Displaying items by tag: environment

Friday, 29 September 2017 18:17

Is Solar Right For You?

Would you like to enjoy the benefits of using solar energy for your home electricity needs? Have you investigated how to make the switch to clean energy, but then gave up when you had more questions than answers? This blog post will discuss the options for solar photovoltaics (PV) in Middle Tennessee.

There are many advantages to using solar to power your home. Solar power contributes to cleaner air, decreases your carbon footprint, and creates local jobs for solar installers. Solar provides a fixed energy price vs. the continual rise in electricity prices with other forms of generation. For our electricity provider, Nashville Electric Service (NES), retail rates will increase by approximately 3% beginning October 2017.

Installing solar panels on your roof may be less expensive than you think. So-called “grid parity” is reached when renewable energy, such as rooftop solar, is less than or equal to the price of purchasing fossil fuel energy. Around 20 states are currently at grid parity for residential solar. The price for installing solar has dramatically decreased over the last 10 years. As shown in Figure 1, there was a 61% reduction in the cost of residential solar PV system from 2010 to 2017. Additionally, there is a 30% federal tax credit for the cost of installing solar. This credit will decrease incrementally, with no credit for systems placed in service after January 2022. 

Figure 1. Residential solar PV system cost. Data source: U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System Cost Benchmark: Q1 2017 by NREL.

Maybe you’ve researched what it would take to install solar panels on your roof. Here are some examples that you may have considered towards the feasibility of solar panels for your specific situation: Do you own your house? Does it have a south facing roof with the correct angle, or pitch? Is this roof in full sun most of the day? Do you have the money available to buy solar panels? Are you planning to stay in your house for a while? If the answer isn’t yes to all of these questions, don’t despair! Even if you are not a good candidate for rooftop solar, there are other options to allow you to harness solar energy for your electricity needs.

 

NES gets electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and there is a new program where NES is partnering with TVA, Metro Nashville, and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee to construct the first community solar program in Nashville. The 2MW Music City Solar project will be located on a former landfill in North Nashville. By subscribing to the community solar project, customers can “go solar” without installing their own panels. This is ideal for renters and homeowners with shaded rooftops. Anyone with an NES electric account can sign up to purchase solar units consisting of a share of the total output of the community solar array. Construction will begin in late fall 2017 and NES will communicate the details of how to sign up to customers. Socket will help spread the message about this groundbreaking project!

 

Another option available to NES customers is the Green Power Switch program. By signing up and purchasing green power blocks, customers can ensure that they use renewable electricity from wind, solar and methane gas. How does this work, since electricity from renewable resources and fossil fuel sources mixes together on the electric power grid? Every unit of renewable energy that gets added to the grid generates a Renewable Energy Certificate (REC). You can purchase this REC, which ensures that you are using this unit of renewable energy. It is how we keep track of green power. Green Power Switch is TVA’s program to keep track of RECs. By purchasing green power blocks, you help the regional renewable energy market to grow, since TVA is obligated to add enough renewable energy to the grid for all the Green Power Switch customers.

It is also possible to buy RECs from other sources. Make sure the RECs that you purchase are third-party certified by an independent company such as Green-e Energy. This way, you will know that each REC is independently tracked and verified. Be mindful that purchasing RECs from sources other than TVA will support projects outside Tennessee with the benefits of the renewable energy project such as local jobs flowing to other communities.

Whether you plan to add solar panels to your roof, sign up for community solar from Music City Solar,  buy renewable energy through the Green Power Switch program or buy Renewable Energy Credits, there is a way for you to benefit from clean energy. Find the way that works for you!

 

 This blog was authored by Michelle Hamman, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Specialist here at the Department of General Services’ Sustainability Division. Michelle can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Published in Blogs
Friday, 12 May 2017 14:07

Happy Mother's Day, from Socket

Socket wishes all moms a happy Mother’s Day! While we celebrate our moms every day of the year, this is their special day.

 

Just as our own mothers nurture and nourish our bodies and minds, so does Mother Nature play a leading role in our physical and mental wellbeing. Today, as we each honor our “human moms,” take a moment to consider all that is provided by the complex planetary ecosystem all around us.

 

 

All 7.4 billion of us on the planet rely on clean water, clean air, and healthy food for our survival. The quality of what we drink, breathe, and eat is directly influenced by the environment from which it came. Pure water, clean air free from pollutants, and fresh food that is free from toxics support our physical growth and development.

 

 

Our biology dictates that we spend time outdoors. In fact, the best source of essential nutrient vitamin D is sunlight hitting our skin. Yet few foods in nature contain vitamin D, and more than 1 billion people worldwide are deficient in the nutrient.[i] As the world population migrates to cities and we spend more time indoors, this public health problem is likely to intensify. Luckily, getting your D is very doable – choose to spend 5-30 minutes in midday sun twice per week, take a supplement, and/or enjoy milk fortified with vitamin D, plus eggs and fatty fishes.[ii]

 

 

It is not just our physical health that benefits from time outdoors. City dwellers have a 20 percent higher risk of anxiety disorders and a 40 percent higher risk of mood disorders as compared to people in rural areas.[iii] Studies show that spending time in nature benefits our mood and mental health and can even reduce symptoms of depression.

 

 

As you can see, there are many things to be thankful for from the natural world. Socket says, this Mother’s Day, honor the mother who raised you, and your Mother Nature!

 

And remember, if you’re thinking of buying mom flowers or chocolate for the big day, consider making the sustainable choice. It’s all explained in our Green Valentine’s Day blog.

 

 

As usual, there is no shortage of things to do in Nashville this weekend. Why not treat your mom to a special mother’s day jazz brunch at City Winery, enjoy free performances by the Blair Children’s Choruses, or relive childhood wonder with the closing performance of "Goodnight Moon" at the Nashville Children’s Theatre on Sunday? Happy Mother’s Day!

 



[i] Cure for Vitamin D deficiency? More sun, less block: study 5/2/17 http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/cure-vitamin-deficiency-sun-block-study-article-1.3130619

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Stanford researchers find mental health prescription: Nature 6/30/15 http://news.stanford.edu/2015/06/30/hiking-mental-health-063015/

 

Published in Blogs
Thursday, 20 April 2017 16:51

A Short History of Earth Day

Socket was curious about the origins and impact of Earth Day, so we did a little digging! (But not enough to uproot the tulips!)

 

When did Earth Day begin?

The first Earth Day was on April 22, 1970 when 20 million Americans demonstrated for cleaner air, land, and water. Thousands of locations, including several colleges and universities, participated in the event.

 

When was Nashville’s first Earth Day?

 2017 marks the 16th Nashville Earth Day celebrated in Centennial Park. Before that, Nashville Earth Day celebrations we held throughout the community at places like the Cumberland Science Museum (now Adventure Science Center), Radnor Lake, the YMCA, and many more!

 

Why do we celebrate on April 22? 

The date of April 22 was chosen because on many university calendars, it falls between spring break and final exams. Since college students were targeted to champion the movement, this date accommodated their schedules.

 

What impact did the first Earth Day have? 

By the end of 1970, “the first Earth Day had led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.” Source: EarthDay.org

 

When did Earth Day go global?

On Earth Day’s 20th anniversary April 22, 1990, the event went worldwide, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries to celebrate the planet.

 

What about now? 

Today, Earth Day has the distinction of being the “largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by more than a billion people every year.” Source: EarthDay.org

 

I want to know more!

Learn more on all things Earth Day at EarthDay.org and EPA's page about the holiday.

 

I want to participate!

Socket can’t wait to see you at Nashville’s Earth Day Festival this Saturday, April 22 at Centennial Park from 11:00am – 6:00pm. Visit Socket’s booth to meet our mascot Socket, enter the kids’ art contest, pick up a free coloring book, and enter to win a backyard composter. Our booth, #38, is at the end of our row, right across the walking path from the "Green Market" vendor area.

 

Published in Blogs