Hurricane Sandy brings to light weakness in energy alternatives
By Mark Strehl, Good Day Chicago Meteorologist - bio | email
Flickr/ File photo
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
During a natural disaster, there is nearly always a run on generators at the local Home Depot store. But as people found out during Hurricane Sandy, "gen-sets" are not cheap, not always available, and can run through a gallon of gas per hour--something that was not exactly in abundant supply in the storms aftermath.
So when Sandy hit, Bill and Mary Makofske of Warwick, New Jersey thought that they would be covered when they spent tens of thousands of dollars on installing solar panels on their home. But like many homeowners, they wired their system directly into the "grid" and skipped on buying backup batteries. But the grid went down in the storm. And that meant no power for the Makofskes who were in the cold and dark just like all of their neighbors.
Ironically, the "best use" of solar panels is for people who want to live "off the grid" or want an alternative to the grid (and who typically HAVE battery backups!). Electricity from Solar panels can cost 2 to 3 times more to produce than power from conventional power plants. (And you thought that the sun was free!)