By Ken Bergman
The other day, a friend was grousing about having to trench the new gas line several hundred feet to his house. “Yeah,” I said. “I’m gonna be hit for $10,000.”
“How’s that,” he says.
“I do real estate. I’ve got three places, two rentals and my own house. But we need it,” I say. “If only the hospital and the schools get it, we are saving money.”
I have never had kids in school and never been in the hospital, and I still pay those taxes. In the ‘70s, when I got here, everybody would go down to the beach to pick up coal.
Then, Toyo stoves came in and everybody got rid of their wood/coal stoves. Now, heating oil is almost $4 a gallon. People are driving Priuses.
In the ‘80s, the first electric cars were outlawed. A guy up on Diamond Ridge put up a wind tower and tried to hook up to Homer Electric. No way, no how. Too dangerous. Could fry him. Nowadays it’s happening and HEA is letting the meters turn backwards.
For 40 years, people in our little cosmic hamlet have been begging the governor(s) to bring us a gas line. Our honorable judge, recently retired mayor, has helped the process. Clients of mine in Girdwood have told me that when natural gas got there, property values went up and utility costs went down.
In my own No View Avenue neighborhood, our property values have tripled since we got water and sewer. It took 25 years after I moved in down there to get water and sewer. I didn’t push for it. I didn’t fight against it. I stayed in the middle, listened to the consensus and the majority got their way. That’s democracy.
Water and sewer in Homer was built piecemeal, neighborhood by neighborhood. That’s why it took 25 years for my neighborhood to get it. Then we got paving, and that was $7,000 to me.
Now the city has jumped through all the state’s hoops to get natural gas here. All the democratic processes have been served – 540 are against. That is 14 percent of the folks who are investing in this project. Like it or not, democracy is being served.
I like yurts. They remind me of the ‘70s, when folks were putting up teepees. I designed the first permanent, insulated roof for a yurt. It is a mile north of Skyline Drive.
A yurt is kind of a new and improved teepee. In winter, they require constant heat because they have virtually no insulation.
A big yurt on a concrete foundation sold a couple years ago up by Anchor Point. It had a well, septic, the works. I reviewed the utility bills. That lady paid a monthly oil bill that made my head spin faster than an HEA meter.
Another lady recently wrote a letter to the editor enthusing about alternative energy sources. Some are being used now and are the wave of the future, but now, in this middle place in time, we need to go with the best we have available.
To try and get the energy value we will get out of this gas line by using solar would be an upfront investment of more than $70 million.
They are studying thermal options from our local volcanoes and tidal water action. Maybe in 40 more years it will be here. Green energy, carbon footprint, etc. are all new terms on our computer screens which are new to us as well.
I’m just an old retired carpenter trying to hang onto the speed of my new mouse while my computer screen flashes the entire universe in front of me in nanoseconds. I’m optimistic for the future of Homer’s energy needs.
Anybody heard of a guy named Tesla?
Ken Bergman is a long-time resident and real estate broker.
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