Sunday, August 30, 2015

The North Will Rise Again

Atkins North, open for business in North Amherst

As promised over a year ago, Atkins North -- a smaller version of the iconic South Amherst flagship  -- will officially open its brand new doors today after total transformation of a 4,000+ square foot cow barn into a shiny new, long needed, food business.

Inside is even brighter and shinier than you would expect

The operation will complement the 12,000 square foot Trolley Barn just down the street and provide further incentive for North Amherst residents to shop closer to home.  Cowls Road will be repaved this fall and a sidewalk installed from Montague Road directly to Atkins North.

 A nod to the past
The town is also planning to tweak two intersections that make up of the North Amherst Village Center where five roads all converge almost on top of each other.  Meanwhile, Pine Street (one of those 5 roads) is now, finally, nearing completion of a $4 million major renovation.

North Amherst is fast returning to its former glory days when it was known as the "dirty hands district" because of a plethora of mills, factories, farms and loggers.

W.D. Cowls, Inc, the largest private landowner in the state, has now successfully recycled their l-o-n-g history in that area into a shiny new "clean hands district,"  aka The Mill District.

North Amherst Village Center: Sunderland and Montague Road branch off after intersection of Pine/Meadow/North Pleasant


Anonymous said...

Congratulations to them and Cinda.

Anonymous said...

In the right foreground is a commercial strip, also owned by Cinda, which could also be recycled, maybe with some 2nd and 3rd story offices or apartments.

Anonymous said...

…That referred to the aerial photo - and maybe right mid-ground is closer to the mark. All that flat roof space might be good for some PV panels too, and I hear Cinda's into solar in a big way, maybe this scale (a couple hundred kilowatts) would serve the tenants and businesses there better than a couple megawatts in the Shutesbury woods?

Anonymous said...

Solar panels are a waste. One of the great gimmicks of our time.

Anonymous said...

Right. All they do is generate electricity. Who needs that.

Anonymous said...

They're certainly a waste when they replace forest or farmland, where photosynthesis does a much better job of converting sunlight to stored energy (wood or crops), but on rooftops (unless they're "green roofs") there's no photosynthesis going on, so a reasonable person may beg to differ.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:02 is correct. The only reason solar panels are a somewhat financially intelligent option for anyone is because of the significant government subsidies available to those who own the SRECs to them. Same with wind power, remove the subsidies and the industry would likely collapse. PV panels due to their current efficiency, lack of consistent sunlight for production planning, and wasted energy during the DC to AC conversion and/or DC storage do not make them an option for serious base-load replacement. There is a serious carbon footprint associated with their manufacture, installation, and use, as well as that of associated accessories including the need for batteries and inverters that contain materials which are harmful to the environment and require regulation with strict disposal/recycling needs. Solar power is far from being "green" energy.

The energy density is so small in comparison watt per watt to conventional energy sources, that the carbon footprint generated by producing, installing, and operating them in the needed quantity is significant, and in some studies has proven to be larger than conventional sources.

The real way to help our environment not only involves finding supposedly less harmful sources of energy but educating and enforcing conservation. I can't count the number of times I've driven by homes in the Amherst area with panels on the roof or a pro-renewable energy sign on the lawn and noticed every window in the house I could see from the road had a light on.

Anonymous said...

Well, 9:28, "I can't count the number of times I've driven by homes in the Amherst area"

Maybe you should look into your own driving habits (and peeping in windows) before you preach to others about conservation.

And really, who are you to judge whether people want to light their homes at night? You can put a light in every room for less electricity than it took for 1 bulb 20 years ago.

In other words, mind your own f***ing business.

BTW I have no solar panels but all information we have says that diversification of our energy production is a good thing.

Anonymous said...

Clearly from the posts here, there should be a public forum about how Cowls should spend its money.

Opps, too late.

The average American uses about 100,000 kW of energy in a year (from the Federal government - US Energy Admin)

In Mass, a typical solar panel may make 1/2-1 kW a day or about say 333 kW in a year.

Doing the math we are looking at needing about 300 panels per person.

It is not about roofs and most certainly not about public policy, it is about personally choosing to use less energy....or not because you are an American and it is your choice.

Walter Graff said...

Glad to see lots of folks here who know the truth about the inefficiency of solar panels on roof tops. The energy created is very inefficient compared to cost and manufacturing and when compared to other methods of generation. And don't forget how much fireman hate them as they are very toxic when they burn. If it wasn't for government subsidies and the few companies that found out how to make a buck selling these things and telling folks they will save a ton of money, the industry would be dead. Sure we should diversify our methods of power, but solar has never been a viable option for the masses. Add the geography of Mass to the equation and things get worse. Unless you are using a solar farm that use thousands of panels which at least make for a more efficient result (and even then many solar farms loss money), a rooftop solar system is costing more to build and operate, let alone it's impact on the environment from manufacturing, than what you get back after it's all added up. It's like electric cars, sounds good but not practical and in the long run not really saving much.

Anonymous said...

Solar sucks. Let's all go back to chopping and burning wood on an open hearth, and using horse-drawn carriages. The horses can deliver candles to our houses to light them during the dark hours. And businesses can operate from dawn-to-dusk using quill pens and inkwells.

Anonymous said...

"If it wasn't for government subsidies and the few companies that found out how to make a buck selling these things and telling folks they will save a ton of money, the industry would be dead."

Really, you want to stop government subsidies of the solar industry? Shall we also stop providing worldwide subsidies and military protection for the oil and gas industry, and stop subsidizing highway repair and maintenance, and stop subsidizing corporate farms, and stop subsidizing the financial industry through perverse tax incentives, and stop subsidizing police and firefighters, and see how those industries do?

Hypocrites, please go back to your caves.

Walter Graff said...

We shouldn't stop supporting anything that gives us oil and gas. Thankfully we have now found ways to get more oil from our own land and natural gas is abundant so our protections aren't as dependent. The rest of your rant has no relevance. The solar industry is a niche industry, always has been and always will. Without the government the only solar cell you'd see would have been on a hook in Radio Shack. That's because it's an inefficient method or producing energy.

Anonymous said...

10:40 and others: energy is power*time, and a kilowatt (kW) is unit of power, so perhaps kWh (kilowatt hours) was meant?

Your figure of 100,000 kWh(?) per person may be for all energy uses, including transportation. Electrical use is typically a tiny fraction of that. I know folks who use at most 1/10 of that amount of electrical energy per year, even with electric heat and hot water, and that's for a family of 4 or 5. (BTW, at current prices for electricity, your figure would be $20-25K/year - that's pretty extravagant!)

But all this misses the point of the friendly suggestion: Larry's photo shows roofs with room for several thousand PV panels, so if one is planning to put a large number of those (on a forest tract) anyway, maybe the rooftops would be a better location? And that comment is independent of whether the subsidies for solar are a good idea...

Anonymous said...

So... Anyone been to the new store?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that truth.

Anonymous said...

Lol. As usual, we got sidetracked.
Viva Atkins!

Dr. Ed said...

One word: Latitude. The reason why places like Florida and Texas are warmer than Massachusetts is because they are further south, because they are closer to the equator.

Sunlight reaches them at less of an angle than it reaches us, and hence the light has more energy per square inch than it does here. A solar panel will convert a set percentage of the sunlight it receives into electricity and hence the same solar panel will produce more electricity in Florida or Texas than it does in Massachusetts.

Now you could have mirrors (or lenses) to concentrate more square inches of sunlight onto the solar panels, they are doing something similar in places like Death Valley where banks of computer-controlled mirrors focus sunlight on what is essentially a pot of water. Water boils to produce steam to drive a turbine that produces electricity.

And Bald Eagles are going down in flames.


The intense sunlight singes the feathers of Bald & Golden Eagles. Unable to remain aloft, the birds then plummet to their deaths, reportedly trailing a stream of smoke.

Eagles are attracted to solar arrays (and black rooftops) because, like a glider pilot, they "do thermals" -- they ride a rising column of air to gain altitude, circling to stay in the center of it as best they can. They are big, heavy birds -- it takes a lot of energy to get that high and hence any concentration of sunlight creates the type of heat source which attracts them.

Oh, and as to windmills, they slice 'n' dice Bald Eagles with impunity, the Federal Government actually issues windmill operators permits to kill hundreds of Bald Eagles. If just one gets electrocuted on power lines, the utility is in big trouble, but it's somehow OK for windmills to kill them by the hundreds each year. So much for thinking "green."

Dr. Ed said...

Solar cells produce DC which can not go through a transformer.

A single solar cell produces less than 0.6 volts - the lead/acid battery in your car only produces 2 volts. In both cases, multiple units are wired together in series -- a 12 volt car battery is actually six batteries wired together in series, and solar cells tend to be wired together so as to produce a voltage slightly higher than 12 volts. (A fully-charged 12 volt battery is actually 13 volts, and a voltage even higher than that is necessary to charge it, a running car with a fully charged battery should be 14.7 volts.)

While modern autos combine the process, the Model "T" Ford (and I believe Model "A") had a "vibrator" -- a box about the size of a carton of cigarettes. It converted the DC into pulsed DC which could be run through a transformer -- stepped up into a five-digit voltage, it could then be used to fire the spark plugs. A power inverter does the same thing electronically, creating "switched AC" which is a square sine wave instead of the traditional curve.

The Solar Farms have a more complicated problem as they have to produce three phases, each precisely timed relative to the other two, all three precisely sixty times a second, and all precisely coordinated with the utility that they are tying into -- otherwise they have a massive short circuit. As I understand it, they have large vibrators which do this, and consume a considerable portion of the farm's output in the process.

You also loose 10% every time you go though a transformer. They are loosing *an additional* 10% to "step up" to the 13,600 volt "street" line that (I believe) they are tying into, and then the center-tapped transformer on the pole outside your home looses *an additional* 10% in dropping it down to the 240 volts that you use in your house (120+120=240). All of your electronic devices then loose another 10% with yet another transformer (either external or internal) when they drop it back down to somewhere in the 3-15 volt range and convert it to DC.

To make matters worse, there is 10% lost when the power plant increases to the super-high voltage on the high-tension lines, and yet other 10% lost at the substation where it is dropped to the 13,600 (each phase 8,700 to ground) to be run along the streets. The reason this is done, however, is that even more would be lost if it wasn't -- the higher the voltage, the less is lost as it is transmitted over distance, that is what did Edison in -- he could generate a lot of DC current but couldn't transmit it any distance, while Westinghouse's ability to increase his voltage because he was using AC enabled him to put turbines at Niagria Falls to generate power for customers miles away.

Remember too that Watts is Volts times Amps -- a light bulb in your car uses 10 times the amperage that the same bulb would in your house because you only have 1/10 the voltage and hence you need bigger wires. Likewise one reason why "Knob & Tube" lingered was that it often was designed for the 32 volt DC of the home generating system, and hence four times the amperage of the same load when connected to the 120 volts of the utility.

My Point: With LED lights now replacing both incandescent and florescent ones, almost everything in much of your house is now operating on low-voltage DC, there is a lot to be said for having your house wired for low-voltage DC instead of having the current 120 volt AC with each and every device then having its own transformer and rectifier to convert.

Notwithstanding my caveats about power output of solar panels, if we are going to have them, it makes far more sense to have them on the roof of the building with the electronic devices using their power -- keeping it low-voltage DC that things in your house actually use instead of loosing a lot of it in the various conversions.

Personally, I think the concept of a Solar Farm to be asinine.

Anonymous said...

Man is too puny to affect climate. Mt. St. Helens generated 1600 times the power of both The Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined. And then there's the sun. Climate change is nothing so much as another ideology designed to instill some sort of fear. Please.

Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear!

Anonymous said...

Correct: "lose" = misplace or waste, as in "a transformer loses 10% of the energy."

Incorrect: "loose" = not tight, as in "Dr. Ed has a screw loose."

I don't know what "Ed" is a doctor of, but it's not English.

Anonymous said...

Ed where do you come up with your electrical facts??? You son, are definitely no electrical engineer or electrician. Ed stick to being Dr. Do-Little and quit talking shit, will ya'.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wally, "We shouldn't stop supporting anything that gives us oil and gas." I find fish awfully oily and beans do give me gas. So I guess you finally have said something that is true??? So Hear,Hear for tuna fish sandwiches and Boston Baked Beans.

Anonymous said...

I was there yesterday! It's great! I'll be back plenty of times!

Anonymous said...

Went there today but it was rather underwhelming. Might be a nice local grocery store, but as a destination, I'll just drive across town to Atkins South.

Anonymous said...

If we launch solar mirrors we could light the earth at night!