Experts say the drought of 2012, which is affecting about 60 percent of the nation, could be the worst since the 1950s. Those hit hardest are farmers, whose troubles will be passed along to consumers as higher prices for groceries.
Consumers are also likely to pay more for electricity. With water being scarcer, water-cooled electric generating plants won't have enough water to run at full capacity. This means that less power will be generated and it will cost more per unit for utilities to produce or to buy. This higher cost could be passed on to consumers.
Homeowners can apply for a credit of 30 percent of the system's cost, including the equipment and installation. No maximum amount is applied to the credit.
To be eligible for the credit, at least half the energy to heat the water must come from the sun. The system also must have certification from the Solar Rating and Certification Corporation (SRCC) or a similar state-certified agency. Solar water heaters installed in new construction and existing houses, including principal and second homes, qualify. Solar swimming pool heaters are not eligible. See energystar.gov for additional details.
Petrocultures is an academic research group formed in May 2011 and based at the University of Alberta. It was founded "to support, produce, and distribute research related to the social and cultural implications of oil and energy on individuals, communities, and societies around the world today."
The group includes scholars, academicians, writers, artists and filmmakers who watch, explore and analyze a wide range of socio-cultural issues in communities to which the oil and energy industry has been attracted by resources. The group's base is situated in an area near many communities impacted by the development of oil sands east and north of Edmonton.
The group will host its first Petrocultures conference at the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean in Edmonton on Sept. 6-9, 2012.
A Japanese journalist living in Dallas recently reported on North Texas' experience with developing gas shale reserves. A couple of my About.com photos illustrate the story, which appears in a Japanese newspaper Asahi at http://webronza.asahi.com/global/2012062900001.html.
If you don't speak Japanese, plug the URL into Google Translate to read it (the automated translation is a bit rough, as you might expect). It appears she captured the many important issues related to gas development in the Barnett Shale.
What happens when a pipeline carrying dilbit spills? Michigan residents found out first-hand, according to this reporting.
Rudolph Diesel, inventor of the diesel engine, foresaw the potential of biologically produced diesel oil, says our guest author Dr. Amit Sarin.
Many Americans purchase electric power through a public utility or a privately owned utility. However, 42 million people nationwide get their electricity through a cooperative.
A new line of "plug and play" photovoltaic modules from Westinghouse Solar will help streamline solar installation on sloped and flat roofs. The "Instant Connect" modules have DC to AC current inverters built in, so wiring is less complicated.
Even with these advances, solar installation is not a job for DIYers. There are many calculations and electrical considerations involved in installing renewable systems. Proper permits and electrical code compliance are essential for safety and optimal performance.
Wind turbine installations in Texas have been built at a rapid pace. Nearby military installations are asking for a say in the planning process, to ensure security of flight training operations.
Take a break from your routine this summer by attending an energy industry conference.
Travel to Kentucky in July for Hydro Vision International then cool off at the Arctic Imperative Summit in August.