Off The Grid In Alaska June 11th, 2008

Categories: Alaskana

Holikachuk photoPeople have been producing their own energy in Alaska for long time.  The photo to the left, of Holikachuk in the 1950s, shows two wind generators spinning on top of wooden towers.

Today, the independent minded use wind, solar, and diesel to power their homes.  Or some of them go low-tech with kerosene lamps, wood stoves and out houses. 

It’s probably simplest and the least expensive to forgo the modern conveniences and make do without plumbing and power, but for many that just isn’t acceptable. We like to flip the switch and see the light.  We also like indoor plumbing.

I recently talked with Ricky Wilder in Chickaloon.  He and his family live in a modern log home with in-floor heat a long way from the nearest power line.  They heat their home and detached garage with a central boiler from Frontier Heating Concepts in Palmer.

Electricity is supplied by batteries to light the home, run the pumps for the heat, and take care of all the other appliances normally found in a modern home.  The batteries are charged by a combination of solar panels, a wind generator, and very occasionally a diesel generator. 

I was most interested in the fact that much of the Wilder’s power comes from the sun.  We tend to forget that for six months of the year, we get more daylight than anyone south of us.  That daylight can generate electricity. 

In fact, Wilder reports useful solar power from February through October.  He likes solar so much that he plans to increase his solar array this year.  There are only three months of the year when he depends almost completely on the wind generator. 

When the wind is blowing…and it blows often at their hilltop location…that wind turbine is really humming.  It keeps the batteries charged easily. 

Ricky Wilder and his son Jordan have been fine tuning his system and helping others with theirs since they purchased their home.  They are currently working on a book about wind power and solar power.  If you would like to talk to them just drop them a line at akricky(the @ sign)yahoo.com.

Holikachuk photo compliments of celebratechar.org

Written by Marty Van Diest

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