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Bringing renewable energy to North Carolina's neediest

When it comes to promoting green power, a North Carolina energy watchdog is putting its money where its mouth is by launching a campaign to install solar electric and hot water systems to nonprofit facilities that serve some of the state's neediest residents.

NC WARN is donating rooftop systems and energy efficiency upgrades to service organizations that use large amounts of hot water and electricity. So far the group's Solar Rooftop Donation Program has installed a solar hot-water system at the Helen Wright Center for Women, an organization that serves homeless women in Raleigh, N.C.. It's also installed both solar electric and water-heating systems at Urban Ministries of Durham, N.C. (in photo), which provides emergency services for the poor, and at the Freedom House Recovery Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., a facility that helps people struggling with addiction, mental illness and developmental disability.

"We embrace effective innovations that help us move people from crisis to a place of long-term sustainability," said Patrice Nelson, executive director of Urban Ministries of Durham. "Likewise, for years to come, these solar systems will free thousands of dollars per year that we can use directly for services to those in need, at least enough savings to pay for at least 2,000 meals in our café."

NC WARN is partnering with renewable energy companies to do the actual installations. Among those it's already working with are Cary, N.C.-based Yes! Solar Solutions and Solar Consultants of Carrboro, N.C.

NC WARN welcomes tax-deductible donations to support the program. The group -- which is also working towards powering its own offices in Durham, N.C. with solar electricity -- hopes the effort will inspire North Carolinians to look into solar electric or water heating systems for their homes and businesses.

The cost of a high-quality solar photovoltaic system today is about equal to a used car -- $6,000 to $10,000 -- while solar hot water systems are even more affordable. Homeowners can claim a mix of state and federal tax credits of up to 65 percent of the cost of installing the systems, while business owners can write off nearly the entire investment. The typical solar system can be paid off in five to eight years and will bring benefits for as long as 30 years.

"Solar power is here, it’s affordable and it’s a key to moving this state toward a clean energy future," said NC WARN Assistant Director Rita Leadem.

(Photo of solar hot water system on the rooftop of Urban Ministries of Durham courtesy of NC WARN. To see more photos of the installed systems, click here.)

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Solar Charade

It is amazing, even disturbing, that we continue to see these articles suggesting that wind and solar make sense OR have any significant part of our energy future. This is public relations at its worst. OF COURSE those getting enormous government subsidies want them to continue, but that misses the point. Math is required here. Have wind and solar made a measurable difference in our energy mix and have they helped to reduce C02 emissions?

No. Not at all. It has been a huge disappointment and waste of public funds. We are just beginning to learn that developers make money when the deal is done, not based on performance. This sounds a lot like sub-prime mortgages.

I think we all need to start telling the truth - especially journalists.

Solar and wind schemes have not reduced CO2 emissions and they have only raised electricity rates. "Energy farming" (wind and solar) will NEVER replace coal (or oil) and they are simply an over-priced supplements, not "alternatives." Incentives gave people false hopes about solving the problem and we are now beginning to learn the truth. Polls demonstrate that nearly 60% of Americans "believe solar will replace our dependence on oil," yet it is impossible.

Despite significant subsidies in the last 5 years ($1 trillion worldwide) wind and solar are less than 2% of our total electricity generation (solar is .1%). Plus, because they are unreliable any attempt to accept their unpredictable electricity generation requires us to ramp down our base load electricity generation, creating additional costs and more CO2. This 2% addition of renewables hasn't changed CO2 emissions at all - even new demand has been 3X wind and solar. These schemes have made NO difference at all.

Cheerleading for wind and solar might extend the incentives, but it won't solve the energy problem. We need clean, affordable electricity.

My work is here: http://www.solutioneur.com

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