Living in the southwestern desert — Phoenix, Arizona, to be precise — it seems only natural to convert the abundant sunshine into electrical power. If not here, in a mega-city that rightly calls itself the Valley of the Sun, then where?
Our former governor, Janet Napolitano (now Secretary of Homeland Security), used to say that we should be the Silicon Valley of solar power.
Maybe. The hunger for grand schemes is probably encoded down deep in the American DNA, but it is also bound up with the boom-and-bust cycles that make life here unsustainable. It was no coincidence that last month Barack Obama chose the Valley to speak about “a home mortgage crisis that not only threatens the stability of our economy but also the stability of families and neighborhoods.” We’re a great visual aid for that sort of thing.
So I’m starting small. One family. One house. (One blog.) One experiment — how far can we go in replacing the electrical energy we buy from APS, our local utility, with electricity converted from all that gorgeous sunlight cascading down on our roof like rain in the Tongass?
It’s a small experiment, but that doesn’t mean it’s simple. So many factors are involved — and too many of them boil down to that old snake in the garden: money. [Note to myself…apologize to snakes.] Sorry to put it crudely, but, well, there it is. The first question I have to consider is, What is this going to cost? That doesn’t mean we’ll go with the lowest bid, but there’s no getting around the reality that price is a Big Factor.
The first estimate should be arriving shortly. Tomorrow morning, 9 AM, Bruce from EnergyPro, Inc., comes to do an “on-site assessment” of our house. I found EnergyPro last week after filling out an on-line form at Cooler Planet. From there, I was contacted by several installers in my area to make bids on the job. Bruce was the first one I heard from.
He probably won’t have a bid ready immediately, but I’ll let you know tomorrow how the process itself goes.