Monday, 3 November 2008


Do you see what caught my eye?
A silent army of alchemist transforming sunlight to electricity

Driving south on Hwy 95 from Las Vegas, I saw something huge, and compelling, far out in the wastelands; something silver and black in color. (I had to know! I had to go! –but the sign said No!–-I went anyway!) I’ve learned that if “they” are really serious, “they” will barricade the road or post a guard. And it is true that it s easier to get forgiveness than permission.

I just had a memory flash–One of my earliest memories is watching my father dismantle a barricade in the headlights of our panel truck. We were bootlegging whiskey into Oklahoma (at that time a dry state) and our drop spot was down that road. I guess I come by this outlawry honestly.

Anyway, down into the mysterious valley I went till I came to the glittery acres of glass and aluminum. Wow! Do I love this. Acres and acres of solar panels quietly, cleanly, making power for the masses. I took a photo but I needed facts. A truck drove by inside the fence and I yelled. He came and gave them gladly: They are generating electricity by concentrating sunlight on a pipe filled with oil which heats to 400 degrees and travels to a heat exchanger where it turns water into steam that runs a turbine.

This project cost 263 million, covers 40 acres, generates 64 megawatts, powering 48,000 homes. ( coincidentally, the population of nearby Boulder, Nv is 50,000) The engineer was just getting warmed up. His face glowed as he spoke of future expansion, now underway, trebling its size–AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE–(He’s really enthused now, almost dancing) “WE’VE FOUND A WAY TO MAKE IT PRODUCE 24 HOURS A DAY. “Easy now” I said! “Even great engineers can”t make the sun shine 24 hours” I thought he would jump the fence in his rush to tell me the secret: “You see, we are now building a HUGE heat storage tank that will keep making steam all night.” “AND” he said, “WE’RE GOING TO PUT WINDMILLS OUT THERE.” He almost broke into poetry as he raised both hands prophet-like and said: “WE WILL MAKE THIS VALLEY CRACKLE WITH ELECTRICITY.”

His gospel converted me! I went away singing the praises of solar power—and then I remembered that I’VE BEEN SOLAR POWERED FOR 17 YEARS.

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