Re: Dear Cohousing Community
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 2021 12:49:47 -0800 (PST)
> On Jan 8, 2021, at 1:57 PM, Jim Bronson <jimbronsonashland [at]> 
> wrote:
> River Song plans to start construction in May.  Now we are grappling with
> some design questions.  I expect that we will decide to be an all-electric
> community (or, at most, have a gas cooktop in the Community House in case
> of power outage).

A generator or battery for use during outages would probably be enough to keep 
the refrigerator and cooktop going.

> 1) Do we have an electric meter on each of our 28 units, or an electric
> meter only on each of our seven buildings, or have only one electric meter
> for the community and parcel out charges based on square footage of
> individual units through the HOA?

This is between you and the electric company. Usually electric is charged by 
individual units. Gas varies depending on heating source. Water varies (I 
think) by local water shortages.

What you want to look at is the basic charge. Usually there is a minimum size 
account but many households, certainly in an environmentally aware community do 
not use the minimum. The utilities company makes a profit on low users. If this 
is the case, it is better to have bulk service — one account — and decide how 
to distribute the costs. You can also submeter yourselves to measure electrical 

> 2) Do we have solar.with battery backup, for a start, on the Community
> House (possibly using financing where a third party pays for the
> installation and is compensated over time through selling power to us and
> the grid)?

As Dick noted, be careful of third party people. In your case I don’t know how 
this would benefit you anyway because you have no track record of use. We 
looked into a company that would fix all our leaky toilets and faucets and then 
be paid out of our water bill savings. That amount was based on past usage 
minus current usage. The installer got the difference. In your case I don’t 
know where those figures come from. In our case, the installer said our usage 
was so far below the normal usage that he wouldn’t make any money. 

Also stick with companies that have been around a long time or are owned by 
people who have been around a long time doing similar work. Companies that are 
building a business based on good service and educated opinions. People who 
love solar, not just because they think it is a good way to make a quick sales. 
Solar is a long term investment.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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