Should we be growing more "power plants" at home?

Whose in charge of your yard? (No, it isn't a trick question.)
Taking care of the yard, the garden, the shrubs and trees, can be a lot of work. But we do it anyway. We do it because we want to take charge of an area in our lives that won't do as well without our personal attention. We want to produce certain results. I'm speaking very broadly, of course, to cover a whole wide range of plant care.
I've spent up to two years on some yards, simply cleaning up the place, ridding the land of old burn piles, junk piles, jungles of weeds and poison ivy, thickets of wild trees and shrubs, slowly bringing a lawn back to life, tidying the landscape. And I never hesitate to jump right in and do it all over again someplace else. There is pleasure in making things better.
The United States is not unique in having people who like to create something orderly and beautiful out of chaos. In some ways, we've done that with our collective lives -- making a new nation out of what was once a kind of bondage, as we saw it back then. We wanted the chance to make our own way, to build our own land, our own culture. And we got that chance when we won our independence.
But human nature has a way of slipping back into easy bondage -- to all sorts of things, and to all sorts of people. If we think we can get by a little easier, we will too often allow others to have more and more power over us, until we are once again in the yoke. We need to be alert right now, I think, and to be making wise choices. We once got rid of a king because we resented the unfair tax loads inflicted on us. But now we're paying out huge sums of money just to keep the lights on. Where is our cry for freedom today?
Whose in charge of your life?
What do you think? Are the people of America still independence-minded? I mean, really?
Here in America we have a reputation for holding the idea of independence pretty high. But we need to be careful not to give too much power to corporations that love to keep a hold on our lives.
Think about it. There are the credit agencies, such as banks, credit card issuers, etc. that can end up with a lot of power over a person, or even over an entire family. There are the advertisers who work very hard to persuade us that we need to be thinking about this, buying that, and so on. And along those same lines, there are the media people who very much want to sway folks as to what we should think and feel about various issues.
But my main thought right now is the power companies themselves. The utility companies and oil companies. We tend to gripe about these guys but then we do very little to shake off the hold they can have over our entire household.
When I see the grip that electric companies and gas companies have, for example, I wonder just how much we really cherish our freedom in this country. It's not like we have no alternatives.
Alternative power is here. Some of our neighbors are using solar, wind power, various geo-thermal power, and so on to either supplement or supply their household power. The technology is here. It's working. But only a relatively small number of people are going for it.
It's possible to heat your home all winter by using passive solar, wind powered generators, and solar panels. Of course, the other big alternative is also in place and being used by a larger number of people: wood heat.
Only when enough people are switching from total dependence on the electric grid and/or gas lines to private power will we begin to see a real return to independence-minded America.
Griping about poor leadership, griping about high prices, griping about the economy -- none of this gets anything accomplished. Personal freedom & independence never comes without a struggle. The "fight" has to be inside of us before we will emerge as a free people. We can see this when we look at nations such as Iraq. Why can't we see it in ourselves?
Real freedom cannot be given to us by other people. Politicians will never be able to do it for us. It must be earned, forged, built with our own hands. That's demonstrated in the history of our own nation. It's just as true today as it ever was.
Anyway, just thinking about these things.
Jim www.jimsdesk.com
Here's a partial list of alternative energy information sources (there are, of course, many, many more) http://homestead.goodwordusa.org/energy/listing.htm
Start your own small newspaper business free online help at: http://www.newspaper-info.com
free 13-month 2006 calendar (pdf file) download at: http://www.jimsgraphix.com/lowcal.htm
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Amen brada

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Like the ideas you bring out. The reality is that its not quite the shangra-la you're portraying regarding independent power for our homes. Wood (trees) is very slow at renewing its resource, unless you have heck of alot of wooded acreage, just won't work. Independent solar power for electricity is a good idea, but has it coorelated problems of maintenance and where the product and repair parts comes from (monopoly), cloudy days are nuisance. For wind driven generators, same maintenance and sourcing problem, and you need lots of continuous wind. Wood heating requires a goodly sized acreage source over the long haul. Wind driven generators are not an urban option for single family residences. And you better hope they don't put up a tall building on the sunny side that's feeding your solar panels.
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Jonny
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"The reality is that its not quite the shangra-la you're portraying regarding independent power for our homes. "
Exactly. The main reason these alternate solutions are not widely used is simple: cost With the price of energy today, it's still not practical for most people to switch to these alternates. Plus, none of them are without their own problems. Take wood for example. We already have enough environmental issues with harvesting trees for existing uses, let alone undertake the massive amounts of additional forest it would take to use for a significant energy source. And what about air pollution? There are already communities that are limiting fire places and stoves because of wood burning pollution.
Solar energy for electricity? Sounds good until you realize that it costs $60K to outfit a single house. That will take a long time to pay back and how long will the system last? How much does maintenance cost? Some folks here have done it becaus the govt is subsidizing and helping to pay for the cost, but we all end up paying for the true cost in the end.
Wind? This does work, but only really economical and practical in the right windy locations, eg Palm Springs. And there are issues with this too. Here in NJ there is a proposal to put up a wind farm a couple miles offshore. There are lots of people objecting to what it will do to the view from the beach. Same thing happening off Cape Cod, where even environmentalist Robert Kennedy Jr. is actively against a wind farm.
Alcohol from corn? Every study I've seen shows that gasoline would have to be around $4 a gallon for alcohol to compete with it. Just because it grows doesn't mean it's cheap. And it still takes energy to make fertilizer, plant it, harvest it, process it, etc
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Most of his ideas will work with ample sized acreage, 5 or better for unobstructed sun. 20 or better for wood with thick hardwood growth. Unobstructed hilltop for wind in a constant windy area, sitting on about 2 or more acres not including the house.
This leaves most city folks out of these options.
He didn't talk about water supply either which is another independent option with hidden costs.
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Jonny
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I have a waterfall in my back yard but haven't done anything with it but watch and listen to it. It is about 12 ft wide with 14 ft fall.
From Mel & Donnie in Bluebird Valley
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Mel M Kelly wrote:

That might make a nice power source for you depending on how much water is flowing over it and if you can get permission to harness it. Eric
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I can get permission. I own both sides. My biggest problem would be ice in the winter.
From Mel & Donnie in Bluebird Valley
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Mel M Kelly wrote:

That's not your biggest problem....
Understanding how hydros work and how much water it takes to make power is something not many people understand.
The power in falling water depends on the flow and head (height diff). You have to have a draft tube from top to bottom with a turbine inbetween. Chances are your "waterfall" is nowhere big enough to spin a turbine. Waterwheel? OK, but now you have a slow ass wheel that won't have enough speed or torque to run a generator.
I re-installed a 35kW generator in an old Ford machine shop (think 30's vintage) a few years ago. Everything was there to make it work, but he still spent over $50k to get all the parts working again. It had such bad stability that he could run about 20kW of electric heat and that was about it.
Kirb
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I have all the information on a turbine made in Germany and I have plenty of water and fall for it. But I still have winter.
From Mel & Donnie in Bluebird Valley
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