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I was laid off from my job as a software engineer in January, and I went back to work selling solar power systems for a local firm called Second Generation Energy, LLC.  I prefer this line of work to writing systems for the 1%!

A couple of weeks ago, I took the company Prius for a drive through a neighborhood in Brimfield, MA, which had been devastated by killer tornados in June of last year.  While no single unusual weather event can be traced directly to climate change, patterns of unusual weather certainly can be, and these torndos are part of a pattern of crazy weather we've had in the northeast these last few years.  The winter of 2010-2011 saw so record setting snowfall, but this past winter saw almost no snowfall, except for a freak blizzard around Halloween!  Floods, hurricanes, killer tornados - think of a towering Barry Bonds home run and his use of steroids, while you may not be able to track that specific homer to the steroids, it's highly unlikely that you would see the one without the other.  We are, today, experiencing wild weather swings and climate change is the culprit.

The damage is still evident - play the short video below to see some of the after effects still in evidence today:

Once upon a time, that area was heavily forested - now, not so much.  One person was killed in Brimfield, and I spoke with a man who told me how he, his wife and their 4 year old daughter huddled in the basement while their house was ripped off the foundation over their heads.  Follow me past the orange squiggle of doom for more discussion...

I grew up in a big family in Connecticut during the sixties, in the days before that noted Commie Richard Nixon created the Environmental Protection Agency.  Ah, the good old days, when Republicans espoused good governance...

I was the sixth child of seven, and my mom would always take us to the Uniroyal factory in Naugatuck when we needed sneakers, she could get decent factory "seconds" for a low price there.  The factory was situated on the Naugatuck River, and it belched enormous volumes of steaming chemical solutions out of huge pipes into the river, day and night.  The river smelled horrible, and it ran a sickly yellow-green color from that point until it merged with the Housatonic River many miles to the south.  It was lifeless, and unsafe for any use.

In this same time frame, the Cuyhoga River in Ohio actually caught fire.  Why did corporations pollute the earth in this manner?  Simple - there was no law against it.  The need for the EPA was clearly evident - you could see it, you could smell it, you could actually taste it, and if you got too close, it would make your eyes water.  This, I think, is one reason why it is so difficult to convince people that carbon pollution is a problem - since they can't sense it in any real way, it's easier for them to deny that it's happening, or at least believe the lies of folks who want them to believe it's not happening.  So, what do we do?

Someone smarter than me once said "you can't reason someone out of a position they weren't reasoned into".  So if the climate change deniers won't listen to environmental reason, then maybe economic reason will appeal to them.  Here in Massachusetts, we have established a program called the Clean Energy Center to spur everyone to adopt renewable power solutions, and it's working.  From the CEC web site:

Massachusetts is leading the way in innovative and comprehensive energy reform that will make clean energy a centerpiece of the Commonwealth’s economic future. Created by the Green Jobs Act of 2008, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) is dedicated to accelerating the success of clean energy technologies, companies and projects in the Commonwealth—while creating high-quality jobs and long-term economic growth for the people of Massachusetts. MassCEC is a partner, clearinghouse and connector for people in the clean energy sector, making direct investments in clean energy companies, building a strong clean energy workforce, and supporting responsibly sited renewable energy projects across the Commonwealth. MassCEC works with the entire clean energy community in Massachusetts to propel promising technologies from the drawing board to the global marketplace.
The CEC is funded by a small charge on everyone's electric bill - it costs me under $1.00 per month on mine.  They make millions of dollars available for rebates on residential solar power systems, and they are doing a fantastic job of spurring the solar power industry in this state.  For residential installations, the current round of rebates provide up to $4,250, and properties impacted by natural disasters, like the houses in the video above, can get as much as $5,000 more.

In addition to the rebates from the CEC, there is a 30% federal tax credit and a 15% state tax credit (capped at $1,000).  The remaining system costs are wiped out by direct savings on the household electric bill and through the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Certificates.  For every megawatt-hour of power the system produces, the homeowner earns one SREC - a typical 5 kW system will produce 6 per year.  By law, SRECS have a floor price of $300 each, and at the end of 2011, they sold for $540 each.  Typical residential solar power systems pay for themselves in 4-5 years as a result of these incentives.  SRECs accrue for the first ten years of system ownership, and the system will produce power for almost 40 years.

But it gets better - solar leasing is making these systems even more affordable.  We have 20 year leases for as little as zero down - these leases put cash into our customer's pockets in the first year of ownership.  Alternatively, you can prepay the lease up front and turn an even greater profit over the life of the system, better than purchasing the system outright.  Our leases let the customer keep the SRECs, something not offered by many of our competing firms.  We have several firms willing to pre-purchase 10 years worth of SRECs at a decent price, making a lease even more affordable.  Contact me for more information - send me a Kosmail or use my email address, it's in my profile.

Massachusetts is leading the way - who will follow us into a renewable future?

UPDATE:  Thanks for the rescue!  My first time on Community Spotlight...

Originally posted to AnotherMassachusettsLiberal on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 07:05 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've done some volunteer work in the stricken (11+ / 0-)

    area. Helping to chain-saw and remove fallen trees, etc..

    The area of damage is about a half mile wide, 30 mile long swath of carnage. It is amost unthinkable that this could happen in Massachusetts. It look like a nuclear bomb went off in areas.

    I'll have to take a look at those solar products...

  •  I too got sneakers from that factory as a kid!!!! (11+ / 0-)

    I grew up in CT as well.  I remember the rivers and just how polluted they were.  I even canoed down the Housatonic River several times and was amazed at just how it was such a beautiful river, and just how sadly polluted it was.  

    Tipped and rec'd for MA having such a good solar program for change for the environment.  Unfortunately, our Cooperative Electric company has removed the ability to have net metering for those of us that have, and want to have solar panels to add to the local grid.  They now have you pay for the technology, and then only pay you back below the retail rate for the power you generate on top of charging you a monthly fee of $16/ month for a meter to monitor your contribution.

    Some electric "Cooperative", uh?

    “The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” — Marcus Aurelius

    by LamontCranston on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 04:02:44 PM PDT

    •  Ha! That's awesome that you remember... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, jefinnc, bumbi, hazey

      ...the old Uniroyal plant!  Too bad on your electric co-op, that sucks.  We're having difficulties in MA with municipal power companies, some of them allow leasing but many don't, and leasing is really working to make solar affordable.

      Beta testers wanted: get a free copy of ORGANIZE!

      by AnotherMassachusettsLiberal on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 04:30:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sounds like a model program. (3+ / 0-)

      Net metering has been in the news here in CA lately, since it isn't enough that the utilities already put up so many hoops to jump through, they also want to continue with their reimbursement capped at 5 percent of “aggregate customer peak demand.”

      I believe we are going to have a state-wide initiative on that this coming year.

    •  People Forget What It Was Like (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      And our newer generations have never seen what lack of regulation did to the environment.

      The EPA works, period, and one of the reasons China does all our dirty work cheaply is that they are still poisoning themselves en-mass in the interest of $$$.    Before killing the EPA, too bad everyone can't visit Bejing in the summer.  There are pictures of Los Angeles smog back in the late 60's early 70's with half(?) the population and cars.  My brother makes a living cleaning up old industrial sites where companies just dumped the crap out the back and now it's costing orders of magnitude more to clean it up than it would have cost to prevent it in the first place.

      We kept lead in our paints for more than a decade after European countries banned it, poisoning even more of our children.
      Removing lead from our auto fuels was a battle as was adding catalytic converters.  I spent a couple weeks in Maracaibo Venezuela in the 90's and just walking a mile back to the hotel along a busy street my clothes stunk of unburnt auto emissions.

      And it's still happening in more subtle ways, mercury in our seafood from coal plants, acid rain in New England lakes blowing in from the midwest skies.

  •  The CEC sounds like a wonderful incentive (3+ / 0-)

    program. Thanks for the diary!  All the best in your new line of work!

    •  It is a great program (5+ / 0-)

      They've been operating for 2.5 years, making rebate money available on a quarterly basis.  For financing rounds 1-8, they ran out of funds before the end of the quarter, but it seems they finally found the right mix in block 9, the money lasted right up to the end of Q1 this year.  They kept the levels the same for block 10, currently under way in Q2.

      All of the incentives are great, and I owe my job to them - who said the government doesn't create jobs??

      Beta testers wanted: get a free copy of ORGANIZE!

      by AnotherMassachusettsLiberal on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 05:28:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Have to say ... (5+ / 0-)

    that with an SREC of $540, one is crazy not to go solar PV on financial terms.

    With a $4.5k install per kw.
    30 percent Fed credit plus state incentives lowers to
    roughly $3k installed
    1 mWh / year per installed kw (roughly) means
    $140 in electricity savings
    $540 in SREC
    $680 total

    Hmmm ... less than a five year payoff with pure profit to come after that along with bragging rights for having solar on the rooftop?


    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 08:15:43 PM PDT

  •  Wish New York had this. (2+ / 0-)

    Life is good. Injustice? Not so much.

    by westyny on Mon Apr 30, 2012 at 09:37:48 PM PDT

  •  I Like You, Liberal, But You May Not Like Me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    For me particularly, there are all manner bells and whistles in this diary.

    Those are mostly not sounds that are admired hereabouts.

    They range from your very moniker, Liberal, that is today hated even by liberals to a very different devastation of the hallowed ground of Brimfield that once drew hordes of bargain seekers from all over the world to mention of "that noted Commie Richard Nixon" - a horrible reprobate who incredibly accomplished all manner of liberal goals from ending of the Cold War to a start on a truly blessed "welfare program" [guaranteed annual wage] to War on Cancer alongside true evil that needs no reiteration here.

    This is also the state that put coal along with the trivial green, at best, solar on a pedestal in fighting green power from waste, a naked guy in a pickup in the Senate, a mutant health care plan substituting for a real solution to the U.S. medical care imbroglio, produced an even worse threat for President than the current one and was one of the leaders in the U.S. of use of armed force against protesters.

    Congratulations for rebounding successfully from your firing and all the best to you and yours.


    •  I wear my liberal label proudly and unashamedly (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terryhallinan, CentralMass

      I chose this moniker because that word bothers people, though lately I'm thinking of changing over to my actual name.  I just don't want to give up a 5 digit UID!

      I don't know what you're talking about with coal - we get very little power from coal in MA, it's mostly natural gas fired electric plants, with some nukes thrown in and oil down the cape.  Occasional oil spills foul the waters there, making a further argument for Cape Wind.

      While our health care plan may be imperfect, we have 97% coverage for adults and 98.5% for children, I'll stack those numbers up against any other state.

      Say what you will about John Kerry, he was better than Bush - but then, a rotting turnip would have been a better president than Bush!

      I agree about armed force against protestors - thankfully, that only happened in Boston, we had Occupy protests all over the state.

      Thanks for the well wishes Terry - best to you and yours as well!

      Beta testers wanted: get a free copy of ORGANIZE!

      by AnotherMassachusettsLiberal on Tue May 01, 2012 at 04:16:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  A Cousin Ran For President as a Progressive (0+ / 0-)

        There are even elected Progressive officials today, mostly in Vermont.  Progressives in Madison, WI, are so far left that Berkleyite are said to call them communists. :-)

        It's an annoyance to me when liberals calls themselves progressives, which few are, and worse that wingers like the Clintons choose the progressive label.

        Pretty much universally, the media calls liberals liberals.  What's the point in avoiding the label?

        Anyoo, Alice could tell Humpty Dumpty ["When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean"] nothing and I can do even less. :-)

        I don't know what you're talking about with coal - we get very little power from coal in MA, it's mostly natural gas fired electric plants, with some nukes thrown in and oil down the cape.
        Interesting.  News to me actually.

        I was talking about the notorious Manomet report that was showcased in Massachusetts, if not paid for by the state.  It had repercussions far beyond the state's borders.

        There is much I would love to discuss with you person to person but this is not the place and I am awfully windy and boring in any case.

        Again, all the best.


    •  Massachusetts is a great state. It is full of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      fine tolerant people.  You should make a visit, some of it might rub off on you.

      The U.S. Constitution is based off of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Constitution.

      While it is under assualt from both parties, we have one of the best public education systme in the country.

      We rank fairly high up on the charts for states with the lowest poverty rate.

      The town of Brimfield, settled in the early 1700's, and incorporated back in 1731 is a fine little historical town that still draws large numbers of bargain seekers to its large outdoor antique markets

      We voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary.

      While I am a Democrat who voted for Coakley, Brown personally ran an exceptional campaign. He pounded a lot of pavement and shook the hands of and talked to and listened to a lot of people across the state.  He has actually voted with the democrats on some issues.

      The problem with any of the proposed healthcare plans is that the for profit industries that supply healthcare will always will own the needed number of elected officials to craft the legislation to their benefit. While I am not big fan of the Mandatory Insurance with no cost reform or controls, Masschusetts boast the lowest number of uninsured in the country, with only a fraction of 1 percent of children left uninsured.

      •  Massachusetts has good people and assholes like (0+ / 0-)

        every other state and nation in the whole world.

        You should make a visit
        Why exactly?  After all the times I have been there? With family there?

        BTW if you want to really meet assholes, try to collect on bad paper if you are an out-of-stater.

        While I am not big fan of the Mandatory Insurance with no cost reform or controls, Masschusetts boast the lowest number of uninsured in the country, with only a fraction of 1 percent of children left uninsured.
        Not one person in all the world needs health insurance.

        Every person in all the world needs health care.

        If you consider that simple fact of life, we can have a productive discussion.

        Best,  Terry

        •  Come on. The diarist wrote good diary worthy of (0+ / 0-)

          reading that was promoting green energy and you had to go off on a tangent and hammer him about Massachusetts politics.

          •  The Diarist Wrote A Great Diary and I said so. (0+ / 0-)

            I also noted the horrendous disservice Massachusetts had done to environmental causes.

            If you think burning coal for power is better than burning waste, then Massachusetts is greener than St. Patrick.

            If you don't, then it ain't.

            Many conversions from coal and natural gas [natural gas is little better and may even be worse than coal] have been cancelled or postponed because of Massachusetts.

            If you think lighting is only needed during the day and when it is not clouded over, then solar is just the ticket.  I disagree.

            I always try to add the proviso that wind and solar have superb niches but they will never replace baseload power.  Baseload renewable energy is far more potent and cheaper than any other source of power.

            Best,  Terry

  •  fuel source changeout is the only solution (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to global warming and we need to do it right now.  in some minds it is unfortunate that the only real alternative to meet the demand incurred by phasing out coal plants is to build nuclear plants.  I think we need to do it all right now.  alternative fueled (plug in hybrid) vehicles, phasing out coal and natural gas power generation and moving to alternative energy generation (wind/solar) and nuclear to prevent total, catastrophic climate destruction.

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