The two main reasons we began to consider living off the grid were the constant rise in the cost of electricity and the storms that seemed to knock out our service each year.
Living off grid didn’t start to become an option until we lived on the Oregon Coast and lived through the Great Coastal Gale of 2007. Our home was fine, but we were left without utility service for about a week. Our frustration mounted as we saw the rest or our town below us gain power only to be left without power and water for another day and a half because the municipality thought no one lived on our hill, as if we were all vacation homes. So, why bother checking, just forgo delivering power. Another full-time local on our hill set the town and utility company straight, but the experience left me a little distrustful of the people running things. Even if we had a back up generator at the time, we still would not have fresh running water due to the pump station was beyond our legal grasp to supply power.
The real shift to getting us to consider living off the grid was the electric company’s constant rate increases. It felt like we were being drained of what little money we had left at the end of the month. With the rising cost of property taxes, water, insurance, gas prices, inflation in the grocery store, my wife and I saw what little savings we had at the end of the month rapidly disappearing. We were one emergency crisis away from losing it all. If the car died or a major house repair was needed, we would not be able to make our payments or we would have to ration the food. This really got me thinking that we needed take back control of our expenditures on utilities. We needed to find a way in which we could control our bills. Going off grid seemed like a feasible solution to taking back financial control from these entities that taxed citizens into oblivion to justify their jobs. Sorry, but it was a bitter pill to swallow to see everything we worked so hard for disappear because of rate increases during a recession.
When we bought our property in Idaho after selling our house on the coast, we knew we would be living off grid. We had no desire to live on the grid anymore. When control over our utilities were in our hands and our off grid system was installed, we only had one power outage. It was quickly remedied in 15 minutes and life went on as usual. However, we have seen several storms since we moved to North Idaho, and the area at large has lost power several times. We would never have known it unless our neighbors called to tell us, the lights and stores are dark when we enter town, or when I go to work, the students I teach tell me about it. I now access the utility company’s website in which I can see the outage map for the local electrical grid. When friends call on their cell phones during their outage, I give them a report of their situation all from the comfort of my well lit home while watching a movie.
What is the worst storm you have been in that knocked your power out? Describe how you managed.