Dear Solar Advocate,
Several associates of our organization and myself have recently attended Governor Crists Florida Summit on Global Climate Change and learned about a very effective renewable energy policy that we believe can make Florida a leader in clean renewable energy. In Europe this policy is called feed-in tariffs (FITs) and it has proven to be the world’s most effective renewable energy legislation. Here in North America it is being called Renewable Energy Payments (REPs).
REPs are incentives for individuals and businesses to become producers of renewable energy. They direct utility companies to provide access to the grid for anyone or any group producing renewable energy (RE), and to buy all the RE available at established prices per kilowatt hour for a set period of time, usually 15 to 20 years. The prices vary according to the type of technology, the size of the system, and its location. The increased costs to the utilities is paid for by adjustments to all their customers’ electricity bills. In Germany, this has meant an increase of around three dollars a month for average home owners—about the cost of a loaf of bread. A board is established that meets periodically to review the policy and adjust the rates for new contracts.
Adopting a REPs policy in Florida will encourage our energy entrepreneurship, expand our green energy marketplace, create jobs, and stimulate our economy—all this while significantly reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. We urge you to develop and pass legislation like this in our state. You can learn more by visiting www.AllianceForRenewableEnergy.org.
Please let me know what action you will take to bring REPs to Florida and make us a leader in the renewable energy revolution.
Yes, Florida is recognizing we need to plant with vegetation requiring less water to reduce the water demand, how about we use what we are known for our sunshine to provide energy. A much better alternative than nuclear or drilling off our coasts. Tourism and natural beauty are essential to our state and both are at risk with drilling or nuclear energy expansion. Solar is the obvious and logical course. Perhaps there could be funding for research at the universities in florida for solar energy projects. I agree this can be great for our economy and provide needed energy in a clean fashion. Maybe even a science fair scholarship for high school students who perform their work in the solar energy area.
We all need to realize the best thing we can all do to help the energy situation and economy is to take individual action. Rather than waiting around for the government to do something we can each cut our electric usage dramatically. Every time you see your power bill shrinking, that's money for you rather than some oil producer. Money you can spend here to help the economy or save as you prefer. Here are several sites worth visiting that aren't selling anything but tell it like it is. Plenty of simple and painless techniques to cut your power bill.
The current situation has people grasping at all sorts of non-cost effective solutions that sound great on paper but don't hold up to scrutiny in the real world. Solar electricity is one of those as would be wind power in cent. Florida. Solar PV just costs too much at the present. Hopefully ongoing research will change that in the future but it's not ready for prime time yet. Plenty of outright scams getting too much press also. The 'run your car on water' crowd is one I can think of (apparently many people didn't pay attention in high school physics). A good site explaining the physics that negates that scheme is here along with other interesting info about some of those behind the current revival.
Another scam that's been revived is the 'phase controller' that supposedly saves electricity by making motors run more efficiently. Home show demonstrations with an electric motor show it's electricity usage dropping dramatically when the motor is plugged into the device rather than straight into the incoming power. These devices actually do work in the applications they are designed for...this has the unfortunate effect of helping the scammers (or to give them the benefit of the doubt, uneducated-in-electricity folk) sell these things. An industrial application that produces savings would be a big table saw in a woodworking shop that runs constantly. When it's not cutting wood, the motor is under no load and at that moment, a phase controller will save energy. The goal of electrical engineers is to make sure anything with a motor runs that motor at rated capacity at all times...that's the point a motor is most efficient. Their striving for this is what has made ACs and refrigerators much more efficient lately. The point here is motors in your home all run at rated load all the time. There is no 'off load' time like with the big table saw. A 'phase controller' saves nothing in this situation.
In hot climates a proven strategy that works well is a heat recovery unit attached to your AC unit. It provides free hot water and also increases the efficiency of the AC a couple of SEER points by reducing head pressure (and electricity draw) on the compresser. Adding one of these to an older AC unit that still runs well is a good way to cut $30-$50 off your monthly power bill during AC season (which here in cent Fl can be about 9 months). Here is a manufacturer's site for two of these and a power company document about it as well. The second mfg site has a neat calculator for your savings...but my experience shows it to be somewhat under-optomistic. I don't think it's taking into account how a hru will improve your AC's efficiency.
Please use due diligence when deciding on ways to save energy. The internet is a great source of info and you can easily see both points of view on any energy saving strategy. Just simple conservation by time-tested means is still the best way to approach our dilemma. If we all cut our power bill in half, we'd all have much more money in our pocket and our nation would be much more secure. This action, along with Mr. Picken's ideas, WILL free us from imported oil and rather quickly.