Letters: July 2010

Feedback from our members

7 July 2010

Solar Savings

The first sentence of “Operations Center Goes Solar” [April] jolted me: “In an attempt to reduce its electricity costs and carbon footprint, IEEE’s Operations Center, in Piscataway, N.J., has installed 300 rooftop photovoltaic solar panels.”

Reduce electricity costs by installing solar panels? I have been a consultant to the electric power industry in the United States for more than 35 years. In all that time I have never heard of anyone reducing electricity costs by replacing conventionally produced, commercial power with photovoltaic generation. The whole notion is simply contrary to fact. If I am wrong, please furnish evidence for the claim. If not, please clear the names of competent engineers everywhere by printing a retraction. Too, the implied “need” to reduce manmade carbon emissions is disturbing, at best, to those of us who believe that entire crisis has been fabricated out of whole cloth.

I can understand the general population being fooled by the constant media barrage, but have a preponderance of my fellow engineers, worldwide, bought into both of these hysterias? I have always held IEEE in the highest esteem. I have considered it a bastion of competence dedicated to finding the truth. This one article has shaken my faith. Please, please issue a clarification.

Michael J. McLean,
Moultrie, Ga.


IEEE Life Senior Member Howard Wolfman responds. He is a registered professional engineer and principal of Lumispec Consulting, in Northbrook, Ill., and has decades of experience in developing and marketing energy-efficiency concepts and products.

In general, the use of solar panels provides an alternative source of electric power or energy that reduces the demand on the electric utility for power or energy. This, by itself, reduces utility-billed energy costs. In addition, IEEE has a 15-year purchase power agreement with ASM Solar of Kenilworth, N.J., to provide 10 percent of IEEE’s power consumption at a price significantly less than prevailing utility retail rates. IEEE contracted with ASM Solar to manage the design and installation. This agreement, alone, will reduce IEEE’s electricity cost.

The reduction in IEEE power costs is composed of two parts, first the reduction in purchased kilowatt-hours due to the use of solar-generated power, and second the commensurate lowering of demand which, in turn, reduces the demand charge.

Just as you have the right to believe that the need to reduce manmade carbon emissions is “fabricated out of whole cloth,” there are many knowledgeable professionals who will disagree with you and believe that the need is real and requires action.

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