Warren McKenna's Comments

January 28, 2015

The Future of Solar in Wisconsin

Wisconsin once a leader has slipped back into the stone age. Iowa has proven that renewable energy is more popular than Christmas and something Dems and Reps can promote as a job creator. From Unions to Colleges the support is extraordinary behind wind and now solar in Iowa.

I remember when Bush wanted to totally deregulate the electric market. Best idea he ever had and this is the path RE advocates should promote. Open the grid up so that 3rd parties can promote and sell green power programs. Add in virtual billing so that communities can promote community solar installation. Huge potential!!!

I agree with Scott Sklar in the fact that point of use loads could be moved off grid. We heat our hot-water with a 500 watt heat-pump the runs 3 hours a day. It could run when the sun shines using cheap off-grid PV (or solar thermal). The wife and I are down to under 400 kWhrs/month and could go totally off-grid for less than a new car cost.

If a dozen homes shared a community battery bank and solar installation this could be very affordable. Google the ECO Village Fairfield IA.

Times are changing.

October 15, 2014

City Poised to Adopt First-in-the-Nation Partnership with Energy Utilities

It took us 5 years to reach our 15% RE goals here at Farmers Electric Cooperative - Kalona IA.

This could easily be done in 2 years with the right incentives coupled with tax credits with no cost to the city.

July 23, 2014

Who Pays for Countervailing Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels?

A rising tide lifts all boats. Tariffs have only proven to limit growth. I can't think of a better product to import from China. Solar mints money and America and the world wins the quicker we transition our energy supply over to renewable energy. If the Chinese can help us do that a cheaply as possible then the better for both of us.

April 23, 2014

Solar Disruption? Yes. Utility Death Spiral? Not Necessarily

The electric utility business is in fact a government sanctioned monopoly with little incentive to push technology down at the consumer level.

My Prius has more generation to load control than any electric system. If the utility industry could match the efficiency and load balancing found in the hybrid car market the grid could easily support 50% or more renewable energy and do so fairly early in this transition cycle.
We need smart homes and businesses and smarter grids. The costs don't have to rise and may even stabilize under a hybrid model.

April 11, 2014

The Method and Meaning of Minnesota's New Value of Solar Policy

The most innovative and fair method being developed world wide. congratulations Minn..

March 14, 2014

How Geothermal Heat Pumps Can Soar Like Solar

In the residential setting and with current design GHPs have a bigger carbon foot print than do heat pumps coupled with gas. As I've reported on this site before the GSHP uses resistance heat as a supplemental source and the resistance heat runs more the longer and harder the winter. If they sized the unit around this they wouldn't be able to sell them.

If you think a GHP works so well try putting them on an off-grid system. Not going to happen!

February 28, 2014

Is Utility 2.0 a Forecast or a Post-Mortem?

@ANONYMOUS, Great set of fears voiced here. Easy to tell the serfs what they want and need when you are setting on the Monopoly throne. I'm sure AT&T had the same fears when they were broken up. The current structure of highly regulated out-side-in central-station model that promotes all we can generate and consume is facing a paradigm shift.

Go to the Iowa IUB website and view the NOI-2014-0001 filings. The eye opener being that the likes of Facebook and Microsoft are wanting to locate in states with renewable energy options and they are letting regulators know this. The new Tesla battery plant will be made in a state that can also provide a high concentration of renewable energy.

The most innovative markets like technology are the least regulated. The innovation in electricity will only come when the regulated market monopoly structure is set free.

Great article John, you are spot on as usual!

February 28, 2014

Ask the Expert: Do Ground-source Heat Pumps Raise Your Electricity Use?

Thermostat settings and operations are a huge factor.
I haven't reviewed the data here closely but we do evaluate the meter readings and kwhr usage on about 30 systems summer and winter and as I have posted on this site before...We have found that in long hard winters the loops become saturated and the electric resistance heat becomes the primary heat source. The happens a lot. We can spot a malfunctioning unit in the group and have around a 7% unit failure rate.

Buy a new heat pump with LP backup and a heat pump water heater and put the money saved into solar and you'll be way ahead.

March 06, 2014

North Carolina’s Duke Energy Plans Attack on Solar

We need to switch from net metering to a feed-in-tariff to create a level playing field with any new generation source built today. Solar can compete but net metering is a loser for all sides.

My son lives in Boston MA and he pays .20/kWhr of which .10/kWhr is delivery. I'm thinking solar can survive on the remaining .10/kWhr very nicely. I'm also thinking there might be some distribution and transmission savings that could be attributed to having solar during the peak hours. This might give solar and additional .05/kWhr bonus. So a FIT or Value of Solar Tariff of .15/kWhr should be fair play.

If the current monopolies won't work with inside-out generation then deregulate the industry and give the customer a choice.

Duke is but one good battery away from losing 25% of their load. If the average home had the sophistication of the Toyota Prius the shift would be closer to 50% of residential loads moving to off-grid solar.

The DG market and industry has but two choices; to push for a feed-in-tariff, or to push for total deregulation of the industry.

February 07, 2014

Are Air Source Heat Pumps a Threat to Geothermal Heat Pump Suppliers?

The problem with current residential GSHP's is the electric heat used to supplement and/or backup the units. Near the end of a hard winter, due to ground saturation, they may be running almost entirely on the electric resistance a majority of the time. This contributes to peak demand and decreases utility load factors. The best of both worlds would be a GSHP with Gas for the supplemental and backup heat. I have done the research however I wonder if the newer HP with Gas actually offers a lower overall carbon footprint than a GSHP with resistance elements would.

February 08, 2014

Are Air Source Heat Pumps a Threat to Geothermal Heat Pump Suppliers?

@Bob, I'm not talking about poorly designed systems. We meter over 30+ residential systems, including demand and kWhr energy readings for every day. They all at some point during the winter months utilize their resistance heat elements. Some of this depends on consumer use of the thermostat. The fact is, to be cost competitive designers and installers rely on the resistive heat not only as backup but as part of the system performance. If you don't believe me then every system you install should have the resistive coils un-hooked and you might find how your systems are designed.

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