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Happy Trails by Kathleen Jarschke-Schultze

My husband Bob-O and I have been in the renewable energy business for a long time. We have lived exclusively on renewable energy for an even longer time. We, and many of our colleagues from so many years ago, have worked toward the goal of affordable, accessible renewables for all. We still do.

Light in the Forest

People say Home Power magazine has changed. Is that ever an understatement! What once was a free, 40-page, black-and-white booklet is now a glossy, four-color, 136-page issue. Publishers Richard and Karen Perez used to gather the crew of "Homies" at our house every two months to assemble the magazine, since we had the biggest living room—and a flush toilet. Using X-Acto knives and gum arabic, we would literally paste up each issue. I can remember cannibalizing earlier issues' pasteboards for ad copy.

At Home Power, we would get letters and articles submitted by like-minded enthusiasts saying, "Wow, look what I did— and it works!" In the early days when renewables were in their infancy, RE pioneers eagerly shared the knowledge that would shed a little more light onto the trail. These days, the articles tend to be more, "Hey, look what we can do now!"

It's always reminded me of how airplane piloting began. Got enough money for a plane? Sure. Well, here's the throttle and there's the brake, and when you pull back on that lever, it'll point the nose up. Seat-of-your-pants flying. Pioneering a technology.

The Tribe

In those days, everyone in the biz knew each other on a firstname basis—at least out here on the West Coast. We were passionate about our message and irreverent in our humor. This has evolved, also. I'd venture to say you're not going to see a Lil' Nukie ad in the April Fool's issue of Home Power again.

At the last Solar Energy Expo and Rally in Willits, California, in the early 1990s, a bunch of us were hanging around the Home Power tent after the public had left. To give you an idea of how grassroots the event really was, the security guy had given me a key to the gate so I could let people out and lock up when we left.

So there we were, telling stories about what had happened and who we had met that day and such. Bob-O's name came up for discussion—like when, where, and why he had come by his moniker. Then Larry Schlussler from Sun Frost told

us he had always thought his name was too long. Lar-ry. Two syllables, when he just wanted one. That night he was unanimously dubbed "Ed."

I called Sun Frost a while back and jokingly asked for "Ed." Some other guy really named Ed came to the phone. While Bob-O and I still call Larry "Ed," I guess you had to be there that night many years ago to appreciate or even get the joke.

Sentimental Journey

I've realized that we off-gridders are the old timers. Back in the day, 12-volt electricity ran our lights, ham radio, radio telephone, and cassette tape player. Although we did not spend the money to buy expensive 12 V appliances, I can tell you from personal experience that 12 V incandescent lightbulbs are never on sale—never.

We used to run our whole house and biz on a 1,300-watt, modified sine wave PowerStar inverter. But we soon found out that some electronic brains don't run on square (modified) sine waves. Back then, purchasing appliances and even computer gear "off the rack" was difficult and even dicey. The worst was when something would work for a day and then quit.

Our next inverter was a Trace SW4024, No. 35 off the line. It was big, beautiful, full sine wave, and took us to a whole new level of energy production. This also opened the door for a better selection of appliances. Since the demise of Trace Engineering, we've moved on to an OutBack system—yet another big improvement on power quality.

Way back when, we had four 48-watt Kyocera modules on a ground mount made of wood and steel angle. Every solstice and every equinox, we would adjust the array's

Surprise! Lil' Nukie makes another appearance.

tilt to maximize its production. Today, we have 2,195 W of PV capacity on Array Tech dual-axis trackers, and we're planning to install more this year. Bob-O says there are two kinds of people who want PV: Those who don't yet have it and those who want more.

Growing with Change

Over the past 30 years, products, technology, marketing, and the players involved have all changed—grown in size—here in the United States and globally. Many more people are using RE now. Isn't that what we wanted? Hell, yeah! Nothing is improved by staying the same. Change is growth; growth is change.

Today, I marvel at all of the right-out-of-the-gate, spiffy grid-tied systems in Home Power. High-fashion renewables, and the people who have them aren't running into a skunk by their compost bin, like I did two days ago. They haven't walked over a rattlesnake in their greenhouse and then noticed it on their way out. These folks are not the renewable pioneers, but the settlers. As our friend Bob-1 (Bob Maynard) says, "The pioneers cut the trails, the settlers get the land." So it goes.

I'm not grousing—I'm just making a distinction. This is what we are still working toward, old and new advocates together. More RE is used every day. With the global realization of human-caused climate change, the whole renewable scene is going to keep growing, and has to keep growing. This is what we wanted.

RE Boulevard

Alas, we are no longer free to be the wild and crazy, irreverent solar bozos we once were. I am reminded of Richard Perez's comment on page 10 of HP13: "Recently arrived citizen Dana Flett doesn't know solar from shinola, but she's living in a better world because her folks give a damn." Dana is now in her first year attending U.C. Berkeley.

Only through conformity have we been able to move forward with the rest of the renewables movement. Bob-O even teaches the National Electrical Code in his workshops these days. Who knew? I miss the fun we bozos used to have. Oh, I still see the humor in my day-to-day life. I just wonder if other people see it, not having the back-story.

Nowadays it is a great enjoyment when any of the pioneers meet. Usually at least a handful of us silverbacks will be at any given energy fair, trade show, or RE education class. The feeling of camaraderie is deep. We set out to cut a trail. Now that trail is a thoroughfare, soon to be a highway. We talk about the old days, but more often than not, the conversation is about the future. The brightly lit, renewable future, ahead of us all.

Access

Kathleen Jarschke-Schultze ([email protected] homepower.com) is keeping the home fire burning at her off-grid home in northernmost California.

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Surprise! Lil' Nukie makes another appearance.

Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation. 1. Publication Title: HOME POWER 2. Publication #008-699. 3. Filing Date: 9/26/08. 4. Issue Frequency: Bimonthly. 5. No. of issues published annually: 6. 6. Annual Subscription Price: $24.95. 7. Mailing address of known office of publication: PO Box 520, Ashland OR 97520-0018. 8. Mailing Address of Headquarters or General Business Office of Publisher: PO Box 520, Ashland OR 97520-0018. 9. Names and addresses of Publisher, Editor, and Managing Editor: Publisher, Richard A. Perez & Karen L. Perez, PO Box 520, Ashland OR 97520-0018, Editor, Joe Schwartz, PO Box 520, Ashland OR 97520-0018, Managing Editor, Claire Anderson, PO Box 520, Ashland OR 97520-0018. 10. Owner: Home Power Inc, Ashland OR 97520, Richard & Karen Perez, Ashland OR 97520, Joe Schwartz, Phoenix OR 97535, Dale & Marilyn Hodges, Medford OR 97501, Scott & Stephanie Sayles, McMinnville OR 97128. 11. Known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holders owning or holding 1% or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or other securities: None. 12. Tax Status: Has not changed during preceding 12 months. 13. Publication Title: HOME POWER. 14. Issue date for circulation data: Dec/Jan '08 thru Oct/Nov '08.

Avg no. of copies each issue No. of copies of single issue during preceding 12 months published nearest to filing date

15. Extent and Nature of Circulation:

a. Total No. of Copies 66,600 73,919

b. Paid Circulation

1) Mailed Outside-County Paid Subscriptions 27,593 31,691

2) Mailed In-County Paid Subscriptions 130 149

3) Paid Distribution Outside the Mail Including Sales Through Dealers and Carriers, Street Vendors, Counter Sales, and Other

Non-USPS Paid Distribution 22,545 23,964

4) Paid Distribution by Other Classes of Mail Through the USPS 148 32

c. Total Paid Distribution 50,417 55,835

d. Free or Nominal Rate Distribution

1) Outside-County 2,532 2,805

3) Other Classes Mailed Through the USPS 0 0

4) Distribution Outside the Mail 3,297 3,990

e. Total Free or Nominal Rate Distribution 5,829 6,795

f. Total Distribution 56,246 62,631

g. Copies Not Distributed 10,354 11,288

16. This statement of ownership will be printed in the December/January 2009 issue of this publication.

17. I certify that the statements made by me above are true and complete. Scott M. Russell, Operations Director, 9/26/08.

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