Tying solar to the grid requires a wary buyer

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


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.

3) Abuse is easy and rampant, as we have seen during recent elections. Groups that are formed to educate the public often tailor their message to favor one candidate or another.

4) Who decides the criteria for qualification as a charitable group? Congress. Need more be said?

Edward S. Riggs


Oath of office is only pledge officeholders should take

Many Republican members of Congress seem to feel constrained from supporting a balanced approach to deficit reduction — one that combines spending cuts with revenue increases — because of a pledge they made (in some cases, decades ago) to never vote for a tax increase. This doesn’t make sense, either in principle or practice.

The principle is that our public representatives should only take one pledge: the oath of office. Promises made to powerful lobbyists — in the case of “no new taxes,” to Grover Norquist — that conflict with that oath must be disregarded. The nation faces a serious debt problem; there is no way of solving it with budget cuts alone; duty to country requires that all members of Congress support revenue increases.

Practically speaking, no member of Congress is being asked to vote for a tax increase as part of the current budget negotiations. All that is necessary to raise considerable revenue is to allow certain temporary tax cuts to expire on schedule.

If the cuts applying to annual household income above $250,000 were simply allowed to run out at year’s end like they’re supposed to, we could raise a trillion dollars over the next decade for debt reduction and to strengthen programs like Medicare.

This reversion to slightly higher Clinton-era rates would affect only the top 2 percent of taxpayers. Republicans and Democrats agree cuts should be extended for the other 98 percent of us, in order to maintain consumer demand in the face of a still-fragile economy.

As Mainers we can be proud that both Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins have maintained their right to individual judgment on taxes. Now they just need to convince their Republican colleagues that in principle and practice, they too should ignore Grover Norquist and his unpatriotic pledge.

Paul Treacy

Kittery Point

Today’s Republicans not the party of Lincoln

Jones F. Gallagher simply used a verbatim Rush Limbaugh talking point in an attempt to exuse the racist behavior of outgoing Republican chairman Charlie Webster (“Democrats, not GOP, practice racism,” Nov. 30). The shallow argument contends that the Republican Party was originally predicated on the abolishment of slavery and reinforced its position when more Republicans in Congress voted for civil right legislation than Democrats.

That point fails to mention that all of the “Dixiecrats” that voted against the civil rights agenda immediately converted to the GOP.

That was then and this is now. Virtually all governors in the South are Republicans and vigorously support the Confederate principles of state’s rights, Jim Crow laws, and subjugation of minority populations. Not only is this no longer the party of Lincoln, it isn’t the party of Rockefeller, George Romney or Ronald Reagan.

John M. Flagler