Maui fires driven by wind but started by power lines

Utility Co. Probable Cause of Maui Fires

Multiple outlets are reporting that Hawaii’s main utility faces scrutiny for not cutting power to reduce fire risks on Maui in the hours before the tragic blaze that swept Lahaina.

Hawaiian Electric did not have a plan — such as those in California — to power down its electric lines in advance of high winds. Doug McLeod, a former energy commissioner for Maui County, said the utility was aware of the need for a regular shut-down system and to bury lines, especially given the “number of close calls in the past.”

“Hawaiian Electric, the utility that oversees Maui Electric and provides service to 95 percent of the state’s residents, did not deploy what’s known as a public power shutoff plan,” reported the Washington Post over the weekend.

Intentionally cutting off electricity to areas where big wind events could spark fires is a widely-used safety strategy ever since what were then the nation’s most destructive and deadliest fires, in 2017 and 2018.

The state’s electric utility responded with some preemptive steps but did not use what is widely regarded as the most aggressive but effective safety measure: shutting down the power.

Hawaiian Electric was aware that a power shut-off was an effective strategy, documents show, but had not adopted it as part of its fire mitigation plans, according to the company and two former power and energy officials interviewed by The Washington Post. Nor, in the face of predicted dangerous winds, did it act on its own, utility officials said, fearing uncertain consequences.

The decision to avoid shutting off power is reflective of the utility’s struggles to bolster its aging and vulnerable infrastructure against wildfires, said Jennifer Potter, who lives in Lahaina and was a member of the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission until just nine months ago.

“They were not as proactive as they should have been,” Potter said about Hawaiian Electric’s fire-prevention planning, adding that there had not been any real meaningful action to “address some of those inadequacies in terms of wildfire.”

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Sian Gwenillian outdoor shot

Gov spends £750k for off-grid power in Wales

A new, publicly-owned energy company has been launched by the Welsh government, as part of the Labour government’s co-operation agreement with Plaid Cymru.
Eleven projects are set to receive funding over the next three years, including Cwm Arian for a “heart of Dyfed power unlocker” project on the border between Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion and Pembrokeshire, and the Dyffryn Ogwen Gynaladwy project in Bethesda, Gwynedd.
Ynni Cymru will be based at the M-Sparc site on Anglesey and aims to expand community-owned renewable energy initiatives.

Climate change minister, Julie James, and Plaid Cymru’s designated member, Siân Gwenllian, visited the Anafon Hydro project in Abergwyngregyn, Gwynedd.

Almost one GWh of electricity is generated each year from its base in Eryri National Park.

Julie James said the “market-based approach to the energy system is not delivering decarbonisation at the scale or pace necessary for the climate emergency”.

“Local use of locally generated energy is an effective way to support net zero and keep the benefit in our communities,” she added.

Siân Gwenllian added: “As we face multiple challenges of a climate crisis and high energy bills, it is more important than ever that we develop renewable energy projects that have local benefit and ownership as a core aim.”

The Welsh Conservatives’ shadow climate minister, Janet Finch-Saunders, said she welcomed the investment but accused Labour and Plaid Cymru of “ignoring the elephant in the room”.

“There are hundreds of watercourses running through privately owned land in Wales,” she said.

“Alongside support for community-owned schemes, the Welsh Government should be removing barriers to privately owned schemes.”

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer announced in June that Great British Energy – a clean energy company – would be established in the first year of a Labour government in Westminster, with its base in Scotland.

The payments will be made in the form of grants over the next three years.

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USA VanLifers soars above 3 MILLION

As homelessness increases across the USA, the VanLife population is growing rapidly.

From around one million VanLifers in 2020, according to the RV Industry Association, the figure went to 3.1 million in 2022, according to Statista. estimates it has now reach 3.5 million Americans living permanently or mainly in vehicles – including RVs, buses, cars, vans and other wheeled accomodation. In addition there are up to 500,000 living on boats or in boatyards.

Most are forced into this way of life, but some choose the option because they want to spend their money on other things than rent, or work less hard to meet their weekly expenses. ‘I’d rather have my small paid-for space, than a big $400 a month payment,’ says Leslie, seen typing on her laptop in the photo above. ‘I miss the space of a house. But I would trade that in any day for not having the stress and the weight on my shoulders of having to meet a rent payment or utility payment every month.’

VanLifers are part of the digital nomads category. They generally combine remote work and travel for various reasons and lengths of time.

Timothy Eastman photographed individuals, couples and families living in RVs. His images show how ‘home’ can be defined and redefined through choices, circumstances and quality of life considerations.

The amazing series of photos only shows RV dwellers rather than less conventional conditions such as full time out of cars.

All The Past We Leave Behind: America’s New Nomads is available from Kehrer Verlag

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hydrogen powered winery CGI image

Off-Grid farms flourishing in UK – here are two examples

From cucumbers to bees to wine to sheep, there are scores of off-grid farming start-ups in Britain today.

In Kent, permission has been granted for the UK’s first hydrogen-powered winery. The lot is now up for sale for £525,000. If built on the four-and-a-half acre site, to the west of the village of Egerton, the winery would be a UK-first, according to the listing on LoopNet.

In 2019, planning permission was granted to build a modern winery, complete with warehouse, wine shop, tasting room and accommodation. Planning documents from 2019 say that the building, once completed, would be run by an eight-person team, growing to 11, with visitors attending the site occasionally. In 2022, the green light was given to install a specialist hydrogen facility that would power the site all year round – said to be the first of its kind for a winery in the UK.

It would consist of solar panels, steel hydrogen storage tanks and other equipment that would, according to planning documents, allow the facility to be off-grid. However, the site remains empty and has now been put on the market for purchase alongside the granted planning permission. At £525,000 – a price of around £116,000 per acre, the listing describes it as “a freehold development opportunity for an ‘off grid’ viticultural warehouse with additional retail space, storage rooms and offices which could create the perfect self-sufficient package in an area of Kent that is well suited for wine production”.

At the other end of the scale, simplicity is at the heart of the system at Maes Yr Onn, an 81 hectare (200 acre) unit in South Wales.

Breeding mountain sheep is something Arthur Davies has been involved in from a young age. The farm is completely off grid, with power mostly coming from solar panels and a generator for backup, while water supply relies on rain. No forage is made on the farm and Mr Davies does not keep a tractor, with any machinery work needed carried out by contractors.

The  focus is the flock of 180 South Wales Mountain ewes, kept alongside 10 Blue Grey calves that are bought in annually to help manage grassland.  “The main aim is breeding rams, that is what it is all about for me,” Mr Davies says.  “About a dozen are sold in Nelson in the autumn, with excess lambs now sold direct to an abattoir in Caerphilly for Halal.”

The first draw of lambs is taken at the end of June and then weekly when they are fit.” Ewe lambs which meet the breed standard are retained, with others sold at sales or privately in September. “Most of the breed used to be white all over, more like a Talybont Welsh. However, today they are known for their red collars and beards. ”

“They are 50 per cent kemp and 50 per cent wool, then if …

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Heat map of USA

SouthWest USA Bakes Under Heat Dome

What if every home had a solar powered fan?A massive dome  over the western and southern United States has left Americans sweltering in soaring temperatures, poised to approach all-time records in Phoenix, Las Vegas and California’s Central Valley and surpass 130 degrees in Death Valley, Calif., the heat capital of the world.  Excessive-heat watches cover 15 states from  New Mexico, to Arizona and California, and Texas.

In many areas, it is the length of the heat wave, more than its intensity which is making people struggle. Some have seen no relief from dangerous temperatures for over a month, and the heat wave shows no signs of abating soon.

In the West, it’s a blistering, dry heat that presents a growing risk for dehydration.

“Dangerous heat will result in a major to extreme risk for heat-related illnesses for much of the population, especially those who are heat sensitive and those without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration,” wrote the National Weather Service in Hanford, Calif. Excessive-heat warnings are in effect for much of California’s highly populated Central Valley, where highs could reach 117 degrees.

Death Valley could challenge the highest temperature ever reliably measured on the planet. The heat-prone site may make it above 130 degrees over the weekend, surpassing the record mark previously set at the same location in July 2021 and August 2020. Nighttime low temperatures in Death Valley are forecast to exceed 100 degrees.

Forecast highs on Sunday in the Southwest United States from the National Weather Service. (Ian Livingston)

Across the southern Plains, Deep South and Southeast, tropical moisture will overlap with hot weather to make heat exhaustion and heat stroke a dangerous threat. Heat indexes could climb into the 110-to-120-degree range. Marathon Key, Fla., just netted its hottest five-day period on record, with an average afternoon high of 97.2 degrees. Wednesday featured a heat index of 118 degrees. Unprecedented water temperatures between 94 and 98 degrees are also threatening sensitive corals and marine life.

Floods, fires and deadly heat are the alarm bells of a planet on the brink

The heat is not confined to the Lower 48 states. Southern Europe is also in the early stages of a dangerous heat wave. Excessively high temperatures are forecast from Portugal and Spain through southern Italy and as far east as Romania and Bulgaria on Thursday and Friday.

In Sicily and Sardinia, temperatures could approach 118 degrees (48 Celsius), challenging the highest levels ever observed in Europe, according to the European Space Agency. The heat will expand into Central Europe, including Germany and Poland, over the weekend and may linger over southern Europe for much of next week.
A punishing dry heat in the Southwest U.S.

It’s not just Death Valley facing all-time records. Sunday is expected to bring a high of 117 degrees to Las Vegas, which would tie the city’s hottest temperature ever recorded. There’s a chance that Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday

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Off-Grid site ranked high for survivalism

The off-grid web site has been placed in the top 3 of Survivalist sites by Feedspot

Off-Grid survival is growing in importance as weather events, energy bills and increasing political instability force households and communities to prepare for the unknown

Ranked by social media followers, freshness of content and size of audience, is alongside offthegridnews, a survivalist site which sells emergency food rations, and battery brands like EcoFlow which comes in at number 6 rates so highly because of our large subscriber base, free features like the off-grid map, and huge library of advice and news.

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off grid showhome under construction in 2021

Welcome To Our Showhome – Open Day 27th August

The off-grid showhome started as a lockdown project – a spur of the moment bid for some land in an online auction in 2020.

Now it is a full -fledged reality and our next open weekend is August 27th 2023 – we welcome local residents who want to see what is happening , and also anyone who  is considering a similar project and needs advice on how to build.  Contact for more info – You can also watch the youtube film which shows the building process. Go to

In years to come, the wood will benefit the environment in many ways, and also benefit the local community.  After all – they helped to plant it after we put out a call on Facebook seeking volunteers. They will use the shed to make tea and shelter from adverse conditions.

Three local scythers turned up in a 1950s LandRover. They looked like the Detectorists from the BBC series starring Toby Jones, except that instead of metal detectors they had long handled Austrian scythes which they honed frequently, as they slowly scythed their way through bracken and overgrown grass without disturbing the earth beneath, saving all sorts of tiny wildlife from abrupt eviction.

Each tree required a stake to be pounded in the ground, then a spade-slit for the tiny sapling itself.  The tree-guard slides over the tree and is fastened to the stake and presto – add ten years and you have a mature English woodland.

It was laborious process and by the end of the first day we had only scythed half the field and planted 150 trees.  Out of 500

We headed back up the track expecting to return a week later.  But then came another lockdown. The second day of planting never happened a year later.

Now the woodland is beginning to take shape, the shed is built and our neighbours have erected their shelters as well.

Please come and visit – and help plants some more trees.

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Off-grid protestors

What is Climate Justice?

People are talking about and demanding “Climate Justice.” But what does the term actually mean, and how do we get it?

Inequalities of energy consumption, and other resources like water and food are the biggest causes of climate injustice.  Energy is responsible for 75% of all carbon emissions, and therefore is the highest priority.

The main debate around climate justice is about disparities involved in tackling climate change. Rich countries can adapt in ways that poor countries cannot, and rich people can adapt in ways poor people cannot – turning up the aircon during hot weather, for example.

Going off-grid and switching to renewables is the biggest step that wealthy economies can take – because it leads to the sharpest reductions in energy consumption.

As we all begin to adapt to the new climate reality – here are some ways to a just transition:

  • Develop detailed,  openly available and accessible evacuation and communication plans. There will be more chemical disasters. For example, higher temperatures warp train tracks, causing more derailments.
  • Encourage school systems to not only teach climate change and earth preservation but also to adapt educational methods and instructor and parental support for an increasingly stressed society.
  • Ensure Homeowners Associations and landlords to focus on life-saving priorities, like getting communities off the grid and sustaining local gardens and food options for residents.
  • Create inventives for philanthropy to pour more funding into environmental causes and the climate change transition. Such as matching funds from provate business or government.
  • Invovle nonprofits to plan and support existing local solutions that don’t depend on national or international shipping of goods and services.

Do what you can. Collaborate, don’t compete. Support communities that are already disproportionately impacted (communities of color, rural communities and communities of lower economic status). Let them lead the way. They already are.

We can all do something,  but we have to talk about it first.






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Two festival goers sit in the shade under a sign

Small World Kicks Off UK Festival Season

The Small World festival in Headcorn, Kent, is the UK’s only totally solar-powered festival, with no generators at all. The Spring Gathering is the traditional start to the UK Festival season.

(Please put all dates for other festivals in the chat and comments of this story and we will build up a list.)/em

A few thousand visitors, and up to 1000 staff enjoy 5 days of sunshine, mainly acoustic music, free yoga and the nightly fire show, which takes place at dusk.

The main central tent has a full roster of world music, and there are multiple venues all over the place featuring hundreds of indie bands.

Spoken word performances start at midnight after the amplifiers are turned off, especially at the fire pit outside the Tribal Voices bus.

Off-grid editor Nick Rosen will be speaking 2.30pm Saturday about how to go off-grid.

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the new pylon shape stretching across the somerset countryside

New Generation Of Pylons Will Trash UK Countryside

History is repeating itself in the UK, with a new generation of electricity towers breeding fear and local campaigning against National Grid.
The power company is attempting to impose its latest upgrade on the grounds of netzero – decarbonisation. But its arguments do not stand up to scrutiny say locals, who point out that the new pylons are far more expensive than the old, and have not been permitted anywhere else in the country so far, despite a 2035 decarbonisation deadline.

These new pylons are a world first and the result of more than a decade of planning, consultation, and installation.
And the plan is that more will be installed across the country as part of the Government’s ambitions to expand the energy grid to facilitate the move to Net Zero. Up close they look like steel obelisks standing 35m tall, equipped with two arms, strung with cables capable of carrying 400,000 volts of electricity. From a distance, they resemble a string of golf tees, winding their way up the Somerset landscape towards Avonmouth in the county’s north. Starkly white and solid, waiting to inherit the cables from their lattice-framed ancestors.

More than one hundred are expected to be installed and energised by 2024, as part of a project to connect new sources of low-carbon energy to homes and businesses, including Hinkley Point C, EDF Energy’s new nuclear station in Somerset.

In Rooks Bridge, directly beneath the overhead power lines, Gary Robinson ran a caravan campsite for 20 years. When builders descended in 2020, he was forced to close his business which now sits less than 100m away from one of the new pylons. When it rains, or the wind is strong, the noise is “enormous”, Robinson says.

Pylons of any kind generate audible whistling noise in high wind speeds and a buzzing noise in moisture. But T-pylon cables are gathered closer to the ground and residents have complained the effect is far worse than previously installed lattice pylons.

A National Grid spokesman said anyone directly affected by the scheme is eligible to submit a claim for any loss incurred under the compensation code, saying: “We always recommend that people who believe they have a claim seek appropriate independent professional advice.”

But Robinson, whose campsite licence was revoked on account of the noise and building work, says “proof of loss” is difficult.

Across the road, three empty properties, all recently refurbished but now 50m from a T-pylon, sit empty. Claire Feenie, who has lived on a secluded road in Cote for 21 years, watched as an old pylon opposite her home was replaced with one of the new systems two years ago. Now, she can see the structure from her conservatory. She can hear it too.

The pensioner, 74, says the new pylons were “more of an eyesore” than their older counterparts. “It’s because they’re solid. The old pylons – …

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Syringe going into a graphic representation of AI

If AI Was A Virus What Would The Vaccine Be?

We can’t stop the development of Artificial Intelligence by government decree any more than we could have stopped Covid by government decree.

The sum of human knowledge used to be an unimaginably vast entity, consisting of acres of books and images, stretching across countless libraries, that could never be known by one generation, still less by one human. Now, thanks to AI, it can exist all in one place, a server farm in California, along with the algorithms that bombard it every second of every day.

The AI cat is out of the bag – $350 billion has already been invested in commercial applications, from internet search to composing music to gold prospecting.

Who knows how many tens of billions governments have already spent on military applications of AI each year? That’s a secret. The next global war will probably be fought by computers. The next generation of drones is probably being field-tested in Ukraine as we speak.

AI is potentially as big a threat to humanity as Covid was, or bigger. And many are now calling for tighter controls. But a recent appeal by Yuval Harari and several hundred leading experts, for AI research to be halted or slowed immediately has had no effect, and it may be in years before any such edict could possibly be agreed and issued, by which time according to Harari himself, AI bots may have moved beyond human control.

Harari fears computers which assimilate and recombine all human knowledge far more quickly and efficiently than humans, could take control of that knowledge unimaginably fast. He argued in a recent New York Times article, that AI could control humanity by controlling our language. He is right. All knowledge is language. Even images are a kind of language.

Nobody owns language, and never can. But fortunes are spent on pure language – the advertising, publishing, and computer software industries, have between them $1.3 trillion annual revenues. And some languages are more powerful than others.

At the heart of the debate is copyright. Who owns the entirety of human knowledge when it is recombined in new ways? Does it belong to the OpenAI computer company that is the current market leader? Or does it belong to the countless writers, researchers, publishers, photographers, filmmakers, to name but a few, whose work has now been hoovered up to feed the algorithms? And by far the largest part of what is in the AI/big tech memory banks is the entire history of all our social media, and email. It belongs to us, to all of us. But if we want to retain our ownership, the only way is to start fighting for it immediately.

The key questions is what barriers, if any, should there be to universal access to this entity, “the sum of human knowledge?” If it belongs to all of us, then should we all have …

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Off-Grid farm to double in size – if it can raise money by 26 April

Plotgate Farm in Somerset UK is becoming a remarkable success story for its pioneering, community agro-ecological style of farming.

It was designed from the get-go to be truly sustainable, Plotgate has recently come top in an assessment using United Nations approved criteria.

Founded in 2015 with 23 acres, they have just closed a deal to buy the neigboring 16 acres of land and already raised £175,000 to pay for it. The farm, run by Dan Britton and Amy Willoughby raised most of the money over the past few weeks from locals who already subscribe to their weekly food boxes ( Plotgate is paying a return of the CPI – meaning whatever inflation is at the moment they pay the same in interest on the loan, currently 9.5%. They only need another £15,000 to complete their targets, although there may be more funding rounds soon to pay for their most ambitious idea yet.

The land Plotgate just acquired is waterlogged. It sits within the Somerset levels, famously prone to flooding, especially in winter. The levels contain a network of sluices, dams and ditches which has for centuries managed the water in the area to allow agriculture to take place.

“We are planning to return to a forgotten method of farming,” said Dan Britton, a naval architecture graduate who has masterminded Plotgate’s technical development. Their new fields already contain the remains of the array of shallow dugout water courses at regular intervals that allow the higher earth between them to remain dry and fertile – 13 strips in the 8 acre field, each approx 10mx180m.

“Its anybody’s guess, but I think we will see a doubling in yields per acre from the new land – “that means twice the food for the same amount of work,” said Dan who nw sells 100 veg boxes per week for £13 each. Anyone interested in investing can contact via the Plotgate web site or direct to Dan.
Far more important to Dan than the potential profitability is the water remediation – “We are going to clean up the waters of Avalon,” he said.

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