Mar 15, 2011

The Changing Faces of Self Reliance

Ranches have always stood alone. Partly because of location and partly because of the people that live on them. When people moved out west life was about survival. If you needed water you had to live near a river or find a good place to dig a well. If you needed food then you had to grow or kill it yourself, or you needed have something to sell in order to purchase food.

An excerpt from the book "These is my Words" by Nancy E. Turner a book based on her own family memoirs talks of families picking locations to begin their ranches;

"Mama told him how streams in the Territory are mostly only good in the Winter, and he would be glad this Summer he had a well, when the stream was dry as dust. Likley we will have to dig deeper come August anyway."

Self reliance used to be viewed as the only means of survival. Out in the wilderness there was no-one to help, you could rely a little on those living around you but they had their own priorities.

Today the meaning of self reliance has changed. It is viewed more as "giving back".

Instead of living off the land we want to live with the land.

The changing ways of generating power, Wind, Water, and Solar are good examples. People are wanting more options of "clean" energy not only because of pollution and the green aspect but also because we need something when the current energy supplies run out.

Russell attended the State of the City Address for Oro Valley in his capacity of board member for the Metropolitan Tuscon Convention and Visitors Bureau. Solar Path was there with a Solar display, they explained to him the opportunity to take advantage of the utility sponsered, government funded solar program. After much internal discussion the Ranch decided that in these times of economic uncertainty not to go ahead and join the program. Subsequently the program became fully subscribed and the opportunity was gone. However, because of the severity and length of the econimic decline, several companies dropped out and Solar Path came to us again and we decided then to opt in creating, on the Ranch, the largest private solar farm in the Tucson area.

On January the 3rd (2011) construction began and on Tuesday the 22nd of March the first solar panels began to operate.

We have three separate sites where the electricity comes from solar panels into the meters for the ranch; the well, staff area and our main lodge buildings plus west side rooms. This is the largest amount of solar power that we are allowed to install and use to generate electricity for the program that we entered.

When I last checked one of the meters (the one for the main lodge) we had made 5,360 KWH, bought 104 KWH and sold back 7 KWH. The system is designed to power 35% to 40% of the electricity for the ranch, a very exciting prospect in the current economic climate.