Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Illustrious Micro-Hydro Project begins

Sufficiently exorcised of my mean-spirited demons and the hydro materials having arrived in Futa, I can now focus my obsessions on the electricity project. Materials list with prices:

2 monster truck batteries 273,000
Alternator 50,000
Transformer/Gen. 564,000
1000 mts. Tubing 1,400,000
shut off valves/misc 64,000
(including connectors)
Misc. matl./Elect Wire 100,000
Labor 500,000

This is a horrendous amount of money, but the three quotes we got for hooking up to the grid were just under the total amount this project will cost(3,900,000 and 4,000,000). It has to do with the remoteness and current electric lines (or lack of lines and transformers) in the area where we have our home (due to distance, terrain and permissions). The good thing is we will never pay an electric bill again, and when the grid is down, we will be up. I realize that this is not financially feasible for people who can just "hook up" and we certainly wouldn't outlay this kind of money if there had been another reasonable option. I get lots of "kudos" from people who think it's just wonderful to not hook up to a traditional grid, and I understand the mindset...I am slightly ashamed that the truth is we didn't do hydro to be environmentally correct, but simply because it was the only way in the foreseeable future we could have reliable electricity. The grid quotes and projects required five pounds of documents and was three months out in the best case scenario.

It will work like this...the origin of our water is a massive arroyo (I think that's what a huge waterfall is called). We already have forceful water to the house from it. We will split off the water line and run one tube down a very steep drop to the bank of the river where the water will hit a turbine, turn the alternator which is wired up to batteries then electric runs through a converter/transformer thingy into the house. Or something like that. My only concern is regulating the power...I'm thinking we may need to divert some to a tank of water....or have some way to control the speed of the water flow. I have no clue...but I am reading up and working on it with my neighbor. I won't be plugging in my computer or electronics until we work out the kinks. I can replace a few lightbulbs, but don't need to be buying a new computer or washing machine anytime soon.

I was advised early on when hiring someone to do a job, to do up a little independent contractor contract to avoid labor disputes. I buy materials, we agree on the job, along with specifics. Only on the house did we have the contract for everything, with the contractor buying the materials...and that one bit us in the butt. The shittier and cheaper the materials, the more he made on the contract. So, not a good idea.

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