In this beautiful video from The Dodo, scuba divers rescue whale sharks stuck in a fishing net. The best part comes next—when the divers' newfound friends hang around to celebrate.
The extraordinary whale shark takes 30 years to reach maturity and can live more than 100 years. They can grow more than 40 feet long. They can even stand on their tails.
And while they are the largest fish in the sea, they are not predators, but rather filter feeders subsisting on the tiniest food available—zooplankton and small fish such as sardines and anchovies swimming into their open mouths.
Their size and thick skin help protect them from predators, but not from humans, as commercial fishing has exploited them to the brink of extinction.
This amazing footage was shared by Txus R. at Indocruises.
Check out this video from Great Big Story to see how scientists are solving crimes against animals.
Founded by a crime scene investigator, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, uses state-of-the-art technology (as well as flesh-eating beetles). Meet some of the forensics experts at "the only full service crime lab for wildlife in the world."
Through net metering programs, homeowners who have installed solar energy systems can get utility credits for any electricity their panels generate during the day that isn't used to power home systems. These credits can be "cashed in" to offset the cost of any grid electricity used at night.
Where net metering is available, solar panels have a shorter payback period and yield a higher return on investment. Without this benefit, you only save on power bills when using solar energy directly, and surplus generation is lost unless you store it in a solar battery. However, net metering gives you the option of selling any excess electricity that is not consumed within your home.
Generally, you will see more home solar systems in places with favorable net metering laws. With this benefit, going solar becomes an attractive investment even for properties with minimal daytime consumption. Homeowners can turn their roofs into miniature power plants during the day, and that generation is subtracted from their nighttime consumption.
What Is Net Metering?
Net metering is a billing arrangement in which surplus energy production from solar panels is tracked by your electricity provider and subtracted from your monthly utility bill. When your solar power system produces more kilowatt-hours of electricity than your home is consuming, the excess generation is fed back into the grid.
For homeowners with solar panels, the benefits of net metering include higher monthly savings and a shorter payback period. Utility companies also benefit, since the excess solar electricity can be supplied to other buildings on the same electric grid.
If a power grid relies on fossil fuels, net metering also increases the environmental benefits of solar power. Even if a building does not have an adequate area for rooftop solar panels, it can reduce its emissions by using the surplus clean energy from other properties.
How Net Metering Works
There are two general ways net metering programs work:
- The surplus energy produced by your solar panels is measured by your utility company, and a credit is posted to your account that can be applied to future power bills.
- The surplus energy produced by your solar panels is measured by your home's electricity meter. Modern power meters can measure electricity flow in both directions, so they tick up when you pull from the grid at night and count down when your solar panels are producing an excess amount of electricity.
In either scenario, at the end of the billing period, you will only pay for your net consumption — the difference between total consumption and generation. This is where the term "net metering" comes from.
How Does Net Metering Affect Your Utility Bill?
Net metering makes solar power systems more valuable for homeowners, as you can "sell" any extra energy production to your utility company. However, it's important to understand how charges and credits are managed:
- You can earn credits for your surplus electricity, but utility companies will not cut you a check for the power you provide. Instead, they will subtract the credits from your power bills.
- If your net metering credit during the billing period is higher than your consumption, the difference is rolled over to the next month.
- Some power companies will roll over your credit indefinitely, but many have a yearly expiration date that resets your credit balance.
With all of this in mind, it is possible to reduce your annual electricity cost to zero. You can accumulate credit with surplus generation during the sunny summer months, and use it during winter when solar generation decreases.
You will achieve the best results when your solar power system has just the right capacity to cover your annual home consumption. Oversizing your solar array is not recommended, as you will simply accumulate a large unused credit each year. In other words, you cannot overproduce and charge your power company each month.
Some power companies will let you pick the expiration date of your annual net metering credits. If you have this option, it's wise to set the date after winter has ended. This way, you can use all the renewable energy credits you accumulated during the summer.
Is Net Metering Available Near You?
Net metering offers a valuable incentive for homeowners to switch to solar power, but these types of programs are not available everywhere. Net metering laws can change depending on where you live.
In the U.S., there are mandatory net metering laws in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Most states without a mandate have power companies that voluntarily offer the benefit in their service areas. South Dakota and Tennessee are the only two states with no version of net metering or similar programs.
If net metering is available in your area, you will be credited for your surplus energy in one of two ways:
- Net metering at retail price: You get full credit for each kilowatt-hour sent to the grid. For example, if you're charged 16 cents per kWh consumed, you'll get a credit of 16 cents per kWh exported. This type of net metering is required by law in 29 states.
- Net metering at a reduced feed-in tariff: Surplus electricity sent to the grid is credited at a lower rate. For example, you may be charged 16 cents per kWh for consumption but paid 10 cents per kWh exported. Feed-in tariffs and other alternative programs are used in 17 of the states where retail-rate net metering is not mandatory.
Note: This is just a simplified example — the exact kWh retail price and solar feed-in tariff will depend on your electricity plan.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is an excellent resource if you want to learn more about net metering and other solar power incentives in your state. You can also look for information about solar incentives by visiting the official websites of your state government and utility company.
Other Financial Incentives for Going Solar
Net metering policies are one of the most effective incentives for solar power. However, there are other financial incentives that can be combined with net metering to improve your ROI:
- The federal solar tax credit lets you claim 26% of your solar installation costs as a tax deduction. For example, if your solar installation had a cost of $10,000, you can claim $2,600 on your next tax declaration. This benefit is available everywhere in the U.S.
- State tax credits may also be available depending on where you live, and they can be claimed in addition to the federal incentive.
- Solar rebates are offered by some state governments and utility companies. These are upfront cash incentives subtracted directly from the cost of your solar PV system.
In addition to seeking out solar incentives available to you, you should compare quotes from multiple installers before signing a solar contract. This will ensure you're getting the best deal available and help you avoid overpriced offers and underpriced, low-quality installations. You can start getting quotes from top solar companies near you by filling out the 30-second form below.
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Net Metering
Why is net metering bad?
When managed correctly, net metering is beneficial for electricity consumers and power companies. There have been cases in which power grids lack the capacity to handle large amounts of power coming from homes and businesses. However, this is an infrastructure issue, not a negative aspect of net metering itself.
In places with a high percentage of homes and businesses using solar panels, surplus generation on sunny days can saturate the grid. This can be managed by modernizing the grid to handle distributed solar power more effectively with load management and energy storage systems.
How does net metering work?
With net metering, any electricity your solar panels produce that isn't used to power your home is fed into your local power grid. Your utility company will pay you for this power production through credits that can be applied to your monthly energy bills.
Can you make money net metering?
You can reduce your power bills with net metering, using surplus solar generation to compensate for your consumption when you can't generate solar power at night and on cloudy days. However, most power companies will not pay you for surplus production once your power bill has dropped to $0. Normally, that credit will be rolled over, to be used in months where your solar panels are less productive.
On very rare occasions, you may be paid for the accumulated balance over a year. However, this benefit is offered by very few electric companies and is subject to limitations.
In this video from BBC Earth, flying fish make spectacular escapes from their underwater predators, the Dorado fish. Leaping and sailing hundreds of yards above the water is an impressive act—and one very much appreciated by the frigate birds looking on.
Watch the incredible video above.
Car collisions with deer, elk and moose happen about a million times a year, but what if animals had their own crossings to move around safely?
In Banff National Park, the strategic placement of wildlife overpasses and underpasses has proven to be immensely successful. If implemented widely, such a system could reduce the extreme costs in animal lives and billions of dollars to humans.
And as climate change forces animals to migrate, their need to cross roads will only increase.
Watch this video from Vox to see how this problem—and the cost of addressing it—can be solved today.
Marine life rely on sound to navigate, socialize, and find food and mates, but it's becoming increasingly difficult for them to hear each other. Noise caused by human activity is now an inescapable threat to their lives.
In the video above from Vox, we hear some of the amazing sounds that underwater creatures make, and learn how they're impacted by noise pollution.
From leisure boats to industrial seismic blasting, humans have created an extreme situation. It's hard not to compare it to sound torture, now banned for being cruel and unusual punishment!
If we wouldn't inflict such pain on our worst enemies, then why are we so ruthless to our neighbors in the sea?
Be sure to watch the video to the end to get to the good news!
His new documentary, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, gives a status update on his original film, An Inconvenient Truth, from 11 years ago. As Gore discussed with Stephen Colbert last week, the need for a sequel does not mean a complete lack of progress on protecting the planet.
On the contrary, Gore's "tremendous hope" that "we're gonna win this" is based on recent advances in solar and wind power technology. Just as mass communication is easier today than in 2006, renewable energy is now more and more inevitable. Even Texas realizes that it just makes more sense.
And if there's anyone who understands the leading role of technology, it's Al Gore, who really did help create the Internet.
Al Gore Delivers Most Damning Indictment Yet of Trump's Presidency https://t.co/4ofvoxynCX @IMPL0RABLE @NeverTrumpPAC— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1500414314.0
Kyara, a killer whale born at SeaWorld San Antonio just three months ago, died Monday at the park, as reported in this video from Newsy. Kyara is the last orca to be born in captivity under the SeaWorld breeding program, which shut down in 2016.
In a statement, SeaWorld said the cause of death was "likely pneumonia" and that "Kyara had faced some very serious and progressive health issues over the last week."
In response to Monday's sad news, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) Vice President Colleen O'Brien issued this statement:
"SeaWorld executives have dollar signs where their eyes should be, but even they can't ignore that 3-month-old Kyara died on #BoycottSeaWorldDay while Academy Award nominee James Cromwell was preparing to lead PETA supporters in a takeover of SeaWorld's orca show. Forty orcas have now died on SeaWorld's watch—it's time for the abusement park to move the remaining animals to seaside sanctuaries before the death toll hits 41."
Cromwell's protest at SeaWorld San Diego emphasized that all 40 orcas to die at SeaWorld had their lives cut short because they were in captivity.
"Orcas deserve a full life in the ocean, not a life sentence of swimming endless circles until they drop dead from disease," Cromwell said. "My friends at PETA and I want SeaWorld to move these intelligent animals to seaside sanctuaries without delay."
Last August, EcoWatch reported that PETA was trying to persuade SeaWorld to let Kyara's pregnant mother, Takara, give birth in a seaside sanctuary.
The colossal mass of throwaway plastic—from straws to bags to bottles—has grown much faster than recycling and disposal efforts can contain it. You might even say this is obvious, no matter where you look.
Check out this video from National Geographic to watch underwater photographer Huai Su film a diver collecting an endless amount of plastic bottles that litter the seafloor off Xiaoliuqiu Island, Taiwan.
It's a good year to be a Clemson Tigers football fan, but a bleak time to be an actual tiger in the wild. A loss of habitat and population has pushed tigers to the brink of extinction.
Clemson, and three other universities with tiger mascots—including Auburn, Louisiana State University and the University of Missouri—are teaming up to save the world's remaining tigers.
Check out the video above from Newsy to see how the U.S. Tiger University Consortium is taking on "a moral responsibility" to protect and double the tiger population by 2022.
After all, having an extinct species mascot would be nothing to cheer.
In this video posted to Facebook by Krystal Gamage, two fishermen off the coast of Owls Head, Maine, find a baby seal trapped in plastic fish netting. What happens next is worth watching until the end.
Wouldn't it be great if every story about plastic pollution had a happy ending?
Coyote Peterson and the Brave Wilderness team take kayaks to an island off the coast of Maine, where an abandoned fortress from 1858 now displays a sign reading, "ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK."
"There's always a chance that something interesting can be found," Peterson testifies as they approach Fort Gorges. Upon entering the huge castle, he exclaims, "It feels like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!"
Check out the video above, gone viral with more than 3.1 million views. Find out out what Peterson means when he observes, "It's like a whole ecosystem," and discover how you too can visit this wild place!
A golden retriever in China has been trained to remove plastic bottles from rivers. In the Jiangsu Province, this dog retrieves about 20 to 30 bottles each day, and has already removed more than 2,000.
According to the Guardian, Chinese consumers bought 73.8 billion bottles of water in 2016, China accounted for 28 percent of the global demand for polyethylene terephthalate bottles in 2015 and Chinese cities still lack recycling programs.
However, "some citizens are trying to turn the tide before too many people in China become accustomed to a throwaway culture."
Check out the amazing eco-pooch in the video above from Vocativ!