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RWC’s Summer Tips

We love summer activities, but Texas summers aren’t easy. Thankfully, we have a few tips up our sleeves. Here’s how we deal with the heat/humidity, bugs, and other summer things.

Summer Tips

First of all, thank god it’s actually not too hot this summer! If you’ve been getting a lot of rain, just know that it is legal to collect rainwater. So, save the rainwater and use it for watering. You’ll notice a difference vs. using hard tap water. Speaking of lawn care, when you mow, try to clear the grass off the road. Cut grass on the road is dangerous for motorcyclists because they lose traction, which can cause them to lose control.

If you’re thinking about going to a waterpark, check with them first. Not all amusement and water parks are at 100% capacity yet. If you’re thinking about going tubing, we recommend going to a river outfitter. It can be the same price just to park at the river as it would be going to an outfitter with parking, tubes, and shuttles.

Other tips

  • If you want your windows tinted, wait until the fall. It is so much cheaper.
  • Do you also hate the way bug repellent feels and smells? Try this all-natural bug repellent. I used to get eaten alive by mosquitos, but now I can garden and walk my dogs in peace.
  • PFG shirts are a summer essential. They dry fast and offer great sun & bug protection. Don’t be fooled by the long sleeves- good ones feel like you’re not wearing them at all. Wear them to the lake, or outside doing lawn work.

Let us know if you have any handy summer tips! Maybe we can update this blog with your suggestions. Have a great summer, everyone! Keep Texas clean!

 

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white and brown wooden blocks on brown wooden floor

First Quarter Review of 2021

While 2021 has not been boring, at least it’s not as wild as 2020. Here is a recap of everything that’s happened in 2021 in the first quarter.

 

January 2021

January definitely kicked off this year with a bang. First, the Capitol fiasco. After that incident, the left and the right are more against each other than ever. Then, Trump gets banned, which leads to media subscriptions going down. Magazines, blogs, and news channels are seeing less attention now that Trump isn’t around anymore. Two weeks later, the world held their breaths as Joseph Biden swore in as the 46th President. But yet, this and the stock market kept people tuned in. The great GameStop incident led to a stock market frenzy. Hey, it also led to fire memes. Bitcoin is now popular again and rising. One of the best parts of January? The Bernie Sanders mitten meme.

 

February 2021

Then February blows in with the craziest winter storm most Texans had ever seen. On the bright side, the forced quarantine reduced COVID cases. So, hospitals finally got a little relief. While we had to rough it, we found warmth in friendly neighbors and hospitable family members and friends. And, now we know how to be better prepared. Thankfully, the government is taking care of relief procedures. Congresswoman AOC raised $2 million for Texas!

 

March 2021

March was a good month. The Biden administration passed the second round of stimulus checks. This helped those affected by the winter storm. Also, March 11 marked the anniversary of the COVID-19 shutdown. Now, the world is in a better mood as the vaccine is more widely available. Along with that, but businesses and events are opening up at full capacity again. Slowly but surely, we see life returning to normal. While gas prices are going back up, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s only returning to the same prices as pre-COVID. Lastly, the 200,000-ton Evergreen cargo ship was finally recovered out of the sand and is afloat again. This allowed for business along the Suez canal to resume.

 

A lot happened in the first quarter of 2021. Now we are in April, and things are looking bright. We are thankful for all the good news that we come across. We’re looking forward to seeing what the rest of the year has in store for us. Let us know if we can help out with any big plans that you may have in mind!

 

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beige airplane

Petroleum in February 2021

Now that Biden is in office, the clean energy deal is making way. As of February 2021, actions have already been taken to start the transition. Here’s the latest news on the petroleum industry.

 

Petroleum February 2021

In 2020, North America broke the record for exporting the most amount of oil to India. As of January 2021, 11% of India’s oil comes from the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, we know that the Keystone XL Pipeline is coming to an end. This massive 1,179-mile crude oil pipeline was the heart of distributing oil throughout America. Now, Biden ordered a halt to further construction. This is in order to protect Native American land.

Corpus Christi, TX Refinery

The massive blizzard that hit Texas had a huge impact on oil. The deep, long-lasting freeze proved some damage to the refineries. Therefore, reduced oil production will limit nationwide distribution. Also, companies are heavily under fire for lack of regulation. Specifically, not winterizing plants and refineries. The bottom line is that oil and gas may get a lot more expensive as petroleum companies financially recover.

 Shell is working to balance successful oil production and green energy. They claim their carbon emissions have peaked, and are moving to green energy. They plan to reduce emissions by 6-8% by 2023. With 2020 hitting their oil profits hard, they understand that renewable energy is moving up to replace oil & gas. On that note, many petroleum companies are aware that their options are either to go green or abandon ship.

The vaccine rollout, cheap hotel prices & flights, and reduced lockdown restrictions are driving people to go out again. As a result, gas prices are at the same prices as pre-COVID. And, they’ll only get higher as summer comes closer.

Oil Today

Between the hard financial hits of 2021, the Texas blizzard, and the rise of renewable energy, the days of oil and gas are starting to wane. For more information on petroleum in February 2021, check out Oil News Today.

 

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solar panels on green field

Top Ten Solar Companies in Texas

Renewable energy is on the rise as we try to balance green energy with oil and gas. About 15% of Texas’s energy comes from wind, and 3.8% from solar. Solar is a great energy source for street lights, homes, anything that requires electricity. We encourage you to go green by looking at these solar companies in Texas.

Texas gets an average of about 220 days of sunshine per year.

Top 10 Solar Companies

  •  SunPro Solar4.8 stars on Google. They cover all of Texas and a few other states as well. They have been in Texas since 2008. Last year, Solar Power World ranked Sunpro #5 for Top Residential Solar Installer in the United States. With a 25 year warranty, customers can feel safe with SunPro.
  • Freedom Solar – 4.9 stars on Google. Rooted in Texas and Colorado, Freedom Solar gained some reputable clients. The University of Texas, Whole Foods, and Austin Board of Realtors all have Freedom Solar panels. The best part is that Willie Nelson endorses them.
  • Solar Electric Texas –  4.7 stars. Buyers can enjoy installation, monitoring, repairs, and management. They service San Antonio, Houston, Rio Grande Valley, and Austin. Buyers can also enjoy service from a family-owned business. The Gonzales family has been running Solar Electric Texas for 50 years!
  • Solar CenTex – 4.9 stars. Central and West Texas turn to Solar CenTex for their solar energy needs. They offer residential and commercial solar services, but they specialize in setting up solar power for farms and ranches. They can even install solar panels on RVs, making solar energy accessible for everyone.
  • Wells Solar – 4.8 stars. This company is Tesla certified, so therefore they offer Tesla technology and engineering for solar installation. They promise this best retains leftover energy to use later and helps use less energy overall. Residents are also invited to try. Located in DFW, Austin, and San Antonio.

The future is looking bright!

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  • TriSmart Solar – 4.8 stars. Covering all of the big cities in Texas, TriSmart claims to offer “smart energy for smart people.” With smart technology, they can create a 3D custom blueprint. That way, customers can approve of the design or further customize if needed. TriSmart offers smart energy, technology, and savings.
  • Kosmos Solar – 4.9 stars. You can find them in DFW, Austin, and San Antonio. Founded by Kevin Seok, an avid advocate of green energy as well as accessibility. Seok believes that honest & quality service will help encourage solar popularity.
  • KW Solar – 4.9 stars. Based in Houston, these guys help efficiently light up Texas and the Gulf. They also offer Tesla’s Powerwall. The guys at KW are laid back, friendly, and get right to the point. Their website alone proves their uniqueness and humor, enticing visitors to collaborate with the installers.
  • Circle L Solar – 4.7 stars. This Texas company focuses on maintenance. For instance, they will come to weatherize panels as the seasons change. They also offer solar technology on window panes as well. Check out their IM chatbox on their site for instant answers.
  • IES Texas Solar – 4.8 stars. Offering Texas commercial, residential, and off-grid power since 1973. They also offer repair services for panels. As part of IES Residential, they understand all the electrical works inside a home. So, IES has the most intelligent electricians around.

 

 Go Solar, Texas!

None of these solar companies are in a particular order. Depending on where you live, one of these companies will be the right company for you. Going solar can give you some tax breaks. But more importantly, give more hope for our Earth.

 

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red Texas store signage

A Closer Look At Texas Power Grids

Following up with our previous blog, we will look at power grids and how they work. We’ll look at Texas’ power grid and what exactly went wrong. Including grid regulations.

 

Texas Power Grids

First, the United States has 3 power grid systems: the Eastern & Western interconnections, then Texas’ own system, ERCOT. It stands for Electric Reliability Council Of Texas. As Texas began to light up at the turn of the 20th century, they naturally developed their own system. Then, during FDR’s tenure as he passed New Deal laws, Texas ran from the idea of federal regulations. ERCOT formed in 1970. It is not entirely exclusive to Texas, and Texas is not exclusive to ERCOT. El Paso and a part of the Panhandle is part of the Western grid. A small portion of East Texas is on the Eastern grid. ERCOT is connected to Mexico as well.

So, the main reason why Texas has ERCOT is to reduce federal regulation and interference- laissez faire. Roughly 25% of Texas energy comes from wind, 51% natural gas, 13% coal. When demand is low, Texas will use wind power. Electricity is formed at power plants, then gets to high voltage power lines through transmission substations, then to power substations, to distribution bus. Then, it goes to the regulator bank. The regulator bank controls the power throughout the area, and rolling blackouts. Normally, regulator banks have electricity flow on a schedule based on the most frequent activity. CPS/Ercot can control each individual house and building.

 

Regulations

If Texas is good at anything, it’s ignoring the rest of the U.S.’ regulations while we live by our own rules. However, this was Texas’ own undoing. Regulations would call for winterizing power plants, which is only optional for ERCOT. Now, the company is heavily under fire for not taking precautionary measures for the winter storm. After 4 million people were left in cold, dark homes, Governor Greg Abbott called for some members of ERCOT to resign.

 

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Texas and Winter Weather Are Not Compatible

On Friday and Saturday of February 12 & 13, temperatures dropped all over Texas. Texans everywhere rushed out to stock up and prepare, and HEB was just as packed as the day before Thanksgiving. But Texans had never faced such frigid conditions, so they had no idea what was to come. Now, power companies are overwhelmed. Here’s how energy sources fared in the Lone Star State.

Couldn’t Stand The Weather

In this state, the heater comes on when outside temperatures dip below 70. The cold front started coming in on Friday, with the ice arriving on Saturday. The trouble began on Valentine’s Day, when the snow brought record-breaking freezing temperatures. Texans cranked the heater up. This overwhelmed cities’ power systems. Those who have gas systems were the only ones with consistent heat. All major cities, especially those in the southern TX half, had to roll power throughout the city. On Monday, the power came on and off for about 30 minutes at a time while each grid took a turn. 4 million Texans had no power at all. As Monday night pressed on, the gap between active power widened, and the power would only be on for a couple of minutes.
Additionally, CPS urged everyone to conserve as much power as possible. They suggested keeping the thermostat on 68, unplugging all unused appliances, and turn off all unused lights.

Another problem Texas faced is everything freezing up. Hundreds of pipes froze and broke open. Even wind turbines froze and stopped turning. Now, there’s no running water as well as electricity. Frozen phone lines cut off cell service. Lastly, stay off of Texas roads when it snows and ices over. On Saturday morning, there was a 100-car pile up on I35 in Fort Worth.

When it freezes in Texas, the whole state shuts down. Power has to evenly distribute accordingly for the city, pipes freeze and break open, cars go all over the road. But, at least nearly all Texans had Monday off due to the snow. Hopefully the state will learn from this past weekend and be better prepared if this happens again. If you live in Texas, let us know what your artcic experience was like.
Stay warm and stay safe! Please keep your animals warm and safe as well.

 

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beige airplane

The History of Oil

Last week, we read about the history of solar power. Today, we will be looking at the second installment in the History of Energy series. Midland, TX, home of the Bushes, has an intricate petroleum museum. The history of oil is (black) gold!

 Oil History

Lucas Gusher in Beaumont, TX. 1901.

Although it wasn’t as well-known as solar and wind power, mankind’s oil use has been around since earliest civilizations. The Chinese created oil wells back in 300 AD! During their salt harvest, illegal salt traders would dig deeper than most wells. Thus, oil was first discovered. Apparently, they kept it a secret “well” enough because oil wasn’t widely known about until the mid-1800’s. In 1847, James Young was in the Riddings Coal Mine in England when he noticed oily seepage through the dirt and coal. As a chemist, Young managed to extract more oil out of the coal. A few months prior, geologist Abraham Gesner discovered how to make kerosene extract out of oil.

Petroleum became commercialized in Pennsylvania in 1859  when the first American oil well was constructed. Then, it became monetized by the notorious John D. Rockefeller in 1865. The Suez Canal was constructed for the passage of oil ships. Then, on January 10, 1901, the Lucas Gusher at Spindletop expelled 100,000 barrels of oil a day, for 9 days. This discovery of mass amount of oil forced Pennsylvania to give up their oil capitol title to Texas. Since then, Texas remains the top producer of oil in the United States.

The earliest uses of oil was for asphalt, salt, and lamps. First, the earliest Chinese people used bamboo to drill oil and made ink out of it. Ancient Babylonians hardened oil into asphalt, which they used for construction. Lamps previously used whale oil, but they needed something more. Oil was made into kerosene, which powered lamps for centuries. It was at the beginning of the 20th century when oil’s primary use became to power automobiles.

Oil Now

Today, oil is primarily used for the internal combustion engine, or to power cars. Other uses include heating, cooking, and to produce electricity. Plastic, cosmetics, and medical devices are all made from oil or have oil in it. Paraffin wax is also an oil byproduct. The world’s biggest oil producers are United States (Texas produces 40% of the U.S.’ oil), Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Canada.

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white wind turbines on green grass field under blue and white cloudy sky during daytime

Wind Energy: How It Works

AWEA says, “Wind energy (or wind power) refers to the process of creating electricity using the wind, or air flows that occur naturally in the earth’s atmosphere.” Modern wind turbines capture kinetic energy from the wind. Then, the spinning action generates electricity. This method is renewable and ideal in windy climates. Places such as the Great Plains and coastal areas have them. Read on to find out about the process and the benefits of the wind industry!

 

Wind Energy

Wind turbines are in 40 states. Texas produces the most electricity from its wind farms at around 28,000 MW per year. The wind industry builds wind farms. These contain numerous wind turbines, from around 10 – 500. The average wind farm will have about 150. The largest one is in California, with over 4,000! They are versatile in use. In fact, one home can rely on just one turbine for power. There are three different categories: small power, offshore, and direct. Small power refers to one or two turbines used to power a home/building. On the other hand, direct has the electricity gather at a power grid.

 

white wind mill lot on green field

So, how does wind turn into electricity? First, the turbines are engineered strategically for optimized wind capture. The blades are especially angled a certain way. Ideal wind speed is in between 6-50 MPH. Then, the heavy momentum keeps the blades going, powering the generator. Next, the generator produces electricity that flows to a power grid. Finally, the power grid sends out electricity through distribution lines. These are connected to homes and other buildings.

 

There are a few benefits to wind energy. According to energy.gov, wind power is inexpensive. Over time, wind farms or single-use turbines pay for themselves. Obviously, it’s a renewable resource, so it’s a great alternative to oil and coal. Actually, it’s the largest source of renewable energy. On that note, the wind industry has a great job sector. Such as, a variety of opportunities in engineering.

 

If you want to make a difference in our environment, then consider investing in the wind industry. This clean, renewable energy source won’t pollute the air and is cost-effective. Or, if you live in a remote, windy area, maybe your home needs its own wind turbine.

 

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