Author Archives: Abby Bath

We’re Still at War: Photo of the Day for February 19, 2014

Mother Jones

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Staff Sgt. Austina Knotek takes a photo with the United States Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno in Kabul, Afghanistan, February 7, 2014. Staff Sgt. Austina Knotek is an Information Technology Specialist from Crown Point, N.M. assigned to the XVIII Airborne Corps. Knotek noticed the large crowd outside her work area and realized the Army Chief of Staff, General Ray Odierno, was conducting a media engagement with Fox & Friends, which included more than a dozen Soldiers in the background. (U.S. Army Photo by Nate Allen)

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We’re Still at War: Photo of the Day for February 19, 2014

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Allie Brosh’s Great Depression

Mother Jones

To peruse Allie Brosh’s crudely drawn comics, one would never guess she is a perfectionist. But the lack of sophistication is deliberate. When she’s not caring for rescued rats or playing Magic: The Gathering—”I’m a huge dork”—the 28-year-old blogger can be found holed up in her room scrutinizing and refining her drawings, which largely consist of a stick figure in a shapeless bright pink dress making odd facial expressions. “They look really simple and sort of shitty, but it takes a few hours trying to get it right,” Brosh told me. “I don’t have any reference material for this creature that I’ve made to represent myself, aside from what’s in my head.”

That creature is the star of Brosh’s new book, Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened. Based on her popular comic blog, it chronicles her problem-child days (she once ate an entire cake intended for her grandfather’s birthday party), adventures with her dogs (one of which she suspects is mentally impaired), and musings on her character flaws. Procrastination, for instance—she actually started the blog as a way to avoid studying for a college physics final. “I sort of wondered if I could write something that people would like,” she says.

Four years, 383,000 Facebook likes, and some 72 million web visitors later, it’s clear that she could.

The book deal was a longtime dream: Brosh had resolved to become an author at age eight, filling three spiral-bound notebooks with a saga about a guy who fights various things. Her small-town upbringing—first in Auburn, California; later near Sandpoint, Idaho—gave her space to “be a little bit weirder” growing up. “I would get up at six o’clock in the morning and walk around the forest and try to find deer,” she says. “I was sort of a wild animal, forest child.”

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Allie Brosh’s Great Depression

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An Underwater Volcano the Size of New Mexico Is the World’s Largest

A 3-D image of Tamu Massif on the sea floor. Photo: Will Sager

A massive volcano the size of New Mexico or the British Isles lurks deep beneath the Pacific, about 1,000 miles east off the coast of Japan. Called the Tamu Massif, scientists just confirmed that it is not only the world’s largest volcano (sorry, Manua Loa) but also one of the largest documented volcanoes in the solar system.

Researchers began studying the Tamu Massif, which is part of an underwater mountain range, about 20 years ago. But until now, they couldn’t determine whether it was a single giant or a cluster of multiple smaller volcanoes. A team from Texas A&M University (“Tamu”—get it?) confirmed the Tamu Massif was a single volcanic entity by studying its past patterns of lava flows and analyzing geochemical samples from the volcano.

National Geographic describes what we know about the volcano:

Tamu Massif is a rounded dome that measures about 280 by 400 miles (450 by 650 kilometers), or more than 100,000 square miles. Its top lies about 6,500 feet (about 2,000 meters) below the ocean surface, while the base extends down to about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) deep.

Made of basalt, Tamu Massif is the oldest and largest feature of an oceanic plateau called the Shatsky Rise in the northwestern Pacific Ocean. The total area of the rise is similar to Japan or California.

Luckily for us, the volcano was only active for a few million years, NatGeo points out, going “extinct” about 145 million years ago.

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An Underwater Volcano the Size of New Mexico Is the World’s Largest

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Rick Perry, Please Stop Talking About Big Gulps

Mother Jones

Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry has spent much of the last year convincing companies to relocate their businesses to the Lone Star State on the promise of low taxes, few regulations, and tens of millions of dollars in incentives (provided he likes your product). First he targeted Californians, prompting Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown to dismiss the ad campaign as a “fart.” Then he traveled to Illinois, where one state business leader likened him to a Roman emperor. His newest target is New York:

According to Perry, the state’s crimes are plain: “Higher taxes, stifling regulations—bureaucrats telling you whether you can even drink a Big Gulp,” he says, referencing Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s scuttled regulations on soda serving sizes. And indeed, Texans feel passionately about their Big Gulps. In 2011, the Austin American-Statesman profiled Paul Sunby, an environmental consultant who was raising awareness of what he had concluded was a creeping reduction in the size of super-huge sodas, from 44 oz. to 40.

Perry is not alone when it comes to Republican politicians and Big Gulps. At the Conservative Political Action conference in March, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin drank from a 7-11 Big Gulp from the stage to demonstrate her party’s commitment to freedom: “Bloomberg is not around, our Big Gulps are safe. We’re cool. Shoot, it’s just pop with low-cal ice-cubes in it.”

In April, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer posted a Facebook photo of herself sipping a Double Gulp in Manhattan: “After walking around New York City today, I stopped to enjoy a refreshing and extra large Double Gulp from 7 11. Cheers Mayor Mike Bloomberg! #freedom”

Jan Brewer/Facebook

In March Texas Sen. Ted Cruz introduced the “Bloomberg Big Gulp Amendment” to protect the sanctity of super-huge soda. In February, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul reflected on his visit to New York City in an interview with Sean Hannity: “I was more worried about the Big Gulp—it was a 16 ounce drink and afraid your mayor is going to arrest me.”

Here’s the thing, though: Big Gulps are still perfectly legal. So are regular Gulps, Super Gulps, and Double Big Gulps—which, ironically, are only equivalent to about 1.6 Big Gulps. This is America after all. And they were never banned in the first place, because Bloomberg’s restrictions on the size of soft drinks only applied to certain venues, like movie theaters. You could always buy a Big Gulp, provided you were willing to deal with the consequences of consuming one, which is, let’s face it, kind of gross. Good God, that’s a lot to put your body through just to make a weird political point your staff could have just fact-checked first.

So, invite New Yorkers to move to your state if you want. (Although you might want to deregulate vaginas first.) But for the love of God, stop talking about Big Gulps.

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Rick Perry, Please Stop Talking About Big Gulps

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China plans a major solar spree

China plans a major solar spree


It’s time to get these out of Chinese warehouses and put to good use.

A solar-panel manufacturing blitz by Chinese companies has left a glut in the market, driving down prices for photovoltaic systems.

And China thinks that’s a pretty good excuse to throw itself a huge solar party.

The government has announced plans to add 10 gigawatts of solar capacity each year for three years. That would take advantage of cheap prices and help the country’s manufacturers move product in a difficult market. From Reuters:

China aims to more than quadruple solar power generating capacity to 35 gigawatts by 2015 in an apparent bid to ease a massive glut in the domestic solar panel industry.

The target has been stated previously by the State Grid, which manages the country’s electricity distribution, but now has the official backing of the State Council, the country’s cabinet and its top governing body.

The sector has been hit hard by the excess capacity, falling government subsidies and trade disputes. Manufacturers have been hemorrhaging cash and struggling with mounting debts as panel prices fell by two thirds over the past couple of years.

Moving stockpiled panels out of warehouses and putting them to use providing clean energy should be a win-win. And if the move helps alleviate the global panel glut that’s been plaguing the solar industry, then make that a win-win-win.

John Upton is a science fan and green news boffin who tweets, posts articles to Facebook, and blogs about ecology. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:

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China plans a major solar spree

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The Real Reason Kids Aren’t Getting Vaccines

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Much ink has been spilled railing against vaccine skeptics—you know, those people who don’t get their kids immunized against catastrophic childhood diseases because they believe the shots can cause autism and other serious problems. In a recent Parade magazine piece, reporter Seth Mnookin, author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear, pointed out that vaccine resisters tend to cluster in places “where parents are often focused on being environmentally conscious and paying close attention to every aspect of their children’s development.”

Journalist Megan McArdle, in a 2011 post for The Atlantic, opined: “We spent most of the last century trying to stamp out the infectious diseases that used to cripple and kill hundreds and thousands of people every year. Sometimes it seems like the bobo elites plan to spend the 21st century bringing them all back.”

These “bobo elites” are fair targets, especially if you live somewhere like Marin County, California, whose schools granted “personal belief exemptions” to 7 percent of kindergartners in 2010—enough to compromise what epidemiologists call herd immunity. Some of these vaccine resisters refuse shots outright, while others opt for alternative vaccination schedules that delay and stagger shots. This increasingly popular system minimizes kids’ exposure to supposedly harmful vaccine ingredients—but it also leaves them more vulnerable to outbreaks.

Yet the vaccine resisters and delayers are not the only parents whose kids miss out on shots. Far more children are undervaccinated for reasons unrelated to personal beliefs, according to a January 2013 study funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The study found that an astonishing 49 percent of toddlers born from 2004 through 2008 hadn’t had all their shots by their second birthday, but only about 2 percent had parents who refused to have them vaccinated. They were missing shots for pretty mundane reasons—parents’ work schedules, transportation problems, insurance hiccups. An earlier CDC study concluded that children in poor communities were more likely to miss their shots than those in wealthier neighborhoods, and while that may not be too surprising, it’s still a dangerous pattern. “If you’re going to delay one or two vaccines, it’s not going to make a huge difference,” says the new study’s lead author, Jason Glanz, an epidemiologist at the Kaiser Permanente Colorado Institute for Health Research. “But you could also think of it like this: If a million kids delay their vaccines by a month, that’s time during which a disease could spread.”

That’s no mere hypothetical. In 1990, for example, an outbreak of measles killed 89 kids in the United States—most of them from poor families who said they couldn’t afford the vaccine. A 2008 outbreak in San Diego resulted in 12 cases, this time among kids whose parents had refused the vaccine—but authorities had to quarantine an additional 48 who were too young to be vaccinated. The episode cost taxpayers an estimated $10,376 per case.

Shannon Stokley, the acting associate director of science at the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told me that many parents simply need a reminder. “You have so many things to remember when you have a child, and vaccines can just slip your mind,” she said. Indeed, sending out reminder texts has been shown to increase vaccination rates. Making shots convenient also helps. In response to a whooping cough outbreak last year, the state of Washington sought to get more teens and adults vaccinated. It plastered buses and billboards with ads; in some harder-hit counties, health departments sent out mobile inoculation units—if people couldn’t make it to a clinic, health workers would bring the shots to them. Within a year of the campaign, the adult vaccination rate had doubled.

To be sure, access to vaccines has been improving nationwide. The federal government now offers free shots to children who aren’t otherwise covered. But the program doesn’t cover adult vaccines, most of which cost from $20 to $100, even for diseases that are easily passed from adults to kids, like whooping cough—which can kill infants.

Unfortunately, short of an outbreak, money for expanded access is hard to come by. “It took an epidemic to make our pertussis push possible,” says Tim Church, a spokesman for Washington’s health department. And while Obamacare will make vaccines cheaper, it won’t ensure that people actually get their shots.

Because I live in Northern California, where whooping cough has been a problem among adults—those childhood shots don’t last forever—I recently emailed my doctor to inquire about the adult pertussis vaccine. She invited me to drop in “anytime”—from 9 a.m. to noon or 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., right in the middle of the workday. I’m planning to go in eventually, but finding the time is going to be a hassle. Those undervaccinated people that everyone talks smack about? I guess now I’m one, too.

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The Real Reason Kids Aren’t Getting Vaccines

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Dot Chat: From Energy Campaigner to Solar Finance Entrepreneur


Warhammer: Cvil War – Games Workshop

Throughout the Warhammer world, war rages eternal. Yet the most deadly and bitter conflicts are not wars of conquest against exotic foes, but the clash of brother versus brother! This Warhammer supplement contains inspirational and evocative background about some of the Warhammer world’s most bloody civil wars. In addition, there are full rules for pla […]

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Inside of a Dog – Alexandra Horowitz

The bestselling book that asks what dogs know and how they think, now in paperback. The answers will surprise and delight you as Alexandra Horowitz, a cognitive scientist, explains how dogs perceive their daily worlds, each other, and that other quirky animal, the human. Horowitz introduces the reader to dogs’ perceptual and cognitive abilities and then draw […]

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World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects: Part IV – Richard A. Knaak

A Simon & Schuster eBook. Simon & Schuster has a great book for every reader. […]

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Cesar Millan’s Short Guide to a Happy Dog – Cesar Millan

After more than 9 seasons as TV’s Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan has a new mission: to use his unique insights about dog psychology to create stronger, happier relationships between humans and their canine companions. Both inspirational and practical, A Short Guide to a Happy Dog draws on thousands of training encounter […]

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Battle Missions: Death Worlds – Games Workshop

The Emperor’s realm encompasses a million worlds, each with its own potential dangers. Yet certain of these planets are so deadly that they are classified as death worlds. From man-eating flora and fauna to deadly poisonous atmospheres and many stranger things besides, on a death world it’s not just the enemy that your warriors have to worry about! Thi […]

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How to Raise the Perfect Dog – Cesar Millan & Melissa Jo Peltier

From the bestselling author and star of National Geographic Channel’s Dog Whisperer , the only resource you’ll need for raising a happy, healthy dog. For the millions of people every year who consider bringing a puppy into their lives–as well as those who have already brought a dog home–Cesar Millan, the preeminent dog behavior expert, says, “Yes, […]

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Trident K9 Warriors – Michael Ritland & Gary Brozek

As Seen on “60 Minutes”! As a Navy SEAL during a combat deployment in Iraq, Mike Ritland saw a military working dog in action and instantly knew he’d found his true calling. Ritland started his own company training and supplying dogs for the SEAL teams, U.S. Government, and Department of Defense. He knew that fewer than 1 percent of […]

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World of Warcraft: Dawn of the Aspects: Part III – Richard A. Knaak

A Simon & Schuster eBook. Simon & Schuster has a great book for every reader. […]

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Codex: Grey Knights – Games Workshop

The Grey Knights are the most mysterious of all the Imperium’s many organisations. Few outside the upper echelons of the Inquisition hold any knowledge of the Chapter’s founding, and even these most trusted of men are denied the full truth. For ten thousand years the Grey Knights have stood between the Imperium and the Daemons of the Warp. An incor […]

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Paracord Fusion Ties – Volume 1 – J.D. Lenzen

J.D. Lenzen is the creator of the highly acclaimed YouTube channel “Tying It All Together”, and the producer of over 200 instructional videos. He’s been formally recognized by the International Guild of Knot Tyers (IGKT) for his contributions to knotting, and is the originator of fusion knotting-innovative knots created through the merging of […]

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Dot Chat: From Energy Campaigner to Solar Finance Entrepreneur

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Chart of the Day: Student Loan Debt Crowding Out Mortgages

Mother Jones

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A new report from the New York Fed describes a disturbing trend: student loan debt has increased so much that it’s crowding out the ability of college graduates to buy homes. As the chart on the right shows, young workers with student loan debt—most of whom are college grads—used to take on mortgage debt at a higher rate than the rest of the population. This made sense, since they generally had higher incomes and better career prospects.

But that’s been changing over the past few years. In 2012, for the first time, those without student loan debt actually took out mortgages at a higher rate than those with student loan debt. Annie Lowrey writes about this in the New York Times today:

“It is a new thing, a big social experiment that we’ve accidentally decided to engage in,” said Kevin Carey, the director of the Education Policy Program at the New America Foundation, a research group based in Washington. “Let’s send a whole class of people out into their professional lives with a negative net worth. Not starting at zero, but starting at a minus that is often measured in the tens of thousands of dollars. Those minus signs have psychological impact, I suspect. They might have a dollars-and-cents impact in what you can afford, too.”

Obviously there are other things going on here too. The housing crash may have had more of an impact on college grads, who decided to stay out of the market until it hit bottom. They also might have internalized the lessons of high debt levels better.

But spiraling loan debt probably plays a role too. This is one of those issues that continues to bedevil me, since I think there’s a good case to be made that college is something individuals should pay for. It’s going to reward them with lots of extra income, after all, so why should anyone else help subsidize it?

But as reasonable as that sounds, it’s self-defeating in the end. Yeah, a college education is a boon for the person getting the education. But it’s even more of a boon for society overall to have a big pool of college-educated workers. And it’s a boon to have college-educated workers who don’t spend the first decade of their working lives in a defensive crouch. This is an accidental experiment that’s gone too far. The problem is, I’m not sure what we should do about it. Returning to the era in which state universities provided good quality, low-cost educations would sure be a start, though.


Chart of the Day: Student Loan Debt Crowding Out Mortgages

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George Washington Himself Could Not Get a Revenue Increase Out of the Modern Republican Party

Mother Jones

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Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part 3:

Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.

You know, I don’t really enjoy writing endlessly about Barack Obama’s essential powerlessness when it comes to dealing with an increasingly fanatic Republican Party. It’s just so damn gloomy and special pleadingish. But I keep getting pulled back in. Today, a friend of mine emails with a short summary of Ron Fournier’s appearance on Morning Joe today:

John Heilemann asked Fournier the same question that everyone asks Fournier, which he dodges: well, what would you have the President do? Fournier then said, “let me turn that question back on you” and went off a tangent, but not without dropping in at the end of the segment that Obama can get revenue increases if he just engages with the Republicans. I yelled at the television and scared my 4 year-old. Did he really say that? Yes, he did.

I just don’t get it. What does it take to convince the Dowds and Milbanks and Fourniers of the world? How can any of them still believe that Republicans will ever agree to real revenue increases? George Washington himself could rise from the grave and the House Republican caucus wouldn’t agree to pass a revenue increase for him. What then? Would Dowd and Milbank and Fournier sigh theatrically and mourn the fact that Washington just isn’t the leader he used to be?

Republicans aren’t going to let Obama raise revenues. They aren’t going to let Obama pass a gun bill—even a watered-down one. They aren’t going to let Obama close Guantánamo. They aren’t going to let Obama fill the vacancies on the DC Circuit Court. They aren’t going to help Obama implement Obamacare. They aren’t going to let Obama address climate change. Period.

They’ve made this crystal clear to anyone who asks. They are true believers and there’s nothing Obama, or Fournier, or anyone else can offer them that would break through their glinty-eyed zealotry. There are no deals to be made, no leverage that can be used, and no schmoozing that will change their minds. This isn’t an Obama problem, it’s a Republican Party problem. Why is such a simple and unambiguous fact so hard to acknowledge?

But just to keep things on an even keel around here, go read Jon Chait’s “What Obama Can Actually Do About Congress.” I endorse all of it. So you see, I agree that there are things Obama could do better, just as there are issues (like Guantánamo detainees) where Obama himself bears some of the blame for our current gridlock.

Now, none of Chait’s suggestions would actually make more than a hair’s breadth of difference. But Obama should do them anyway. After all, you never know, do you?

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George Washington Himself Could Not Get a Revenue Increase Out of the Modern Republican Party

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What is solar energy?

How does solar power work?

Solar energy utilizes the sun to create the energy or electricity which you utilize in your residence. You are able to capture the sun’s rays, which produces the electricity or energy, by putting up the solar panels on your roof.

How does solar energy work with the solar panels?

The PV panels are special glass panes which are put on your roof. They contain special cells that are known as photovoltaic cells. These cells then capture the suns energy and rays and transform them into what you use your in your home today for electricity. This energy is known as direct current or DC power. Which is the power which your electric sockets utilize to turn on your lights, television, and alternative electrical equipment you have in your residence.

The typical residence requires quite a few PV panels so as to supply energy for everything that you do inside your home or even through your outdoor outlet. The average number of panels that is installed usually depends on how much energy you utilize and what type of sunlight you get during the day. It can be affected by the number of trees in your area as well as the direction your house is facing. The PV panels are usually installed on the southern side of the roof. If you don’t have a southern facing room then you may not be able to get solar power or it might be severely limited in the best case scenario.

The typical solar panel usually produces energy for up to 25 years then you would must probably considering replacing the panels at which time so as to continue using solar energy.

How does solar energy work with converting the suns energy?

It does require a system to be installed into your house to make the energy be transformed into the energy which you use today in your home. This system is known as the inverter system. The inverter system is related to the panels by a wire or cable which transmits the energy from the panels to the inverter box. The inverter box then transforms the suns energy into what you use in your dwelling today, otherwise known as the direct current energy or DC power. This then is turned over to your outlets which you utilize throughout your house for your electrical appliances and electricity.

How does solar power work with the bi-directional electricity meter?

The solar power that is produced is measured in increments of a half hour throughout the day. This is the device that measures how much sun energy is transformed into direct current (DC) that is sent to your house. It is also the instrument which tells you how much power is sent back to the electricity grid. The power that is sent back to the grid you are able to sell back to your electricity company or to the electrical grid. At this point the electrical grid sells your extra energy to other consumers who use electricity who may not have solar power.

How does solar power work when I need more energy than it gives?

Solar energy works by providing you with as much energy as it are able to give you. If you need more energy than what it is currently producing you will get your extra energy from the electrical grid. You are able to get this in two ways the first way is by having your extra energy that you gave to it earlier back to you as you need it. The second method is that you will get it a reduced bill because of the energy you gave back to the grid.

How does solar energy work to save me cash?

Solar power saves you money in several different ways. The first method is by you using less energy which comes from the electrical grid. This is where you electricity company gets their power to sell to you in the form an electric bill. Since you utilize less energy from them it means which your bill will be reduced greatly or you may not even receive a bill.

How does solar energy work with the electrical company or electrical grid?

The second way solar power works to save you cash is by the fact which you can sell your excess energy back to the electrical grid instead of simply giving it away for free. You will need to contact your electricity business and inquire on setting up which product. Once it is set up you will start to watch yet either further savings on your bill through your credits, which you get through your energy being sent back to the grid. You may yet again not receive a bill but you could either end up with having credits where you can utilize them down the road when there is a less sunny day. The other option is that they may send you a check if you are in so a lot of extra energy sent back on a monthly basis.

How does solar power work in conjunction with the electricity retailer?

The electricity retailer is the company that can come set up your solar energy panels and system. They will also be ones that give you the form to fill out for receiving your credit form for the electricity business or the electrical grid. So this is your solar power business and electricity Business all in one.

How does solar power work when there is limited sun?

Solar power is generated no matter what weather conditions you are living in on a daily basis. The sunnier the weather the more solar power is emitted into your system to create more energy. The less sunny the weather would still generate energy but at a lesser rate and you might must fall back on your savings that were stored up at an earlier date in time from the electrical grid.

Solar power is an excellent method to reduce your utility bill or to make some extra money on the good months.

Are you reaping the rewards of having solar? Catch the details about how to purchase solar Brisbane. Do you know where to get more good info? Go here now.

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