Meanwhile a conduit was built to bring the cables from the Solar Panels down the side of the house, into the basement to a junction box, and then to the Inverter, which converts Direct Current from the Solar Panels into Alternating Current for use.
Today is day two of solar panel installation, and they’ve been working on setting up the optimizers. These will attach one to each panel, and enable it to function separately from the other panels, so that if one goes out or gets shaded they don’t all go out like a string of Christmas tree lights when one goes bad. We will be able to track the performance of each panel via a website. They are also creating the electrical wiring and its protective casing that will go from the roof to the basement inverter panel.
Yesterday, the framing for our solar panels was attached to the roof, with flashing to protect against any leaking. And we had a lovely sunny day for it. The installers take the weekend off, and return on Monday to do the next steps.
Today is the day! Our solar panel installation begins. It somehow seems fitting that it begins on a new moon day. A few days ago, the solar panels were delivered to our back yard.
Then Central Maine Power came to install a second meter–one records what we use and the other records what we send to the grid.
Yesterday afternoon, the scaffolding was set up so they are ready to go this morning.
The installation generally takes about three days, including putting framing and panels on the roof and the electrical work inside. It is hard to believe it is finally happening after all these months! I promise to post more pictures as the work progresses.
Yesterday, the governor of Maine vetoed the compromise solar energy bill that the legislature worked so hard to pass. I feel so angry. This one man is destroying thousands of potential new solar installations, all the jobs that go with it, and ultimately, adding to thousands of tons of carbon emissions because of his attack on renewable energy. I read today that even the utility companies supported this compromise bill. It certainly wasn’t a great bill. A great bill would have added incentives and support for increasing our shift to renewable energy. But it did provide a modest way forward.
But one man can veto it all. It makes my blood boil.
Tomorrow there is a rally at the state house, and I know that many people are writing to their legislators to attempt to gain nine more votes from Republicans who previously have voted against the bill. My state rep and state senator were both in favor, and I wrote to thank them. And I am writing this post, because sometimes we just have to rail against the powers of destruction and hope that the fire in our voices will turn the wind.
Signing the contract for our own solar panels has made this political side of the struggle very personal to me. I was just realizing today that it has been almost nine months since we began this journey, our search for greener housing. The length of a human pregnancy: and it has felt like being pregnant. The sheer magnitude of doing it all required a focus and energy that limited the other work I could do for the transformation of our society toward earth community. But now we are here, and the solar panels are about to be installed, and the baby is almost born, and I feel like a mama bear about it. I know that solar panels are not the be-all and end-all of the work we must do. But they have become a sign and symbol of it for me.
I have to remember the vows I took when I gathered with other earth lovers at the Work that Reconnects with Joanna Macy last summer. They give me strength on days like today.
- I vow to myself and to each of you:
- To commit myself daily to the healing of our world and the welfare of all beings.
- To live on Earth more lightly and less violently in the food, products, and energy I consume.
- To draw strength and guidance from the living Earth, the ancestors, the future beings, and my siblings of all species.
- To support others in their work for the world and to ask for help when I feel the need.
- To pursue a daily practice that clarifies my mind, strengthens my heart, and supports me in observing these vows.
I have to remember that we will not complete the work, but neither can we abandon it. This is the next part of this spiritual journey. Whatever the outcome, to be fierce like a mama bear about this earth we love. To be connected to the real Mama Bear, the Earth herself. We are part of a larger Life, larger than one destructive man, larger than the destructive forces that threaten everything we hold dear. I have to remember to lift up my voice and my arms in life and hope with all the green living things who are waking up in this season of new life.
Today, as I walked in the woods, I was suddenly seeing all the leaves budding open as if they were little solar energy panels for the plants and trees–only much more beautiful and efficient than the solar energy panels we humans are able to make. We are in those weeks when the plants are waking up and starting their solar production once more. And our own celebration is to make a decision about solar energy, so that panels can be put on our roof as soon as possible.
Last week, we had a roofing company come to replace all the worn shingles, so the roof would be ready. Then we read solar proposals and asked questions, and tried to decide between some great local companies who are installing solar panels in our area. That was the toughest part of the decision. We also took into consideration the total life cycle environmental impact of the panels themselves, and that helped us to choose SolarWorld panels which are made in the United States, and score high on all measures of environmental accountability and worker treatment. Who knew there were so many factors to consider?
Meanwhile, my time has been very busy with church work, and I am sorry to have neglected this blogging. Yesterday, I preached on a topic related to Faith Climate Action Week, and found this quote by Gus Speth, a U.S. advisor on climate change:
“I used to think that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that thirty years of good science could address these problems. I was wrong. The top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that.”
It is good to be serving a congregation that is interested in such a cultural and spiritual transformation! They support the changes Margy and I are making, and many other families are also asking how they can lower their carbon footprint. We give each other hope and strength.