Forced Off Grid for Speaking Out: 3 Months on, the Hart Family Finds Hardship- and Self-Reliance After PSREC Cuts the Wires

IMG_6368 By Josh Hart, Director of Stop Smart Meters!

It’s been three months since Plumas Sierra Rural Electric “Co-Operative” cut the electricity off to our home though we have paid every penny of electricity that we have used.  They say it’s because we refused to pay the “opt out” fees they added to our bill.  We say we never *opted in* and their disconnection is retribution for raising awareness in the community about the risks of their AMR smart meters.  You can read all the sordid details of PSREC’s actions against us here.

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PSREC literally cut the wires to our all-electric home in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains on Feb. 19th and we have been living without electricity ever since

It has become clear that we are far from alone, as we have seen in Nevada, Wisconsin, Australia, New York, and many other places.  Utility disconnections of those who refuse “smart” meters are part of a disturbing international trend to hold residents’ essential services hostage in order to force an irrational and dangerous technology.  If the public really was for the “smart grid”, such dirty tactics wouldn’t be necessary.

We refuse to “just give in” and pay to defend our health, safety, and wallets- especially for something our neighbors get for free. (1)   Though it has been a challenge, and at times a painful struggle, we refuse to participate in an extortionate relationship with a utility industry that has injured people and lied about it, used microwave radiation and deprivation of utility service to coerce payment or compliance.

We will simply not go along with this.

So how has it been living for the last 3 months with no electricity?

The situation is challenging.   We live in a rental house that is fully electric- no gas or propane here at all.  Luckily there is a wood burning stove- otherwise we would have probably frozen to death long ago- to the delight of the utility.

On the plus side, we already have some of the necessary equipment to cope from when we rented an (intentionally) off the grid home in the Santa Cruz Mountains a couple of years ago.

Faced with months of cold mountain weather we had to change our lifestyles and adapt to new imposed circumstances.   It’s an odd feeling- you’re willing to pay your electric bill fair and square – but they won’t take your money.  They will go directly against the financial interest of the “cooperative,” your doctor’s orders, local and international public opinion, peer-reviewed science and common sense- following the marching orders of their increasingly crooked industry just to maintain the absurd “dogma” that wireless is safe, and that we should now have to pay a fee if we want to avoid it.  The situation is- of course- absurd and that’s the way we should treat it.

Still, they insist we have a “choice”- “choose” to pay the money or “choose” to have no electricity.   Since we’re not going to pay the fee, it seems that at least for the moment- while state, federal elected officials, joined by the illegitimate CA Public Utilities Commission, side with the utility and say they are now authorized to disconnect paying customers and until we can fund and mount a successful legal challenge, it seems we have to pay up or learn to live without what they’re selling.

Is it even possible to live without electricity in an all electric rental home, we wondered?

The best way to deal with a challenge is to figure out what the barriers are in the first place and then split them into smaller, more manageable parts.  So we looked at how we use energy in the home and how we could get along without an unreasonable and dangerous utility if we had to.  We’ve put together this brief guide to our lives living off the grid in the hope that it may help empower those of you in similar situations.  Feedback is very welcome.

Stop Smart Meters! Guide to Basic Living Off Grid

HEATING

large pots of water on the stove can retain heat in the room and provide available water for washing dishes and bathing

A woodburning stove provides heat, cooking, and hot water for dishes and bathing- only wood req’d

A wood stove or fireplace is key to effective off grid heating and cooking.  Some local air quality regulations prohibit these in built up areas, but a propane stove can also be used with ventilation and caution.  Large pots of water on a wood stove (like the ones on the left) can retain heat in the room and provide available water for washing dishes and bathing.

 

 

 

 

 

HOT WATER

A solar camping shower can be filled with water from the stove or left out on a sunny day to heat up

A solar camping shower can be filled with water from the stove or left out on a sunny day to heat up

This is a pain. Bob Marshall the hotheaded General Manager of PSREC no doubt gets a sadistic grin on his face thinking about forcing us to take cold showers in the winter (I tried it once and don’t recommend it- your skin actually does turn blue).   We have had to heat up large pots of hot water on the wood stove to wash the dishes or take a shower.  In summer, that won’t be possible and we’ll have to use the propane camp stove.  If this goes on much longer we may get a barrel and paint it black, stick it in the sun and run a hose to where it’s needed.   During the warm season, solar hot water really is that simple.  A shower without the extortion or dirty carbon footprint- I feel cleaner already!

 

 

LIGHTING

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This lantern on the left has a solar panel or AC port for charging. The one on the right can be wound up by hand or plugged in

People actually used to sleep when it was dark and wake up when it was light.  We use mostly rechargeable and solar or wind-up LED lights and sometimes beeswax candles at night.   Plus headlamps.  We find we are sleeping better without all that (dirty) electricity in the house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFRIGERATION

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A decent quality cooler will actually keep your food cold for a day or two. A lower quality one not so much.

We use a large cooler and change out the ice daily, provided by a friendly neighbor’s freezer.  We bought bottled water in a gallon size, then we freeze the whole thing and the resulting ice blocks last 1-3 days (depending on outside temperature), and don’t leave a watery mess in the cooler. If you can’t find a friend to freeze your water bottles for you, buy blocks of ice instead of ice cubes, they will last a lot longer.  It is a pain and if this goes on much longer we’ll be looking at buying a propane fridge with the money we’ll be saving on our electric bills.   Guess if PSREC doesn’t want our money…. the RV place down the road definitely does.

COOKING

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A camp stove can replace an electric range but make sure there is adequate ventilation

When it’s cold outside, a wood burning stove can double as a cooking and heating appliance and has for thousands of years.  When it’s warmer, a simple 2 burner camp stove works well for most things.   An oven can run off of propane gas or even the sun with good exposure and little wind.  Having an indoor space like a laundry room with adequate cross ventilation makes it possible to cook inside.    Otherwise depending on your climate, you may need to cook al fresco- at least for a little while.  Another option is the rocket stove. Rocket stoves are scalable and designed to heat up water quickly and efficiently using fuel as small as twigs.  Plus you can build your own.

COMPUTERS

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This adapter plugs into a cigarette lighter and can charge your notebook computer from your car

The irony of the digital age is that most devices themselves require very little electricity to run.  New ones have batteries that- when charged-  can sometimes last all day.  We charge our notebook computers (that we use with a wired ethernet cable of course) in our car using a cigarette lighter DC adapter (above), and have several computer batteries we can charge to extend our work.  A small, inexpensive DC-based solar panel and battery system can power electronic devices, LED lights, radios and many other low voltage uses.  And it is possible to install such a system while minimizing EMF pollution.

All of the above is possible in a rental, without making any permanent change to plumbing or wiring, or even installing any solar panels.   If you own your home, there are of course more permanent (and pricey) systems you can put in place to make it easier and more reliable for the long term.

Even without these improvements, it has become clear that one can live manageably without grid electricity as people have done for thousands of years (more than 1.6 billion in the world apparently still do– including 180,000 households in the US).

The utility industry’s coercive practices depend on our reliance on them.  If a lot of people started going off grid, threatening profits in a big way, the coercion would fall apart.  It just takes a little work, bravery and creativity to break that reliance.  Of course, when people are forced off the grid, the real losers will ultimately be the utilities, whose coercion is backfiring into lost income, public resentment, and a “spiral unto death” of fewer customers and ever-higher prices.

The dying utility dinosaur won’t go quietly however.  Laws prohibiting breaking free from the utilities – like the one in Florida currently being challenged– will likely spread (and be resisted) as governments and law enforcement are brought in to bring the public back into line, to continue our dependency on a utility industry in the process of wrecking the planet and our health.

     Amount we (spent) annually on our Electric Bill: ~$1200

     Propane Fridge: $300-$1000

     Small DC Solar Panel/ Battery Set Up: $1-3000

     Becoming independent from the criminal utility mob: Priceless

We could all do without entitled, arrogant, profit-mad utility companies imposing their will on us. How about delivering utility service and actually listening to their customers?  If that’s not going to happen, there are other ways we can make this work- from the bottom up via decentralized microgrids (an idea that keeps utility executives up at night).   Three months in, we’re finding out more about those other ways every day, and turning utility bullying back against the bullies.

Yes we absolutely insist and demand that our electricity be switched back on – we have the right to a standard analog meter at no extra charge. But we are not desperate or grovelling like these outlaws are accustomed to.  Their petty and senseless decision to turn us off has only strengthened our resolve to resist the fees & the smart meter program as a whole.  The longer this goes on, the worse they look.  And we’re not going away.

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If you can help with a donation to our legal fund, we would be most grateful- just indicate on your check or paypal donation that it is for legal expenses.  Thank you.

(1) Other PSREC customers who used analog meters at the time their ‘opt out’ policy was approved in August 2013 have not been forced to pay the fees- just the Harts.  PSREC allows remote homes to self-read their analogs at no extra charge due to the cost of sending meter readers out.  We are simply asking for equal treatment- a requirement of the California Public Utility Code (453a)

This entry was posted in Australia, California, Citizen rebellion, CPUC, Democracy, Dirty Electricity, Electro-Hyper-Sensitivity, EMF Mitigation, Environmental Concerns, Installer Threats and Assaults, legal issues, neighborhood organizing, Nevada, PSREC, radio-frequency radiation, Smart Grid. Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Forced Off Grid for Speaking Out: 3 Months on, the Hart Family Finds Hardship- and Self-Reliance After PSREC Cuts the Wires

  1. The renewable energy sources have actually shown to be of wonderful help in reducing the amount of toxins, which are by-products of using energy.

  2. anonymous - returning to the old is the new says:

    research into “Zeer Pots” – desert refrigeration (clay pots – sand – water – towel for refrigeration for
    certain weather types. and other ideas, ways of using sand, water for refrigeration.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mG9xYVyAnuc
    storage solution for vegetables without a refrigerator

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPrHHGEfXQw
    off grid refrigeration

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nctr9xJIxUs
    Zeer Pots

    go SSM!
    off-gridding is the new cool!

  3. desertspeaks says:

    Simply Capitulate but not as you would imagine!
    Write up an affidavit/contract that you will accept their smart meter with A FEW PROVISOS
    The CORPORATIONS CEO/COO MUST CONTRACT WITH YOU UNDER PENALTY OF PERJURY that their meters pose no danger to anyone or anything and if it should be proven otherwise, the company will UPON DEMAND pay you, your assigns or heirs $100,000,000.00 or the equivalent in .9999 fine gold bullion!
    IF, AS THEY CLAIM, THERE IS NO DANGER WHATSOEVER, THERE SHOULDN’T BE ANY REASON WHY THEY WOULDN’T SIGN THE CONTRACT, RIGHT??

  4. Seth says:

    well I did not know you believed in the carbon footprint. Man made global warming is a lie. They are using that lie to push the smart meter agenda and phase out incandescent bulbs!

  5. tina says:

    Josh – Great to hear from you! and with good news at the heading ! Hooray!
    I don’t know if you can handle PV energy but Andalay Solar makes a mini inverter panel & there are others out there which create an AC signal off the panels. They are at an all time low price now.. and are even cheaper in Mexico [@$.58 a watt]. A friend has 1Kw and 4 Kw arrays mounted on trailers for construction work.
    Solar cookers are great..hot lunches, warm dinners. I made one out of a mylar reflector for the car [ form it to a cone, velcro the edge, stick it in a plastic bucket with a rack for a blackened pot] Not a very efficient design, but you can still use it after lunch to keep your car cool. Check out the solar powered fridges at They are NOT the only company with this product..but they just won a WHO contract for boxes to keep vaccines cold in Africa. And a friend’s group in Africa wired 7000 homes with a simple 1 foot square solar panel and LED light system. [harbor freight on sale] I recognize all the strategies you are using in a been there, done that way, but so many of our dreams are now on the market or available via Instructables.com. I suggest making a shopping list and posting it on a crowd funder.. Your work has helped a lot of us out.. just get the word out again. It is one thing to survive, but better to thrive!

  6. tina says:

    oops lost link – Solar powered refridgerators at
    I got so many great Ideas at Solar decathalon..that’s a contest where college team build zero energy houses.

  7. Janet Ash says:

    Josh, I am so proud of you and your family. Janet

  8. wizzy says:

    I totally agree with you , ive been fighting them like crazy and they know im not afraid to turn them off. In the meantime ive also been planning my way of living if I had no electric. I lived in a area in my life without somethings and it was good. We had an outhouse , a hose that came out of the floor a wood heating stove and a old fashion washtub . I used propane grill too and the old fashion charcoal, the wood stove I would put our pots of water on so we can bath in the washtub, I also had a kerosene heater for heat . I did a lot of cooking on the wood stove , what a treat this was , I had very little electric use if any at all . I just kept telling myself I living in a small 4 room tent , Our house ,honestly it was peaceful and wonderful and we survive great . if we all put our minds to it we can do it , live off the grid . I agree with u josh hold out and don’t give in. im with you on this one .

  9. sheril says:

    Your article has really inspired me as I too believe that we should all go back to a more simple time. I hope you continue your journey and please update us on facebook,

  10. Paul Benjamin says:

    This is reality, moreover not reality TV that is passive voyeur, and yes reality bites especially in winter time. Kudos, high fives and a salute to the Hart household for perseverance, and action motivated by integrity. I too have ‘opted out’ from PG & E’s plan to co-opt my and other ratepayers health. There’s a lot of folks’ minds that are convinced that a corporatacracy is smarter than a minority with an opposing viewpoint.
    Three simple words, ‘I can learn’, display an open mind willing to listen, or so I like to believe… Thankyou for a fine lesson in independent off-the-grid values. Best of success in your future!! Cheers, Paul

  11. Nancy Repetski says:

    Hi guys,
    Great reading how you are doing. Bravo for you! Thanks for all of the terrific information!!! I will be calling PG&E in the morning to request them to stop charging me the opt out fee. I also am very up set at the cost of my electric bill lately! Its almost tripled! Makes me sick.
    Hey, I wanted to ask, do you know anything about the “The Land Trust of Santa Cruz County?” They are looking to build a wildlife tunnel at hwy 17 and Laruel Rd. SV. I’m so freaked out! I hear they but land, will then come in and “manage it” cutting down trees and…o yeah, “managing it.” I was hoping you could shed some light on this group. The latest article I found was in the Press Banner Sept. 12, 2014, ” Land Trust seeks funds for proposed Laurel Curve wildlife underpass.” I couldn’t find the link. They do mention their web site http://www.landtrustsantacruz.org
    I appreciate any info I can get.
    Thank you for your time. Hope to see you soon.
    Blessings,
    Nancy

    • Hey Nancy! Wildlife under crossings sound great to us! Hwy 17 is a blood alley for wildlife and a barrier to migration, esp. for mountain lions who are inbreeding because they can’t cross road barriers like hwy 17. Seriously! Inbreeding causes problems in the lions who then attack small children (albeit recklessly left alone by their parents, are then hunted down and killed.) Not good for lions- not good for humans. So yes support undercrossings- wildlife needs a safe crossing just like people. Not intimately familiar with that particular land trust.

  12. Nancy Repetski says:

    I meant to say, I hear they buy land, and then they will come in and “manage it”

  13. Rachel Rendish says:

    Thanks for the valuable information. We are on our third week of living without electricity because we want to keep the analog meter. If anyone is available to educate East Texas contact me.

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