Mandolin and I have spent a couple beautiful days this week upgrading an underground service from 100A to 200A, and re-configuring the metering to support the net output of an upcoming solar PV installation by frequent partner and friends, Sumintra, LLC.
Since I could not make the underground service RMC raceway (‘conduit’) and service entrance raceway connect directly to any arrangement of right- or left-hand meter enclosures, I had to install a wiring trough between the existing pipe work and the new meter configuration. As it turned out, the short conductors of the original installation required a splice box in any case, since they would never have stretched across the generous wiring space of a 200A underground meter enclosure.
Using the trough also allowed me to shift the new meter setup to the right of its previous location, providing proper safe working clearance for this equipment.
The Academy of Natural Sciences will host a panel discussion on how we can learn from 2012′s super storm Sandy in improving city planning, disaster preparedness planning, engineering, and policy.
The event takes place this Thursday, 6pm-8pm, February 21, 2013.
Mid-Atlantic Residents May Consider Backup Power Options in the Wake of Super-storm Sandy
Since 2008, Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Rebate Program has provided rebate money as a flat figure per unit of installed capacity, for residential and commercial solar photovoltaic (solar PV: at $0.75/Watt up to $7,500 for a 10kW system) and solar hot water (solar hydronic) systems.
When our state legislature instituted a program to encourage development of a solar PV industry in Pennsylvania, we responded with a resounding ‘YES!’. So much so that we built more solar than the new AEPS program had hoped to foster, and now we need our legislature to respond with tweaks to its long-term incentive plan.
‘Grid Parity’ or price-per-kilowatt-hour that can directly compete with commodity pricing on the grid, without subsidies, is the holy-grail of renewable energy policy, so a major blue-chip corporation announcing that it’s 4-5 years away is a very big deal. Basically, it means anyone with decent credit and a patch of sunlight on their property should have ample reason to switch to solar PV — such as protecting the global environment from greenhouse gases and the local environment from toxic emissions and asthma-inducing particulate emissions from fossil-fuel, and developing national energy independence and local grid stability.
- SolarCities (U.S. DOE) graphic visualization tool for consumer residential and commercial PV levelized cost vs. grid energy cost, does not seem to incorporate GE’s projections, but does include subsidies and tax credits for 25 cities around the country on an interactive graph.
An interesting article from the online magazine Electric Lighting & Power on PV’s developing role on utility electrical grids has swerved my thinking on distributed, small solar PV (capacity denominated in kW, or thousands of Watts) vs. utility-scale large solar PV (capacity denominated in MW, or millions of Watts). Having been a part of installations ranging from tiny 2.5 kW to pretty-big 150 kW in DC generating capacity, I began thinking the economies of scale on the larger installations undercut the rationale for offering incentives to individual homeowners for the 2-20 kW installations typical on these smaller properties. Electric Power & Light points up the fact, though, that as PV becomes a significant portion of total energy inputs to the grid (at least 0.5% by 2021 rather than the even more-paultry .0203% today, under the AEPS renewable energy portfolio standards enacted by PA legislature), it will need to play better with the grid. Especially large solar farms over 1MW will need to act more like conventional power plants, delivering energy when expected, or, at the minimum, not suddenly dropping off even when a big cloud rolls by. Distributed solar solves these problems inherently by averaging a cloud-spotted day over a land-spotted deployment of solar collectors.
Small, Distributed PV + Smart Grid = Dynamic Duo for grid support
This kind of technology could transform solar PV from an industry dominated by expensive manufacture of high-tech equipment to something more like brewing vats of energy-producing goop (roofing tar?) that molds hard and you tap electrodes from it to light a lamp or charge a laptop. Mass-producing nano-engineered materials with this kind of power and functionality could have side effects, though, that citizens should carefully watch.
Customer Resource Blog Categories
Off-site Links ->
- Annapolis Home Inspection, LLC Aluminum branch circuits, homes 1965-1972
- ComplianceAndSafety.com OSHA Electrical Safety Training
- Electric Monk TV (YouTube) Video channel for PhillyLicensedElectrician.com Robert Monk
- EnergyConservation HowTo A tinkerer genius discusses energy conservation and his ladder system for accessing the attic (where a lot of energy-saving work happens).
- PennFuture Energy Center Energy and energy efficiency news for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
- Phila area rife with building efficiency upgrade opportunities Philadelphia Inquirer article discusses recent study showing Philadelphia’s inner-ring suburbs stand to save from energy conservation retrofits.
- Philadelphia Row-house Manual A design, maintenance, and modifications manual for our most widely-used form of housing.
- Robert Monk Robert Monk’s personal blog
- SolarCities (DOE) Solar PV Levelized Cost Interactive Comparator Simple graph compares ‘levelized cost’ of energy from solar PV to conventional grid rates, with a time-slider interactive feature.
- The Circuit Detective – Solve Home Electrical Problems Yourself! Electrical troubleshooting procedures pitched to homeowners.
- The Energy Co-op Blog from a leading alternative energy provider in PECO territory, includes fun conservation tips.
- Weatherization: the anti-Solyndra Salon.com article praising the continued success of the federal Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), low-income energy-savings and job-creation.
- West Philly Tool Library Official site of WPTL, Philly’s own community tool lending library: like a book library, but tools!
- WestPhillyLocal .com Site name say sit all.
- Bartram's Gardens Founded in Philadelphia’s colonial era, today the gardens continue pioneering in horticulture and agriculture with a variety of herbs, trees and other vegetation in an arboretum/gardens on the Schulkill River banks, and a new farm abutting sadly neglected
- HiddenCity Philadelphia Surprising places it takes an adventurer to discover; events, too.
- Philly Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Schedule City of Philadelphia dates and places for disposing of spent batteries, CFL lamps, unused paint and cleaning products, etc. LovePhilly: don’t pour these in the drain or send them out with the trash.
- Reading Terminal Market Purveyors of fine foods and foodie stuff, all under one roof downtown under the PA Convention Center
- Secret Garden on the Rails Jacques-Jean Tiziou shows some dramatic natural and urban and naturalized-urban scenes along abandoned rails of Philadelphia
- Sketch Burger, Fishtown A vegan-friendly burger joint with a #1 in Philly contender beef burger, best fries that somehow stay fresh for 1/2 hour while you tackle burger, and a vegan cafe vibe of friendly folks.
- WXPN: Philly sings in key of love Love songs by Philly artists