Solar Power Station #1

We’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of the dedication of San Antonio’s first Solar Power Station. Designed as an educational installation, this modest (by today’s standards) 14 kilowatt photovoltaic array was installed on the grounds of the Institute of Texan Cultures (operated by the University of Texas at San Antonio) in downtown San Antonio. On November 19th, 2003, dignitaries arrived to throw the switch that allowed solar energy produced by the installation to be fed into the CPS Energy grid for the first time. The photos that accompany this post are taken during the final days of construction and on opening day when the first group of school children were introduced to the basics of solar energy. The building that housed the inverter and other equipment also included three interactive windows describing solar energy and indicating how much energy was being produced at that time along with another readout that indicated how much energy that the system would produce at the same time under ideal conditions. That way, if the actual energy output was half of the ideal output, those who were looking at the display could then determine the impact of atmospheric conditions accounting for the energy drop.

I would have liked to go out to the Solar Power Station on the 10th anniversary of its dedication to see how much energy had been provided to the city over the past ten years, but I found out that recently the installation was demolished. Very few knew about the demise of the Solar Power Plant, but no one had apparently fought to save it. I have been able to piece some of the back story though. A few years ago, UTSA had sold the parking lot of the Institute including the portion of the grounds where the Solar Power Station was installed to a private company. At that time, CPS Energy made attempts to remove the installation in order to locate it elsewhere and continue it’s educational role. Relocation efforts were halted by UTSA, and very recently, the new owners of the property decided to take the Solar Power Plant down. I still have not found out what happened to the 198 panels, the inverter, or the educational boxes, but I hope they will be able to continue producing energy wherever they are.



Bee Rescue

Worried about pollination of flowers? If not, you should be. If not for pollination, much of the food that gets to our table would not arrive. Remember too, that if you don’t eat much in the way of fruits, vegetables, and grains, don’t forget that the cows, pigs, and chickens that you eat do. Nature is full of pollinators, including birds and moths. Arguably, the most important of these are the bees. And bee populations are in trouble.

What can you do to support the bees (and by doing so support you and your family)? If you have no idea, the first thing you can do is to come to the San Antonio Sustainable Living regular monthly meeting tomorrow evening (Tuesday) and find out what can be done.

Our presenter tomorrow is Walter Schumacher of Central Texas Honey Bee Rescue [can be found at ]. Walter is one of the premier supporters of our bee friends in Central and South Texas. His company rescues bees that happen to establish their hives where humans don’t want them and he organizes a network of independent beekeepers in a Co-op of sorts marketing some of the best honey that you might ever taste. He knows about the conventional bee and honey business and knows about the hype of “killer” bees. If you happened to hear his tent talk at this year’s Renewable Energy Roundup in Fredericksburg, you know what an informative and entertaining font of knowledge Walter truly is. Maybe it’s because he’s been stung a few times. Oh, and he also knows about the benefits of bee stings and how it’s different than just being injected by bee venom.

I know I’ve said this before, but this is one meeting you will NOT want to miss. Hope to see you at 7pm in the classroom inside Whole Foods Market in the Quarry Shopping Center. Oh, he will not be able to sell any of his honey tomorrow night, but you are encouraged to ask our local Whole Foods Markets to carry the Honey Bee Kind honey in San Antonio as they do in Austin.

Set your calendars also for November’s program (on the 26th) when we bring back Kent Rabon who makes the fabulous Greenstar Blox [ ]. There will be no meeting in December, but we’re planning on coming back for our 2014 season in January.