Feed on

The average replacement cost of centralized nuclear and fossil-fuel powered power plants is about $1,500 per installed kilowatt. This might mean nothing to you, but consider this: a typical American household requires about 1 kilowatt to operate all of the electric implements in its house. Now consider this: how much money do you think it would cost you to somehow produce a home-based power producing system that is powerful and reliable enough to send 1 kilowatt worth of juice to your outlets upon demand?  And this says nothing of securing the fuel and maintenance of such an instrument once you managed to create it.

My way of absorbing the reality of this is by considering how much time, effort and money I spent this year to grow a few pots of tomatoes, peppers and a small garden of sunflowers. I would post pictures of them but that would be embarrassing to all serious gardeners out there. I easily dedicated well over $500 of time and effort to this measly task, which required a minimal amount of materials and ingenuity (and the materials were largely traded for, not solely produced by myself).

4 Responses to “Ponder the Division of Labor”

  1. Rod says:

    The power plant that Panda Energy wanted to put behind the Palm Schwenkfelder Church was a 1,000 megawatt plant using gas-fired combined-cycle turbines powered by steam. Also, PPL wanted to put a 250-megawatt plant of the same design near our industrial area.

    If Panda had not had the oppotunity to exploit a huge loophole in our zoning ordinance, they could have demanded a curative amendment to our zoning code based on “exclusionary zoning.” The only reason they abandoned their efforts was because Enron had scared financiers on Wall Street to stay away from merchant power projects.

    You’re right about growing things for yourself. I’m lucky enough to have a brother who plants enough tomatoes to feed Red Hill.

  2. chuck martel says:

    Unfortunately, there seem to be no survivors of the pre-electric era. If there were, they would be able to talk about urban home lighting before electrical distribution. It was done with gas, which was distributed through pipes from small LOCAL gas generating facilities. It didn’t take people long to realize that natural gas, piped in long distances from its source was much more economical than a myriad of small generating plants. This is still the case in the many areas where gas is used for heating and cooking. Nobody talks about generating their own gas. I wonder why?

  3. Rod says:

    Mason-Dixon Farms has long produced all the energy needed to run the farm’s silo unloaders, vacuum pumps, electric lights and other electrical needs from a generator powered by the methane gas from its manure storage pits. Instead of causing global warming from the methane gas, Mason-Dixon burns the methane to power generators. Before that, the methane gas was a hazard at the farm – it’s a colorless gas, just like CO2.

    Not everybody has 500 cows, however.

    Vegans and other animal rights advocates would hate this.

  4. Harry says:

    Good comments.

    Speaking of tomatoes, I am an expert grower, and any friend of Mike can e-mail me for instructions for next spring.

    What I wonder about is how Wintercow figures the cost of his tomatoes. Did he use the rate paid to a UAW electrician, who attends for eight hours, works for half an hour, and clocks out for a full eight, plus another 45 percent of fringe?

    At that rate, the tomatoes would cost fifteen dollars per tomato, assuming a Cadillac had the same quality of a great tomato.

    Now, I think our government should pay us all a minimum wage for the time we spend gardening, and if we stop when the weeds grow, unemployment compensation.

    The next USDA program will be to pay tomato growers not to grow tomatoes during the spring, and to pay growers to plant in November.

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