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Foreign hackers are already attacking the US power grid. But a Milestone Solar system with battery backup bank will keep your lights on 24/7 even if they succeed.

This video report reveals how teams of hackers from Russia, China, Iran and ISIS have launched more than a dozen cyberattacks against the US power grid over the past ten years. All it takes is one success to knock out the electricity that lights, heats and cools homes; that keeps food fresh and cooks it; that pumps water from wells – for weeks, perhaps months, at a time.

A bimodal Milestone Solar system with a battery backup bank will keep your lights and power on 24/7, for as long as it takes for the grid to come back up again.

Unlike emergency generators, there are no moving parts to need maintenance. There’s no danger of toxic exhaust fumes. There’s no worry about storing flammable fuels or refueling, because your system will “refuel” with every sunrise – and store up enough electric power to last you through the night.

With federal tax credits and reduced monthly electric bills, a Milestone system with battery backup is a real money-saver when the power grid’s working normally. And it can be a real life-saver if a cyberattack ever knocks the power out. We’ve installed more battery backup systems than anyone else in the region, so call or email us about either putting in a new system – or adding a sealed, gel-filled battery backup bank to an existing one. We’ll be happy to answer your questions as we always do – with straight talk, not sales talk.

 

The Case for Grid-Tied Battery Backup Solar Systems

In his book, Lights Out, veteran newsman Ted Koppel says blackouts could happen anywhere and everywhere..LightsOut3dcover

In 2003, Koppel wrote, when “a high-voltage power line in northern Ohio brushed against some trees and shut down…fifty million people lost power for up to two days in an area that spanned southeastern Canada and eight northeastern states.”

In 2014, when two terrorists with AK-47 rifles shot up a substation near San Jose, California, it took 27 days to restore power to Silicon Valley.

Tomorrow, says Koppel, one hostile hacker armed with nothing more lethal than a laptop could take down “three power grids that generate and distribute electricity throughout the United States,” plunging “millions of Americans into…something approximating the mid-nineteenth century.”

For months.

Months without light, heating or cooling. Months with food rotting in refrigerators and freezers. Months with stoves that can’t cook, toilets that can’t flush, washing machines that can’t wash.

 

That’s because, according to Lights Out, our power generation and distribution system suffers from three major vulnerabilities.

The first is that

electricity flowing throughout the United States depends absolutely on computerized systems designed to maintain perfect balance between supply and demand…It is the Internet that provides the instant access to the computerized systems that maintain that equilibrium. If a sophisticated hacker gained access to one of those systems and succeeded in throwing that precarious balance out of kilter, the consequences would be devastating. We can take limited comfort in the knowledge that such an attack would require painstaking preparation and a highly sophisticated understanding of how the system works and where its vulnerabilities lie. Less reassuring is the knowledge that several nations already have that expertise…As the ranks of capable actors grow, the bar for cyber aggression is lowered.

The second is a physical, not cyber, threat.

The nature of the electric power industry is such that it combines modern technology with antiquated equipment. Some of that equipment is so large, so expensive, and so difficult to replace that it constitutes an entire category of vulnerability…No country in the world has a larger base of installed large power transformers than the United States, and that base is aging…on average, thirty-eight to forty years old…Conservatively, there are thousands of aging transformers, most custom-built, unable to be ordered from a catalogue or mass-produced, each costing somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 million to $10 million…[and] so large they cannot be transported on a standard railroad freight car.

If saboteurs with high-powered rifles were to knock out large power transformers in nine critical substations – like the one in San Jose ­– “it could cause a blackout encompassing most of the United States.”

And that’s because of the third vulnerability, the cascade effect. As cyberattacked or sabotaged equipment starts to fail, the electric grid’s harder and harder tries to compensate cause more failures. “Overburdened lines fall like dominoes.”

When and if this happens, says the Department of Homeland Security, you should keep a battery-powered radio handy. We have a better idea: a battery-powered house.DCBatteryPower_Illust_HR

A Milestone Solar installation with a sealed, gel-filled backup battery bank keeps your lights lighting, your refrigerator and freezer refrigerating and freezing, your microwave cooking, your well pump pumping, your toilets flushing, your washer washing, and so on.

Not just for days (and nights, thanks to the batteries), not just for weeks and months, but for as long as the sun rises each morning.

Unlike emergency backup generators, there’s no danger of toxic exhaust fumes, no moving parts to wear out, and no chance of fuel running out before the lights come back on; a Milestone Solar system with battery backup “refuels” with each sunrise.

As one pleased customer noted,

even with just a little daylight in the morning, well before direct sun hits the panels, the system kicks in and starts producing.

Milestone Solar has installed more solar systems with battery backup banks than anyone else in the region over the past five years. So please contact us to learn more. About an investment that gets you an average of $9,000-$11,000 in tax creditsincreases your property value, and saves you hundreds of dollars a year on your monthly electric bills when the power’s on. And could save something even more vital when the power goes out.

 

How much should an hour of electricity cost?

8.8.12-Power-Outage

About 3 PM Monday, May 12, a substation equipment failure knocked out power in Cumberland, MD, and Mineral County, WV.

It wasn’t until 4 PM that Potomac Edison sent repair crews to the scene.

And it wasn’t until 7 PM – four hours later – that all 3,000 customers who’d been without electricity got it back.

Though backup generators kicked in at households that had them, their power came at a cost. Backup generators burn propane at the rate of four gallons per hour. At $4 per gallon of propane, that’s $16 per hour to keep the lights on and the refrigerator cold. For a four-hour outage, that’s $64.

Do the arithmetic, and you’ll see that for a two-day outage, like the ones that hit towards the beginning of this year, you could be spending $768 just for two days of electricity.

A battery backup bank, on the other hand, costs $0 per hour to keep your lights and your appliances powered. That’s because instead of costly propane, its “fuel” is free. It’s the sun, which rises every morning and powers Milestone Solar arrays even on cloudy days.

And adding a battery backup bank to your Milestone Solar system costs no more than a backup generator – sometimes less.

Click here or call us at 866-688-4274 to learn if a Milestone Solar system is right for your home or business. (Even the call is free.)

 

How to beat Virginia’s coming 5.8% electric rate hike

If the State Corporation Commission approves two Dominion Virginia Power filings for rate increases, residential rates will go up almost six percent for some 2.4 million customers, starting September 1.

The bulk of that rate hike – 4.1% – would be to cover spiking natural gas and purchased electricity prices the utility paid to power homes during the record cold first months of this year. Another 1.7% is for increased transmission charges.

“When the price of natural gas goes up, customers get stuck with the bill,” Glen Besa, director of the Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter told the Richmond Times Dispatch.

But there’s a way to avoid what he called “gambling with their customers’ money with overreliance on natural gas.”

“There are no fuel rate adjustments with solar and wind power, because the fuel is free,” he said.

In Virginia, that “free fuel” is plentiful. Virginia enjoys more than 200 days with sunlight each year.

For the other 165 days, a Milestone Solar system with battery backup bank can store up enough solar-powered electricity for days at a time. (Which comes in very handy during outages.)

As a result, if you live in Virginia, instead of paying 5.8% more for electricity starting September, you can start paying up to 50% less, as most Milestone Solar customers report they do.

You’ll save even more with a 30% federal tax credit plus $1,000 or more with state and local incentives.

So why not get a free solar evaluation? It’s the first step in beating electricity rate increases – not only for this September, but for years and years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

FERC official: “We are now in an era of rising electricity prices.”

A steady reduction in nationwide generating capacity in increasing electricity rates, according to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Phillip Moeller. “We are now in an era of rising electricity prices,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “If you take enough supply out of the system, the price is going to increase.”

In fact, electric rates already have increased – by double-digit percentages over the past 10 years, even after adjusting for inflation. If anything, they’ll get worse, says Daniel Kish, senior vice president of the Institute for Energy Research. “The trend line is up, up, up. We are going into uncharted territory,” he predicts.

One reason for that upward trend is unintended consequences of environmental regulations. When the Environmental Protection Agency wrote new rules on mercury, acid and other toxic emissions, they estimated in 2011 that these new limits would cause few coal-generated electric plants to close. But two dozen coal-fired plants across the country are already scheduled to be decommissioned. So when those regulations take effect next year, the power grid will lose some 60 gigawatts of generating capacity – the equivalent of 60 nuclear reactors.

Other generating units are replacing coal with cleaner natural gas. That’s great for the environment, but also costlier. Right now, natural gas costs $4.50 per million BTUs. But the added natural-gas electric generation, along with liquefied natural gas exports and conversion of truck fleets to LNG, will increase demand – and prices along with it. Malcolm Johnson, of the Oxford Princeton Program, predicts they’ll more than double, to $10.

If that weren’t enough, five nuclear reactors have ceased operation over the past few years (mainly because of technical problems), and more shutdowns are under consideration.

When extreme weather, like this January’s polar vortex, increases demand on a reduced-capacity generating system, rates spiral even higher, as the Times notes:

A fifth of all power-generating capacity in a grid serving 60 million people went suddenly offline, as coal piles froze, sensitive electrical equipment went haywire and utility operators had trouble finding enough natural gas to keep power plants running. The wholesale price of electricity skyrocketed to nearly $2 per kilowatt hour, more than 40 times the normal rate. The price hikes cascaded quickly down to consumers. Robert Thompson, who lives in the suburbs of Allentown, Pa., got a $1,250 bill for January. “I thought, how am I going to pay this?” he recalled. “This was going to put us in the poorhouse.”

But you can protect your home or business from the skyrocketing cost of electrical power with a Milestone Solar system. Our customers report electric-bill savings of as much as 50%. The fuel prices will never go up, because the “fuel” rises in the East every morning. There’s no maintenance cost, because there are no moving parts to wear out, and everything’s covered by a 15- or 25-year manufacturer’s warranty. And if another polar vortex comes along, adding a battery backup bank to your Milestone system will give you electric power for days, keeping your key appliances running until the weather gets back to normal.

 

“Electric choice flimflam” nearly doubles Pennsylvanians’ monthly bills

It would seem like an April Fool joke, if only it weren’t so serious.

More than 9,000 electrically heated Lehigh Valley households have seen their monthly bills soar by 50%, 100% or more – and not just because of a record-cold winter.

As columnist Paul Carpenter describes it in the Lehigh Valley Morning Call, some alternative supply electric companies

suckered customers into contracts with all the guile of three-card monte or shell game flimflammers.

There were complaints they used telemarketing techniques to pitch variable-rate contracts, the main cause of steep increases in monthly electric bills, and then proceeded with binding “verbal contracts,” even when consumers insisted they’d made no such agreement, verbal or otherwise.
Other hucksters…targeted vulnerable senior citizens at community centers or church events to lock them into variable-rate contracts with promises of cheap electricity. Instead, monthly bills soared, with no quick way out.

A Nesquehoning couple, for example, said that instead of the 2¢ per kilowatt-hour savings they were promised, their $514 monthly bill shot up to more than $900, then up to $1,671.64 by February.

New legislation, Senate Bill 1297 introduced by State Senator Lisa Boscola, would let consumers to switch out of prohibitively expensive contracts sooner and would require suppliers to notify customers when variable rates are expected to rise 50 percent or more in a single month, to send 45-day and 15-day advance notices to customers before automatically switching them from expiring fixed-rate to variable-rate contracts, and to not start variable-rate contracts without “clear consent.”

That’s if the legislation passes.

But there’s a surer, perfectly honest and ethical way to lower your monthly electric bills, and that’s with a Milestone Solar system.

Milestone customers report electric-bill savings of up to 50%, month after month after month. Throw in federal tax credits m state and local credits and subsidies, and you may very well find, as one West Virginia Milestone customer did, that “Our system looks like it will pay for itself in about 7 years or perhaps a bit less.”

Best of all, in Lehigh Valley, with 204 sunny and partly sunny days a year – and statewide, with 2,021 to 2,984 average hours of annual sunlight – your savings won’t be seasonal. Your electric bills will go down even when the temperatures do.

 

All-time high electric costs make Christmas less merry

Those Christmas lights on your house or tree spread holiday cheer, but according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics it’s at a higher cost than ever.

Their most recent monthly figures show that the seasonally adjusted electricity price index hit an all-time high nationally in November.

The average price for a kilowatt hour of electricity was 13¢ – the most one KwH of electricity has ever averaged since the BLS first started reporting average electricity pricing in November, 1978.

So one New Year’s resolution you might seriously consider is cutting the record cost of electricity with a Milestone Solar System. Homeowners who got one report power savings of as much as 50%. They also federal get tax credits and state subsidies that pay for between a third and half the system’s cost. (Talk about a gift that keeps on giving.)

Why not take a minute to click at the upper right corner or call 866-688-4274 toll-free for a free solar evaluation? It could be the start of a brighter, richer, happier new year.

Power outages have many causes, but one sure cure.

Readers of the  New Castle, PA, News got their papers late today because a power outage shut down the printing plant. While Penn Power eventually restored electricity, the cause of the outage is still unreported.

But it could have been almost anything.

On October 28, in Moundsville, WV, the cause was copper thieves, who cut through a power substation’s fence, broke the lock on the control house door, started helping themselves to 2 gauge copper wire, and tripped a circuit breaker in the process. About 3,000 homes and businesses were without electricity for almost two hours, and schools were closed.

The day before, just as schools were letting out in Farmington, VA, a failed lightning arrestor knocked out power in about 2,950 homes and businesses – and all the city’s traffic lights. It took four crews nearly an hour to restore it.

And Lynchburg’s downtown business district, as noted before, has been plagued with a whole string of outages caused by squirrels eating the insulation.

But while power outages can have many causes, there’s one best way to avoid them – and that’s with a Milestone Solar array with battery backup. Lynchburg, the home of those hungry squirrels, for example, enjoys 219 days with sunshine a year – and on each of those days, solar power can be charging a sealed, state-of-the-art battery bank.

When the power goes out, that battery bank kicks in – keeping your lights on, your food fresh and your appliances running – day and night, until the electricity comes on again, with no flammable fuels and no toxic emissions. And when it does, your Milestone Solar system cuts your electric bills by as much as 50%, earns you a tidy tax credit, and, according to Newsday, increases your home’s value by 3 to 4%.

 

 

 

Popular Mechanics warns about generator risks

Today, PopularMechanics.com posted, “How Not to Die: 20 Survival Tips You Must Know.”

Must-know survival tip #17 is of particular interest to anyone worried about power outages:

Use Generators Safely.

After Hurricane Sandy, many homeowners used portable generators to replace lost power, leaving the machines running overnight and allowing odorless carbon monoxide to waft inside. The gas induces dizziness, headaches, and nausea in people who are awake, but “when people go to sleep with a generator running, there’s no chance for them to realize that something’s wrong,” says Brett Brenner, president of the Electrical Safety Foundation International.

STAT: Carbon monoxide from consumer products, including portable generators, kills nearly 200 a year. Of the Sandy-related deaths, 12 were due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

 

A  Milestone Solar system with battery backup gives you power without the risk. Its high-tech, sealed battery backup bank kicks in as soon as the electricity goes out. It keeps supplying your home or business with electricity without deadly carbon monoxide – and with no exhaust emissions of any kind. You never have to refuel it. It keeps your power on for days, because it starts recharging whenever the sun rises. And when the power’s back it, it cuts your electric bills by as much as 50%. So call us toll-free, or email, to learn more.

 

 

 

8 ways to survive a power outage with kids

Blackouts aren’t fun to begin with, and for tech-loving kids they can be torture, East Texas television station KLTV advises. So they put together these ideas for “turning this surprise into a period of family bonding and fun.”

  1. Glow-stick games – Not only do glow sticks add light, but kids can bend them into bracelets and play glow-in-the-dark tag.
  2. Go camping at home – Now’s a good time to build that fort in the living room with couch cushions. Or you could pitch an actual tent. No campfires on the living-room floor, though.
  3. Ice-cream social – It’s going to melt anyhow, so why not enjoy it while it’s still relatively solid? Invite friends and neighbors to bring their melting ice cream too, and make a party of it.
  4. Shadow puppet show – You’ve got hands and fingers, and you’ve got plenty of darkness. All you need is a flashlight.
  5. Play Mad Libs – You can read from them and fill in the blanks by flashlight.
  6. Make greeting  cards – For birthdays, for holidays, for the local nursing home. You just need paper, crayons, kids’ imagination and creativity, and, if the power goes out after daylight hours, flashlights.
  7. Backyard barbecue and Olympics – Might as well fire up the outdoor gas grill and barbecue that meat that would otherwise spoil in your now-warm freezer. While the meat’s grilling, set up relay or three-legged races for the kids, with home-made medals for the winners.
  8. Wash the dog – You have to do it sometime, you can do it outdoors, and, says KLTV, it’s always good for a laugh (except for the dog).

Of course, the best way to survive a power outage is to avoid it in the first place, and that’s precisely what you can do with a Milestone Solar system with battery backup.

A sealed, high-tech battery bank stores up solar-generated electricity, kicks in the instant the power goes out, and recharges with a dependable power source that rises in the East every morning. When the electricity’s working again, the rest of your Milestone Solar system cuts your bills in  half, earns you thousands of dollars in tax credits and incentives, and increases your home’s value.So why not phone or email for a Free Solar Evaluation?

 

Solar systems add $9,000 in home equity, Newsday reports

Adding a residential solar electric system doesn’t just save on electricity, Long Island Newsday reported October 9. According to a Wells Fargo Bank/Journal of Appraisers study, home equity increases by 20 times the electricity savings.

“This increases the value of a home by 3-4 percent,” Newsday notes. “That would mean an average 5-kw solar system could add up to $9,000 in equity to the home it was installed on.”

Looking at the overall picture, the  increased home equity and the federal tax credits could pay for two-thirds of a typical home solar system alone.

And those savings don’t include state incentives, grants and tax credits. Nor do they include hundreds of dollars a year that utilities pay for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs, which vary from state to state)  – nor the electric-bill savings themselves, which Milestone Solar customers tell us run about 50 percent each month.

So why not contact Milestone Solar for a free solar evaluation? You’ve got nothing to lose – and thousands of dollars in home equity and savings to gain.

 

Not just for Virginia homes

The Roanoke Times reports that starting a few weeks from now, a solar array will provide the Salem, Virginia, Veteran Affairs Medical Center  with 1,620 kilowatts of free electricity – about 10% of their power needs.

Another VA hospital, in Alexandria, has a 1,995 kilowatt solar system under construction.

The Norfolk Naval Station gets 2100 kilowatts from its solar system.

Washington and Lee University and Virginia Tech also save on electric bills with solar power (450 and 103 kilowatts, respectively).

At Milestone Solar, we’ve been helping commercial customers offset as much as 50% of their electric bills with

  • a 37.4 kilowatt solar installation for the Ernst Market in Clear Spring, Maryland (20% offset).
  • a 15.87 kW solar array for the Town of Man, West Virginia, town hall (50%).
  • a 5.04 kW solar system for the Beech Bottom, WV, town hall (more than 50%).

So if you run a business, are concerned about your bottom line and overhead, and thought that solar electricity was just for houses, it pays to think again.