Campaigning for Trustee of
Overton Power District

Hello, Friends!

 

Campaigning continues and this week will be busier. On Wednesday, October 8, I hope to see you at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon with the candidates at 11:30 a.m. at Eureka Casino Resort, and at 5 p.m. at Wolf Creek Golf Course for a Candidates Forum with the press. 

 

I also have another meet and greet scheduled for Thursday so if you'd like to attend, contact me and I'll give you details.

 

On Monday, October 13 at 5 p.m., there is a Candidates Forum at the Sun City Recreation Center.

 

If you'd like to see me win this election, there are two easy ways you can help. You can forward my newsletter to friends and suggest they subscribe, or just mention me in conversations and recommend they vote for me. This is likely to be a close election, so I need every vote I can get. I appreciate your help.


Power Plays

The more I read of "Power Plays" by Ted Case, the more respect I gain for rural electric companies, the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the lobbying organization for the co-ops. As I mentioned last week, the REA and co-ops were started during the Great Depression under President Franklin Roosevelt. They were strongly supported by President Harry Truman, who grew up on a farm without electricity. President Dwight Eisenhower was the first president to try to reduce support of the REA, feeling that its job had been largely accomplished and favoring for-profit companies. Eisenhower tried to eliminate the low interest rate loans to co-ops, but was unsuccessful.

 

President John Kennedy supported the REA, even though he did not have Roosevelt's or Truman's personal knowledge of how much farmers suffered without electricity. President Lyndon Johnson was brought up without electricity, and was a big supporter. He thought co-ops had been so successful in the U.S. and some other countries that they could help win the Vietnam War. He got leaders of the NRECA to help form co-ops in Vietnam, but they faced the obvious damage of warfare, and we all know how the war turned out. Nice try, Mr. President, and thank you for placing so much confidence in co-ops.

 

The REA underwent various levels of attack through the Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. Generally speaking, the candidates all gave at least lip service to the REA and co-ops in order to increase their support in rural areas. After the election, many of them withdrew support. Their efforts to reduce or eliminate subsidies were strongly and successfully opposed by the NRECA. It was not until President Clinton that the long time interest rate of 2% was increased to market rates, except for a 5% rate for the neediest situations.

 

"Power Plays" describes interesting incidents of politicking, lobbying, legislation and vetoes, involving politicians that most readers know by name and reputation. Besides showing how important co-ops have been to the development of rural America, the book shows how using support of co-ops to gain rural votes may have been key to several presidential elections.


Solar Arrays and
Micro Inverters

 

I wrote last week about a presentation I gave at Sun City on solar electric systems. I'll give a shorter version of the talk at the League of Women Voters meeting, 10-11 a.m. on October 11 at Highland Manor.

 

One of the questions I often get is about the difference between a rooftop array with a single or dual inverters for the whole array, and a system with a separate micro inverter for each solar panel. The micro inverters have a technical performance advantage in a situation where not all panels in the array receive the same amount of sunight. This might happen due to shading of some panels for part of the day, to some panels facing in a slightly different direction, or due to a panel not working properly.

 

With micro inverters, the DC electricity from each panel is converted to AC electricity, and then the signals from all panels are added together. It doesn't matter if some panels are producing less than others. In single-inverter systems, the DC currents flow together in series, much like the lights in an old fashioned string of holiday lights. If one panels fails, the whole string fails, and if one panels gets less sun than the others, the performance is degraded. So there is a performance advantage to micro inverter systems, but it is not important if all panels receive the same sunlight, and if no panels fail.

 

Some companies push the micro inverters, even though they cost a bit more than a single inverter system. They call single inverters the old way, and micro inverters the new technology. They claim it is easier to fix the array if a panel fails. This is true, but panels rarely fail. Also, the sales people neglect to mention that the micro inverters could fail, and they are up on the roof where they are hard to replace. The single inverters are usually in the garage where they are accessible. A disadvantage of the single inverters is that they are typically guaranteed for only 10 years, and are likely to fail after that time.

 

So what's the bottom line? Micro inverters are nice, but they cost a bit more. Maybe the price difference has come down in the year since I purchased. I decided to go with the single inverter system (actually dual inverters in one box) because all of my panels receive the same amount of sunlight, with no shading. I recommend micro inverters if the sunlight is not the same for all panels, or if all panels are not mounted in the same direction.

 

If you have any questions about solar arrays, I'd be glad to chat.

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