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Friday, May 29, 2009

New Interconnection Rules Boost Small Alternative Energy Producers (That Could Be You!)

Kudos to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission for making it easier for regular folks to get into the alternative energy business. The PUC yesterday approved the South Dakota Small Generation Interconnection Rules.

Short explanation: When you hook solar panels or a wind turbine to your house, there will be times when your home energy system cranks out more energy than you need. There will also be windless nights when you need more power than your system and its storage units can provide. Either way, you'll probably want to stay connected to the grid, so you can have a stable backup and sell your excess power. The new interconnect rules make connecting your panels or turbine or cold fusion bucket easier by unifying and simplifying the rules for pouring your juice into the sluice.

These rules will boost distributed power generation, and that's all good. More suppliers means more competition for central power plants (hooray for the free market!), not to mention more redundancy in the system. It'll be a lot harder for a computer glitch or al-Qaeda to knock out our power if it comes from thousands of small generators rather than a centralized system.

Learn more on interconnection standards from the New Rules Project!


  1. Wind Power and wind energy will become South Dakota's next Citibank or John Morrell's. The time to get informed, get involved and get on board is now because our wind keeps a blowin' and power needs keep a growin'. Imagine the ecological effect of little or no carbon footprint from wind power versus coal and natural gas.

  2. Cory,

    Is there enough research on wind energy that proves its benefits? I'm all for solar energy, but I'm not sold that win energy is the ticket... much land needed for questionable energy production. What do you think?

  3. K. Ericsson, in terms of renewables, wind is definitely going to be the broadest winner followed closely in second by solar thermal power. It only requires inexpensive materials (steel, concrete, fiberglass) that we have in abundance. Additionally, there really isn't any new technology that needs to be developed. Just a scale up of existing technology.

    By contrast, photovoltaic energy requires the use of very rare materials (indium amongst others).

    Personally, I'd just rather see us go nukes. Imagine if we had taken all of the money we dumped into the recent Iraq war and decided to simply build nuclear plants. We would have over 3x the necessary generation capacity. Our electric bills would drop by over an order of magnitude (just need people to support the power lines).

    THAT is energy independence. Heck, I bet people would be buying electric cars left and right if the power was free.

  4. K, I have a lot of respect for Tony's engineering insights. Wind power has its negative impacts, like noise and maybe dead goats, but it's main fuel source doesn't leave a scratch on the planet.

    Now you are right, K, that it takes a lot more land to produce X amount of energy with wind turbines than with a conventional (or nuclear) power plant. But that land can still be used for farming and ranching.

    Of course, if we're looking for stable, cheap, and clean, I might be willing to side with Tony and ask for more nuclear plants. (Hey, Tony, when are you going to work the kinks out of fusion?)

  5. The problem with positive energy fusion is the comically high temperature that is necessary to initiate the reactions. There aren't any materials that remain solid at such temperatures.

    The current solution everyone is working on is to confine the reaction using magnetic fields rather than a physical chamber. Unfortunately for them, the laws of magnetism are stacked firmly against them. Here's a pretty up to date wiki on the problem:


    Essentially, they have to create containment chambers that are of challenging size and dimensions to make a magnetic confinement chamber.

    So to answer your question more directly, if I could rewrite the laws of physics to make changed particles be repelled when acted upon by a magnetic field rather than gyrated, the problem would be solved already.


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