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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Snow, sickness slows Nova Scotia Blog

The almanac had predicted snow between Nov. 11 and 14, and the storm came Nov 13, shocking the hell out of Nova Scotia Power, which promptly collapsed. Nova Scotia house was plunged into darkness, wailing was the order of the day. After a few hours of digging out the driveway (an eight of a mile of digging), and waiting for the snowplow to cover the other mile, the Girl and The Guy were exhausted. But they had to go to town: a lack of water drove them to it. In town, they found that water could be had for 55 cents a gallon, and they wondered how many gallons it would take the actually get the toilet (now much further from lovely than ever before) to flush. They also found that there are no battery-operated lights, and every oil lantern within 50 km had been purchased hours before, by people whose driveways were considerably shorter. They returned home, dispirited but hydrated.

Every house in the Maritimes should have its own wind generator. You put up a windmill, even a small, old-fashioned one, install a bank of batteries inside a shed. On days when your power output exceeds your needs, it feeds right into the community power supply: in the US, the power company even has to pay you if you add to their kilowatts. The battery banks are for emergencies where the regular power is on the fritz: like a submarine, you can run your house on battery-electric until your other options are back online.

When I start a grassroots movement, it will be for alternative power, especially wind power. Individual houses, where owner-renters will build small, manageable windmills, hooking them up to the general power supply, and to the battery banks. A little education, user-friendly technology and the absolute determination of people who are sick of paying for electricity when, the moment they need it the most, electricity disappears, will fuel the movement.

A mere 36 hours after the power died, The Girl stepped into a hot shower with a sigh of relief. After the snowstorm, there was a minor illness that required doctoral intervention, an adapter that went szizzle-fitz-pop-pop-pop put the laptop out of commission, and various other things around the house broke, burned up or just plain disappeared. A helluva week, beleagured blogger couldn't get to the blog. Perhaps things will now even out. We'll see.

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