Monthly Archives: October 2013

Solar Party

Last Saturday (Oct 26th), I participated with others from the Kentucky Solar Energy Society in a work project for the University of Louisville assisting several of their research projects going on at the new Karen Lynch Park within the Beargrass Creek watershed of urban Louisville. There were at least 20-25 people present working on multiple projects and ongoing efforts to improve and monitor the water quality and general environment. This is one of many improvement projects lead by the Kentucky Waterways Alliance, as well as others. Specifically, I and five others were there to install a 1.4kW off-grid solar system funded by UL’s research. We were the volunteer labor, but the employees of Solar Energy Solutions were the professionals.

Thanks to Matt, Ezra and Robert who took the time and extra effort to teach and involve everyone!

Thanks to Matt, Ezra and Robert who took the time and extra effort to teach and involve everyone!

The system is not grid connected, but instead will directly power a DC pump to move water up from the creek to a water tank (not yet installed) that will feed an artificial 50+ foot waterfall back down into the creek, adding oxygen in the process. All powered by the sun! The research projects will be measuring the levels of dissolved oxygen before and afterwards, and make other quality measurements to determine the effectiveness of the modification and how many of these installations would be needed to significantly improve the entire watershed.

Ezra making the final connection to the pump controller.

Ezra making the final connection to the pump controller.

Altogether the entire solar installation only took about 3.5 hours. We probably would have been much faster, except that the tin roof of the shelter had no sheathing under it, and could only support one person with extra care required. The UL team was still working to get the piping in place when we left. It was a good day for a worthy cause! – Jack


Fall is finally here! Can winter be far behind?

First frost this past Sunday morning in Georgetown KY, and this morning I had to scrape the car windshield for the first time of the season. The furnace has been checked and works (and no bills to pay to the HVAC folks this year. Yeah)! We have a pretty orange pumpkin (an organic one even!) and are once again struggling with when to make pumpkin pie, verses keeping it longer on display… Mary Anne saved a batch of green tomatoes which are now slowly ripening on our dining table. All is right in the world, yes?

But I’m also certain the first frost was late this year! Since we moved to KY 9 years ago, the first frost that kills our tomatoes and basil has always been the first full week of October, or earlier. Yet stranger! I was eating fresh basil from an outdoor garden while visiting in northeast PA this same very weekend! So the killing frost was even later in the Poconos Mountains than in KY this year! Weird weather, for certain, but yes, I’ll say it – Climate Change! There. I said the words. And yes, I know one season or one measurement or one location cannot be used for evidence of climate change, which by definition is global and over decades of time. Yet, I feel strongly that we (everyone) need to be saying it more!

I recently had a conversation with an elected local official who explicitly told me that the very mention of ‘climate change’ was a politically divisive term. He said our efforts to promote renewable solar energy would be better received (by certain political interests) if we avoided using that in our argument. Here was a reasonable intelligent gentleman, who was clearly successful in business, clearly committed to public service and was unable to accept the findings of hundreds of worldwide climate scientists and experts in their field who have found after decades of study that the “warming of the climate system is unequivocal” and “the largest contribution… is caused by the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750” (IPCC AR5WG1). I was appalled, to be sure. But perhaps I shouldn’t be, given that a Google search for the IPCC report has as its third entry a “Right Side News” article about a Heartland Institute debunking of the IPCC’s latest analysis. What is this country turning into???

Well, probably not a ‘winter wonderland’… but I will still hold out my hopes for this coming winter season at least!