Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter


from the November 15, 2015 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO

My friend Jarvis in North Carolina, a freshly retired college professor, had a house built for himself, and since Jarvis is a thoughtful, responsible individual he wanted it equipped with solar power. Above, you can see what he ended up with.

Now that Jarvis has lived in his house for a year or so I asked him how his solar system had worked out, for sometimes when we hear about solar power, it's hard to know what's solar-power industry hype, what's coal and nuclear industry negative propaganda, and what's the truth. And Jarvis would tell the truth. He replied:

"I am very pleased with my solar power system. It generated more power than I used in every month from April through October. Also, in March I almost broke even, so that my cost for electricity consumed in March was $1.38."

"I found that in the summer I was consuming an average of about 5 kWh per day. In the summer I use the air conditioning some but not much. In the winter I was consuming an average of about 35 kWh per day. The heat pump uses a lot of power even though I used the wood-burning stove for heat on some very cold days."

"I have to pay a flat fee of $12.80 per month for being connected to the grid even if I don't use any electricity. But one advantage of being connected to the grid is that I can get credit for excess power I put into it. I am estimating that I will be able to use my credits from November through January so that I don't have to pay anything for power consumed in those months (but I still have to pay the flat fee of $12.80 per month). I estimate that in February I will have to pay about $22 for power consumed. So, my estimate for the total I will have to pay for power consumed during 2016 is $26. ... I haven't completely eliminated my dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation but I have gotten very close."

"There is something else that people should be aware of. ... If you use solar power you should have an energy-efficient home if you really want to get the benefits. Otherwise you could still have big electric bills."