Hurricane Irene last week was the vindication of our disaster preparedness efforts! Since we moved into our current house five years ago, we focused on self-sufficiency. We created a garden and started growing our own food. We learned how to can and preserve our vegetables as well as locally grown fruit. Last year, we installed solar power with the capability to be on or off the grid. Several people questioned my sanity as they felt I was overdoing my disaster preparedness. I have to admit that I went overboard with the solar power. I wanted to be able to run my entire house off the grid indefinitely. Part of my motivation was the smart grid technology that will be installed over the next few years. This technology enables the power company to regulate the power we use, monitor our appliances and even turn off our air-conditioning if they feel we should suffer in the heat.

We decided that we did not want to be under the control of mandated power restrictions. If we feel the need to turn on the central air-conditioner, then we will. If we want to set our thermostats to 72° in the winter, we will. If we want to do our laundry through the day, even though this is the peak demand period for power, we will. With the onslaught of the smart grid and smart meters, freedom of choice is compromised. The power company decides when you can do your laundry and whether or not you can cool your home. There are two phases for implementing this. The first phase is to use time-of-day billing to enable you to "voluntarily" choose when to use electricity. I have a friend who lives under this system. To save money, he runs his dryer after 10 p.m. when the rates are the lowest. Daytime rates are three times more expensive than the overnight rate. He is an energy Nazi, who lives in a small home with his wife. He is constantly turning off lights and appliances in his effort to save money. With all of this planning, his electric bill is over $350 a month.

The second phase is to actually control electrical usage in the home and in businesses. The technology has been around for more than a decade and it could be implemented in a few years. As appliances are replaced in the home, new Energy Star™ smart appliances will communicate with your smart meter, which in turn will use a mesh network to communicate with the power company. If the power company cannot produce enough electricity to satisfy demand, they will be able to shut off your air conditioning, change your thermostat, turn off your electric dryer or even prevent you from baking a pie in your oven. In my opinion, this level of control is unconstitutional. Rather than build or increase capacity of their power plants, they want to reach into your home to control your power. You can bet the price of power will also escalate, as President Obama stated: "Under my plan, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket".

For this reason we chose to have the ability to be on or off the power grid. We will prevent the power company from installing a smart meter on our property, even if it means having our main power connection cut off. Recent incidents demonstrate that the power companies have used carefully worded letters and treats to make it appear that you have no choice. If you don't permit the installation of the smart meter, they will not provide you with power. To my knowledge, the legal precedent for this has not been set. For more information you can check out this link (http://www.newswithviews.com/Devvy/kidd507.htm).

Most power users will not be aware of the meter change. The power company may show up one day, swap out your meter, and leave. Once they have "upgraded" the majority of meters in your area, I believe they will implement timeof-day billing so that you can "choose when to use electricity and how much to pay for it". As more and more smart appliances are installed in our homes, I believe that the power companies will create an "emergency situation", probably on the hottest day of the summer. They will announce the need to conserve power and will use their ability to shut off high-energy devices "for the public good". They may even create this emergency by improperly scheduling generator maintenance and plant downtime during the hottest days of the summer.

I'm sure that some of you may think I am overreacting. I suggest that you research this topic yourself. Simply do a Google search on "smart grid", "smart grid California", or "smart grid Ontario" to see how the politically correct propaganda is being distributed. General Electric has a particularly good web presentation. Go to (http://ge.ecomagination.com/smartgrid/#/landing_page) and just click on the house or any other picture on the page and you will learn how they can make your life better by taking your ability to manage your own power away from you. Siemens also has a presentation on their website that is "enlightening" if you will pardon the pun.

Let me be very clear. I embrace green energy. Our solar power provided us with all the energy we needed and even produced a surplus during the five days the power grid was off in our neighborhood. Power lines were down, roads were flooded, but we had electricity to run our entire house including our water well and sewage system. We could not tell whether the grid power was on or off unless we checked the power meter. I believe that energy independence is a critical component of your personal disaster preparedness plan. Fortunately there are government grants available to assist with the cost of solar, wind and geothermal energy. The prices of solar panels have dropped dramatically. The cost of batteries and power inverters are also coming down. This is a good time to consider your options. Once properly installed, you can disconnect from the grid at any time to live entirely off the grid should the power company decide it's time to manage your electricity usage for you. As always, if you have any questions, you can e-mail me. I will answer your question or forward it to someone who can.

Every once in a while a story hits the news that is so ridiculous it is hard to believe that it could happen in United States of America. Gibson Guitar, a well-known American-based company that manufactures some of the finest guitars in the world, was raided for the second time by our government. They confiscated their entire inventory of ebony wood, which is legally imported from India (http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=45785). Heavily armed federal agents told Gibson Guitar's CEO Henry Juszkiewicz that if he wanted to avoid future raids he should just outsource his manufacturing to India. I find this unconscionable! With our unemployment at extremely high levels, with jobs in America almost impossible to find, our government tells a manufacturer to offshore jobs if he wants to avoid future government raids and confiscation of his property.

I thought we had a constitution that protected us from unreasonable searches and prevented the establishment of a police state. Based on the Gibson situation, this is no longer the case. If the government does not like you or your business, they will do their best to shut you down. This story needs more time to play out. It will be interesting to see if charges are filed, as then we will then know what this businessman was doing to incur the wrath of our government. Remember it was just a few weeks ago that the National Labor Relations Board stopped Boeing from building a new plant in South Carolina. This plant would bring 5,000 badly needed jobs to the state. It is clear to me that the Administration stands in the way of independent private sector job creation. All the speeches, pontifications and campaign stomping are just words meant to placate the people, just as bread and circus placated the Romans preceding the fall of the Roman Empire. To quote Caesar, "Let the games begin". This game ends November 6th, 2012 when We The People vote out the Emperor and his entire entourage.

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