizona do it?
DH- Because, we are lacking in progress.
RW- It’s a legislative issue?
DH- Right. To make it work, we would have to tell our utilities to allow us to have virtual net-metering. Where we have a system somewhere else and it’s applied to our bill. We haven’t forced our utilities to do that and they certainly aren’t going to do that on their own. So we don’t have it.
RW- Based on the current structure of the state legislature of the ACC, how likely is something like that going to happen in this session?
DH- It’s not going to happen in this session, but we need to keep fighting for it and opening their eyes to it. There was almost a form of it a couple of years ago, where a large government agency could aggregate all their meters together and have one big system and that offsets all their meters, virtually. One system owner to many meters, all under the same customer. That is called aggregated net-metering. Virtual Net-metering is taking that a step further and many system owners and may meters. That is many to many instead of one to many.
RW- Something like that, would I potentially be able to sell my solar energy to somebody?
DH- On your own roof?
RW- From my roof to my neighbor’s.
DH- I could see that eventually down the road, working.
RW- That would be sweet.
Who right now in the legislature, is someone that you are supporting and they are trying to fight the good fight? Is there anybody up there right now?
DH- I am not sure yet, to be honest. There is going to be an election for the ACC this year. There are some potentially solar candidates there. Stay tuned, we’ll do a podcast to cover that.
RW- Who are the people that usually run for the ACC? What kind of qualifications does that position require.
DH- A lot of them learn it when they get in. Required qualifications? There aren’t really any. You need to be well networked to get the votes.
RW- Is that a general vote from the citizens?
DH- Yes, that is on the main general election ballot. What you just said is why it’s hard to get the right people in there. The ACC doesn’t have a lot of exposure. Nobody really knows what it is. Until this whole solar thing. People have the ACC in their sights a little bit more. It’s at the bottom of the ballot and people usually vote the party line, which makes it difficult. What we really need is to open peoples eyes to that vote. That is one of the more powerful positions in Arizona, especially with respect to energy. We need people to actually vote for it and learn about who those people are. It’s usually such a low budget campaign, that teaching people about what the ACC does and what the people running it stands for is tricky.
DH- I think this might be the first year that I change a bit, thanks to this whole APS and net-metering thing.
RW- That was a lot of fun.
Let’s get into some happier news, kind of cheer people up. You don’t always have to come here and cry into your coffee. The Sierra Club has a Facebook page. I highly recommend everybody ‘like’ it. They put some good stuff out in the news feeds and they’ve gotten better with the pictures and stuff.
One of the things they’ve been doing recently is highlighting successful alternative, renewable energy projects that are happening. One of them that they brought up is in, Lowell (Massachusetts). They put a whole bunch of solar panels over a former landfill to start creating energy for the city. There are 6,000 panels producing 1.5-megawatts for electricity. Providing an environmental benefit equal to taking 131 are off the road for a year. That is good stuff, that is great news. It goes a little bit further saying the total savings for the city’s energy bill is expected to be $1.5 million for the 20 year contract. Also, they don’t have to pay any of the upfront costs for the installation. They are working with the energy company, Ameresco and the project is worth $21 million. So it looks like Ameresco is going to make $21 million out of it.
DH- This is a good example, we are not set up to do this here. If we have one big city building and it had one APS or SRP meter, we wanted to offset their consumption with solar, we would have to build a solar system that is tied directly into that meter. Because, we don’t have the aggregated net-metering that I was talking about. What they have done in this example, they have big system and it’s going to offset 47 buildings across the city, so they are going to use aggregated net-metering to do that. They’re going to have to. I’ll look it up, but there is really no other way.
Otherwise here, to offset 47 buildings, we would need 47 independent systems located on site of each building, which is really inefficient. A lot of buildings are structurally aren’t sound to add solar to their rooftop, they’re older. It would require these improvements that would not be necessary if we could just use one empty city lot and then virtual apply all the power produced to all these other buildings. You wouldn’t have to upgrade their electoral systems, their structural systems to account for solar. It’s just an efficient way of implementing green energy.
In the meantime, congratulations to people in Lowell (Massachusetts). They’re saying other communities are covering former landfills. Lancaster put in 500-kilowatts. Billerica just signed with a landowner for a 19,000 panel project.
DH- What we will see here, if we can pass something like this, we would see immediate adoption. So many cities don’t have really good renewable energy policy in place.
Take Tempe, for example, they have 10-kilowatts on one fire station building and that is their entire investment in solar. Where as ASU (Arizona State University) has put many megawatts of solar on their buildings. It’s through a lease type of system, but it’s saving them millions of dollars. It’s not the ideal way it could have been structured for them to offset the most. If they were the ones owning it, for example, they would be making a lot more money off of it.
We have some municipalities that are all over it. We have others that aren’t. If we had a system in place, where they could invest like they’ve done here in the system we’re talking about (Lowell Massachusetts) it would be huge. We would see jobs created over night. Manufacturing would come here, because now we would have a market. It would be like night and day and we are not embracing it.
RW- Would it be faster to have the ACC make the change or to get the state legislature to make the change? Which could happen faster?
DH- I don’t know. I’m looking at it from both angles. We’ve got really close with the ACC which I’m lead to believe the ACC could do that more quickly. What the state legislature could do is enable our cities to put programs out. They can’t tell the utilities to allow the virtual net-metering or the aggregated net-metering. They can allow the cities to takeover for the utilities. The cities can’t do that without state enabling legislation. That could potentially be a more difficult process. We don’t have much precedent for that.
The ACC would be easier, but we would need to get good commissioners in that actually care about the economic and environment benefits with clean energy.
RW- That was a good story with warm fuzzys.
The other one comes from the Atlantic, it’s pretty exciting. It’s a story that came out about an electricity producing bicycle desk. It’s a Kickstarter campaign going on right now. These guys have come up with a pretty awesome looking desk mechanism with a bicycle chain, cranks and pedals. You pedal this thing. It has a energy generating motor and you can plug that into whatever you want.
DH- They had a video on their site that showed them powering a water pump or a log splitter. It would have a lot of benefits for low income areas and underdeveloped countries for those kinds of things. What I can see here is not so much offsetting energy, but creating a mindset. If you could have a bike that you could pedal and it would produce energy, then you could tie it into your home. It would not really offset a large portion of your bill, unless you get the crazy person that is going to ride it all day everyday.
RW- What is the output on this thing? How much power does it actually generate?
DH- I don’t remember if I saw how much it would produce. It did say you could easily charge your computer and phone by pedaling during the day and it didn’t look like they were heavily pedaling. But overall I was thinking, if you had something like this, it might not do much for offsetting the USA’s energy consumption, but it could open peoples eyes to what is out there.
RW- I’ve been thinking, I’ve been training a lot for these triathlons lately and one of the things we are doing is we are using this one watch. It’s called the Garmin 910XT. It’s ridiculously expensive. It’s a GPS watch with Bluetooth and ANT+ and heart rate capabilities and an accelerometer. It can tell me how many arm strokes I’m making in a pool. It’s measuring my heart rate. It’s measuring my speed and distance and all this stuff. What it is doing is making me more and more aware how much energy I’m putting in my activities. One of the things I was thinking the other day is, I think this is really indicative of the whole clean power and reusable, recycling mentality. Instead of having this view of technology and machines are here to make us have an easier life and be able to let us have more leisure time to watch television. Instead, we are creating all this technology and these machines so we can live more efficiently and effectively. I can wear a heart rate monitor and I can tell how much shape I’m getting it to.
You can have this bicycle desk and really get a sense for how much energy it requires to light a room for an hour.
DH- Exactly. I think it’s purpose is creating a more eye opening experience. You said it perfectly. I could repeat it but I won’t. It’s not going to do much to your home, probably, unless we have the ultra-efficient bike down the road. It is going to make people aware, okay, if I pedal for an hour it will do this much of what my house uses in a day. That is kind of an eye opener. I think it will help shift a mind set and spur that interest in how power works, how we use it. Our relationship with energy, which is huge, has gone unnoticed for so long and now it’s finally catching up to us.
RW- To me, what will be interesting, because these guys are open-sourcing the design. Another aspect of that is that people will be able to build software that interacts with this desk. There is no reason that there is not a social network that comes up that says, Hey Dillon produced this much electricity today.
DH- Create a little social competition.
RW- You could have competition. You could have cooperation.
I’ve been playing around with this Khan Academy. It’s this totally free website. It’s meant for educational purposes. One of the biggest aspects of it is math. It’s pretty cool. You go back and start in 3rd or 4th grade. You start going through all these concepts. A lot of them I had forgotten, it’s a little embarrassing. As you pass them, they give you points and stars and medals. It’s the whole gamification of things. I like this trend.
Another aspect with all this working out that we’re doing, there are all these different types of websites that do this “Map my Fitness” “Map my Run” “Run Keeper” and one that I have started using recently is “Strava”. It’s really slick. The user interface is good, the backend data can go into your other software and grab information out of it for you, without you even thinking. But a big aspect is, it makes this social competition stuff, where there are different segments of the city where you might have ridden through and it compares your speed going through there with everybody else who is on the network. That is more on the competitive side. But, I think getting more into developing this stuff for power and even getting into what you’re eating. And, tracking all these metrics and sharing it with each other
DH- The social aspect has a pretty strong effect on peoples motivation to exercise or to offset their energy consumption. Which is why I think, even with your solar system, you could play with the API and have a widget that is posting something about your energy production for that day and creating a competitive game out of it.
I like what you said about machines. There is such a stigma about how we are going to get fat and just sit on the couch all day because machines are doing everything for us. But, now we are really taking machines and allowing us to more efficiently exercise.
RW- We need to be. It’s still too much of a minority. I like the rise in all these fitness trackers. You know, the fit-bit stuff that counts your steps. I think that’s a good step and I think it’s happening more and more. It’s exciting to see these guys doing it. I want more people, rather than focusing on rap genius, maybe they can make some cool stuff.
DH- I want to check these guys out. I would get involved.
RW- The name of the project is Pedal Power. They are Andy Wekin and Steve Blood, Kickstarter campaign. Let’s see if they reached their goal.
DH- Their goal was 10K, they were over 30K when they wrote that piece. I think they were actually raising money by selling the bike. Imagine, they could partner with one of the athletic stationary bike people and actually create something that is not just going to power your cell phone.
RW- There is no reason, this isn’t your work desk. Why not, you’re just pedaling nice and steady all day long while you’re working. Maybe you’re powering some stuff, but you are also getting some exercise in. It’s some exciting stuff.
Moving on. This is from Green Tech Media.
our good friends. This is about US wind power manufacturing pipeline fills up. They are so busy building windmills they are actually having to import workers from other states here.
DH- Is that not a testament of what great power manufacturing can do?
RW- There are hiring hundreds of new employees at their Colorado factory were Vestas builds blades and nacelles. The interesting part of this and tying it back into why we’re doing Clean Power Arizona, this ties back into policy. The reason there is a boom in wind power isn’t just because everyone has warm fuzzys, we’ve actually incentivized people in our current energy bills. In this case, they get a 2.3-cents per kilowatt-hour production tax credit.
DH- Right. We have some federal incentives that are going to slowly go away. Which I think, overall it’s good that incentives go away once the industry is on it’s own two feet. But, at the same time, every other dirty generating energy has tons of subsidies.
RW- I was just reading these crazy numbers about how we subsidize oil and gas.
DH- Arizona has a huge coal tax credit.
RW- And yet, we are already repealing the clean energy tax credits through probably amazing lobbying, I’ve heard, by the oil and gas industry.
DH- These were set to expire. They have not ended early but they would require more legislature to extend. If we are going to extend them, then I think it should be fair. What they are getting we should get. Even though I am totally in favor of an industry that doesn’t require any subsidy.
RW- Absolutely. But the good news is, even though that is expiring, the industry isn’t worried about it. They have plenty of work on the books. This ties in with a story that involves us being able to call and use the best term of the week, the Polar Vortex. [laughing]
In Texas, it got really cold, as did a lot of the United States. It got cold here in Arizona. I don’t know if you noticed or not, but I had to put a hoodie on the other morning. That was dangerous weather. It Texas it was much colder, below freezing, with winter records. They had a power generation plants shut down.
DH- It said it shut down 3700-megawatts of power plants. It was more than one, it was several power plants that shut down. They were in this conserve power mode for quite a while.
RW- But, the good news was, the wind doesn’t stop blowing just because it’s cold. The west Texas wind farms were able to boost the electricity supply and saved the day.
DH- Right. Wind isn’t affected by cold. In fact, when it’s usually cold and frigid is when the wind is blowing the hardest. We really need storage, then we could just be on wind and solar.
RW- This is pretty exciting and it ties in nicely with the other story. I’m pretty sure our stance on climate change is pretty much the same. But if we listen to any of the people telling us about climate change this type of stuff is only going to be happening more and more. Finding alternative energy that isn’t as fickle just because it gets a little cold out, is going to be nice.
DH- What we are fighting for isn’t going away. We are just fighting so that it happens more quickly. There is no stopping you at this point. It just makes too much sense. I think what really is slowing it down is all these sunken investments that haven’t paid off. Too many people are hurt by a coal plant that doesn’t return it’s investment. But now look at Arizona, making another $200-million investment into coal that is going to have to pay itself off before they ever lay off of that plant and allow us to move on the something better.
RW- From a cost per kilowatt hour perspective, how much more do they need to pay for a solar plant to do the equivalent job to what the Four Corners plant generates?
DH- I don’t know. Coal is a couple of cents per kilowatt hour and solar is a few more than that. It’s really close. Solar, you count all of the expenses built into that. With coal, there are so many expenses that aren’t actually paid for by the utility company. Because, if it putting dirtiness into the air, contaminating water supplies, public health expenses for the population located really close to the coal plants.
RW- How do we get people to start understanding those different costs in a dollar and cents type of capacity.
DH- We would have to have some sort of system to include those externalities and the cost coal. At this point, we don’t have legislation that is enforcing that.
RW- We don’t really have, for a certain number of air pollutants in a city, how much in health care costs that will cost us over ten years.
DH- I’ve read several reputable studies that have said, if all the costs of coal were built in, just like solar PV is, then coal would be more like 20-cents per kilowatt hour compared to solars five, six, seven, somewhere in there on an industrial scale.
I did a podcast on the Cambio Energy site, about grid parity which is a ten-minute deal about whether or not it’s cheaper to buy power from your own solar plant on your rooftop or the grid. A lot of the criticism that we get is that solar can’t stand on it’s own two feet and that it has not reached grid parity. Grid parity just means that if the grid costs 13 1/2 cents-kilowatt hour for residential, if we’ve reached grid parity then solar has to cost 13 1/2 cents or less to beat out the grid and make more sense. We figure these costs without considering the subsidies, the 30% tax credit and $1000 state credit. It you take the total amount of energy produced by the systems 25-year warrantied life, then you consider the cost of that system. Solar is about 7.3 or 7.7-cents per kilowatt hour. It’s a huge savings compared to what our average cost of grid power is. If you do consider the 30% tax credit, it was like 4-cents per kilowatt hour.
RW- If you start considering the additional benefits to health by not adding more pollution to the environment…
RW- Sounds like a good info-graphic right there. That would be pretty fun to play around with those numbers. We need more, putting into a format so people can see it.
DH- Taking advantage of all the marketing techniques that we’re using for any kind of media, for getting our point across. That is what we are working on, on the CPAZ website.
RW- Here’s a fun story. An Abbey in, I think New York, [Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey, Franklin MA] had a whole bunch of land, they leased it out to put 20,000 solar panels that are now making a bunch of money and going green.
DH- They had 500-acres and they didn’t need that much solar power. But, hey would have cultivated the land to make money, so they leased out that land to build a solar system. Which would then, produce power to customers that would buy into the lease. It’s kind of like what I talk about with community solar. They could build a system there, then you and I could own a portion of that system and that could offset our power bills.
RW- What can we do? This is such an awesome story that should be happening all over the place. With all the parking lots we have here, there is no reason that the guys that own these parking lots aren’t covering them in solar panels and now they would have a second business going on. But that would require, like you said, an aggregated net-metering policy?
DH- That would depend on how they would want to do it. ANM or VNM, aggregated net-metering or virtual net-metering, we would need to allow this to work.
RW- What do they have in Colorado?
DH- They have community solar, community gardens, some places call them solar gardens. The system they have on this Abbey, could apply to a many number of meters somewhere else, across town, somewhere on the same utility territory because that is how the billing system would work.
RW- The ACC election is happening this fall?
DH- November is the general election along with everything else.
RW- It’s 2014, we’re going to elect a governor this year. Fred Duval, Fred’s our guy right? There is only one democrat, at this point. The republicans, it’s getting kind of nasty. I enjoy the republicans and how they take each other down during the primaries. So, when we reach the general election, they endorse one another. You don’t know of any names yet, of who is running, that you would support?
DH- No, I haven’t dug deep enough yet.
RW- Is there anybody you think should run?
DH- Me. [laughing]
RW- Oh ya, aspirations?
DH- No, not at this time.
RW- Perhaps some day?
DH- No, but…
The ACC election is really the big one. Sure, the governor would obviously have a big effect if we could get a smart clean energy person in there. Regardless of party, this republican democrat is less significant. It makes no sense. It should be a totally conservative ideal that you should move away from a monopoly, own your own power production.
RW- I thought that it was totally exciting at the ACC meeting when the net-metering stuff came up for public comment, and we had this ridiculous amount of people show up. There was such a wide variety of people. There were Sierra Club hippies type on one side and then there were tea-parties on the other side. They were all getting along, fighting for a similar cause.
DH- This was across the board and it made sense.
RW- It creates jobs, reduces pollution…
DH- It democratizes our power system.
RW- It solidifies a more robust and safe power system. It reduces our dependance on foreign resources.
DH- Any imports for energy. I think the people that are against it, are generally people that are in the pockets of other people. There are other interests involved, that’s all there is to it.
APS has gone after some people to get support, in different cities. When they didn’t support them they were angry. It’s quite a fight behind the scenes that we’re not really exposed to. I’m going to keep exposing some of that.
RW- Let’s start getting some names and talk about specific people and if they want to have a comment, we’ll invite them to be on the show.
DH- A lot of people are scared to talk because APS is big. But, we will keep working on them.
RW- We’re not afraid, are we?
DH- We’ve been talking, we’re on their radar already. The damage has done.
RW- I think that wraps it up. We’ve had a pretty good session, covered a lot of topics.
I do want to mention, for anybody looking for something to read, I was recently turned on to a book, Beyond the Hundredth Meridian. It’s a biography of John Welsey Powell. The reason I think it’s relevant to this show, we know Powell is this one armed guy who rode down the Colorado River for this first time and started the rafting industry. What is more interesting, he was actually the head of the geological survey for a bunch of years. When he did his first survey of the Colorado River, he highlighted the water resource issues that this whole region was going to experience. Back then, it was the railroads pushing settlement and growing out Arizona and the west. He was stepping in as the voice of reason. The reason I think it’s interesting an interesting book is because it’s really dealing with intellectualism in the United States. But, this was all they way back in the 19th century. It’s eery how much it parallels things that are happening over 100-years later.
Another thing that is interesting is how it deals with the history of Arizona and this whole regions lack of resources when it comes to water. And yet, we are over building and all these different things. I highly recommend it.
We’re out. [Jazz music]