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This is our system, from the app on my phone, at 10:32 in the morning on April 6, 2021. A sunny spring day. That dark you see on the right side is from the shade of a silver maple tree on that corner, which we do not want to remove, as it provides critical shade for our animals in the summer. By midday, the angle of the sun has changed enough that its no longer an issue.

Way back when I was about 20, I attended a few “alternative” building and energy lectures while I was at San Jose State. I probably still have a brochure on “rammed earth” building somewhere (and still have a deep interest in earthship building techniques (we’ve visited the ones in Taos New Mexico twice). But every time I looked at the price, there was just no way I could afford to go “off grid”.

With the advent of net metering, where the consumer installs a power generating system that is hooked into the electric grid, things started to seem more realistic. You don’t have to install a system that meets all of your needs all of the time, including banks of batteries. Instead, your system feeds back into the existing electrical grid. When you generate power, you get paid by your power company for that electricity, and if you are producing more than you need, someone else can use it. If your system doesn’t meet all of your needs, you’re not left hanging with no power.

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Jennifer Kleffner

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