More Oil On Our Hands

Oil spills are heart-wrenching anywhere, here at home on our own Pacific coast hits me the hardest.  I feel these accidents are the result of our collective laziness and a few people’s greed.  We can do so much better.
Workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach after an oil spill in Newport Beach, California, on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.

Workers in protective suits clean the contaminated beach after an oil spill in Newport Beach, California, on Wednesday, October 6, 2021.

This sad situation brings several larger issues to mind for me; things I don’t understand well, but I feel they are all related.
– Our country is going further into debt each year, (blowing through the 100% debt to GDP ratio during the Trump administration, and reaching about 125% for 2020.)
– We are essentially borrowing money from China at this point, to subsidize the oil industry and our gasoline-based import consumer culture.
– Our oil based consumer import economy is decreasing American manufacturing jobs, and harming our ability to provide for ourselves.
– The drilling, refining and burning of oil and gas is causing horrendous damage to oceans, wetlands and wildlife here at home, and globally altering the atmospheric chemistry in a dangerous manner.
– There is a finite amount of oil, which is a base ingredient for mountains of plastic junk in addition to incredibly useful items like contact lenses and bike helmets that plastic is great for, where a small amount of plastic makes products that make our lives much better.  However we take that oil and we waste nearly all of it by burning it.
I know these issues can not be remedied by installing solar panels on roofs here on the Olympic Peninsula, but I am stumped as for a better thing for me to be doing at the moment.
Please do what you can to help address these complex issues, which may include riding a bike or driving an EV, buying less unnecessary stuff, or maybe even installing a solar array on your roof.

5.25 KW Sunpower Array, Nordland, September 2021

New Orleans Shows Need for Distributed Renewable Energy and Storage

Here on the Olympic Peninsula, we don’t face the same issues as they do in the Gulf States, but we are not beyond the reach of severe weather, so would do well to learn from the mistakes of others.  This article at Canary Media discusses energy issues in New Orleans after Hurricane Ida, where at least 300,000 people remained without power two weeks after the storm.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the utility was required to rebuild power lines to withstand 120 mph winds, and they were allowed to rate-base those costs, thereby charging extra to the consumers.  Ida’s winds reached 100 mph and there were numerous significant failures of those lines.
Entergy, which is the utility, overcame significant opposition to building a new polluting natural gas power plant in New Orleans.  One of the promises Entergy made was that this plant would be able to operate a micro-grid to keep the power on power on the core of the city even if there were widespread outages.  It failed during Ida.
The gas plant is especially galling to local clean energy activists since it is the direct actions of the oil and gas industry that contribute to New Orleans’ vulnerability through destruction of the buffering wetlands, and globally through carbon emissions’ contribution to climate change.
Resilience is attainable through replacement of those gas plants and above ground power lines, with solar, wind, and storage in a distributed manner, along with underground power lines.


11 KW Sunpower Array, Bremerton WA, January, 2021

There Is No Moderate Response to Climate Change

David Roberts recently wrote that we will either make radical changes to shape our future, or radical changes beyond our control or ability to avoid will be visited upon us.  He is a clear writer and interesting observer of climate issues, you can see his article and other work here:

The only responses that accomplish what we need are rapid installation of clean electricity generation, early retirement of as many fossil fuel consuming equipment, and electrification of as much of the economy as possible.  It is incumbent on each of us to analyze how we can lead fulfilling healthy lives while radically reducing our gasoline and overall energy consumption.  Your quality of life does not necessarily depend on your energy consumption, and the energy your family does need can be provided with clean renewable resources.


Leaf and RAV4 EV charging from 9.5 kw Sunpower solar array in the North Beach neighborhood of Port Townsend.

Solar Tours Return – Jefferson Solar Tour July 31

We are resuming our solar educational events beginning with the Jefferson Solar Tour 2021. This will be an outdoor event with an optional indoor presentation. The solar tours have traditionally been regarded as valuable events bringing updated information and the opportunity to speak with homeowners to learn about their first hand experiences with solar.

This will be a free outdoor and indoor optional in-person event at 10 am until 1 pm, starting at the Power Trip Energy building at 83 Denny Avenue in Port Townsend. Starting at 10 am will be a Spin Your Meter Backwards presentation which can be considered Solar 101 with a focus on local regulations, the state of grid-tied solar technology, and incentives. Limited refreshments will be provided, please bring your own cup. Please bike, drive electric, or carpool if you can. One or two additional homes TBD will be available for viewing in Port Townsend.

Oregon Takes a Clean Energy Policy Lead, Even Among Neighboring West Coast States

The Oregon legislature has now enacted a 100% carbon-free electricity standard by 2040, including 80% by 2030 and 90% by 2035.

This fits our simplified strategy of 1) Electrify everything, 2) Make as much clean electricity generation as quickly as possible, 3) Use that electricity as efficiently as possible, 4) decommission all carbon emitting power generation as soon as possible.


6.5 kw Sunpower array on Clallam PUD Grid, Sequim, May 2021

Texas Grid Regulators Have Recommended Winterizing Resources Many Times, No Requirements Though

As it turns out, the winter storm and historic outages in Texas have been predicted and warned against for decades.  However there has been little regulatory requirement for utilities, generators, or grid operators to take action.  Texas Was Warned a Decade Ago Its Grid Was Unready for Cold (

I found this discussion on The Energy Gang podcast regarding the Texas outages to be enlightening.  Of note this was Jigar Shah’s second to last appearance on The Energy Gang; he was hired by the Dept of Energy Loan Office, which is very good news for renewable energy companies trying to bridge the gap and scale their innovations up to market.

Regarding the Texas grid failure, and its much less regulated grid, we will be learning much over the coming months, and it will be interested to see how those monthly electric bills work out for people.  You can anticipate there will be plenty of greed and corruption on public display.

Our vision is to avoid the worst of what we saw in Texas by promoting clean renewable and distributed energy generation.  The more grid-tied arrays are at the point of use, the better off everyone will be, not only the owners of those arrays saving money on their bills.  Ultimately the entire grid will become more stabile and less reliant on  centralized energy sources and those that control them.


5 KW Sunpower array in Chimacum on Jefferson PUD Grid, July 2020


Lithium Batteries Experiencing Tremendous Growth in Market

Lithium battery production have been on a strong growth curve for many years and is poised for ten-fold increase development in the near term with support of the current administration and significant venture capital investments across the industry.

According to Gene Berdichevsky, CEO of Sila Nano, and formerly Tesla employee #7, there is currently about 285 GWh of annual production capacity for lithium batteries.  He states there is an additional 2000 GWh of production capacity under development that will be complete within the next 5 years.  Gene was recently interviewed by Shayle Kann on The Interchange.  Sila Nano is itself building a plant that will provide anode materials for up to 100 GWh of lithium batteries annually targeted for the EV market, and sufficient for about one million vehicles per year.

While we recognize there are issues with the procurement of lithium and other materials, there are groups addressing the issues currently, and it appears that the use of electric motors and lithium batteries is currently the best practice for all ground transportation, be it personal vehicles, freight, or rail.

Here at Power Trip and for all of us in Washington State, we are installing batteries, though there is still no economic impetus for batteries in conjunction with your solar array.  While the percentage of our clients that initially state they want batteries is increasing, after we conduct an analysis of their energy needs, we usually determine the most sensible path is to install as much solar as possible up to the amount of energy you use, make certain you are using an electric vehicle as much as possible rather than buying and burning gasoline, and make other improvements in energy efficiency and emergency preparedness prior to considering a lithium battery installation.

11.7 KW Sunpower array on barn, Sequim, WA

Solar Spring Enhanced by Sunpower $500 Rebate

We are happy to be able to offer a $500 from Sunpower on projects ordered by March 31, 2021.  Rebate will come after project completion in the form of a pre-paid VISA card from Sunpower.

3/17/2021 Note – Some details: Available on New Sunpower Equinox AC systems, minimum size 2.8 KW.

The Texas Grid Experiences a Massive Failure – and Becomes Used By Those Trying To Tarnish Renewable Energy

The Texas grid has lost about 35 MW of production capacity during a severe winter storm, and this has caused cascading outages for millions of people across service territories.  Texas is the largest energy producing state in the country.  This article from GTM lists some of the reasons and some of the history since the last severe storms and outages there 10 years ago.  I find GTM’s writing fact based and the right level of sophistication for my understanding and the time I have for issues in other areas.

I send sympathy to people suffering the hardest, and I understand many people have perished.

I have also seen the fossil fuel industry and their spokespeople using this event as an opportunity to tarnish wind and solar energy generation.  While natural gas, coal, and nuclear plant shut-downs have been responsible for twice as much of the outage as wind and solar plants coming off-line, some have still claimed this is an example of why we should not build more renewable energy plants.  It turns out not to be true.

We should pursue both utility scale and distributed generation of renewable energy sources, which will provide more reliability in the long run, and will reduce our contribution to greenhouse gasses and anthropogenic climate change, which appears to be contributing to greater and more unpredictable weather events, often in areas not accustomed to them, like Texas.


6.3 KW of Sunpower on the roof, on the Jefferson PUD grid in Port Townsend

Solar Spring 2021

Solar Spring 2021

As we begin our 19th year, we want to continue to support solar here on the Peninsula through this special offer.


Solar Spring 2021
Sign contract and provide deposit by Jan 31 and receive:
$200/ KW Discount from any estimate given in 2020.  Older estimates will need to be refreshed and will most likely be less expensive because of price drops.
Projects over 12 KW get the option of free EVSE or additional $1000 off.
From Feb 1 – Feb 28
Sign contract and provide deposit between Feb 1 and Feb 28 and receive:
$100/ KW Discount from any estimate given in 2020.
Projects over 12 KW get option of free EVSE or addl $1000 off.
The EVSE offer includes a Clipper Creek LCS-25 installed wall-mounted within 10′ of existing service panel.  Additional parts and labor may be assessed for more complex installations, upgrades to larger EVSE available for the difference in listed price.
We want to see you liberate yourself from your monthly energy bills and help revolutionize the way we make and use electricity.

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