New Challenges, But Not My Last Post

The last few months have been very difficult. I have struggled from one day to the next in a good bit of “extreme” pain as my vision is slowly taken away by Fuch’s Corneal Dystrophy. Much of my limited computer time is done with the help of a magnifying glass or the accessibility tools. Last week I turned over all my Fall classes at RCCC to other professors.

I remain steadfast in my faith that God has directed me to a wonderful transplant surgeon. My hope is that soon I will once again be able to “see” my children grow up for a few more years and to see many more happy moments with my wonderful wife Kat.

Even when faced with the vision challenges we added another 3 kW of solar in the summer of 2014. What stronger statement could I make than to undertake a solar project while in the midst of a potentially life-changing event? Make no mistake, I had a laser-like focus to ensure the project would provide continuously increasing benefits to my family for many years to come.

Lastly, I want to say thank you to all my students of the past 23 years! I hope that each of you will continue to be life-long learners. The best things in life come through faith, perseverance and hard work. I know we worked hard together in my classes.


Thanks for Attending the Basics of Solar Thermal @ RCCC

Thank you to everyone who attended
“The Basics of Solar Thermal” class today at RCCC !
Don’t forget the Solar Electric Generation Class next Friday, May 2nd from 10AM-12 Noon.
Walk-in(s) on May 2nd are permitted, but please register
to ensure the class gets run!
The link for class content is below the photo
The Basics of Solar Thermal


Video: The True Cost of Gasoline

Sometimes the truth hurts a lot. But then again, so does COPD and not being able to breathe. Watch this video on the true cost of gasoline.


NISSAN DC Fast Charger in Salisbury, NC

As of today, NISSAN electric cars with a quick charge port can charge up to 80 percent in 30 minutes here in Salisbury, NC.  The fast charger should really help folks driving I-85 between Greensboro and Charlotte since we are right in the middle. Kevin Murphy of Ben Mynatt NISSAN sent me this photo today of the new DC fast charger that is now operational:  click to view status .

New 480 volt DC fast charger in Salisbury, NC

New 480 volt DC fast charger in Salisbury, NC


Regressive New NC Fee for Electric Vehicles

NC Discourages EVs

NC Discourages EVs

So, with the New Year, the Legislators officially embark on another quest to discourage electric vehicles. We all breathe the same air, so they will be inhaling the effects of their own work along with the rest of us. Lets hope that all the studies about the ozone and air quality are wrong, otherwise they should worry about the increased risk of COPD, heart disease, lung cancer, etc.

On an optimistic note, I don’t think their new fee applies to hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Anyone reading this with a different interpretation please comment. Here is a copy of the new law with references:



SESSION LAW 2013-360




The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:



SECTION 34.21.(a) G.S. 20-87 is amended by adding the following new
subdivision to read:

“(13) Additional fee for certain electric vehicles. At the time of an initial

registration or registration renewal, the owner of a plug-in electric vehicle that is not a low-speed vehicle and that does not rely on a nonelectric source of power shall pay a fee in the amount of one hundred dollars ($100.00) in addition to any other required registration fees.”

SECTION 34.21.(b) This section becomes effective January 1, 2014, and applies to initial or renewal motor vehicle registrations on or after that date.


North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA) (2013, July 26), Senate Bill
402 / S.L. 2013-360 Appropriations Act of 2013, Retreived from NCGA Web site:
http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/Senate/PDF/S402v7.pdf on January 1, 2014

According to the Carolina Dealer Training (CDT) Web site of Kat Messenger, this new $100 fee is only applicable to vehicles with the fuel type “E” on the registration

Also, it is imperative that you make sure the fuel code is correct. This is for
“plug-in” electric vehicles with a fuel type of “E”; meaning, purely electric, and does not rely on a nonelectric source of power.


Carolina Dealer Training (2013, Nov. 1), One Day Delay in Additional Registration Fee for Electric Vehicles. Retrieved from Carolina Dealer Training Web site:
http://carolinadealertraining.com/?p=6213 on January 1, 2014


Seven Years of Biomass

Seven years ago we installed a LMF 100,000 Btu Biomass furnace.

Biomass 100,000 Btu Furnace

Well, it is still running — especially last night and today. The temp recorded on the solar thermal collector last night was 14.8 degrees here just outside Salisbury, NC.  There is no replacement for solid fuel combustion — talk about HEAT.

It is currently running on soft-wood pellets. I took this photo today of the flame — the blue diamonds remind me of SR-71 exhaust..

Biomass Furnace Combustion

Our house is so well-insulated and air tight that the big biomass furnace just idles most of the time.  Over the last seven years we have saved an average of $2,500 per winter on heat, moving from propane to biomass (aflatoxin corn, barley, rye and wood pellets).

Here is a link to my post from 2007 when the furnace was installed: http://www.kenclifton.com/wordpress/2007/02/biomass-home-heating/


Catawba Sustainable Communities Talk

Photo of Catawba College

Catawba College, Salisbury, NC

I gave a one hour talk to the Sustainable Communities class at the Center for the Environment of Catawba College located in Salisbury, NC today (November 11, 2013).



FILL-UP, SCHMILL-UP – Last Fill-UP Six Months Ago

Last Fill-Up 6 Months Ago

Last Fill-Up 6 Months Ago

Are gas prices high these days? I wouldn’t know. Most Volt owners fill up once a month, but by charging regularly, I just went 6 months without a fill up in my Chevy Volt! Learn more about how it works: http://www.chevrolet.com/voltdcapp.html

The VoltDC reports 277 gallons of gasoline saved.  Running the math @ $3.30 per gallon that amounts to $914 saved in less than one year.

We could not be more pleased with our Chevrolet Volt!  There is no comparison to the Nissan LEAF that I owned for one year.  Chevrolet really stands behind their car and its battery!

Volt Gallons Saved!

Volt Gallons Saved!











How Far Behind Tennessee is North Carolina?

Short answer:  real far, when it comes to electric vehicle charging sites…Last summer my family took a trip to Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville Tennessee.  As a two electric car family, I popped up the Recargo App on the iPhone to check out near by charging stations.  Here is what I saw,  (notice most sites actually had TWO CHARGING STATIONS) and all this within 10 miles:

Pigeon Forge Charging Sites Screen 2

Pigeon Forge Sites Screen 1

Pigeon Forge Charging Sites Screen 1


Next, lets compare those screens to a map of Salisbury, North Carolina, aka an “EV Desert” with ONE charging station total:

A North Carolina EV Desert Map, Salisbury NC

You be the judge.  There really is NO COMPARISON.  But, it actually gets worse.  The one charging station for 20 miles in any direction is actually in a clean-up area at a dealership, so it is very difficult to even get to the station.

So, while the North Carolina EV desert suffers from the 13th worst air quality in the entire USA, all efforts to get any businesses to roll out a charging station have failed — even with the free ChargePoint Jumpstart Program last year.  We sure did try — talking to numerous businesses and organizations. The program actually furnished a free station and an installation subsidy — not a single taker. Way to go North Carolina.  Oh, I forgot to mention, NC is going to tax folks extra for driving an EV.



Achieved the LEED-GA Credential

Credentials are an important measure of core competencies and a good validation of knowledge.  Over the summer of 2013 I took several courses to prepare for the LEED-GA accreditation exam.  After the last class in July, I spent about a month studying a variety of environmental and energy related materials.  On July 22nd I passed the LEED-GA exam.

So, to my past and future “going green” and solar energy students, your instructor has validated his knowledge of those topics and much more.  I highly recommend the U.S. Green Building Council’s work and the study of their LEED program, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

I hope to participate in several LEED projects then study for the next level of LEED accreditation.

LEED Green Associate

LEED Green Associate” and the LEED Green Associate logo are trademarks owned by the U.S. Green Building Council and are awarded to individuals under license by the Green Building Certification Institute.