December 9, 2012

Letters to the editor: A lesson on grid-tied solar power

Tying solar to the grid requires a wary buyer

click image to enlarge

Solar panels and solar hot water panels cover the roof of a Freeport residence. A letter writer who recently installed a grid-tied solar power system says grid disruptions too small for utility equipment to measure can trigger shutdowns in such a system, potentially on a daily basis.

2007 Staff File Photo

I recently had a grid-tied solar power system installed at my residence and have experienced a common problem.

Solar panels are regulated by law to stop producing electricity when they sense grid instability. That means grid disruptions too small for utility equipment to measure can cause solar shutdowns. Due to the extreme sensitivity of the panel inverters, coupled with the grid activity in your neighborhood, a solar system can experience multiple short-term shutdowns on a daily basis. Standard installer and manufacturer warranties do not cover this.

Think of buying a new car and having the "check engine" light come on every time you're driving down the road. Then imagine having your dealership tell you, "Even though it's reducing your gas mileage, it's probably safe, so don't worry about it."

Two lessons learned from my experience are, first and foremost, include an actual grid compatibility performance guarantee in the installer's contract.

Second, don't assume grid-tied systems are guaranteed efficient and reliable just because they are backed by Efficiency Maine.

My system operates at 66 percent of estimated production and drops out at least once a day. With these facts in hand, no concern has been expressed from those at Efficiency Maine to warn potential customers.

Although solar power has great potential, protect yourself in your contract with the installer. Otherwise, you're rolling the dice.

Gary Fogarty

Old Town

The right to bear arms hardly a hunting issue

A quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson says, "When the people fear the government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

I fear that many today believe that the 2nd Amendment was instituted to protect hunters. In the second presidential debate, President Obama said, "I believe in the 2nd Amendment ... We've got a long tradition of hunting and sportsmen ..." Many politicians on the other side of the political spectrum make similar statements.

The truth of the matter is, the 2nd Amendment was not instituted to protect hunters. Our guaranteed right to bear arms is there to protect us against tyrannical government.

Every American citizen without a felony record should own a firearm. The more citizens are armed, the less likely government will become tyrannical.

A nation of armed citizens is also far stronger against foreign threats. That was the belief of the Founders.

I urge readers to exercise their God-given right and own firearms and ammunition. It is part of the patriotic tradition of our forefathers, and it is our privilege and duty as Americans.

Jeremy Hiltz

Chelsea

Others shouldn't subsidize your charitable giving

Michelle Singletary's Nov. 25 column on charitable tax deductions ("Why give a tax break for giving? It really helps") ignores or downplays the reasons why this and almost all other such deductions should be eliminated.

1) The savings that the donor receives means that other taxpayers, including those in lower brackets, must make up the difference. A million-dollar gift by a donor in a 30 percent tax bracket means the rest of us have to pay an additional $300,000 in taxes. Multiply this by billions, and you're talking real money.

2) I should not have to subsidize your giving or you mine. It appalls me that gifts to churches and schools that are pro-life and teach creationism are deductible. You may be equally appalled that gifts to pro-choice and environmental organizations are also deductible.

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