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Each One Reach One

The greatest impact we can have is to be an example to those around us. Living a life that takes responsibility for what every individual can do has a resounding effect on those around us. When each one takes environmental responsibility personally by making meaningful changes we reach one more person that was waiting to act. Taking advantage of the power of the sun is a silent (non-polluting) and effective example that speaks volumes to friends, neighbors, and passers by.

So the question becomes what is holding back the new model of  solar adoption? The president has proposed to bring the country utilities to a more renewable future through making efforts to reach 20% renewable energy production by 2020, which really is sooner than you think and a long awaited move. Presidential candidate Jill Stein has even made it a part of her platform. Presidential candidate Gary Johnson is focused on the people taking control of the environment over government level schemes. The Clinton and Trump camps are both connected to energy special interests and the status quo. The grassroots is where the most effectiveness can be delivered and home solar is still lagging on its adoption, while business has just overcome a major hurdle with the passage of amendment 4. The neighborhood streets of Florida should be lined with glittering rooftop arrays. Come to find out many homeowners are still under the impression that solar is expensive. Despite the fact that since 2010 the cost of solar has dropped 45%. If studies and news articles are not enough to drive home the point that solar has matured and is now comparable or less than utility power, it will take you to get the word out. We must address the motivation to go solar one home at a time. Each one supporter must reach one supporter.

The environmental impact of doing nothing is continued pollution production, ton upon ton of burning coal and million cubic foot upon million cubic foot of natural gas from fracking; month after month. Giving more and more credence to a climate change catastrophic future. Furthermore there is the lost monetary savings year after year next to Florida Power and Light working to increase rates by 24%. A solar home has a flat rate for its term making it predictable and then has its greatest advantage, it reaches the point that the electricity bills cease and the system continues to supply power. Breaking the womb to tomb electric bill. Making it probably the most exhilarating feeling next to knowing that the family is a standing testament to environmental responsibility.

How to move forward and become a solar home is simple and easy, contact a solar professional to do a free solar assessment to determine feasibility. Orientation of a home, shading from trees/buildings, or roof size are factors that can have significant impact on energy production. From there your professional will provide a comprehensive proposal on a system and take advantage of the the 30% tax credit, net-metering, and tax exemptions to make maximize financial benefits. Then from day 1 you can take the lead in reaching the next home and even be rewarded for doing so. Distributed and decentralized power production gives power to the people to reach a sustainable future one roof at a time.

Go forth and spread sunshine,
Clifford Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide

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Solar is the New Model

Many wish to go head to head in a fight to change how energy is produced. The demand for it is continuing to grow as technology becomes more and more integrated into daily existence. Much of the contention centers on the environmental damage caused by use of fossil fuels to create the electricity we need. People have grown accustomed to the pollution inherent to power generation as a necessary by product. In contrast a niche of dedicated innovators have been adopting an alternative that is growing into something that is pushing aside the status quo. They have chosen not to fight the standard model, but to adopt a new model making the old one obsolete.

The standard model to create electricity is to mine coal and/or natural gas, light it on fire to heat water, that in turn creates steam, which spins a turbine to produce electricity, that is then transmitted miles around to homes and businesses. This is the centralized power system that has been in place for the last 134 years. It has periodic rises in rates and has been essentially a steam driven pump for the entire time.

The new model is to place panels of silicon crystals on your roof, crystals that use the photoelectric effect from sunlight hitting them causing electrons to flow creating electricity and transmitting it directly to an inverter that turns it into usable alternating current (AC) for devices in your home or business. This is the decentralized system that gives control and power to the owner since the 70’s, when it began to popularize. Becoming on par monetarily with utility power and less than the utility for most.

Florida is really in quite a prized position in its progression towards the new model. It has some of the lowest energy pricing in the country. This is advantageous, to have the pricing similar, since head to head it just makes sense to use the clean option. Being near equivalent between the old model and the new model allows solar to truly stand on its own  technological advancement without continuous subsidies. The legislatures in other cities and states have provided incentives to guide their residents to adopt solar, while Florida has developed a robust grassroots approach. The legislature has not been completely hands off, it has brought about a net-metering law, where excess power is purchased by the utilities, and it has exempted sales and property taxes associated with improving a residence with solar. Coming up on August 30, 2016 there is amendment 4, which will extend this tax protection to commercial adopters when it passes. This approach has developed a strong base of support that is knowledgeable and motivated to expand, solar powering the change.

Around the world, particularly in Germany, Australia, and India, the new model has had tremendous growth, driving down installation and material costs as well as improving the environment through avoiding fossil fuels. Southwest Florida is being lead in this trend with the its own grassroots solar initiative which has set out to install 10,000 arrays in the region. It is up to us to support the new model to bring environmental responsibility into energy production. It will not come about through fighting, but by continuous adoption of the new model.

To become a solar home or business one just needs to speak with a solar professional who will do a free assessment of power use and site potential. Most locations will find that a solar array is roughly equal to our LESS than their current utility expense giving them the ability to turn an expense into an investment. An investment that increases property value and produces no further pollution.  Take control of your power, avoid fracking, and protect our environment.

Go forth and spread sunshine,
Clifford Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide

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Solar Amendments 4 and 1

The voting has begun for the future of solar in Florida. Mail in ballots were sent out July 26th and must be postmarked by August 30th or dropped at a polling  location by 7pm in order to be counted. Early voting polls opened on August 15 and the last day of the polls is August 30. From there we will find out the fate of Amendment 4 and will have to wait until November to determine the failure or passing of Amendment 1.

What does this mean for the sunshine state? The understanding of the amendments themselves is rather simple. Amendment 4 says that both residential and commercial solar installations will be exempted from sales tax and from property tax assessments. This will be most notable for commercial solar since residential has had some relief for several years. This exemption will lower the barrier of entry to the large open rooftops of grocery stores, shopping plazas, and warehouse buildings that can be vast fields of non-polluting power generating solar panels. Amendment 4 has a tremendous grassroots backing of solar industry professionals, media organizations, environmental groups, and the community at large. Simple understanding of it makes its hopeful passing a boom to solar in Florida.

When looking at what Amendment 1 its meaning for Florida is also simple,  however seen in a different light. The wording of it is redundantly suspicious, simply put, something is amiss in my opinion. It says that it gives Floridians the right to use solar (they already have it) and will intervene in solar users costing non users higher rates (nothing suggests this would happen). So, there is no need to have an amendment for an established right and an intervention for non-existent problem, there appears to be an ulterior motive, possibly a way to add fees that would hamper solar adoption. The lack of clarity makes it clear that come November there should be a no for Amendment 1.

The sunshine state needs to live up to its motto and use of the ample non-polluting power of the sun will ensure that tourism to this paradise thrives on. Amendment 4 does that, so encourage everyone to support a sunny future. Adopt solar for your home and your business. We all can play a major role in a sustainable solar powered state.

Go forth and spread sunshine,
Clifford Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide

crew dark blue-eml

 

Solar Environmental Impact

Electricity in America is produced mainly through the burning of coal and natural gas that is then used to heat water that creates stream that turns a turbine to produce electricity. This electricity is then transported miles away over an extensive grid to homes and businesses for daily use.  With solar power, crystals are placed on the roof of a home or business and when sunlight hits them direct current (DC) electricity is created, that is transmitted to an inverter which converts it to alternating current (AC) electricity that powers modern devices throughout the day.

When comparing the impact to the environment of power generation with regard to each source we first must look at head to head quantities of the fuel. In the Fort Myers area the primary fuel for power generation is burning natural gas. For each kilowatt hour (kWh) it takes 10 cubic feet (0.010Mcf) of natural gas. So, when considering a calculated power use of 1200kWh in one month that is 12,000 cf (12 Mcf) of natural gas. This burning gives off 117 lbs of CO2 per 1,000 cf (1 Mcf), which equates to 1,404 lbs per month per household. Impacting us and the environment through lower air quality, decreased health, and climate change as a green house gas.

Florida uses coal for 30% of its electricity generation, pretty much 30% from natural gas also. When coal is used for power generation it takes 1.0 lb to produce 1 kWh of power. Looking at a user of 1200 kWh in one month that is 1200 lbs of coal. The byproduct of burning this coal is 4,631 lbs per ton, so approximately 2,315 lbs of CO2 per month per household. Producing coal ash (filled with mercury) that further degrades air quality and settles in bodies of water (the reason fish has high mercury content). This climate impact is not limited to CO2, there are a myriad of pollutants within burning fossil fuels like CO2 and CH4 (methane), which are simply the most notable greenhouse gases.

Solar energy produces 41 MW of power for the “Sunshine State”, ranking it 17th in the nation. A home that is using 1200 kWh from solar panels has 0 lbs of CO2 emissions. After manufacturing of solar panels the emission stop…there are no more…no other greenhouse gases…no emissions of any sort. So the environmental impact is none. In all fairness there is an impact through the manufacturing, but there is some in mining coal and fracking to acquire natural gas, however, the focus is power generation and its environmental impact.

Comparing the power generation sources solar is the obvious choice based on its lack of negative environmental impact. It also lends itself to use by individual homes and businesses through rooftop installations. Meaning that it is not just a utility company game, every homeowner (with a properly situated home) can play a part. Every commercial building, particularly ones with large flat roofs, can be laden with solar panels to provide sustainable power. In Fort Myers we receive 266 days of sunlight, panels are able to produce power on cloudy days just not as much. In that almost 3/4ths of the year the CO2 and other associated greenhouse gases as well as procurement externalities can be avoided completely. There is even a vote to allow a tax exemption for homes and businesses that go solar ultimately making it easier to go solar. That is amendment 4 and it is recommended to vote YES August 30 on that (NO in November on amendment 1).

Overall, with the increase of solar rooftop installations the environmental impact will reverberate through all facets. Diminished mining for coal opens up extensive tracts of land to greater use. Fracking, as a means to collect natural gas, will no longer pose a threat to water supplies, aquifers, or the land mass as a whole. Spills will be reduced to somber notations in history books. With solar a spill is just a welcomed sunny day. We all need to do our part and find out how to go solar for an environmentally responsible future. To not do so means that your money just goes up in smoke.

Go forth and spread sunshine,
Clifford Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide

crew dark blue-eml

Solar for Climate Deniers and Changers

Possibly the most contentious argument between the environmental community and society is Climate Change. An idea based on the greenhouse gases produced by power generation, factory production, modern vehicles, and combustion engines in general combine to emit enough carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), the primary greenhouse gases, to cause the temperature on Earth to rise significantly fueling damaging weather cycles. Weather cycles begin with an overall temperature increase that in turn warms bodies of water and melts ice on the poles, which create larger storms that drop larger amounts of water, that flood cities, that reaches the oceans, which are receiving more melted ice, that is raising their shores, and will eventually flood all the coastal cities and the planet. Whew! This is the expected result of continued use of fossil fuels, albeit a vastly simplified description of the mechanisms and effects. Overall the system has multiple avenues leading to cataclysmic effects for mankind, most of which can be diverted through adoption of solar power.

The two camps discussing this issue are the Climate Changers and Climate Deniers. Each have readied themselves with forests worth of white papers citing their respective cases. Climate Changers primarily rest their case on the work of the IPCC, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A comprehensive group of international scientist and specialist on the environment that have poured of data that consists of age old core samples to modern day weather patterns, compiling it to produce climate models to predict what is in our future. Climate Deniers sit upon empirical data that shows cyclic patterns of absorption dissipation for gases, faulted predictions, inconsistencies found from Al Gore’s award winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and a battery of heavily funded scientists refuting established research papers. Taking the two sides to account only leaves a stalemate that will be decided by a cataclysm with changers screaming, “I told you so!” as we all drown or are burned up by the lack of an ozone layer or a non-event and the doldrum roar of deniers screaming, “Where’s your doomsday?!”

All calm can be centered on an array of crystals placed upon roofs passively basking in the glow of a giant fusion reactor. When one steps away from the contention it is easier to let go of a right/wrong outcome and focus on a responsible one. Take in the goal, the world needs a fuel source for electricity to power modern conveniences and transport goods. It is easy to understand that to achieve the goal, pollution of water, air, and earth should not be the cost. Following the principle of “don’t ‘deuce’ where you eat”. As in the mining technique of fracking that contaminates water sources, increases incidents of earthquakes, and threatens water supplies. In order to fulfill both need and principle it makes sense to use the most reliable power source, the sun. Who’s light and heat power the environment that sustains the planet, with excess available.

Every Climate Denier understands that to pollute waters that are needed for recreation, drinking, and irrigation is a path to destruction. While every Climate Changer understands that electricity to power air conditioning units in the summer as well as heaters in the winter are vital to a comfortable life. Coming to an amicable solution for both brings solar power to the forefront. A technology that a spill of is just a sunny day, is derived from easily accessible silicon and advances with addition of rare earth elements that are even being are minimized with graphene. Encompassing a technology that is sustainable and non-polluting. Adoption of it on a utility scale is embraced around the world and slowly in the United States, but can be immensely accelerated through homeowners and businesses adding arrays to their rooftops.

There are other clean renewable technologies for power production and they can be used along with solar. Solar is the most widely accessible and has the ability to used on an individual scale in conjunction with utility scale clean technologies. Some that look at transitioning to this option say, “it is too little too late” to stop the runaway planetary destruction that has begun. They must be answered this way, to allow a defeatist mentality can not be condoned, particularly in this matter. There is no team player that even in the last minutes of the final quarter just throws in the towel. Los Angeles and New York both had horrendous smog issues a few short decades ago and today have clear skies. Beijing has been experiencing the same smog results due to extensive fossil fuel use and they look to renewables for their relief. The way to overcome this environmental damage is through a comprehensive energy policy that focuses on clean technology. Whether a Climate Changer or Climate Denier it is easy to see that going solar is a benefit for all involved. The argument is free to continue under roofs covered in solar panels powered by the warming glow of a fusion reactor ushering in a responsible future.

Go forth and spread sunshine,
Clifford T. Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide

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Solar Fights Fracking

natural_gas_use-largeAmerica is going through an energy revolution with a controversial technique at its center, fracking. Fracking is the common name for a style of mining, short for hydraulic fracturing. It is uses chemically (sometimes radioactively) treated water and additives, along with explosives, to fracture the area around oil wells in order to pump out oil and gas in new regions or old. The oil is used for vehicles and the plastics industry while the gas of interest is natural gas, primarily used in the production of electricity. Roughly 1/3 of the natural gas collected is used for power generation and Florida is among the highest users of it.

What makes fracking so controversial is the environmental impact that has been attributed to it, whether falsely or rightly. The highlighted impacts include earthquakes and water pollution.  In Oklahoma a new study from Science Magazine shows how the number of earthquakes has increased with the use of fracking in the region. It notes that the seismic activity has risen in correlation to the technique between 2008-2013. The water pollution relates to the waste water that remains in the ground and discarded after a fracking event. Regions post pictures and video of water that is able to be lit on fire in locations in and near fracking sites. There is also a potential to contaminate the within regional aquifers. Calling into question the obvious potential health ramifications. Sarah Younger, a supporter of Amendment 4, has provided information further outlining the implications based on the point of view of the Environmental Health Policy Institute.

There will continue to be a need for electricity no matter what the status of fracking. America will not allow itself to fall back to a caveman lifestyle. A better source of power is needed to remove the use of fracking. When tackling any bad habit it is best to replace it with a good habit.  To eliminate the use of this technique, bad habit, the most effective replacement would be solar power. A home or business can have rooftop solar arrays installed that will produce power locally and in a decentralized manner to lower the demand on the utility infrastructure. Without the adoption of solar the power requirement would be filled by coal, a far dirtier fuel source and the other major power generation fuel. Nuclear could also emerge to a greater extent, however that brings meltdown potential as in the Fukashima plant in Japan, which continues to leak radiation. Solar is readily available cost effective and environmentally responsible as an alternative over fracking.

Advocating for the outright banning, de-licensing, institution of a moratorium, or any regulation must address the need for an alternative source of power generation. For an advocate to have a solar array on their home and business is a standing testimony of commitment to fight the technique of fracking. Through the adoption of solar energy fracking is avoided. To make the move toward the minimal impact on the environment for power generation along with banning or other opposition to fracking is the most prudent route to a sustainable future.

Go forth and spread sunshine,
Clifford Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide

crew dark blue-eml

Understanding the Solar Amendments

Our Florida legislature is in the process of putting together a more friendly renewable energy environment. Its focus in recent years has been on solar, which makes sense being the sunshine state. Right now a solar array is exempt from sales taxes and has a net metering law to purchase excess power from an array. The sales tax exemption has been in place since 1997 and was made permanent in 2005. Net metering was put into law in 2008 allowing the producer to receive credits for their excess power and then a true up at the end of the year where they receive a rebate for remaining credits. On the ballots coming up are 2 amendments that will directly affect solar and renewable energy, amendment 4 in August and amendment 1 in November.

Amendment 4 is referred to as the Florida Solar Choice Amendment and is sponsored by Senator John Brandes, Representative Ray Rodriguez, and Representative Lori Berman. It had an auspicious route to the ballot where it went before the Florida Supreme Court for approval due to a questions regarding clarity of the language and the signatures on the petition to bring it to the legislature, which it won on 4-3 decision. What the amendment does is exempt property taxes on an installation for the next 20 years. The tax implication is considered by many as the reason why large commercial businesses have not adopted solar. Residential consumers would have relief in the property tax that in turn would be beneficial to greater solar adoption. Often it is believe that solar is an outrageous expense, when costs are comparable to utility power.

Looking at the backers of amendment 4, there is Floridians for Solar Choice and a grass roots coalition of solar industry groups along with business supporters. Who as a group collected the signatures for the petition to move the amendment forward on to the ballot coming up for a vote August 30. As a coalition they have been tireless doing training for volunteers, going door to door in areas and hosting events throughout the region. There is a reassurance in an idea that has such a community following.

Amendment 1 is referred to as the Smart Solar Amendment and is sponsored by Consumers for Smart Solar, chaired by Jim Kallinger. The sponsoring group is a political committee who’s members have large campaign contributions by local utilities and related interests. The amendment itself seeks to codify ownership of solar and renewable energy systems as a right and limit the impact of costs in connection to such systems on non-owners. The utility grid is used by solar homes when the sun is not available and is the back up to grid inter-tie systems, which is the most common connection.

Those supporting amendment 1 have connections to lobbyists for major utility industry players like Duke Energy parent company of Florida Power and Light (FPL) and Tampa Electric. Among the other major contributors are chambers of commerce and social groups. The well made videos in support of the amendment are quite polished and can be found on their facebook page

Taking in the details of the 2 amendments it is evident that the Solar Choice is one supported by the people and its simple language suggests its easier adoption and ensure that in the long run there will be considerable savings in making the move to solar as a home improvement. While it is understandable that Smart Solar would not want any added expense to be passed on to a neighbor who has yet to go solar, it seems premature that there will even be such an expense. In the entire State of Florida there are only, roughly, 12,000 solar arrays. The utility grid itself is well maintained by the utilities and it seems prudent that having a large number of homes using solar at peak energy times would actually be to their benefit and an overall savings to everyone. Please look into each amendments closely and make an informed decision on how best to move forward.

Go forth and spread sunshine,
Clifford Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide

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1000 Solar Homes Initiative

Florida is known as the sunshine state and Southwest Florida gets 266 days of sun annually. So the question then becomes why aren’t more homes and businesses using solar for their power?

Most homeowners would say because of the upfront expense, others say it’s too complicated, and the remaining just never looked at the option.

That has all changed! Clean Renewable Energy Worldwide, CREW, has come to Southwest Florida and we are going to install 1000 solar rooftop installations in each of 10 cities!

Fort Myers     Fort Myers Beach     Port Charlotte     Punta Gorda
Cape Coral     Bonita Springs     Venice
Lehigh Acres     Estero
Naples

That is a total of 10,000 installations and it only happens if we all work together. It begins with education about how solar had become affordable, simple, and available. All of that is done with a short home assessment. Together we will change an expense into an investment and provide a green future for our children, community, and state.

Best regards,
Clifford Mitchem
Independent Energy Advisor
OwnTheSwitch.com/SWFLsolar