March 1969

In this issue:


Canadians Recycle

Three R's

President's Corner

Kids' Page

Modular Solar

Solar Now?

Solar Calendar

Solar Calendar

The Pros

Alabama Solar Association, P.O. Box 143 Huntsville, Alabama 35804
Established 1981 to Promote the Use of Our Sun’s Renewable Energy to Preserve Our Environment
Renewable Portfolio Standard

A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a government policy that mandates the increased production of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass energy sources. Unfortunately, Alabama is not among the 32 states to establish a RPS to date.

A state RPS usually obligates electricity supply companies to produce a specified fraction of their electricity from renewable energy sources by a certain date. Renewable energy generators might claim “green power” certificates for their production and then sell these green power certificates to another power generator who might have trouble meeting renewable energy mandates.

RPS supporters believe free market implementation will bring efficiency, innovation, and innovation delivering renewable energy at costs competitive with the cost of fossil fuel generation. The Edison Electric Institute, a trade association for America’s investor-owned utilities, opposes a nationwide RPS, claiming it would “raise consumers’ electricity prices and create inequities among states.”

RPS mechanisms usually work best when used in combination with federal Production Tax Credits (PTC). The RPS alone lacks sufficient stimulus to encourage large volume generation.

North Carolina recognizes an often overlooked renewable energy source— conservation. The state RPS allows 25 percent of the total requirement to come from energy efficiency. Conservation is generally believed to be the first step in achieving a net zero energy consumption facility. New Mexico allows utility customers to sell back tax credits through a utility tax purchase program. Connecticut, one of the most densely populated states, has the most ambitious RPS. It requires that the state’ get 27 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020. the 25 x ’25 vision seeks 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Ohio has no RPS, but the governor wants the state to reduce energy use statewide by 5 percent by 2009. Ohio is also considering coal with carbon capture, nuclear, fuel cells, or cogeneration.

An Alabama RPS would have many advantages. It would give energy planners better data upon which to base their projections while giving renewable energy industries with a predictable market. State energy officials and utilities could create more accurate models that improve energy and air quality plans while decreasing reliance on fossil fuels. An RPS could help citizens maintain affordable energy prices over time.

It’s time for Alabama to adopt a Renewable Portfolio Standard.


Recycling in Canada;
Why not here?
by Karen Moulton

As a Canadian moving to the South, I was surprised to find that, at least in Tuscaloosa, there is comparatively little recycling here.

I come from a country where all citizens are taught the value of recycling. If you believe, as I do, that we borrow this earth from our children, then we must do our utmost to preserve our environment for future generations.

Our motto is “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” Every city has a recycling program, and you will find color-coded boxes on the curb on garbage/recycling day. Some neighborhoods do better than others.

The schools play a big part in teaching upcoming generations the importance of recycling. Most school districts have a recycling policy to which they adhere as well as teaching its concepts as part of the curriculum. Most importantly, children are involved in recycling. Research has demonstrated that when children are doing their part to reduce, reuse, and recycle their parents are encouraged to rethink what they are doing (Ottawa-Carleton District School Board website).

My hometown is Ottawa, Ontario – the capital of Canada. The City’s one million residents produce approximately 330,000 tons of waste each year, and much of it is recyclable. The City encourages its residents to reduce, reuse, and recycle and hopes to divert a third of the total waste from ending up in landfill. Since landfill overload has become a huge problem, this could extend the life of the landfill by about 30 years. (( ).

The City offers a number of recycling programs:
  • Blue box recycling – glass, metal and plastic
  • Black box recycling – paper and cardboard
  • Green box recycling – organic waste (new in 2009)
  • Leaf and yard waste collection (April – November)
  • Great Spring/Fall Give Away Weekend
  • Promotion of home composting
Examples of what can and cannot be put into a backyard composter:
Allowed: Prohibited:
  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • tea bags
  • egg shells
  • coffee grounds & filters
  • nut shells
  • wood ash
  • plant trimmings and grass clippings
  • dry leaves
  • straw
  • wood chips/charcoal
  • sawdust (in thin layers)
  • dryer lint
  • hair and fur
  • pet manure or kitty litter
  • meat, bones, fat
  • dairy products
  • oil or oily foods
  • diseased/bug infested plants
  • diapers or sanitary products
  • barbecue ashes
  • eggs
  • fish and seafood

I also fondly remember vermi-composting with my kids when they were in elementary school. It sounds disgusting, but it’s actually very cool. Vermi-composting is simply composting with worms. Did you know that worms are incredible garbage eaters? They eat and expel their own weight every day, so even a small bin of worms will yield pounds of rich sweet-smelling compost. Finished compost can be harvested in as little as two to three months. The system has very little smell; you add eggshells to maintain the bedding at a safe pH level. The bins can be kept outside between 40 and 80° F. Vermi-compost provides nutrients to your plants and helps the soil hold moisture. We typically put it on our indoor plants, used it as top dressing around plants in the yard, and mixed it half and half with potting soil for house plants.

A nationally, there is a sponsored-program called “Compost’s Giants – the Annual Great Pumpkin Growing Contest has the objective of growing really big pumpkins by using compost. Every year it’s fun to see how big the winner will be!

In conclusion, the Ottawa city website offers these interesting facts:

  • Every week in 2005, each Ottawa household took to the curb:
    • 25 pounds of garbage, pounds
    • 3.1 pounds of blue box recyclables
    • 6.6 pounds of black box recyclables

  • Much of the City’s recycled glass is used as a base for road construction

  • $7.9 million came from selling Ottawa’s recyclable materials in 2007.

The Canadian process is not perfect, and we’re not doing enough yet, but we are making steady progress. Consider this – Canada had a 65% increase of materials diverted to recycling from 2000 to 2004.

Other issues to consider:

  • Use cloth shopping bags instead of plastic. When I moved here 3 years ago I brought all my own and didn’t see them for sale here. I am heartened to see them in lots of different venues now.
  • Use fabric instead of wrapping paper for gifts, especially at Christmas time. The website shows you how. It is a Japanese tradition. Fabric can be reused time and again; the website shows you wrapping techniques.

Recycling really is easy to do and doesn’t take a lot of time. It just requires the commitment to do it.

- Submitted by Karen Moulton. Professional recruiter / passionate recycler. I can be reached at 205-826-8877. My recruiting niche is engineering and manufacturing management positions in the U.S.

Reduce, Reuse, and then Recycle

What’s even better than recycling?

Why reuse and reduce of course. Take plastic bags like you get from the grocery store. We like the Kroger BYOB program—bring your own bag. Europeans have been using reusable cloth bags for years. It’s about time we caught onto the trend. So you forgot to bring your bags, and they gave you a plastic one, what to do? Can you reuse it rather than recycle it? We use them for trash bags in our small cans. From there it goes to the waste disposal plant and is burned to provide energy for Redstone Arsenal. Where can you recycle bags you can’t reuse? Huntsville curbside won’t take them, but you can take them to any Wal-Mart or Publix and recycle them there. What can you think of you can reduce, reuse, and only then, recycle?


Do you love your Mother?

President’s Corner

We celebrate earth day next month. Yes, every day is Earth Day, but we take time in April to remind those who have forgotten just how much we owe to our nurturing Mother Earth and how much we abuse her daily.

“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way,” sings Whitney Houston in "Greatest Love Of All.” If Mother Earth is to have a chance of surviving, it will be our children and grandchildren that will rescue her.

Beginning in this issue, we will dedicate two pages of this newsletter to educating children. They are bright and eager to learn. Studies have shown that well-educated children can change the behavior of their parents. Let’s use this powerful tool to our advantage.

Got some ideas on how to get kids involved? Want to help? Contact me or to our new PR director, Kay Detter.


Kid’s Page—Making a Pizza Box Solar Oven

Perhaps you’ve helped your mom make cookies. The first thing she usually does is to turn on the big kitchen oven to pre-heat it. But what if you didn’t have electricity or gas to heat your oven? What if you didn’t even have a kitchen? Or even a house? What if you lived in a refugee camp in Africa, because your family moved there to escape some really bad people? Or what if you lived on a tiny island that had never had electricity?

Chances are, the only way you could cook is to cut down trees for firewood, just like the Native Americans used to do. This works OK, as long as there are trees to cut down, but it is hard and dirty work, and the smoke makes the air dirty too.

If you did live on a tiny tropical island, you might see the sun high overhead. What if you could take its powerful rays to cook for you? You can.

The pizza box solar oven can reach temperatures of 275 degrees, hot enough to cook food and to kill germs in water. A general rule for cooking in a solar oven is to get the food in early and don't worry about overcooking. Solar cookers can be used for six months of the year in northern climates and year-round in tropical locations. Expect the cooking time to take about twice as long as conventional methods, and allow about one half hour for the oven to preheat.

Download the complete pizza-box solar oven plans with this printable PDF page.

Modular solar systems produce household current on the roof:

If you wanted to buy an early automobile, you would have to have bought the chassis from a carriage maker, the motor from an engine builder, and the interior from a coachwork firm. Then people like Henry Ford and Ransom Olds began to build a complete automobile. Solar today is like the car before Ford and Olds. If you want a solar system, you have to buy the parts from different suppliers and pay a contractor to assemble them. It takes a lot of labor to put all the pieces together and make them work as one complete system.

That may be about to change. Akeena Solar ( and Enphase Energy ( have partnered to produce a solar panel with a built in controller and inverter. You can plug the rooftop module directly into your household circuit.

Imagine someday soon you want electricity at a remote cabin or lakeside cottage, but it is nowhere near a power grid; maybe that’s why you like it. You might go into your favorite home improvement warehouse and buy a complete solar system in a big box. You trade your buddies a few beers to help you heft the box onto the roof—the most difficult part of the operation. You unfold the solar modules, bolt them down, run the power cord down the back wall, and connect it to the circuit breaker box. Within two hours from hauling the box to your roof, your EnergyStar® mini-fridge is cooling down to accept the beer out of your ice chest, and your big screen TV is ready to receive signals from your satellite dish.

Think not only of all the labor savings but how much of the mystery of solar power these systems might eliminate. New homes may someday come with hard points on the roof and an empty conduit from roof to the electrical service box.


Is now is the time to go Solar?

Should you buy a solar system now, or wait for prices to go down some more?

Prices will likely continue to decline, and you may save a few bucks by waiting, but how much more in higher utility bills will you pay in the meantime?

Uncle Sam now gives you a 30% tax credit for home PV systems, and Alabama is trying to pass a similar credit.

A 5 KW system, enough to power a typical American home, costs $35,000 to $40,000. The Federal tax credit could reduce that to around $25,000, and an Alabama credit could reduce the total to $15,000 entire 5 KW cost at one time, consider installing a smaller system. Solar systems are modular; you can add more panels to them at any time.

Everyone’s situation is different. Look at your utility bills, check last year’s tax return, review your budget, and at least consider installing a solar system this year.


Solar Happenings

See what's happening in your area

Did we miss anything?

Thursday, April 16th, noon, ASA Board of Director’s meeting, all welcome, Southern Solar Systems in Huntsville.

Wednesday, April 22nd, Earth Day celebration at Burritt on the Mountain, Huntsville

Friday, April 24th, Earth Day celebration at Burritt on the Mountain, Huntsville

Thursday, April 30th, ASA Quarterly General Membership Meeting, Ryan's Steakhouse, South Memorial Parkway, "Kilowatt Ours,” 1 PDH.

May 11th – 16th, American Solar Energy Society national convention, Buffalo, NY

Friday, May 15th, deadline for nomination of the 2009 Solar Professional of the Year.

Saturday, May 30th, Boy Scouts collect recycling in Huntsville. Ask Morton

Thursday, June 11th, HATS 2009 Professional of the Year Dinner, von Braun Center

Saturday, October 3rd, Alabama Solar Tour, Corner, Hoover, Huntsville, Royal, and the Gulf Coast

Thursday, December 3rd, the annual HATS Holiday Reception and the ASA Christmas Party at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens

Those energy professionals who support Alabama Solar Association and solve your energy challenges.

Summerdale, Alabama,
(Mobile Area)
Affordable Solar Hot Water and Power LLC
Barton Craig McManus
P.O. Box 375, Dothan, AL 36302
Green Works
Design - Build - Remodel
  • New Home Designs & Reviews
  • Home Energy Performance Clinics
  • Passive and Active Solar Applications
  • Member Southface Energy Institute
    Stephen Guesman
Mark Friedline
Mobile, AL
Reisz Engineers
3322 Memorial Parkway S.
Huntsville, AL 35807

11807 South Memorial Parkway
Huntsville, AL 35803
(256) 883-9848
Southern Solar has what it takes to meet your energy needs.

Debra Rucker Coleman, Architect
18250 Tanner Rd.
Citronelle, AL 36522
(251) 341-0509

Room for two more Solarites here. Anybody know a solar pro not listed here?

Learn more about your Solarites on the Solarite Webpage