Snow and Solar Power: My Obsession

Stephen Smith | February 1, 2010 | Energy Policy

sweeping-snow-from-solar-panelsAs the east dug itself out of another snowstorm, I found myself up on a ladder pushing snow off my solar panels on a Sunday afternoon. Of course, I did not have to do this. Over the next couple of days it would have all melted off just fine, but one obsession I must admit: I can not stand to see a bright sunny day and not see the electric utility meter running backwards on my house.

The thick snow on the roof just did not work for me yesterday.  Having solar power has me paying much closer attention to the clouds and weather generally.  I’m more aware of tracking the sun in the sky as the earth tilts on its axis. The sun is moving north again after its lowest point in the southern sky during the winter solstice December 21st.  When you have solar panels, it just gives you a little more of a connection to these natural cycles.

This has been a tough late fall/early winter so far because we have had more rain than normal.  You can see this on our solar output graphs for the last few months. Especially check out the Energy and Power data. February 11, 2010 will be one year since we installed the system, and I hope to post a year in review soon after.

I share this not to be smug — I have a strong belief that many, many more folks will be adding solar to their homes in the coming months and years. It is more to help you understand the little obsessions that come with the power of the sun. My time on the ladder today was not about money, as I estimate I went from a 1-2 kWh day without my efforts and allowing the snow melt on its own, to 8.4 kWh with my early afternoon 30-minute intervention. In all, this made me about $1.60. So today was not about the money. We produced some hot water too, as I also cleared the solar hot water ed-begley-jrpanels, which on a cold day is priceless.

I do get a kick out of my neighbor across the street who has started calling me Ed Begley. Of course I laugh with him when he calls me this and then I laugh at him as he continues to pay the utility company a lot of money for dirty power every month.

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
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