Category Archives: cool stuff

>I Love A Good Idea

>I think this idea is fabulous and deserves some attention. Instead of trying to get folks to buy solar panels for their homes, this company is leasing them:

California company Sungevity has seen a surge in demand for residential solar power systems, after launching a new 10-year solar lease program.

The scheme means customers face no up-front capital cost for their solar power systems, paying a lease payment each month and an amount for their power that Sungevity says will reduce their overall electricity bills.

Sungevity, which has its head office in Oakland, California, said it will give customers a free assessment – called an “iQuote” – for a solar lease at the touch of a button via its website.

The company uses satellite and aerial photography to assess customer roofs to make a determination on what kind of solar system would be appropriate.

Customers will save money “immediately”, pledges the company, increasing their savings over the 10-year lease period.

Danny Kennedy, President and co-founder of Sungevity, said: “This is the killer app for driving the mass adoption of solar. We’ve made it more than affordable to access electricity free from the sun, and we’ve made it easy by selling it over the internet.”

”It’s a killer app.” I love it.

I’m a little leery of the “quote at the touch of a button” thing — Google Earth satellite images are out of date, someone really needs to check things like trees and the pitch and condition of your roof, etc. But the basic premise, leasing solar panels instead of selling them, is brilliant.

And I have loads of questions. How much does a 10-year Sungevity lease cost? Can state and federal tax breaks be applied to a lease versus traditional installation? What kind of arrangements are worked out with the local utility? What percent does Sungevity get of the money from the energy generated?

Let’s face it: right now solar panels are prohibitively expensive. They just are. And while it’s nice to get $1,000 from NES and 30% tax credit from the IRS at the end of the day neither of those is sufficient to make a solar array of any useful size affordable for the average American family.

And here’s something else of interest:

The new solar lease scheme is being funded by US Bank, the nation’s fifth largest bank, which has set up a $24 million tax equity fund to support the service.

“We’re excited to partner with Sungevity on their solar lease program,” said Darren Van’t Hof, Vice President of Renewable Energy Investments for US Bank. “We like the residential solar space and are convinced its growth will outpace commercial solar development in the coming years.”

Well good for them! Financing something that helps people here at home, not a new hotel-on-steroids in Dubai. And for the first time I’ve found someone who agrees with me that residential solar is a growth industry. See, I knew it. I’m so excited by this I could just pee myself.

Installing solar panels creates jobs — good, blue collar construction jobs, the kind that we saw evaporate with the pop of a housing bubble. It creates clean energy, helps lower our dependence on mountain-crunching coal, lowers carbon emissions, you name it. It’s simply a win-win all the way around. And with Tennessee getting into the solar game, more of these panels (we hope) will be made here at home.

There are miles of rooftops that could benefit from solar panels. Churches, schools and hospitals are another one — those are all huge buildings which are just perfect for housing a solar array, yet the non-profit world lacks the upfront capital required.

Here’s another idea: will we ever see a day when utilities like TVA pay us to put solar panels our our rooftops? Sorta like how outdoor advertising companies pay property owners to erect billboards?

So thumbs up on a good idea. Maybe some local entrepreneur can get to work on launching a solar leasing scheme right here in Nashville.

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>What I Did This Weekend

>We were in New York City to catch this preview:

The verdict? Very good, and bound to be another big hit with you young kids.

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>Send In The Lyricist

>This cracked me up. I hear he’s really big in Vladivostok:

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>Fight For Your Rights, America!

>Ohhhh this one was hilarious, too! Two videos, one day: yes I’m working on other shit today. But check this one out, it cracked me up.

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>Play Keyboard Dog Off, Keyboard Cat

>This cracked me up:

(h/t, Andrew Sullivan.)

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>Offa My Lawn: Things I Miss Edition

>I read that the Dixie Chicks are working on a new album supposedly without Natalie Maines. And even though I’m well aware that Maines was the latecomer to that group, I can’t imagine the Dixie Chicks without her. Still, I’ve missed themm and look forward to hearing what they’re working on.

Other things I miss:

• Paper straws. When I was a kid straws were made out of paper, not plastic. Nowadays, you can’t find paper straws to save your life (though I found a box at a store in New York, restaurants seem to have gone all-plastic. And I don’t drink with straws at home.) Seems like switching to paper straws would be a great use of a recycled paper product.

• Real news about, you know, news. This morning’s news has all been about Simon Cowell leaving American Idol, Mark McGuire using steroids, the Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien story, and Sarah Palin getting a show on Fox. None of which is actual news. I guess the assumption is that we’re getting our information about the world from somewhere, leaving the media to cover itself the rest of the time. Very odd.

• Late night TV. Used to be if you were up late at night you could catch a really cool old movie on TV. Now it’s all infomercials. I miss the cool old movies.

• CNN’s Style show. For 20 years I had a regular Saturday morning date with Elsa Klensch on CNN. We used to make fun of Klensch because she’d always ask designers the same questions: what kind of colors do you use, what kind of fabrics? Still, it was a guilty pleasure and I miss it.

• Green Hills Grille and American Artisan. Two Nashville establishments that, while they haven’t been gone all that long, are still missed. Green Hills Grille had a great salmon Caesar salad that I was addicted to, plus their strawberry shortcake every spring was a Beale family tradition. American Artisan had the most beautiful, unique art and jewelry.

I will probably think of other things I miss as the day goes on.

And oh yeah, offa my lawn!

[UPDATE]:

I won’t continue to go down the road of shuttered restaurants I miss .. too many in Nashville to count. But I thought of something else I miss today:

• Real blue jeans! Remember those? You bought them three sizes too big, and had to wash them twice before wearing them once. They were Levi’s and they buttoned at the fly (never zipped) and the more you wore them (and washed them) the more they became a second skin. After a few years, when they could no longer be patched you turned them into shorts. If you didn’t have the patience to wash-and-wear your blue jeans you went to the thrift store and bought used jeans.

Kids today don’t know about real blue jeans. The stuff you get these days either costs $300 and has some bizarro “name” attached to it (Citizens For Humanity, 7 For All Mankind, Rock & Republic, True Religion) or else they are so cheap you could read a newspaper through them.

I miss real blue jeans.

And now: offa my lawn!

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>A Video Palindrome

>Yes, you can change the world–backwards if not forwards! I thought this was very cool, courtesy of AARP’s “u @ 50” contest. This entry came in second place.

It’s short, give it a watch:

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>Programming Note

>“Ace In The Hole,” the cynical 1951 film about a journalist’s manipulation of a tragedy similar to the Utah mine disaster, will air on TCM this Sunday night at 9:15 pm. I wrote about it here.

I definitely recommend watching it, or setting the TiVo if you can.

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