The Lucky Ones

I Owe my Soul to the Pacific, Gas and Electric Store

Tennessee Ernie Ford was a very popular singer back in the 50’s and 60’s and turned the song ‘16 tons’ into a number one hit. The song tells a story about a coal miner who loads 16 tons of number 9 coal, and what dose he gets for his labor? “Another day older and deeper in debt, Saint Peter don’t you call me cause I can’t come, I owe my soul to the company store.”

 

That’s what I feel like when it’s time to start irrigating our pastures for the summer months. I can always tell when my 100 horse power electric motor reeves into action at 9 PM. Every evening our house lights will flicker and my P.G.&E meter will start spinning at super sonic speed, much to the delight of the PG&E bean counters.

 

Well not this time PG.&E. For the solar generation is coming to my rescue. This is a new option for all of us that somebody has invented. It’s a way to take light (photons) from the sun and trap them with a solar panel made of silicone that converts these Photons into Electrons (electricity), for at least 25 years and probably 50 years after that.

 

Our state and federal government, wanting more electricity to be generated using solar power, sweetened the pot with some attractive incentive like a 30% reduction in the tax that I owe to the U.S. Treasury. Then add in some depreciation credits, and my bank savings accounts earning a Big Whoop-de-doo 1%, solar makes a lot of sense as a better place to invest.

 

My return on my investment will be between eight and 12%. So for all of the above reasons, I’m at this very moment building a 90 Kilowatt generating facility to stanch the bleeding from my PG&E meter that is spiraling out of control from a severe case of oppressive meter gluttony.

 

If this is something that any of you readers out in Blog Land might want to pursue, then get prepared for a process where in my county it will take longer to address all the rules, regulations and some Green Backs, than to build it.  Makes a person sure want to look at his whole card before starting to construct a solar farm. But for me, I still think it’s worth the effort.

 

First, I want to clarify that my solar farm is really not a farm in the real sense of the word. For there is no real farmstead, only 109 posts in the ground that will be the frame work to mount the Solar Panels to. They are cemented down to a 35″ depth because to be at a 36″ depth would require another Archeological study for possible artifacts below 36 inches.

 

Next, I find that I’m in a flood zone. But a Topographic map shows that in a 100 year storm the floodwaters would breach the opposite bank. That’s not good enough. Okay, okay I’ll hire a surveyor to tell the Planning Department that what the U.S. Geological map clearly showed was true. In case of a flood, waters would indeed go in the opposite direction from my solar farm. You need a Civil Engineer to draw plans showing a rectangle that evenly spaces out the 109 holes that will receive the posts, which will then marry to the solar panels.

 

Earthquakes were a consideration but the planning department decided to wave that requirement. They felt it was unlikely that anybody would want to live under a Solar Panel. Well, the day finally arrived when the lady I had hired to do all the leg work, like going to the planning department and hiring the different experts, to give their blessing to my 109 post hole extravaganza.

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I now find my bank account is a light $10,000, but the good news is I now have a building permit that allows me to put 3″ pipe posts in all 109 holes and fill them with concrete. It’s a good thing the county doesn’t require a permit to build cattle corrals with all their gates and pens, because there would be nothing left to buy the cattle to put in said corrals.

 

I’m going to sign off for now, but will write again when a PG&E representative says we have joined up, and I’ll be all smiles.

 

See ya,

 

Jack