Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Living off the grid
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Living off the grid

Harley L. Sachs - April 19th, 2010
Living off the Grid: How one couple took the alternative route to home power
By Harley L. Sachs
What would you do if the power company demanded $37,000 to set up a
one-mile line to your house in the woods? Not only that, but the
specifications required cutting a 20-foot wide swath so that overhanging
branches wouldn’t hit the wires, creating an ugly gap in the woods.
That was the problem faced by Sandy and Jerry Mitchell when they bought a
4,200-square-foot home at Cedar Bay, five miles from Calumet, Michigan in
the UP. Their three-story house is complete with a sauna and hot tub.
For the Mitchells, living “off the grid” provided the best alternative to
the power company’s plan.
Their electric power solution was multifold: solar panels, a windmill, and
a diesel generator to charge up a bank of 12 hefty 6-volt batteries when
the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. On a full charge, the
batteries can keep their home running for 20 hours.

If the wind is blowing and the sun shining, there’s no need for the
Mitchells to start their generator. But when the batteries are running low
their equipment sends a signal to automatically start the generator, which
can charge the system in four hours and runs on an economical one quart of
fuel an hour.
A Xantrax conversion center is used to convert their 6-volt battery
current to 120 and 240 volts, with the latter voltage used to power the
pump in their well.
The windmill, made by Southwest, sits on top of two 20-foot sections of
steel well casing and is about 60 feet high to clear the tree tops.
At first the Mitchells had a 12-bladed windmill, but one dark and stormy
night, as the saying goes, a 70 mph wind howled so strongly that the
gyrating windmill lost three of its blades and popped two of the four guy
wires out of the ground. Jerry rushed out into the storm in a panic and
tied the wires to trees. A permanent fix came later when he bored holes
in the solid rock, set in anchors of rebar, and reattached the guys. Now
the original setup has been replaced with a 3-bladed propeller that can be
tilted to provide less wind resistance when those storms return. Their
power cost is about $2.60 a day. Compare that to your electric bill.

For heat the Mitchells burn wood in an outdoor furnace, using 12 to 14
cords of wood a year, costing between $80 and $95 a cord. The couple
expect to halve their heating bill with the installation of a Hardrock
masonry oven. Like the historic porcelain ovens of Europe, the masonry
oven warms up the rock which then radiates an even heat for hours. The
heat is distributed by a hot water system laid in the floor using a grid
of flexible Pextubing.
An advantage of the outdoor central boiler is it can be fed with logs, not
small sections of firewood. Another is that the chimney is separate from
the house, reducing the danger of chimney fires.
Of course, being off the grid the Mitchells are also not on a county road,
so they must plow a 1,500-foot driveway using their truck with its 360
horsepower engine.
It’s an economical way to live, once the equipment is installed. Jerry
paid for the 40-square-foot solar panel, which is mounted on their deck,
with some 1919 commemorative gold coins.
Sandy and Jerry Mitchell own two Carmelita’s Mexican restaurants, one in
Calumet and the other close to Michigan Technological University in
Houghton. The Mitchells spent many years in Santa Fe, New Mexico, but also
lived for a time in Alaska. They also publish a local newspaper, The
Pilgrim. Look for it at www.thePilgrim.com. If in Houghton or Calumet be
sure to stop in at Carmelita’s.

Visit the web site www.hu.mtu.edu/~hlsachs where you can listen to two
stories, read a third, read reviews, and find links to the publishers of
my books.

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