Thursday, December 29, 2011

When will solar pay for the grid?

Right now whenever someone connects a rooftop solar installation in most of the country they get to sell electricity back to the grid at retail price. This means that if you send as much energy into the grid as you take out than you pay nothing for electricity.

There is just one problem with this though. The utility pays something. The utility still must pay for all of the wires which connect to your home, all of the power plants which will run on cloudy days and so on. The value of the solar they get from the rooftop does not nearly equal these expenses. So utilities lose big when people install solar. While solar is rare this doesn't matter. The utility has guaranteed profit from the state and can just raise rates on everyone else to subsidize these people.

At some point someone will cry foul though. The relatively rich people who can install solar cells are making the rest of the people pay for their electrical infrastructure. I am starting to see signs that this will happen soon. San Diego Gas and Electric is trying to change that in California right now. If they fail, than a few years from now it is almost certain to happen.

Articles on Saving

I have seen some good arguments on investing recently.

Best is probably the article Normal People Shouldn't Need to Invest. This makes a lot of sense to me. Individual investors dramatically under perform relative to the markets even when markets do well. In times like the past decade, they get slaughtered as they buy high sell low again and again. Unfortunately with the skewed age distribution we are likely to face in the near future there just won't be enough young people to support all of those who want to retire unless productivity gains are enormous. This is true whether we use a massive social security system or try to make everyone invest money while young. So I don't know that any system whether it involved investment or not will be able to live up to expectations.

Then there is a usual rant about why you should save a whole lot more than you do. Followed by a particularly good description of what to do with your savings. I am not sure how well I have done at this, but I imagine that I have at least close to a 20% savings rate so I haven't missed the mark by so much.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TED talk on aging

Aging research certainly makes the top ten list of most interesting science out there. Good to see that it is moving along:

Midlife Crisis Economics

I rather like the New York Times article Midlife Crisis Economics. It really does seem to me that the problem with government today is that it does too much which either helps no one, or helps some particular special interest who does not deserve tax payer money. Whether reformers can get the entrenched government agencies to improve I am less than convinced of though.

New Computer

After three or four months of no computer I finally have one again. Perhaps I will actually use this again.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why I still like Ron Paul

This is a pretty good article which sums up why I still like Ron Paul. He has a lot of crazy ideas like the gold standard, but despite this most of his party has much crazier ideas like the war on drugs and war on terror.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Why I can't vote Republican

This is a great example of why I can't vote Republican. With the exception of a few outliers such as Gary Johnson, Rand and Ron Paul the party has become the party of government control over the lives of Americans. Sure the democrats want to spend more, but most of their spending is fluff which won't really hurt me.

I might register as a Republican just to vote for Ron Paul. I only agree with him on about half of topics, but I think that the mainstream Republicans really need a message sent to them. Being the police state party while shouting about freedom will not fly.