I commend Mountain Disaster Preparedness for helping to prepare the community to deal with a wise policy of preventive power-grid shutdowns during hazardous fire weather. The recent community meeting (“MDP meeting covers, purchase, use of generators,” Town Crier, Nov. 22, 2018) focused on using fossil-fuel energy sources, but I would strongly encourage most Idyllwild residents to consider the solar alternative.
When Adele and I moved to Idyllwild in 2001, in part to escape the constant city noise we had lived with for decades, we were plagued with irritatingly frequent, unplanned shutdowns. Spending Christmas Day 2003 in a cold, dark house spurred us to action.
We treasured Idyllwild’s quietude and had already experienced years of trouble-free solar power at our backwoods cabin. So, we had a contractor size a system for our house just large enough to support only essential daily activities, and we backed it up with enough battery capacity to carry us through at least 72 sunless hours .
For the next 14 years, until we needed to move off the Hill, we never once noticed the onset of an outage. The system switched back and forth instantaneously between Edison’s grid and our batteries.
As a bonus, the surplus daytime energy it supplied to the grid cut our net monthly power consumption nearly in half. Aside from maintaining and replacing batteries (once, at the end of their normal lifetime), the system required zero attention. Through it all, we did not have to endure the obnoxious roar of a generator.
Equipment costs have dropped dramatically in the past decade, and solar panels are remarkably sensitive, even when partially obscured by trees. Based on our experience, solar power in Idyllwild’s sunny climate is an obvious choice, both to avoid interruptions and to reduce power consumption.