Tallying the cost of self-reliance

A scorching day during the summer drought. I send the long, black sump-pump hose spiraling out the window of my upstairs bathroom.

Plop. Into the shriveling irises.

Baby daughter has just been bathed, and even a few gallons of murky wastewater seem too precious to let drain.

So the humming pump, up from the cellar, sends it down to those desperate roots.

Amid a "voluntary" water ban, it's an act of self preservation that's socially responsible. And cheaper than a water truck.

Many consumers want to do the right thing where the environment is concerned. We all watch our bottom lines. Look for a convergence of those tracks where another key utility is concerned.

America is restructuring its electric-power industry. Regional giants are bowing to smaller utilities. And while the decline of monopolies generally favors consumers, loose ends remain.

Some brownouts and power cuts this summer were chalked up to "market casualties" among the many would-be power brokers springing up to grab a niche.

Private utilities could not always afford to generate any more power than they knew they could sell. Some got caught short.

Picking an electricity provider will become a major decision for many of us in the next few years.

Going several steps beyond my recycling of paid-for water, self-reliant householders may look to generate at least some of the power they need themselves.

Many earnest pioneers have been turned back over the decades. Efforts today to be lean and clean are admirable. Viable? Sometimes. See the story at right.

*Reach us at work@csps.com

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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