Friday, November 14, 2014

The cost of not living there

I'm back in TN for a while. Before I left MN I emptied and unplugged the large chest freezer in the shop which has run the past few winters. I also shut off the main in the house, and the main on the shop that runs all the outbuildings and the well. So there is nothing electrical running on the farm, right? Well, no, there is a yard light on the pole in the yard. It's one of those nasty sodium things, casting it's sickly green glow over everything and forcing you to walk out past the grove in order to actually see the night sky. It was there when I bought the acreage, and I've always disliked it. It's unmetered, so there is a flat fee for it's use each month on the electric bill.

I called the electric co-operative yesterday and said I wanted to shut off the power for the winter. The gal in the office said I would have to just pull the main. I said I wanted the yard light off, nothing else was running and I couldn't see paying a bill each month for the light. She said I would have to pull the main. I said I'm 1000 miles away with no plans to return before next year mid-summer, can't you just shut it off at the road??  After going around like this for 5 minutes she dropped this bombshell: If the co-op shuts off the power, when they reconnect it next summer not only will they charge me a disconnect and reconnect fee, which I had figured on, but they will also back bill me for the months it was shut off. WTH?!? You can back bill me for something I didn't use, and couldn't possibly use because the service is shut off? Yes, it's in our policy.

So the unmetered yard light will stay on, since I'm stuck paying for it whether it's on or not. Not only will I be paying the monthly fee for the light, there is also a "cost of providing power" fee in the amount of $15, along with the "vacation" fee of $9.95 for the internet. Once again I'll have a bill of $37a month for crap I'm not using. That's almost $450 a year.

Next summer the sodium yard light WILL come down, and with luck I will get a small wind generator or PV system installed, either grid tied and they can pay me during the winter months (MN requires utility buy-back on grid tied systems at the average retail rate), or off-grid and I'll tell the electric company to take a flying leap. I also need to figure out an internet solution to avoid paying for satellite internet in two places. The service was paused in TN while I was gone, no fee, but up north they tell me I have to pay the $9.95 per  month vacation fee because if they actually shut it off they won't be able to reconnect it as my equipment is too old. I own the Wild Blue dish up north,and rent it here in TN, and would love to disconnect both services. This may mean I have to break down and get a smart phone and an unlimited Verizon data plan. We'll see how that plays out over the winter.


  1. That is really a rip-off! I'd go off-grid in a hurry.

  2. I certainly wouldn't hook anything up to the grid. They say they have to buy the surplus but the rules for connecting in some places are outlandish and require a certified installer that is sure to charge you more than you will ever get back from surplus they are forced to buy.