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your light switch is your vote

Earth Hour 2009 is just around the corner, If you haven’t heard about the yearly phenomenon, let me explain. Earth Hour is a annual event in which people around the globe to reduce electrical consumption by powering down their buildings from 8:30p to 9:30p, the impact Earth Hour has on the world is amazing, even if it’s just a one hour blackout, the global event results an enormous amounts of kWh (kilowatt-hours) conserved. How many negawatts will the world create by saving energy for one hour? Energy conservation has direct bottom line impact to our environment. I suppose Earth Hour is a fun way for people to realize that conserving energy is the first step towards solving our environmental problems. Earth Hour is the only annual celebration with the theme of saving energy and major cities around the world will be hosting Earth Hour celebrations to promote the cause. You can learn more about Earth Hour celebrations near you here in the US by checking out the official website. Here in L.A. we’re preparing for one of the largest Earth Hour events. I found out about the L.A. Earth Hour event by one of the people behind the scenes, Mike Bonifer of Game Changers who is working creatively to promote and educate people about the event and why it’s important for everyone to participate on this historic day. What are you doing for Earth Hour? Will you be turning off the lights? If your going to be heading out to Turn Out, L.A. please contact...

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solar energy in the sunshine state?

I had a customer call in today from Florida and he was telling me how disappointed he was that he doesn’t see too many solar panels in Florida, he stressed it is the “sunshine state”. It’s unfortunate that amount of solar irradiation has no relation to how many solar panels are installed in region, for example Germany is leading the world in solar energy usage and they are well known for their cloudy climate, in fact they have half the solar irradiation then we do here in the U.S. In Germany the energy policy is very favorable towards green energy and that’s why solar panels are much more common out there. Here in the U.S. we have very bias policies in support fossil fuels over green energy, unfortunately. Reflecting on the conversation I had with our customer, Florida is one of the top states leading the green energy revolution. In fact, this earlier this year the first feed-in tariff in America was passed in Gainesville, FL, now that’s historic. Just today, Progress Energy a major electric company in Florida announced that the hit a significant milestone of installing one megawatt (MW) of solar power capacity. Their solar rebate program encouraged more than 140 customers to install solar panels to offset their electric bills. Progress also has 20 solar pv farms generating clean power over 35 service territories. I agree we don’t see solar on every rooftop in the USA yet, although in my opinion we soon will, the technology will become as common as life is today with cell phones and computers. The green energy revolution will not transition us over night, but we will soon notice the change. One day in the future we’ll be reflecting, “remember the time when we used to have to pay for energy” What do you think? Do you agree with...

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blue solar panels rejected by HOA

Palos Verdes is an affluent residential community in Southern California, recently three homeowners in the community decided to install solar panels on their home but instead of being recognized for being green energy leaders the homeowners were confronted by the Home Owners Association (HOA) because the color of the solar panels were blue! Can you believe that?! The HOA argued to the homeowners that the solar panels should be a more “appealing color” than blue and would not approve the permit. What do you think, is the HOA being too picky? The HOA preferred black solar panels only since they are concerned with the looks of the blue solar panels would diminish property values in Palos Verdes Estates. In the end I don’t think the HOA will be able to stand their fight in court because of a law drafted in 1978 called the solar rights act (California civil code 714) which promotes solar energy by prohibiting cities and HOA from restricting solar panel installations unless they pose a risk to the safety of residents. I say to the Palos Verdes Estates HOA, get over it already, don’t get in the way of the green energy revolution. If a homeowner wants to use blue solar panels, its none of the HOA business unless it poses a risk to safety. I hope this case does not have to go all the way to court for the homeowners to be able to use the solar panels they want, because in the end civil code 714 will be interpreted We’re in an energy crisis here, we don’t have time to bicker about the color of a solar panel, if its a safe installation and produces clean power why worry about how they look, everyone has a different view of what looks “good”, do you...

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solar panels on the international space station

Did you know that without the invention of solar photovoltaic technology, life as we know it today would not be possible? Even though solar panels are not common on our rooftops here on earth they’ve been very popular in space for a long time. How else do you think our satellites that drive our modern communication are able to generate power in space? Today two astronauts from shuttle Discovery completed their first space walk out of three to add more solar panels to the array that powers the International Space Station (ISS) The goal of adding solar panels to the array is to power up to full power for the first time in 10 years. Once the new solar panels are installed it would boost the size of the solar array from 90 kW (kilo-watts) to 120 kW. This is a great example of how solar electric systems are scalable, meaning you can always add to the system later. The additional power produced by the 120 kW solar array will enable scientists on the ISS to conduct more experiments thus increasing the capabilities of the space station. Pretty interesting project, wouldn’t you...

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earth4energy is misleading

If you have been shopping for solar panels or wind turbines, most likely you have ran into earth4 energy, a manual and videos which you can buy for $48 that claims you can make $200 solar or wind power system that has the potential to eliminate 80% to 100% of your electric bill! Earth4Energy also says that the system would be equivalent to a professional system that would typically cost thousands of dollars. I don’t think so! Professional grade solar and wind power systems are UL listed, which means they are authorized to connect to the grid per the interconnection agreement you must attain from your utility before you can hook your solar panels or wind turbines to the grid. Eliminating 80 – 100% of your electric bill with wind or solar panels would require a large system and more than likely you would be a novice in making a solar panel or wind generator, would you really trust the saftey of your product? There would be a high risk you could start a fire and burn down your home. Although in my opinion the earth4energy website makes some outrageous claims, it may add value if you are trying to develop a small scale solar panel or wind turbine to charge a few batteries, which would be enough to charge a laptop or a small appliance. But if your expecting to eliminate 80% to 100% of your electric bill, earth4energy will not help you do that. Have you heard about earth4energy? What do you think about it? Do you agree with my...

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do wind turbines kill birds?

I think this rumor that wind turbines are bad because they kill birds is exaggerated. I agree there have been reports that a birds have collided with wind turbines, but on the flip side a lot more birds have died in result of flying into windows and sky scrapers, wouldn’t you agree? There was a study done for large utility scale wind turbines in which concluded wind turbines account for less than 0. 003% of all human caused bird deaths, on the other hand house cats kill around 1 billion birds each year! Making that comparison, I suppose it puts it into perspective that wind turbines are harmless to bird populations. Why do you think so many people out there believe that wind turbines are a hazard to...

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