Considerations to keep in mind before going off the grid
When most people think about alternative energy, the first thing that comes to mind is solar panels and solar power.
Where this is a great way to harness renewable energy, there are many more ways in which you can use alternative energy and ways it is being misused.
Understanding the various alternative energies available is the first step in deciding which method is best.
However, even with a basic understanding of the 5 types of renewable energy many people have had the wool pulled over their eyes concerning some factors of alternative energy.
Here are three things you should know.
Number One: Hydropower is the cheapest form of Alternative Energy
Hydropower (power which relies on water) accounts for only 7% of the electricity generated.
However, the costs to implement hydropower plants are cheaper than any other renewable energy source.
Why is it then that we are not seeing more of these plants available, especially since an executive bill was just signed stating that the goal is to harness renewable energy?
I would venture to say that it is still all about how much profit can be gained.
To make the point Idaho, Washington, and Oregon which rely primarily on hydropower have the lowest energy bills in the United States.
Where every state uses hydropower, not every state uses it to its fullest potential.
Most states use no more than 10%.
Some would claim that creating hydropower negatively affects the ecosystem. To this I would state that watermills and dams have been working well for thousands of years.
With the advances in technology, new methodologies have been implemented into newer dam designs that allow for fish and wildlife to move about freely, thus the argument is bleak.
Properties that have rivers and streams should strongly consider harnessing some of the renewable energy.
Keep in mind that if the water is seasonal (being that the river dries up in the winter or that you have a drought season) you will want to use an additional source of renewable energy such as solar panels or wind turbines.
Number Two: Biomass Energy affects your food prices directly
You would think that alternative energy would lower the overall cost of living.
Idealistically, this is true.
Yet, then biomass energy is used and the supply is not increased to meet the demand, then the overall costs rise.
The primary example of this is found in Ethanol.
Ethanol is fuel which is made from corn.
Since the implementation of ethanol into most gas providing stations, corn has seen an increase in both seed costs as well as consumer costs.
Where this does not mean a lot to a person that does not eat corn, consider:
If corn seed is increased then the price per bushel will increase. This will drive up the price of gas (for those of you who use gasoline).
If corn prices increase, other produce will fluctuate to make the margin of increase seem smaller.
For example: If corn goes to $6 a bushel then carrots may go for $4 instead of $1. Consumers are more willing to spend more money on corn when the overall cost of produce increases.
If corn prices increase then the cost of meat will increase as animals eat corn.
The solution, of course, is to increase the number of crops to facilitate the demand.
Do not combine both the eating and the energy crops into one.
By allocating our biomass energy into a dedicated crop sector, we can effectively and efficiently have an alternative energy that does not drive up economic spending.
Also, exploring additional biomass power options will expand the diversity of power options on the consumer market, lowering the overall demand for a particular crop.
For example: if it was found that milkweed can be used to make gas (which it does not) then the corn crops would be lowered because a second option is available. It is common sense.
Diversify the market and dedicate more crops to the production of the biomass power and you will have better results.
Number Three: Solar power may soon become taxed
Solar power may not be living off the grid for much longer.
States which have seen an increase in residential properties implementing Solar Panels have begun to push for solar power taxation.
Arizona has proposed a bill which would charge a monthly tax for solar panels. Oklahoma also will charge you a fee if you install solar panels or wind turbines on your property.
The main advocate for taxation on alternative energy is the ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council).
As you would expect, the members consist mostly of corporate activist and those who have their hand in the oil and gas industry. ALEC is an active “anti-green” and against off grid living calling those who do “free riders”.
In 2014 77 energy bills in 34 states were submitted by the council in an effort to tax those who install solar panels on their home.
With the executive bill signed on mandating renewable energies in corporations and having states meet target CO2 levels, states are going to have to make up for the loss of profit from companies which cannot comply.
The standard way in which to do this (governmentally speaking) is to tax something. Since the culprit of the lack of funds is renewable energy, the chances that the alternative energy will become the next ticket item for taxation is high.
A final note
Where it is true that there are negatives to alternative energy, it still holds more benefits than traditional energy consumption.
For example solar panels last on average 25 years or more.
Those wishing to live off the grid should consider which natural resources are most abundant in the area and use the best method.
You will want to check what regulations your state and local area has about installing alternative energy power on a residence.