Publisher’s Letter: Off Grid Power and Internet

By Blaine Howerton, Publisher
North Forty News

Several years ago, I got a tip about a 20-acre mountain property for sale. It had always been a dream of mine to own a piece of the mountains. So, I drove to the property, just off Poudre Canyon, and instantly fell in love. I quickly purchased it.

A friend of one of the other property owners tried to talk me out of buying it because he said there weren’t any utilities up there. Looking back, I was pretty sure he was trying to keep “outsiders” from coming in. What he didn’t know was that utilities were not a concern for me, and I was on a mission.

Part of my attraction to the piece of land was that it had burned in the High Park Fire, and it was growing back. Another was the fact that I could eventually accept the challenges of building a remote place off-grid.

The pandemic gave me a reason to build a small 120 square foot building with my kids last summer. Since then, I converted it into a writing studio, and I have been experimenting with off-grid power. Over the last several years, the experiments have led to wind power, different types of solar panels, generators, and, of course, batteries. I eventually got a pretty good system down.

This week I got accepted into the StarLink Satellite Internet BETA program. Without delay, I purchased the equipment and put a plan in motion to get off-grid power to the system. For those of you who aren’t aware of StarLink, Elon Musk’s company is devoted to global internet via thousands of small satellites. It isn’t the satellite internet we know. It’s an actual high speed, low-latency internet. Zoom Teleconferences from the mountains? Here I come! And it is resistant to rain fade, meaning even the most robust rain clouds shouldn’t affect it. Although, when there’s a heavy storm, I’ll be listening to the pitter-patter of the rain on the tin roof.

The screenshot of my StarLink order; Photo by Blaine Howerton

As one of the first BETA testers in Colorado, I am proud to say that the StarLink equipment is on the way. North Forty News will soon be produced from the small writing studio in the High Park Burn area, shooting signals to space and back using solar power.

Yes, I’m a tech-nerd, but I also love being in nature. As spring gets closer, the flowers will bloom, the hummingbirds will be back. I’ll be “plugged in” while I’m visiting my happy place.


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