A Brilliant Illustration of “Living Green”

To be honest, after the reading the following article, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

The following is a result of the latest “green” technologies actually being implemented as they would in real life:

Troy’s celebrated solar house left in dark

Facility touted as next big thing still shut

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News
5/15/2009

Troy — It was supposed to be a shining example of the green movement — a completely independent solar-powered house with no gas or electrical hookups.

Seven months ago, officials gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the $900,000 house owned by the city of Troy that was to be used as an educational tool and meeting spot.

But it never opened to the public. And it remains closed.

Frozen pipes during the winter caused $16,000 in damage to floors, and city officials aren’t sure when the house at the Troy Community Center will open.

“It’s not safe right now, and there’s no estimated opening time because it depends on when we can get funding,” said Carol Anderson, director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

That surprised the Oakland County Planning and Economic Development Department, which advertised tours of the house for its Tuesday Oakland County Green Summit.

“No, I didn’t know anything about it,” said Steve Huber, spokesman for county planning.

Bret Rasegnan, planning supervisor for the department, said the solar tours have been removed from the finalized agenda for the summit.

“It is disappointing that we can’t tour, but the summit will still be of great value. I don’t think it’s reflective of the technology.”

Lawrence Technological University, with help from DTE, mostly paid for the building. Its students built the 800-square-foot home, which was supposed to be livable year-round, free from the grid and churn out enough solar power to support a home-based business and electric vehicle.

So what caused the flood?

The city says it was a mechanical problem. University officials heard it differently.

Jeff Biegler, superintendent of parks for the city, said the flooding occurred from a glitch in the heater.

“The system was designed to kick a heater on to keep water from freezing,” Biegler said. “The heater drew all reserve power out of the battery causing the system to back down and the pipes froze.”

Joe Veryser, an associate dean of architecture at the university, said he heard otherwise.

“What I heard repeatedly was that somebody turned off the breaker during the winter and forgot to turn it back on, which caused the pipes to freeze and then break.”

I’m apt to believe Jeff Biegler when he says that the heater system ran out of juice during the winter.  Last winter was pretty cold here in Michigan.  It doesn’t surprise me in the least that, given the number of cloudy days Michigan has, and the cold temperatures in the winter, the heating system couldn’t keep up.

Sorry, but I don’t buy the “someone forgot to turn on the breaker” story for a minute.  It’s obvious that someone is running around, covering their a** for a screw-up that cost nearly a million dollars in public funds.

But that gets me to the crux of this story: it costs nearly a million dollars to build a dinky 800 sq. ft. home that runs on solar.  By rate of comparison, it takes about $170,000.00 to build a 1,200 sq. ft. home in Michigan, connected to the grid.  Even with paying $12,000.00 a year in utility fees (gas and electrical) it would take you nearly 60 years to come close to the cost of that all-solar monstrosity.  You’d be dead before the house started paying for itself, which is a joke in itself.  Long-term maintenance costs would undoubtedly jack the final price tag up even higher.

If you think we have a housing crisis now, just wait until these clueless, idiotic environmentalists start dictating the implementation this useless technology! 

What’s more infuriating is that this was basically done with all public funds.  Lawrence Technological University is a public university (state accredited and funded), DTE is essentially a state-sanctioned monopoly, and the City of Troy is a city government.  And the experiment was a monumental failure!

So who is going to refund all of the utility fees and taxes that I paid for this frickin’ boondoggle, hummmm?

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