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A post by Haykey Kaariainen from New Zealand (www.slida.co.nz)reminded me of the idea of creating an "OPEN SOURCE HUMAN POWERED VEHICLES PROJECTS" website. I haven't learned to build WEB SITES yet. I would like to begin creating one that later would be improved by YOU, well intentioned, more talented and better informed people (as with LINUX). I had been thinking of a similar Web Site to get people joining to build my Self Sustainable ECOVILLAGE dream in some land I own and have available in the Andes and the Amazon jungle... but... well, that's another topic...
One of the best ways to cut back on Alabama's coal-fired, greenhouse gassing electricity production would be if we could get enough people to transition to using clean energy. Some of the best solutions for homeowners to personally to do their part would be adding solar panels to their roof, and if you live in an area that gets consistent wind, using windmills for power. Both of these solutions are inconsistent (unpredictable as to when you are able to produce power), and involve a substantial investment that takes many years to pay back. One of the ways to make it more affordable is to have a consumer friendly net-metering law, which allows those homeowners who produce their own electricity to "run the meter backwards" when you are producing excess power. Alabama does not currently have a net-metering law, but the Public Service Commission is currently working on one (Docket # 30066).
Nevertheless, getting a substantial amount of people to convert to Solar Power is a huge task because of the capital outlay required. However, there may be a solution. There is a company that has proposed actually buying, installing and maintaining a solar system for your home. In exchange the homeowner would agree to pay for the electricity generated by the system at the current rate that you are paying your local energy provider (such as Alabama Power) at the time you signed the contract. You can sign the contract for 1, 5, 10 or 25 years with the main advantage of longer contracts is that you have a fixed rate for all electricity derived from your panels, regardless of the rising rates of electricity from your local energy supplier. With net-metering, all of the excess power you create rolls back your meter during the day, creating credits that can be used at night or on cloudy days.
A program like this could create a substantial amount of solar homes in a short period of time, and could pay big benefits during the summer on hot sunny days, when the solar homes could be feeding back to the grid and hopefully cause the coal-powered plants to cut back or become unnecessary. The amount of CO2 and other pollutants cut back on a daily basis could quickly become substantial.
This program will not be available until we can get a good consumer friendly net-metering law in Alabama, but take a look at the company and the program. I think it has a tremendous potential: http://renu.citizenre.com/
A Princeton University professor did a study of transportation around the world and found that there are over 1.4 billion bicycles in service today, compared with only 400 million cars in service. Now if we can only get those percentages working in our neighborhood....
In Australia, they created bike buses for those that feel safer commuting in numbers. A bike bus is a posted bike commuting route that stops by set points at specific times. This allows bikers to join the bus on their way to and from work. For those who are (or would like to become) consistent bike-to-work(ers), this could be a great way of encouraging others who fear the road to take the plunge.... Feel free to use this site to organise a bike bus route, if you wish to start one!
An eye-opening expose' on Daily Kos regarding the growing problems of E-waste (electronic waste.)
I am researching adding solar panels to the house. I have cut my carbon footprint considerably by turning my bike into my primary transport, and now I am looking doing the same at home. I have already replaced most of my lightbulbs with compact fluorescents. I am also looking at replacing my fridge with an extremely energy efficient one, maybe a SunFrost. They had the best power consumption ratings of any other AC powered fridges on the market.
I also found this tidbit released by the Governor of Alabama's office:
Alabamians may be eligible for federal tax breaks if they buy energy-saving products and put them into use from January 2006 to December 2007, according to the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs.
Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" will be opening this Friday at the Rave Theater in Vestavia (Vestavia 10). We plan to go to the 7:20pm showing. "An Inconvenient Truth" dramatically weaves together all the pieces of the greatest challenge in our lifetime, global warming. Many who have seen this movie, say it is a life changing event, on the scale of lifting ones head out of the sand and seeing the danger in front of you.