Lydia Polzer


Energy independence, one house at a time

One couple in Laramie Wyoming took the plunge and went off-grid – without frills or pomp they describe their set-up and how easy it is to live like that.

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Ecovillages everywhere

Real Estate developers are beginning to build really substantial eco-communities in the US. Iowa and Oregon are two of the latest in a burgeoning market.

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Off-Grid 101

Off-grid lighting competition, $200,000 prize

Let there be light

The Development Marketplace team of the World Bank today launched a competition, to reward project ideas that address the various off-grid lighting needs of Sub-Saharan Africa, including alternative distribution models, new clean lighting technology, stronger production chains, and improvement of the policy environment.

Ten to 20 winners will receive grant funding up to $200,000.

The competition is open to a broad range of innovators around the world, including private businesses, nongovernmental organizations, universities, government entities, and individuals.

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Fight for local energy

K.R. Sridhar and Arnold Schwarzenegger
KR sells off-grid to Arnie

In a feature on companies that will disrupt existing businesses, Business 2.0 cites power company Bloom Energy

THE DISRUPTION: Energy generators in homes and businesses

THE DISRUPTED: Electric utilities

Making electricity in central power plants is so 20th century,says the report. K.R. Sridhar has a better idea: Create energy on the spot, right where it’s consumed. His startup, Bloom Energy (formerly known as Ion America), is developing a fuel cell that could kick-start the distributed-energy industry.

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Life without a phone

Unexpectedly cut off from phone, fax and Internet, this writer discovers he rather liked it.

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Off-Grid 101

Two billion live off the grid

For those not yet grid connected, they can access power, water and phone without ever connecting to the national grid and repeating the mistakes of developed countries in the 20th Century.

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Rural phone technology options

Being off the power grid generally also means that we are off the
grid. In my way of thinking, lack of phone is a much more serious
because power is easier to fix than phone. Today let’s take a look at
various options that exist for getting off-grid phone service.

Normally (that means city) phone service runs along wires buried in the
or suspended on telephone poles. These wires will typically enter your
in a skinny green metal box where a lineman can then run one or more
lines to a connector on the side of your house. The green box is put on
property by the developer before the house is built.

Off-grid is a different matter. There is no developer to pay to have
the phone
company install wiring, so if you want wires, you will have to foot the
yourself. Prices vary from one region to the next but in all cases the
will be impressive. It will not benefit the phone company to run wire
for a
single customer, so you must pay for the project yourself.

In some places you can run the wire yourself and the phone company will
give you the wire. They only need to specify the depth of wire
placement and
will need to inspect

the work before the wire is covered. You will need to get permission
and have
easements established along the path that the wire will follow and a
trencher is a virtual necessity so you will need to rent or purchase
to do the job. Crossing a black-top road will require a professional
help and
more permissions than I would care to undertake. A county gravel road
might be
as bad. A private gravel road is less of a technical issue, but
from owners must still be secured. Any overhead run on poles is
likewise out of
the question for the “do-it-yourselfer” for primarily liability and
reasons. If all of this sounds like a lot of work and a bunch or money,
right on both counts. Which is the reason there are some alternatives.

The first alternative most people will consider is cellular telephone
Since cellular radio does not depend on wires to the customer’s site,
there is
no big up-front investment in bringing an off-grid customer on line.
standard rate plans, with fairly high costs for each minute of use,
have given
way to plans that might even be affordable as the primary phone service
to a
rural property.

Naturally, there are drawbacks to cellular. In some cases the special
rate plan
may only apply to digital calls. Calls that originate in an (older)
analog only
service area may not be

covered. Since the digital system is only in metropolitan areas, it is
that your service will be …

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