Thursday, November 29, 2007

Producing more than they use

The nation's first commercial building that produces more electricity than it uses sits right here in Our Fair State, up in Hunterdon County. It's the headquarters for Ferreira Construction, and it's covered with 1,276 rooftop solar panels:

While the building falls short of being completely self-sufficient -- lighting and heating itself -- the Hunterdon County highway and bridge construction company's achievement is significant enough to have captured the attention of state energy regulators, conservationists and even Gov. Jon Corzine.
"It's a fabulous project, and it has set a great example of how practical solar power can be," said Ed Seliga, vice president of Advanced Solar Products in Hopewell. Ferreira's owners proudly point out that their new headquarters and large-scale garage at 31 Tannery Road is much more than an environmental exercise.
"This is not some bio-dome out in Arizona with guys running around in lab coats," said Nelson Ferreira, president and CEO of Ferreira Construction. "This is a real office building with real employees doing their jobs the same way they would in any old regular building."

Woo-hoo for Ferreira Construction!

"But," say you doubters (and yes, I can hear your voices in my head), "Doesn't Jersey give insanely generous grants for solar installations? Solar just wouldn't be practical for most businesses in the Northeast!!" Well, my dear doubters, you'd be a little mistaken there. There are grants, yes, but that ain't the whole story:
"Believe it or not, the Northeast is a great place to use solar energy because of its mild temperatures. The solar panels don't work as well in the extreme heat of the desert," said Joe Grabowski, a vice president at the company and the brother of the spokesman. "Even snow is not a big issue; it actually melts off the panels pretty fast."
Considering nearly $1 million in state grants the business has already received, its owners believe the technology will pay for itself in five to seven years. (The technology cost about $2 million, increasing the total cost of the building to $8 million.)
"They (The Ferreira Group) are one of our clean energy leaders for 2007, and they did it by using a combination of products that are already on our shelves," said Mike Winka, whose BPU division provided most of Ferreira's state grants. "It just goes to show how any local company can reduce its operating costs and stay competitive in the global market."
Without the state grants, Winka said, a similar-size project would take 15 to 20 years to pay for itself.

...but it still would pay for itself in the long run. See that, doubters?

Go solar!

Speak up, speak out

I've added a new one to my blogroll: daTruthSquad.

I know very, very little about the politics of Manalapan. But I do know that everyone gets to speak out.

Keep talkin', daTruth.

Um... sorry about that

I didn't mean to be gone so long from blogging. I had a couple of big things taking up time, specifically a holiday and a very important test. It's all done now.

Thank you to anyone who stopped by to see if I was back yet.

I'm back.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Need Season- 2007 edition

(This is an update of a post I did two years ago. It seems appropriate to re-run it now. -Sharon GR)

I ran into a neighbor in the grocery yesterday. She asked, "Thanksgiving shopping?" and commented about how it was better to get this all out of the way this week because the stores are packed next week. I agreed; yes, I was shopping for Thanksgiving, but not for me. I met her in the canned veggies isle. I was stocking up for donations.

Now, we all know times are tough. Gas and oil prices shot way up this year, and pay raises were a lot harder to come by. But somehow, my "tough times" rarely include making a decision of whether to feed my kids or pay the electric bill, which means it ain't so tough for me after all. If I can afford high-speed internet to sit here and talk to you nice people, I can certainly afford to buy extra cans of food and some more books for the church and school holiday drives. There are kids whose parents do have to make that decision, and they need a bit of help.

It's also good for my kids to help us do this. I ask them to carry the bags in, put cans in the donation boxes, and stock the shelves at the food pantry. I want them to grow up knowing that helping others is a regular part of life. So, the food banks get cans of soup and beans, and I get a nice little parenting moment out of it. We're both winners there.

New Jersey is the best state in the Union. By far. We are one of the richest, most educated groups of people ever assembled. We should also be one of the most generous.

So, I've got a couple of bags of food in the car to take to the church donation drive. I'm realizing that I need to buy a couple more. Or, more accurately, that someone else needs me to.

"It's the difference between thinking of oneself as an accumulator of objects and material wealth, and imagining oneself as part of the fabric of problems and solutions." - Tata from Poor Impulse Control.

Ready for winter?

There's a chance of snow showers overnight tonight here in The Center of NJ.

The Mercer County Ice Skating Rink is open.

The Eagles are (currently, in the second quarter) losing.

Sounds like winter to me!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lookin' for bad beer news?

It's here.

And it ain't good.

(Thanks for the nod, Rob.)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Election Day is over

So, please, take down your signs. If you put 'em up, it's your job to take 'em down.

Jennifer Beck? Dammit.

Dammit, dammit, dammit. Ah, Ellen, it was nice while it lasted.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


Make your voice heard. Vote!!

I've gotten some searches already this morning on voting issues, so hopefully these links will help:

Go vote. Take your next door neighbor with you. Offer a ride to the lady across the street who doesn't walk very well anymore. Ask that guy at work who always complains about the conservative pundits if he voted before work or is going after. Remind people that voting is the most important thing we do in a democracy. Don't let something so silly as rain make a difference. Get out the vote!

Costliest and contentious

That's how Tom Hester described the race between Ellen Karcher and Jennifer Beck for the Senate seat in the 12th. That it has been, and I'm glad to see the end. I can only hope that folks see Ellen Karcher for who she is, not who Jennifer Beck wishes she was.

You want someone who will work tirelessly against corruption? Ellen is it. You want someone who can inspire people? Ellen is it. You want someone who is willing to work for Our Fair State? Ellen is it.

Karcher's last ad was a great idea; positive, in a campaign that has been increasingly negative. I can only hope that voters respond to it, and to her.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Democracy Inaction

Low voter turnout is expected in tomorrow's election...

Interest will be low, because there are not national or statewide offices up for election. Instead, each voter gets a chance to decide on state Senate and Assembly races in one of 40 legislative districts.
Although four ballot questions are being asked statewide, only one, on stem cell research, has generated much interest.
Also at stake is control of the Legislature. Democrats now control both houses, with a 22-18 edge in the Senate, and a 50-30 advantage in the Assembly.
State officials will not issue a prediction on turnout. Party officials don't think it will be much different from 2003 -- the last time the state Legislature was the top of the ticket -- when only 34 percent of registered voters cast ballots.

...everywhere except here in the 12th.
Turnout is expected to be better than average in a few of the 40 legislative districts, notably the 12th, where Democratic state Sen. Ellen Karcher and GOP Assemblywoman Jennifer Beck are spending more money than any other race this year for the Senate seat.
Beck said her "door-to-door, grass roots efforts" should inspire voting, but acknowledged it's a tough sell.
"People tend to follow national politics a bit more than they follow state politics," she said. Karcher said voters around the state may be repelled because of recent
criminal cases.
"People think that with corruption, their vote doesn't count," she said. "If people believe we're doing it for their interests ... they will invest in understanding what the races are about and getting to the polls."

On this, as with most things, Ellen Karcher is right. I believe there are some politicians who are working in my interest as well as some very serious ballot questions, and I plan to get myself to the polls tomorrow.

34% is pathetic. We can only hope that prediction is what turns out to be low.