- Politics and Social Issues
Win Free Energy!
Where's the free stuff?
In the interest of creating a 750-word article replete with media, we indulge in the topic of gratis energy. We investigate aspects of power costing little to nothing. Surely topics such as these represent political footballs: we love sports.
Currently we observe Google ads proffering contests. Fill out a simple form for opportunities to win free energy over a full year. Since this is the Earth, we assume a sidereal year rather than some time-based unit synchronized to Jupiter's orbit. That would be a really long year, even with free energy.
Our regional power company, Duke Energy, proudly generates electricity from coal. The coal comes from Kentucky and West Virginia. It floats down the Ohio River on barges, past Cincinnati, Dayton Kentucky, and other riverside communities. We depend on it. The computer upon which this article is being composed runs on coal.
Coal is burned. Heat from the burning converts water to steam. Steam spins turbines through magnetic fields. Electricity results. It travels across the landscape through copper wires. Jobs and power are created.
Solar power originates from Sol, the Sun. It travels 99 million miles before colliding with everything on Earth that is not underground.
Is solar power free?
Is anything free? Without becoming too political (vote Libertarian, by the way) we observe the numerous solar power industries emerging under the Sun. Jobs and government subsidies are created. Bloggers and Wired Magazine will tell you that Germany collects a high percentage of electricity from solar power. Having never been to Germany but having completed two years of German language study in high school, we cannot disagree.
Whence goes the free solar power when the originating body sinks below the horizon? It might be stored in batteries the size of house cats or we can revert to medieval chronology: pass out at sundown and wake up at first light. Browsing Reddit in the dark becomes problematic.
What would you do...
... with free power for a year? Would you spring out of bed each morning, comforted in the knowledge that there's no electricity bill in the mailbox? Don't you pay your bills online?
Perhaps a really long extension cord strung into the cul-de-sac would make you popular with the woman who gets mad when your Pomeranian pees on her petunias. Free power for her and her pit bull would go a long way toward improving relations in the neighborhood. Surely there's a caveat in the Free Energy Agreement: you can't share with the folks next-door.
I'd hook up a plethora of deep-cycle batteries. I'd store up free power for well beyond the one-year horizon. Shortly before my free year ended I'd flip a massive switch to throw my entire estate onto backup power for as long as it lasts. Think of the jobs I'd create in lithium ion industries.
It'd be hard...
... to start paying electricity bills again.Following one full calendar year of free energy you might be tempted to go off the grid. You might dam up the storm sewer behind your shed. Properly diverted runoff just might generate a few watts to charge your cell phone. It cold happen and it probably is illustrated in several YouTube videos.
Stay on the grid. You're addicted to electricity. Charging your iPad Mini at the public library only works for so long: eventually the library police catch on and turn you off. At least pick up a book while you're there.
Count your blessings when you flip a switch and your bathroom illuminates. No one needs to stub a toe when they need to go. Orthopedic injuries do create jobs but they usually require electricity to properly diagnose. Power from coal, solar, or dammed-up water all flow through the same wires to produce the same result.
The EPA doesn't like my electricity
Duke, the aforementioned regional power generation company, plans to shutter a local generating station. EPA regulations imposed by the Obama Administration would be cost prohibitive. The station has another 10 years of useful life, but obviously the millions lost in taxes are trivial. The station could safely operate until 2025 but evidently fiscal damage to local municipalities and schools pales in comparison to bureaucratic red tape. There's plenty of coal, infrastructure, and expertise, but the loss of jobs means less than unilateral decrees excreted from Washington DC.
Perhaps a few of the free volts will come from the last remaining turns of these generators.
Yes, I entered the Free Power for a Year contest. By way of wrapping up this epic, I entered my contact information into a web page thoughtfully provided by Duke Energy. I revealed my email address, and some other stuff.
Somewhere in a well-organized database resides everything that Duke needs to contact me when I am selected as the winner. I do plan to win. I anticipate being excused from electric bills for a full 12 months. It's exciting. Now I will go outside and play, but first I will provide you with a survey because HubPages says I should.