Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Our solar journey continues to be one that is deeply gratifying. The panels have far exceeded our expectations as the sun tirelessly feeds them day after glorious day. Even when the skies are thick with clouds they manage to often produce the amount of electricity that we require. Running our home off of the unbelievably awesome and healing rays of the sun has been a remarkable adventure thus far.

If you are new to Inspiration Earth you can read about our journey here and here. Alternatively, here’s a quick refresher for those of you who’ve been following along. Back in May of 2011 Scott came home from a Green Fair at work and filled me in on the Ct Solar Lease Program. You can’t imagine how my heart sang to discover that solar panels were finally being made affordable for 'the average joe'. Finally. Our solar specialist, Gordon, figured out exactly how many panels we would require to meet our energy needs and we utilized both the south facing garage roof and the east facing rear roof. All in all 36 panels decorate our roof in a most productive and beautiful array. In October of 2011 we began creating our own energy… yay!!
East facing roof
South facing roof

We have a monthly bill for the cost of the panels which replaced our monthly electric bill. For us the cost is $133.00. We are not off of the grid; we are still tied into and dependent on the electric company. They are a storage unit of sorts. During the day we produce awesome amounts of energy, use what we need and send the rest back out on the grid and into the neighborhood. It makes me smile to think that I’m probably supplying my dad, who lives next door, with green energy on an almost daily basis. These extra kwh (kilowatt hours) that we create are actually “banked’ with the electric company and so when the sun goes down each night we ‘pull from the grid’. We use some of that extra energy we've made but have no way of storing. Initially I was disappointed at not being totally free from the clutches of the electric company, but I can see the validity of it, and even have come to appreciate that for now it works. Do I still hope to be one day to be entirely self sufficient? Yes, emphatically yes. It's simply a matter of patience, and waiting for the technology to catch up with the visions in my head. ;)

There is a small expense for being connected into the grid, we pay a 16.00 fee each month to CL&P (Connecticut Light and Power). Each March CL&P will ‘settle up’ with us and pay us for any extra hours we have banked but haven’t used. In April of 2013 we’ll start with a clean slate once again. I plan on taking part of the money from those extra kwh’s and paying off a year's worth of that 16.00 fee. At the moment we  have an extra 3429 kwh’s banked. Our average daily kwh usage is probably somewhere around 23 kwh so if the sun were to disappear today, we have almost 5 months of extra energy stored up. In this way the system is doing more than I had dreamed it would. Definitely earning its keep. ;)

On Saturday September 1st Scott and I hosted a Solar Party here at the house. I invited most anyone I thought might be interested, and despite the fact that it was a holiday weekend we had a pretty good showing. 13 people came to hear what Gordon had to say.

The party went really smoothly and a couple of people seem genuinely interested, which is wonderful. I’ll be totally honest with you though, dear readers, and admit that I had a couple of moments where I was deeply discouraged and overwhelmingly sad. As everyone made their way over to the food table I heard snippets of conversation and the overall gist of it was “But…What’s in it for me?” What?? No, really... What?? It truly is a question that I don’t understand. It’s like gibberish, nonsense. Most of these comments were made by the same people that spend much of their lives complaining. Complaining about the government. Complaining about the terrible state of affairs. Complaining about their fellow human beings. Complaining about their health. Complaining about this, that and anything else that their troubled minds will land upon. My question to these same people is ~ If the world is in such a sorry state, then what are you doing to change it???

To me, these panels are one way to make a difference. A difference that you can see and feel everyday, and it makes virtually no impact on you financially or in any other way. What’s in it for you? Only the golden opportunity to make the world a better place for your children and your grandchildren. These panels give the Earth a chance to take a breath, a break from the disasters of oil exploitation. It utilizes an energy source that while not infinite is wildly abundant and could serve us until the end of time.  Time as we know it presently anyway. ;)

The most perfect day for a party, a sunny day to showcase the hard working panels!
I admit to putting myself first in many ways. Perhaps it isn't a fashionable thing to do, especially for a mom, but I've never felt that depriving myself of time or attention does anything but harm to those closest to me. By taking the time to feed my soul, everyday, I can change the world for the better, simply by the energy that I put out. It may seem strange and perhaps unbelievable coming from a homeschooling, stay at home mom of 3, but by putting myself first, I make this home a happier, more peaceful place to be. The girls are a huge part of my life but they aren't my whole life. By feeding my passions and following my heart I can clearly identify how best to be the person that I choose to be. My intention is that these choices make the world a better, cleaner, more joyful place to be. The question of “What’s in it for me?” doesn't speak to me of self nurturing love however. To me it says that the state of the world and our fellow human beings doesn't even come into play. If it doesn't benefit me now, directly (often meaning in my pocketbook) that it isn’t worth the effort. And yes, for a moment, I was deeply sad.

Freshly picked garden flowers
I believe that if you want the world to be a better, more loving, equal and joyful place than where else can it start if not with you? You can’t change the actions and words of your neighbor, but you can begin with the choices you make. We often don’t realize that when we do for others, we ultimately do for ourselves. We’re all connected and the good of all is indeed tremendously beneficial for the joy of all.

Phew, I did go off there, didn’t I? As you can probably tell this is extremely important to me. I needed to take a moment during the party to realize and remember that we’re each on a journey of our own making. Admittedly, not everyone’s journey involves treading lightly and taking responsibility for the choices that are made every single day. When I was able to put it in perspective I did feel better… but I still wish the complaining would end already. ;)

As part of the party deal Real Goods offered to provide all of the snacks and paperware. I politely declined the offer of food because there is currently no local restaurant or deli that will meet our food choices. So I pulled together a menu of some of our favorite foods and was absolutely delighted to find almost every single morsel gone by the end of the day. Often people won’t touch my food. In the minds of many healthy = yucky, sad yet true. However, on this day there simply was no other option. Hungry? Well…

I prepared the food and Jordan was in charge of food presentation. We make a fabulous team and the table was simply gorgeous. She set up while Gordon was speaking and I’m certain that the beautiful appearance of the table had something to do with the rapid disappearance of the food. Lentil soup, garlic bagels chips for dipping in the avocado salsa, quinoa pilaf, celery stuffed with fresh almond butter, garden fresh cucumbers and peppers… a deliciously organic feast. Sadly, no leftovers. ;)

It's all in the details, like that tiny pepper heart. :) 
Real Goods did provide the paperware ~ plates, cups, silverware all made from corn and completely compostable. Did I mention that I LOVE this company?

Despite the fleeting moment of discouragement I am glad that we hosted the party, because while I believe the world could use a little bit of tweaking, I’m willing to do what I can to create the changes that I want to see. Even if it means playing hostess, not my favorite place to be. ;) And once again, it was important to be reminded that not everyone’s journey will place importance on the same things that I do. I adore my solar panels and would quickly recommend them to any homeowner. I would install  them on my home if I was staying here forever, I would install them on my home if I was moving next year. I would recommend them to family,  to friends, to strangers. Can the system be improved? Yes, there can always be improvements made, but for now I’m pleased. Super pleased. I’m making the changes that I can with the best resources available to me. Really, what more can I do? J

Have a happy, happy day Friends!