Home › Forums › SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION, ENERGY and WATER CONSERVATION › Sustainable Energy & Energy Conservation › Off the grid and electricity companies
November 29, 2010 at 10:21 pm #253827
I was reading a Punch article on news.com.au that was raging against AGL and increased electricity prices. My husband and I have been thinking about going solar, and whether it’s worth it. Then, reading some of the reply comments to the article, I found this story:
“I have friends in the survivalist / off-the-grid community who’ve spent years and tens of thousands of dollars fighting with power companies.
One guy bought $20,000 worth of solar panels, and an entire year at TAFE learning to maintain them himself so he could live off-the-grid when he retired.
A few months after getting his system operational, and calling Origin Energy to have himself disconnected, he got a power bill addressed ‘To The Resident’. He called them to say the bill was an error, that he hadn’t used any power – and they asked for his new address. He said he hadn’t moved, just had himself disconnected.
The next quarter, he got another bill, for the same amount, addressed to him specifically – he called to say he’d disconnected six months ago, at which point they demanded to know when he was going to pay the last two bills. He said he wasn’t, that he wanted the power supply disconnected and that he didn’t want any services from any power company because he had a solar array.
Next quarter… another bill marked ‘to the resident’. Thus starting a cycle where he’d tell them he was disconnected, they’d send a bill to whom it ay concern, then the next one to him, and so on and so forth. He demanded to know how they were calculating his power useage, and they told him the usual crap about how they were ‘guessing’ his average power useage without ever bothering to check the meter. Probably a wise choice, because this guy lived about 100kms off a main road and was armed to the teeth.
Eventually, he told his story to one of the off-the-grid forums and we told him to go the Ombudsman – who came back months later to say the power company did have a right to bill who ever was ‘connected’ at that address, and that the process of ‘disconnection’ only transfers your energy account . That basically, so long as you live in a house, you’re expected to be drawing power, unless that house is not physically connected to the power grid.
So he demanded a written disconnection notice from Origin, then got an accredited Origin electrician to come to his house, at his own expense, physically disconnect the AC cable, and remove it from his property.
Then next quarter he got another bill, and he went back to the Ombudsman. He got in his car, drove down to Brisbane to personally meet with him. When he got back two days later, he found an Origin crew on his property, on a ladder, reconnecting the power cable – before he could run inside to grab his shotgun and chase them away, they handed him a $5000 bill for reconnecting his property, along with a compliment on how nice his solar array was.
The Ombudsman came back and cited a Federal law that actually prohibits you from interfering with power company property, even on your own property. They said the lines had to stay, and that it was a seperate issue to his erroneous bills.
Finally, he got a visit from the power company, who gave him lots of nice glossy brochures about Feed in Tarifs, and how they’d start reimbursing him for all the energy he didn’t use if he remained connected – for a fee.
He refused, because what’s the point of having your own power independence if you still pay a power company for it.
The story didn’t have a happy ending, he ended up getting drunk one night and shooting at the power lines – Origin came back to reconnect them, with the Sherrifs and half a dozen police in tow. After his day in court, he packed up and moved to the unincorporated area north of Broken Hill with his solar panels. Last we heard from him he’d just sank a bore, and kind of preferred it out there because he didn’t have to pay rates either. “
Does this really happen? is it that hard – or nigh on impossible – to disconnect fully from the main system grid? After reading this, I’m a little scared to consider it now. Has anyone successfully done it?
StephNovember 29, 2010 at 10:32 pm #484000
I don’t know if there is any truth behind it, but you did make me think for a bit.
Sheriffs and armed to the teeth is Australia seems a little wrong though, so I tend to wonder if it’s a bit of chinese whispers/urban legend type thing?November 29, 2010 at 11:37 pm #484001
I wouldn’t put it past them, they don’t know what they are doing.November 30, 2010 at 8:06 am #484002
aside from the story, and as i understand it, even if you don’t actually use the power from the companies there is going to be a cahrge for the service that is connected, and runs past you property, just like water and telephone then they add to this charge any power you may use. also keep in mind one day you may want to sell, and without connected powerthatmay cause issues to prospective buyes, ie.,. they may not want to kep teh solar going (there are things that may need to be done when using solar that don’t need to be done with a/c power?, ie.,. keeping to a bare minimum or not all opening freezers and fridges through the day, one person loads perishables in afe dark when it is cooler). so not everyone sees renewables in the same light, for me i wouldn’t buy a place with renewables as i would be thinking whee is the money going to come from for maintenance and replacement of obsolete componenets?? and to me fogged up panels would not impress.
so if you turn off the main powr switch then there is never going to be any usage for them to charge for, not sure but meter reading is also a cost factor. like for us we don’t pay much for water usage but we cop all other charges. just the way it is i guess.
maybe try to look at things that way, yes go for stand alone that is making a real difference in your world, would suggest you add in wind as well, and yes learn how to and what maintenance needs doing, one i saw in one group of stand alone exponenets was they they clean and was teh clear cover on the pv cells, something you never hear mentioned and as pv cells are not 100% efficient then what happens when that clear cover fogs up like it does?
keep in mind second hand battiers ie.,. forklift batteries are sold and work well ested to 80% capacity, lots cheaper than buying new batteries allows you to buy more for more storage, also bateries from bush telephone exchanges one bloke in the US bought a submarine battery.
keep us informed
lenNovember 30, 2010 at 3:28 pm #484003
Friend of ours ended selling their property because they didn’t want the power connected only at the place 3 days a month and just because the power went past the property he was made to pay $150 a quarter.
We were paying $150 a quarter even though we weren’t using that much :angry: then we got off the guarantee and our bills were less than $100.December 11, 2010 at 6:54 am #484004
We enquired as to whether or not we could actualy physically disconnect our house from the power grid and the law actually states that if the power runs past your house you must be connected to it. Alternatively if you are connected already you cannot disconnect. We live on a main road, 11 kms out of the Perth CBD so we can’t say it doesn’t run past us unfortunately and we are already connected.
We are currently looking into wind power rather than solar.December 11, 2010 at 11:20 am #484005
Judi B post=297068 wrote: Friend of ours ended selling their property because they didn’t want the power connected only at the place 3 days a month and just because the power went past the property he was made to pay $150 a quarter.
We were paying $150 a quarter even though we weren’t using that much :angry: then we got off the guarantee and our bills were less than $100.
Hi Judi B, I have never heard of a guarantee. Is this in all our bills. My account is skyrocketing and I really can’t see a reason for it.
SharsmareeDecember 11, 2010 at 12:50 pm #484006
I don’t know about other states but when the house was built here there were no powerlines and so that the power company was not out of pocket they made all houses pay a guarantee so basically people were paying for power they didn’t use or want in most cases… they called it a “benefitted area”. I think it has all changed now.
We knew about the guarantee as we had to sign a contract.December 11, 2010 at 6:22 pm #484007
Similar issue re paying for power in article in today’s “Sunday Times”.December 22, 2010 at 2:29 am #484008
was just browsing and came across your site
You can be totally diconnected from the grid the wires have to be removed as was the artical i read, if the power pole was on your property it has to be removed usually on country plots or areage plots they put a pole out side your prperty and connect to it. if you want power, from there it is at you own expence to have it conected to you house switch board, it may be a few hundred yards or even futher.
they can not may you pay for a service that is not connected, if you are cut off for not paying your bill they can not charge you a sevice charge if they have taken it away.
there is some thing else that you can do now that power generation is privatised.
put in and register as a power gereration company, then providing that you are able to generate the required minimum to get the licence you can tell the power company to disconnet, tell them that you are geting your power from the name og your registered power company.
nylex in Seaford ,melbourne told the SEC as it was then to disconnect there factory from the grid, they then installed six generators and run like that for years, the manager was very clever he made sure that the guy looking after the generators was paid realy well.
it all came unstuck when a new manager came in, sacked the over paid electrician
the new sparky did not take care of the generator and they broke down. when asking the SEC to reconnect them Well they took there time charged them an huge sum.
so be aware if you have to reconnect.
I am developing a new home power genration unit stand alone 15 to 20kW the new prototype should be build shortly.
so as not to upset the power companies, leave your hose connected just pay the sevice fee, there will be a change over system so that the ‘Grid’ becomes the standbye power supply’ and then you have free power from the unit.
it is just like conecting a UPS system and it is legal.
there are waysDecember 22, 2010 at 2:47 am #484009
If you have signed a contract then until that runs out you are stuffed, check with them ask the date it runs out tell them you do no wish it re newed this can be in some of the fine print be automatically renewed.
put it in writing that you will still have power but no contract. I have done this, I am on no contract, I bargin with them, find the lowest price get them to mach it or I will changee my supplier.
and to the remark just because the power lines go by your land does not mean that you have to pay a service charge to the poer company, however there may be a local law for the council to chage on the rates that you have a service availiable to you, the same as wter and the phone.
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