SOLAR people, HELP!!!

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by texastami, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. texastami

    texastami Zone 7B Supporter

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    They changed the rules!! :grump:

    We bought land about 18 months ago.... had researched it, knew we wanted a "green" homestead - mild impact on Mother Earth... planet friendly!! always been my dream!! We contacted the electric company... got their prices and regulations.......contacted the state, knew what the state requirements were and are regarding septic systems and other regulations........

    All our plans have been set around creating a green homestead - using composting toliets, solar heating and cooling, permaculture setup.... with the added benefit of ELECTRICAL use when we wanted it......... (this was more for DH and creature comforts than anything... I would love to get off GRID totally!!!)

    Now that we are less than one year from our goal, I called to check with the electrical company again for possible rate increases for the new year - their newest regulation is YOU HAVE TO HAVE A STATE APPROVED SEPTIC SYSTEM IN PLACE BEFORE they run poles out to the property. Composting toliets will not qualify for this rule....... MUST BE SEPTIC TANK AND LEECH LINES....

    Rule 1 - Land ownership
    Rule 2 - FOUNDATION or PAD must be put in
    rule 3 - Cistern, well or state approved water delivery system
    rule 4 - septic system in place BEFORE running poles out to home site

    UGH!!! I am so durn mad now I could spit nails.......I do understand their need to protect the water table from those who do not obey the rules.... but he was real quick to "recommend" someone who handles septic work!!! :grump: I smell something FISHY!!! I did ask him if it was possible get to an "exemption" from this rule and he told me that "well, you'd have to come in, get on the agenda, and then go before the electrical board and convince them" ..... none of which I can do BEFORE we move there!! So we just plan on being without "store bought" electric for longer than a month!! no problem! Hmm... we are going to practice this for a while before we move!!

    We are going to buy a generator and possibly a back up generator - along with plans for simple passive solar built house and solar water system- along with other means to make things work... I want to build as much of it as possible... (solar panels excluded)

    I need PRACTICAL advice from people off grid who use a variety of things to stay that way!!

    TIA!

    Tami
     
  2. Cyngbaeld

    Cyngbaeld In Remembrance Supporter

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    Well, to start with go to

    www.backwoodssolar.com

    and start reading. Also

    www.homepower.com

    Start thinking about where you use electricity and try to think outside the box. For ex. refrigeration uses a huge amt of electricity. You can buy a really super efficient electric ref plus extra solar panels and batteries or go with propane or if you live in a suitable area use a thermal mass refrigerator like in the earthship books.

    You will not be happy running a genny for all your electric. I've known quite a few people who tried it and it was a huge expensive pain.

    I would highly reccomend going with solar. I lived with it for a number of years and wouldn't mind doing it again.

    But you need to read, read, read and think and learn before you spend your hard earned cash.
     

  3. Freeholder

    Freeholder Well-Known Member

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    You had also better find out what the rules are about living on your property while you build. In a lot of places, you can't move onto the property until you have your building permit, with the septic and electricity IN. Sounds like you might be in one of those areas, so check it out!

    Kathleen
     
  4. patarini

    patarini Well-Known Member

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    If u really want a generator, get a diesel that runs at 1800rpm and a decent sized one will cost you 1500 or more --run it to charge batteries
    so it doesnt run all the time. Better off I think with some solar and probally wind in your area -- pain in the but to run out of fuel! but you might be able to go to the state and get approval for the toilets = they are acceptable to the state it looks like!
    http://www.tnrcc.state.tx.us/oprd/r...500&rlead=500&sufs=0&order=r&cq=&id=423779587
     
  5. texastami

    texastami Zone 7B Supporter

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    Thanks for the links Cindy!! I just subscribed to the magazine and am looking forward to lots of READING!!! :)


    QUOTE: You had also better find out what the rules are about living on your property while you build. In a lot of places, you can't move onto the property until you have your building permit, with the septic and electricity IN. Sounds like you might be in one of those areas, so check it out!

    Thanks Kathleen for the idea, but we know there are no restrictions for the property... we don't have any sort of building codes/permits or etc... just this issue with the electric company.....


    QUOTE: If u really want a generator, get a diesel that runs at 1800rpm and a decent sized one will cost you 1500 or more --run it to charge batteries
    so it doesnt run all the time. Better off I think with some solar and probally wind in your area -- pain in the but to run out of fuel! but you might be able to go to the state and get approval for the toilets = they are acceptable to the state it looks like!


    Wow... I didn't know that generators were that expensive. DH said we could get a good one for around $500. We are looking at some solar ideas and possibly even some wind....

    I appreciate your link, but we are moving to MO... and I know they are acceptable there......
     
  6. cfabe

    cfabe Well-Known Member

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    The $500 generators you can get are not really suitable for a long term solution. They are typically 3600rpm gasoline machines which are noisy as heck and not very long lasting. A more expensive genset would be an 1800 rpm gas or diesel unit similar to what you'd find in a motor home, which will be much quieter and last a long while.
     
  7. fordy

    fordy Well-Known Member

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    ..................Tami , You have to obtain and payfor a perk test , Before you can install your septic system . . Once , you get your perk test over with , You can install your own Septic system and again , you must get A permit and you must install the septic system that the permit requires .
    .................I think that , that part about having a slab is a Bunch of BS. They run power to mobile homes all the time ....Without a SLAB , so what is UP with that ??? ..fordy.. :)
     
  8. Hurricane Kurt

    Hurricane Kurt Well-Known Member

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    If you just need power run to the property before you build then say its a shop or a barn used for agriculture. You don't need to meet all those regs that way.

    Kurt
     
  9. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    Hey texastami,
    they put in some pretty strict rules on septic systems a few years ago...even grandfathered systems were brought up to code, depending on where you live. If you don't own at least ten acres, you're looking at a 'jet' system, and a lovely ~7K installation. Around here, folks just go ahead and buy at least ten acres, to save the 7K.

    Do you know what kind of soil you have? If it's good soil, you'll probably pass the perk test. Dig the hole and the line by hand, install it yourself, and save all of that money. All that's needed is a shovel and a bucket, the fiberglass tank, and pipe.

    I was solar for 14 years. I woke up each morning, wondering how much sunlight I was going to get that day, and at the end of the day, I'd look at my rube goldberg metering system and figure out if I could watch tv or the stereo that night. Solar is expensive. The deal is you end up spending your 'electric bill payments' for the next 20 years, all in one lump sum payment, and batteries have to be replaced, unless you spend several thousands on a premium battery system.

    I wouldn't discourage you from going solar, but if you can get storebought electricity simply by installing a septic system, I'd say do it, even if you never use it. Buy solar panels when you can, and slowly wean yourself off storebought electricity...you can always use the solar for backup, and here in texas our juice goes off quite a bit.

    Our local co-op priced me at 80K, with me clearing 2 miles of r.o.w. (and paying the landowners for the r.o.w. to boot) for a connection to their lines. I went solar cause I had to. When the opportunity came to hook up to the grid, for 2K, I jumped at it, cause my old genny had just died, I needed new batteries and new panels, around 5K, just to keep the existing system running. I use my solar still, esp. during blackouts. At my present rate of usage of the storebought electricity, it'd take me another year or two, just to get close to the 5K I would have spent on solar panels...and living in the 'almost dark' world, without a reasonably sized icebox... so I'm a happy camper.

    phil in east texas
     
  10. caballoviejo

    caballoviejo Well-Known Member

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    Makes you wonder why the electric company gives a business hoot about your form of sewage disposal.

    But then they another brick in the wall, part of the system of control.


    Electric companies are like Ma Bell was decades ago when they had a monopoly. Don't like the way they play? - go somewheres else if you like.


    The slab thing and others are business decisions that keep them for putting in expensive lines to people who are not going to really use their product and justify their expense. Usually there are ways around these things, as has been already suggested.
     
  11. Cindy in PA

    Cindy in PA Well-Known Member

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    The electric company we have here and also up north at our 11 acres was reluctant to put in poles to our property when we told them we were not building right now. The realtor had a deal to run thru our property and to 3 other large properties behind us, but when I called they said they would not run it if we weren't gonna use it. They wanted to be sure to get revenue from the deal. They ended up giving us a figure and running the lines for less than $5 a foot. They tried to talk us into waiting til someone else needed it so we would get it for free, but we had made an agreement orally with the realtor and wanted to keep our word. They simply do not want to run lines that need to be maintained when they are getting no monthly revenue. This may be why they are telling you this, so they know you will actually be using the electricity soon after they put it in. They also run 1500 ft for free if it is to be your primary house, but we had to pay because we were not planning on moving there anytime soon. Also talking to different people at the company gave us different answers, so don't give up yet.
     
  12. indypartridge

    indypartridge Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have a cousin down in Georgia who's very much into solar and wind power. You might want to check his website for some ideas:
    http://www.solarkitchense.com/
     
  13. marvella

    marvella Well-Known Member

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    around here they also insist on an approved septic bfor running electricity to it. lots of people get around that by getting temporary power, for construction purposes, then stay that way for 20 years and use an outhouse. i mean, how can you realistically build a house without power tools?
     
  14. WisJim

    WisJim Well-Known Member Supporter

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    In addition to reading Home Power and all the back issues (which are available on CD-ROM), go to an energy fair. It will give you a chance to see lots of wind and solar stuff up close, talk to like-minded folks, and maybe even buy equipment to get your system started. Don't deal with a power company if you can afford not to. The Home Power website has links to Energy Fairs all over the country.

    Jim
     
  15. Lisa in WA

    Lisa in WA Formerly LisainN.Idaho Supporter

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    A generator.
     
  16. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

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    How many acres do you have? If you have more than ten acres in Texas, you do NOT need a permit or inspections for your septic system at all. As long as it is at least 100 feet from the nearest property line you can pretty much do as you want. If you have less than ten acres, you can still do the install yourself, but it does have to be permitted and inspected, and you cannot pay anyone to do the job for you, unless they are licensed installers. If you're within about 150 miles of Abilene, PM me and we might be able to work something out for free or barter, since I'll have my OSSF license in about two weeks.


    As for the electric company and it's other general rules... I do not know the details, but I've heard of someone here in Texas running into the same problem more or less, and he fought it, citing (I think) the Rural Electrification Act, and he ended up getting his way. I'll see if I can find out more about what it took to do it though.


    anyway,

    Rowdy
     
  17. MMyers1

    MMyers1 Well-Known Member

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    I am between Mineral Wells and Stephenville. Is that close enough that we can talk?? I have 30 acres that I am planning an earthship on, but the one thing DW will not budge on is flushing toilets! :haha:

    Just for fun, she grew up in Clyde....

    Mark
     
  18. Rowdy

    Rowdy Well-Known Member

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    Well, since you have 30 acres, you do not need a permit, so really you do not need the help of my license :D Though, if you happen to have some rabbits or perhaps some goats to trade I might be willing to lend a hand in the actual work part :haha:

    PM me when you are ready to do it, and maybe I'll be able to come out and play.

    Rowdy...



    OH, and here is the link I forgot on my first post. You can view and download all of the rules and regs for Septic tanks in Texas, so you'll know exactly what is needed to be done, etc. TCEQ Rules
    Besides the laws and such, if you surf around you can find info on how to get a license, find licensed contractors, lots of other useful info.
     
  19. texastami

    texastami Zone 7B Supporter

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    Thank you all SOOOOO MUCH!!! You all gave me so much food for thought!!! Thanks to those who PM'd me with support and kind words!! :) You all are so great!! Special thanks to FolioMark!!!

    I decided that I wasn't SATISFIED with the man's answer yesterday (he painted with a very broad brush yesterday, and I needed much more clarification) - so after a very long night and reading your great responses... I called them back today!! Guns ready for battle!!!!! And I was LOADED FOR BEAR!!! :)

    I called the electric company back... and told them that I wanted to speak to ****** (same guy as yesterday) but was told he was on vacation today and tomorrow... I asked to speak to someone else instead of opting to go to his voice mail... She put me in touch with his co-worker (same department) and I asked him about a "new construction" pole.... temp/perm status.... and several other things... I didn't tell him I had called yesterday... wanted to see what his "people skills" were like.... He sounded just like a very good friend of mine on the phone, so I just pretended I was talking to my friend and I wasn't nervous at all.... He asked me 10x more questions than the guy did yesterday and I answered them all HONESTLY- He explained we have actually TWO options..... TWO OPTIONS???? I wasn't informed there was a 2nd option!!!!!

    Option 1 - to get 3 poles for free (THE KEY WORD IS FREE) we have to meet all those requirements I listed in my original post.... When I questioned him about the septic... and stated we WERE NOT USING SEPTIC but a composting toliet- he asked about the composting toliet unit and how it worked... I drew on everything I have researched and gave him about a 10 minute "enlightenment" on the subject... He was thoroughly impressed and said that while he has never heard of such a thing... he thought that it would be considered "SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES" and it could be reviewed by his superiors - no need to go to the board and try to CONVINCE THEM (as the other guy said) - HOORAY!!! But I was NOT satisfied with that yet... .I then asked him if they didn't OK it, how could they by law REFUSE ME SERVICE???? State of MO recognizes Composting toliets and as long as it meets all those requirements, they COULD NOT REFUSE SERVICE based on my desire not to use septic!!! They could get sued for stuff like that!!! He assured me that when the new "law" was written it didn't plan on this sort of system... and he would find out for me.... HOORAY!!!

    So I asked about if in the event that they DID deny it, and refused me - what was my other option?????

    Option 2 he explained was that we can just PAY CASH to hook up power to our property!!!! The guy yesterday never said a word about that!! AT ALL!!! I specifically asked him if they could DENY me service if I didn't meet their requirements and he said NO WAY.... if I want NO REQUIREMENTS, just pay cash on delivery!! HOORAY AGAIN!!!

    Paying for two poles 660 ft in on our property is ALOT cheaper than a generator and solar panels!!! We will just plan on paying for two poles in our moving budget and then if we do get the "required" stuff in and ok'd, then we'll just have that much more to spend on the house!!!!!

    Thanks again for all the terrific ideas!! We are still planning to incorporate a few things we found while researching in the last 24 hours... we'll have the best of both worlds!!!!!!
     
  20. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    That's the typical setup - they are not really giving out 'free' poles & wire, but they are setting you up with a power feed & plan on the rates they bill you to pay that off over the next 10 years; then make money off of your place after that.

    Now, if you went in mentioning solar energy, and that you like living off grid anyhow, and not really sure when you will build but you want the power poles in......

    It won't happen for free. They had too many bad experiences with that. It costs all the rest of use to pay off your (possibly) un-used poles.

    In this era of discrimination suits, they had to figure out a way to make sure they give out the 'free' electrical hookup to people who will actually be there for 10 years to pay them off. Best way to do that is to make sure there are some permanent livable structures there, so you or the next owners _will_ be using electricty & pay off the hookup.

    Woulda been nice for the fist fellow to explain himself better, but such are the utility companies. They have a monopoly, & you run into that attitude now & again.

    --->Paul