By Mary Elizabeth O’Toole
In early September, post-tropical storm Dorian hit our area with rain and high winds that resulted in downed trees, storm surges and power outages. Many communities along the Eastern Shore were without power for 5 days or more, leaving residents without heat, hot water, and, in some cases, any means of communication.
Coastal communities are increasingly vulnerable to high waters and flooded roads caused by climate change. This new reality makes it crucial to establish reliable alternative systems to power the necessities that keep you warm, safe, fed and connected - even if NS Power isn’t.
In our corner of the shore, we could hear the hum of generators running everywhere. One member of my community, Barbara, expressed a common refrain: “I don’t know what I would have done without my neighbours. I was lucky a couple of them had generators. One let me store some food in his freezer and charge my phone; another invited our family to take hot showers – and I didn’t even know them before this!”
Are you planning to purchase of your own generator? Consider a solar option, which uses solar panels to capture energy that is then stored in a battery bank. A solar generator is quiet and relies on renewable energy. You will want to research options and build a system with sufficient power generation, battery storage capacity, and potential for growth. Solar Nova Scotia (solarns.ca) is a good place to start your research.
For a more portable solution, try the heat-to-electricity equipment at BioLite (bioliteenergy.com). Products like their camp stove turn thermal power into electricity that can charge phones or lights. What began as a way to provide energy in developing countries has become increasingly popular for campers and homesteaders, who also appreciate that a portion of every purchase from BioLite gets re-invested into bringing safe, reliable energy to families in east Africa.
Stephen Parsons of Chezzetcook gave this enthusiastic endorsement: “We were very happy to have our Biolite gear during the recent power outage, but it goes well beyond a storm backup. We love how the system is interconnected and uses solar and thermal energy for electrical charging and lighting as well as cooking. It's a very worthwhile investment!”
Even if you do not intend to try off-grid living, having solar and/or more efficient bio fuel systems will help you to reduce your footprint and still achieve a level of energy independence and security.
Looking for off-grid backup? The Cabin Depot in Fredericton (thecabindepot.ca) is a one-stop shopping source.