Monday, January 24, 2011

Light It Up

The SLO Planning Commission will be reviewing the plans to build a solar array out on the Carrizo Plains this Thursday, Jan 27, starting at nine and likely going all day. Bring a sandwich and an apple. It’ll be a long, complex meeting, I’m sure.

The builders have already modified their plans, reducing the footprint of the array and reducing the wattage generated, while opponents and some residents want them to build the damned thing over the hills in the San Joaquin in areas unfit ag use, but also not quite so full of kit foxes and kangaroo rats and endangered plants & etc.

You know, the usual issues and the usual suspects. But, in an odd way, the argument may be moot, one way or the other. First, climate change will change the Carrizo no matter what anybody does because of the heat rise already in the pipeline and even if we suddenly stop carbon production cold tomorrow, that rise will continue to change the land. So, if the little kit foxes and rats can only exist within a very narrow band of temperature and moisture in a very small, particular place, they’re finished no matter what. Kaput because of the changes coming that we can do nothing about now.

But, if they’re tough enough and flexible enough (and lucky enough), they will survive by moving north (or east or west or wherever) and make a new niche, again, no matter what we do out there.

And if we do nothing, just continue drilling and burning for energy, the rate of changes will be so devastating that the critters will most assuredly be wiped out. And if we build solars all over the place, we might have a shot at slowing these changes enough to at least give the critters a fighting chance. Maybe.

So, I say, build it and lots more like it, and get this lobbyist-crippled Congress off the dime to remove all hidden subsidies and tax breaks to all carbon burning fuels in hopes that technology and clever people will come up with new power sources that will save our bacon.

And the bacons of kit foxes and K-rats and fragile flowers.

Light It Up On The Roof

Some time ago, I asked, “Hey, why doesn’t somebody come up with a Rent-a-Roof solar business?” Well, somebody has. Several somebodies. An AP Story by Laura Impellizzeri outlines several companies that are starting up solar panel leasing companies.

Since the average $12,000-plus cost for the initial investment keeps a lot of people from going solar, this scheme allows them to “lease” the equipment. The company owns and cares for the system, you can (like leasing a car) have the option of buying it at the end of the lease. “As the owners of the panels that they or their agents install, solar leasing companies receive the 30 percent federal homeowner tax credit plus any state or local incentives the homeowner qualifies for.” And, “Instead of generating the electricity you use from one moment to the next, a leased solar array feeds into the regional power grid and homeowners are credited on their monthly electric bill. In some states, like California, the less power your household uses (after deducting for what you generate) the lower rate you pay, so it makes financial sense not to generate every last kilowatt you use but to buy some power at the lowest rates.”

“So leasing companies recommend installing the smallest system that will bring the biggest benefit. With Sungevity Development LLC, an Oakland leasing company that contracts with other companies for installation, leasing a 2.8 kW system in town will cost about $67 a month and be guaranteed to generate enough power to wipe out most of an $80 average monthly electricity bill, leaving the homeowner roughly breaking even with an estimated monthly electricity bill of $12. Buying the same system through Sungevity would cost about $16,000 after incentives.”

So, take a look at your electric bill, if you’re a business, might want to really take a look at your electric bill. Then check out and click on the residential-leases tab for more information. Calseia’s (California Solar Energy Industries Association) site lists the various solar companies that are members.

Jim Dee’s Palm Theatre went solar long ago. Time for all of the roofs of SLOTOWN to sprout arrays?

God Bless Jack LaLanne.

Exercise pioneer, Jack LaLanne died at age 96 at his home in Morro Bay. Proof positive that healthful foods and proper exercise can certainly help you live a long, long life in good health.

Jack was one of the first to move “fitness” out of the weird homo-erotic, Muscle-Beach, Mr. America milieu and take it into the area of overall proper diet and health rather than just turning wimps into a muscle-man so bullies wouldn’t kick sand in their faces. He also marketed his TV show to stay-a-home diet-conscious Moms, which really helped open up the whole fitness craze. And built a fitness empire that included health clubs, videos, books. Which also helped mainstream the whole issue away from the small, weird enclave of "health nut" cranks.

As kids watching his show on TV, we thought he was goofy-funny and gleefully mocked his enthusiastic, bright-eyed patter while doing jumping-jacks and touting the benefits of juicing veggies. Later, of course, as age crept up, his message suddenly started looking decidedly un-funny and instead became a given: eat right, exercise every day, just common sense for feeling your best.

The Tribune noted, “In 2005, the Morro Bay Chamber of Commerce presented LaLanne its Living Treasure award, a lifetime achievement honor given to local citizens.” And how cool is that?

While Morro Bay will miss one of its more colorful “characters,” his wife, Elaine, will miss her partner and ‘best friend” of 51 years and no amount of juice or jumping jacks will soothe that sorrow.

So, grab a V-8 and hoist a toast to Jack and a blessing. He changed a lot of lives for the better. And nobody can leave a better legacy than that.

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