Solar, For an Indiana Couple, is a Safe Investment in the Future

Janice and David Isaacs recently had a solar photovoltaic system designed and installed for their home located in Georgetown, IN. The 4.29 kW system consisting of 22 solar panels mounted on their roof-top is a sound, safe, and smart investment for the couple. Not only is the system decreasing their dependency on coal but it is also saving them money, as evidenced by their electric meter running backwards. “That’s just a neat feeling”, commented David. A former math and science teacher, he had been researching alternative energy years ago, but the financial case was difficult to make at that time. The couple’s main goal was to lower their “carbon imprint” AND “save money”.

Currently, solar energy is a sound financial investment because conventional fuel costs have been increasing steadily for the past decade. The recent 12.1% rate increase imposed by E.ON’s LG&E is a good example of this trend. Not only are prices increasing, but the environmental impact of conventional coal-generated power imposes a hidden cost burden on society as a whole. These hidden costs are not typically considered in financial comparisons between renewables and conventional power sources. Measures such as net-metering, the current 30% Federal Tax Credit, and RECS make the investment more attractive, and renewable energy lacks all of the social costs associated with conventional fuels.

A long-term investment in solar energy is sure to pay off sooner rather than later with the anticipated rise in energy costs. Just across the river in the neighboring state of Kentucky, Louisville residents are wrestling with the LG&E rate hike. The Isaacs and other customers like them have decided not to tackle future rate hikes and the uncertainty of energy costs. Instead, they have decided to essentially lock in their next 30 years of energy bills by installing a photovoltaic system now. They will see a return on their investment that will be on par with a fixed income retirement fund. With time, just as with stocks but with considerably less risk involved, their initial investment will provide a Return On their initial Investment.

The Isaacs were pleasantly surprised by how quickly their Indiana utility, Duke Energy, responded to their request to grid-tie their solar system to the utility. Duke Energy has been allowing customer to net-meter their solar and wind systems. Net-metering is a policy that allows customers that have grid-tied systems to receive credit for their excess, unused electricity generated by renewables. Net-metering helps customers of renewable energy systems receive a better return on their investment. Recently, Indiana rejected a comprehensive net-metering bill that would require all municipalities and local utility co-operatives to offer net-metering in Indiana.

In addition, the Federal 30% credit for renewable energy systems goes a long way to helping reducing the actual costs of these systems. This credit essentially reduces the system cost by 30% in the form of a federal tax credit at the end of the tax year. For example a $30,000 solar system will result in a $9,000 tax credit. The savings don’t stop there, Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) also help increase rate of return on a solar investment. One solar REC represents 1 mega-watt hour worth of solar electricity and is valuable to solar home owners for the following reason: large-scale electric suppliers are required to supply a certain percentage of their electricity from solar. They can do so by building large-scale solar facilities or by purchasing solar RECS from customers who generate solar power. This creates an entirely separate and ongoing revenue stream for the residential renewable energy system owner. The customer has the option of taking an up-front lump sum payment to help reduce the upfront cost of the system or quarterly payments for the term of the contract with the REC aggregator company. In either case, the impact is significant.

Finally, most people don’t stop to think about the social costs they are paying for conventional fuels which include toxic emissions, pollution of waterways, and military costs required to protect our fuel interests around the world. Renewables inherently don’t have this burden.

The investment in solar made by the Isaacs, and many other folks with long-term outlooks will be financially, socially and morally rewarding for years to come.

Toetripping or Tiptoeing Through the Toe of Indiana

My friend moved from Terre Haute to New Harmony. “Good move,” I thought partly because I have always loved New Harmony, the site of an early experiment in communal living in the United States and partly because she found a good deal on an old drive-in restaurant which she converted into an art studio and living space. I decided to spend a couple of days visiting her and other friends in the toe of the state. It was only a four-hour drive from Indianapolis but seemed like a trip back through several decades of time.

We had dinner at the New Harmony Inn, beer from a local brewery, cheeseburgers and fries and checked out the Hoosier Salon artists in a main-street gallery. If the inn and its menu seemed time capsuled, we stepped back a few more years when we headed for the big event in town that night, a Hank Williams concert. In reality, it was a concert by the group HankeringforHank, a Hank impersonator who asked if anyone had heard Tony Bennett sing, “Your Cheating Heart” on the radio lately. A couple of jokes about the red G-string on the bass and going to the topless church down the street, seemed right on key, and everyone joined in for some heartfelt gospel singing at the end. We left longing for the “good ole days” before television and rap… but the Rappites might have disagreed. Like, “we dig socialism, but don’t you know man, we can’t agree on nothin’ so let’s just jam.”

New Harmony was founded in 1814 by the German religious group known as the Harmonists or the Rappites. When the Harmonists decided to move back to Pennsylvania, it was sold to Robert Owen, the Welsh utopian thinker and social reformer and William McClure. Owen recruited members to the community, but a number of factors led to an early breakup of the commutarian experience. It is easy to understand both his idealistic approach and the reason for its demise. As he himself admitted, “… It appeared that it was nature’s own inherent law of diversity that had conquered us… our ‘united interests’ were directly at war with the individualities of persons and circumstances and the instinct of self-preservation… and it was evident that just in proportion to the contact of persons or interests, so are concessions and compromises indispensable.” (Periodical Letter II 1856)

The community then became a scientific (entomology and geology) and religious center which it has remained to this day. It has a little over nine hundred residents and many of the old Harmonist buildings still stand and have been restored. Paul Tillich, the renowned theologian and religious theorist, is buried across from the roofless church, open to God and the universe. His words, “Man and nature belong together in their created glory – in their tragedy and in their salvation” still ring true today. The maze remains to encourage contemplation, and gardens, and art galleries enhance the town’s beauty. The search for knowledge is well served by The Working Men’s Institute, established in 1838, by William Maclure. It is the oldest continuously operating library in the state of Indiana and also houses a small museum.

I wanted to experience time travel on this trip and also try to “Keep on the Sunny Side”. Hank may have enjoyed this song sung by his contemporary musicians, the Carter Family. I must admit that even this experience had a downside as my friend had a raging tooth ache, and it was about 98 degrees on the “sunny side” of the street. We enjoyed our visit anyway, and after admiring all of her beautiful paintings, I set out enthusiastically the next morning to see the rest of the toe.

As I headed out of town I was soon humming Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning as the sun was coming down like butterscotch in southern Indiana in summer, and the humidity added to the sticky metaphor. As I sped through the green countryside, a beautiful yellow swallowtail butterfly flew in front of my car. Unfortunately it hit my windshield and lay flapping in the road behind me. Everything else seemed cheery. My friend seemed centered and settled in her new studio, and I was headed toward Santa Claus, Indiana to celebrate Christmas in July. I planned to visit my daughter’s mother-in-law. This lady had been a successful business woman who decided to buy several acres of wooded land outside Santa Claus and live there with her three sons and their families.

She was no doubt familiar with New Harmony, but maybe not its demise. The sons did not agree with their mother or the wives with their husbands and moved away. After all, if the Rappites and the Owens couldn’t do it, how could they. I headed down highway 165 not knowing for sure where her farm was located and reluctant to ask my daughter who preferred separation of her relatives and wisely so. Blue cornflowers, purple cow weed, and white Queen Ann’s lace adorned the sides of the highways. Violet thistle and yellow goldenrod fringed the edges of the green quilted fields. I was mesmerized by the passing landscape and unable to slow my momentum through the honeyed morning even to stop for blackberries, corn, squash and melons advertised on a handmade sign.

My mood was broken by a more ominous sign that read, “Prepare to Stop.” A few miles down the road I saw the reason for the sign, a monstrous structure towering above the park, it’s top lost in the stratosphere. I was approaching Holiday World, and this was the world’s longest water coaster. I knew because my seven-year-old grandson had recently informed me with the greatest authority that he had been on it. I was horrified and asked how this could have occurred. Apparently, the last time he had been to the doctor to be measured he was forty-eight inches tall. Upon hearing this much-anticipated fact, he whipped out an advertising brochure and informed the doctor that he was now tall enough to ride the water slide at Holiday World.

I stopped at a filling station for a soft drink or a pop as they are called here. It is not my drink of choice, but somehow looked irresistible when imbibed by a jolly rosy-cheeked Santa Claus. I tried to figure out how to get to my daughter’s mother-in-law’s farm using the map. I didn’t really believe that I could find it, and eventually had to give up and call my daughter. After several tries on my cell phone which was rapidly losing power, I heard her voice demanding, “Do you have an emergency or something?” Well it seemed so to me as I was starving, my phone was dying and I was driving around in 98 degree heat in another era, so I screamed, “Yes!”. She told me she couldn’t remember how to get to the property, but she did remember a county road and some Wapati elk and buffalo across the street. This seemed like valuable information to me in my pathetic state and recalling another 60’s classic by Janis Joplin, I decided to “try just a little bit harder.”

Her directions proved helpful, and I was soon seated in an air-conditioned house with a glass of lemonade, hearing a tearful Donna describe how her beloved dog had died of the heat on the way to the vet the day before. I was deciding if the lemonade and air-conditioning balanced out this new tragedy when I was hit with another one. My grandson had fallen in the pond while fishing from the dock during his last visit and had been covered with pond slime. The next topic of conversation was about the coyotes on her property who frequently send the female coyote out to attract the cute little male house dogs, and then the male coyotes pounce on the dogs. Wiley Coyote is alive and well in Santa Clause land. As I headed out of town a giant Santa Claus beamed at me from one side of the highway while a small madonna smiled benevolently from the other.

My next stop was Adyeville, once a thriving town which used its nearby creek to ship cattle out of the countryside and down to the Ohio River. It now consists of two houses and an old store which another friend of mine calls home. He was retired from teaching sociology, and we enjoy discussing politics and philosophy. He wasn’t home so I discussed politics and water quality in the area with his donkey, Third and patted his dog, Second. Third was concerned about the state of the environment but Second was only concerned about enjoying long walks in the countryside. I think my friend was First but I am not sure as Second or Third might have been first. Third often came into the store/house uninvited. Abbot and Costello of “who’s on first fame” were also contemporaries of Hank.

Then I travelled up the highway to French Lick, Indiana’s Historic Playground. On the way I say a sign that said, “Eat here! Get gas and worms too. Beer(deer) hunters welcome.” Wow, what a place! I was becoming elated again until I saw a dead deer on the roadside which brought me back to roadkill reality. A sign for tomatoes and one for web design juxtaposed the old German agri-culture and the modern American cyber-culture on the side of the country road. But entrepreneurship was alive and well! And corn was everywhere, in small gardens, in yards, in giant fields by the roadside and next to the roofless church in New Harmony where it was framed by the stone church windows like a goddess in a shrine. Iowa may produce the most corn in the country but Indiana has Orville Reddenbacher of popcorn fame and the motto, “There’s more than corn in Indiana.”

Patoka Lake, in the state park of the same name, where I had spent many happy hours camping with my family, came into view. I’m sure the original native American inhabitants of the land enjoyed this area as well. Its Indian name means “log on bottom.” Its surface area is 8,000 acres, it has many campgrounds and hosts many sports related activities. It is also home to many varieties of birds, fish, animals, and insects. I had once camped there during a year of the cicadas or seven-year locusts. The roar from the woods sounded like a massive factory working the night shift, but was just a huge choir of cicadas that had been waiting for seven years to sing

When I arrived in French Lick, the first thing I saw was the French Lick Hotel and new casino surrounded by a moat of water. This is the only way it could have existed in this mostly landlocked state, with only a small shoreline at the point of Lake Michigan at the north and the Ohio River at the south. The state has a split personality when it comes to casinos which, by law, must be on a river or lake if they really have to be here at all. They are the work of the devil, but so is Pluto water which has been in French Lick from the beginning. So here it was with its moat, surrounded by little white frame churches with disapproving faces. They would rather have used the water for holier purposes.

The Pluto Water factory sold the mineral water in bottles with a picture of the devil on it that supposedly cured all ills, except maybe gambling. Al Capone traveled here by train from Chicago in the 30’s and wealthy families came from Europe to take the water. The West Baden hotel right next door had the largest free spanning dome in the world for many years and was billed as the Carlsbad of America. Visitors from around the world still come to French Lick now that the West Baden Hotel has been restored and is part of the French Lick Resort Casino Complex, a giant undertaking, but worth it to keep this unusual town on the map. The gilded hotel roof gleamed in the afternoon sun like a veritable Pleasure Dome whose outside is the opposite of topless, but inside, who knows.


Jobs in Construction: Indiana Opportunities

Construction in Indiana has increased over the years. After the recent recession, it has been more than free to accept new workers in this field. There are a lot of opportunities to be explored in this field. If you want to have construction employment in Indiana, you have come to the right place.

In this article, we shall tell you what’s hot in Indiana construction work and how to get hold of these jobs. But first let us know a bit more about this state.

The State

Between the time period 2004 and 2014, it has been estimated that there would be around 302,600 jobs in the state. Out of this growth, construction and extraction work is supposed to make up around 12%. There has been a sudden flurry of development work in this state which is expected to believe in this growth. For starters, Honda has decided to open up a center in Greensburg. This will be one of a kind center with all the modern facilities.

Toyota is expected to start building automobiles at Subaru in Lafayette. For this a new factory is going to be built soon. Then there is the prospect of a Nestle plant at Anderson and American Commercial Lines at Jeffersonville. These industries will lead to a lot of direct and indirect jobs for construction in the state.

If you are a newbie and want to start your career in construction, you can well start it by being a construction worker for any of these new sites.

If on the other hand, you have some experience and want something a little better, then perhaps you could sign up with the Major Moves Initiative. This initiative is expected a lot of jobs on construction that require high skill and expertise. The growth in extraction and construction will outrun the overall average of the state.


Construction work in Indiana has increased lately. You can work as a Project Manager or Superintendent in construction companies at Indianapolis. This place has a lot of companies which are also on the lookout for smart and intelligent Project Coordinators. Crown Point is another favorite place for Indiana construction jobs.

Do you have experience? Do you have a specialization? Well then you can work as an estimator or water technician in this place. Another job of construction in Indiana which has become very popular recently is roofing. Lafayette has a lot of companies which are in the search for roofers and other specialty trade experts.

If you are a service technician, then you should opt for Indianapolis as this is one of the largest cities in Indiana and one of the favorite sites for construction work in the state. This is the place which also has a high demand for machine operators and experienced construction workers throughout the year.

This is unlike any other state where the construction work is mostly seasonal. Muncie is a good place to look out for jobs in fabrication supervision. Greenwood and Carmel have a high demand of truck drivers for transport of construction materials. If you have no degree in construction, you can well begin as a truck driver in this field.

Construction in Indiana is stipulated to rise more so make sure you have a job in this field.

No-Pressure Roof Cleaning

The safe and proper method to clean a roof has long been debated by many contractors. Although essential to maintaining and increasing both the value and appearance of your home, one must be very careful as to ensure that each roof is cleaned in a manner that is safe, effective, and efficient. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has a branded caution against using high-pressure cleaning methods to remove algae and black streaks from roofs. Using a pressure washer to clean a roof is not only dangerous to the shingles; it is also a risk to the structural integrity of the roof. A non-pressure roof cleaning method should be utilized to remove algae, mold, and black streaks from a roof. Precision Power Washing introduced the SoftWash, and Roof Renew Roof Cleaning to the Evansville and Newburgh, Indiana area in order to provide homeowners and businesses with a safe, efficient way to increase exterior appeal. We use a delicate blend of environmentally friendly algae neutralizers, detergents, and surfactants to thoroughly clean and restore any roof or house, all with no damage to plants or animals. Following are a few tips from the SoftWash Pros.

Whether doing the job yourself or hiring a professional contractor, there are certain and specific steps that need to be taken in order for the job to be successful.

Step1: A pressure washer should never touch your roof. Regardless of whether or not the contractor insists that they use “low pressure”, the variations of defined “low pressure” are vast. Never should any high pressure cleaning methods be used to clean a roof.

Step 2: Always ask for references. A reputable contractor should be able and willing to provide a list of 5 references minimum. If the chosen contractor is unable to provide this list, then chances are he or she is inexperienced or cautious of their previous work.

Step 3: Always make sure the chosen contractor is insured to clean roofs. Although many companies are insured to perform pressure washing services, many insurance companies require additional coverage to perform roof cleaning services, as the liability is usually much greater. If the contractor is unable to provide proof of insurance, think twice before choosing them.

Step 4: Always pay close attention to the quality of service and business image. Work portfolios, business cards, flyers, etc. are all fairly good indicators of the type of quality you will receive. If the contractor cannot provide a picture portfolio of previous work, or has lower quality flyers and/or business cards, then most likely they will provide the same mediocre service.

Kevin O’Bryan, Owner