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3/23/15

Off Grid Modern Prefab House Eyes Off Grid Then Glances Sideways At Utilities

The modern prefab house project, The Modified R1 Residential in the Northwest, will be in front of planning and zoning next week... keep your prefabulous fingers crossed, y'all, that it goes smoothly! (We expect it will. Our design documents contain everything they need, and we're here to answer any questions zoning may have; the client has done much due diligence and planning and zoning has been helpful to her each step of the way. So stay tuned!)

In the meantime, as always, at the off grid modern prefab house, we are working on our own personal prefab house projects... because... they never end.

As I busied myself one morning, I got this text-

Bet *your* ISP doesn't text *you* like this, making sure you know about what's cool to do in the area...
: ) 

(Ha really, Verizon?)
And you know I LOVE the Lady Casati... (technically it's Marchesa but who's counting)
(A friend quipped, "WHAT IS THIS, LADY CASATI's INTERNET?!?" Yes, yes it is.)

If you want to hear my ISP's REALLY COOL story, read this, on Dennis Hunt's founding of GNS Networks when the Big Guy Telecoms told him they aren't interested in rural. Small entrepreneurs like he change the Big Telecom game.

Like Dennis creating and becoming his own internet service, more and more people embrace off grid homes in expensive or bad-service utility areas- doing it on their own, happily.
This week, I read the latest on the protectionism our local utitlities company, Dominion Power, attempts to gain: Dominion's promises vanish into thin air:
"...By blocking regulation of base rates over the next five years, Dominion can earn more than authorized by state law. And regulators at the SCC are powerless to force the monopoly to issue refunds to customers, as they have in the past. 
The law, meanwhile, still permits Dominion to pass along costs associated with higher fuel costs, seek emergency temporary rate increases and secure riders that charge customers for the costs of facilities. 
Dominion's claim that it would risk letting its shareholders cover the costs of EPA-induced plant closures never passed the smell test; such an arrangement would be financially irresponsible for an entity that, by design, exists to make a profit.
Even as it claimed otherwise, Dominion has demonstrated that its priority through the recent legislative session was never Virginians; it was Dominion's own financial interests. 
The monopoly is now poised for a lucrative five-year stretch, one in which it sought to compound the damage by withholding critical information about just how much money is at stake. 
It was an audacious strategy, and it underscored how badly Virginians need the SCC to protect their interests - and how badly lawmakers and the governor failed by approving SB1349."
From what I've seen of people’s average electric bills this winter, the way things were going, our battery bank would be paid for in 6 months... not 6+ years as we originally estimated. The more for-profit utilities become, the more it makes sense for residences to run their own solar.
An actual friend's actual bill.
With a passive solar modern prefab home with great insulation through SIP (structural insulated panels) it is easy to embrace off grid, net zero, even producing more energy if you want.
So then what happens? Utilities experience competition, don't like it, run crying to regulators
"If holding companies encounter sympathetic regulators — and money has a way of generating sympathy — they can even raise rates on those retail customers in order to pay for the crappy old baseload plants their generation utilities own. Not great for customers, but good for the bottom line. 
In short, utilities are seeking regulatory shelter from competitive wholesale markets. 
— The second trend has them seeking regulatory shelter from increasingly competitive retail markets — freaking out about, and fighting back against, the rise of rooftop solar. This was the subject of an excellent recent Washington Post piece from reporter Joby Warrick."
If only I had time to go further into these subjects, but this is just my quick weekly off grid blog. Use these jotted solar notes as a stepping stone for thought.
Off grid living, even on minimal solar systems, in a modern prefab house is... LOVELY.
St. Patrick's Day arrived.
We might live in population 40, BUT THEY'RE NOT TAKIN' ANY CHANCES.
Yes, even green "hair" thanks to a scarf.

We are loving recess these days albeit gusts of 30mph, horses returning from the hunt, and lotsa spring fever head tossin'.
Often crisp, often warm, we are outdoors.



The only girl he loves.


We mourn the last days of cook stove season...
Here's what I came home to after riding- Handsome Husband and Pip 2 had been busy on a still-crisp spring day:
Cook stove dinner in spring...
It's sooooooo good to be outdoors, playing in the sunshine!


When the spring temperatures rise, social events move outdoors! We are loving playing in the sunshine longer with friends.
Reading Club:
  • Australia urged to shut coal-fired power plants urgently as analysis reveals huge emissions http://gu.com/p/46m39 
  • Study: Americans taking steps to hide online activities from U.S. government | http://ow.ly/KsHPC 
Years later, I just want to say: We love it here, and living off grid in our modern prefab house.
Here, in a rural town, population 40... heck, even the clouds are friendly.

Y'all have a good week.

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