Lewis in power with solar energy
His home is located mere minutes way from the VINLEC Cane Hall Power Station.
In fact, like all of the neighbouring residences, the constant drone of the power generating machinery from the countryâs lone electric utility is heard constantly from here. However, at this home the power is almost entirely independently generated by solar energy and wind turbine.##M-[more]##
This was the first thing that struck me when I had occasion to visit the Cane Hall residence of Boston-based businessman Joe Lewis. I had gone there for a photo shoot of Lewisâ niece, an entertainer, and noticed several wind turbines and large solar panels pointing toward the skies. Several weeks later I caught up with the mastermind responsible for the alternative power generation at this home.
Joe Lewis, who operates a dry cleaning business in Boston, USA, left his hometown of Biabou, St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1966. Over the years he has worked servicing and setting up dry cleaning businesses across Boston. It was from his experience operating his business, which consumes a lot of electricity, that he developed an interest in energy efficiency. He told me he reduced his $700 monthly energy bill to $400 by buying and installing more energy efficient equipment. In fact, he pointed out, the electricity company there installed his energy efficient equipment free of cost as a means of encouraging the move.
Therefore, when he had to construct his home back here in St. Vincent, there was a clear-cut choice of energy, solar and/or wind. As Joe Lewis says, âWell St. Vincent has more sun than Massachusetts and I was building on a high elevation to get the breezeâ¦â
So that put paid to the choice of conventional energy or natures.
In fact, Lewisâ home is blessed with such a strong, constant breeze that one prefers to keep windows on the windward side closed.
He began setting up his equipment at his home some four years ago.
Outside there are four solar panels, which trap the energy from the sun. One pair of the panels is fixed while the other moves in a motion following the sun. In addition, there are two wind turbines which gain their momentum from the constant heavy wind.
There is a controller that allows the conversion of the voltage from 12 volts to 120 volts. There is no need for transformers as he has some four 12-volt batteries to store 20,300 amps of electricity. This electricity powers all of the energy needs of the sizeable residence: lighting, refrigerators, stoves and the rest.
His equipment also includes four lightning protectors that guard against low voltage produced and voltage being output. There is also a voltage regulator that ensures that breaking down does not change too high.
Lewis also installed another controller that indicates when power is not being received from the sun and therefore allows the charged battery on 12 volts to chip in. The installed batteries have a working life of about 20 years. He points out that the advantage of all this is the independence it gives him.
Yes there is one connection from the local utility VINLEC. But Lewis assures that it was only necessary during the construction phase of the residence to provide power for the workmenâs tools. He has still kept the connection but points to its almost zero usage. The monthly bill from VINLEC does not exceed $10!
So obsessed is Joe Lewis with energy conservation that all his appliances, including a freezer, are built to operate on solar electricity.
Of interest also is another simple gadget that allows all the lights in this residence to automatically turn on at dusk when light begins to fade. This is most desirable especially when the house is not occupied.
So is Joe Lewis ready to retire here? No, he says, but he will always be here and thus continue to enjoy the best of his two worlds; just as he uses the best
of alternative energy sources.