A few weeks back I accompanied Vidya, my wife, to the Pennsylvania Gourd Society Festival. It was held in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania which is the original Amish community in America. There are over 25,000 of them there so it is a pretty unique experience — it affects the ambiance.
They don’t use electricity in their homes, but do use it for workshops and milking machines, like that. Even then they don’t hook up to the grid but use generators.
I asked the owner if they use generators, why wouldn’t they use solar power. He pointed up on the roof of his shop and sure enough there were solar panels there. It wasn’t enough to run the electric for the festival and it would be cost prohibitive to set up a system that would, but it was enough to run office equipment (they are allowed to use copiers, no computers), some lights and a blower fan on a propane heater.
He had a big gourd washer that I could tell the solar panels were insufficient to power, so I know he must use a generator for that too, but it was interesting to me that he was using any solar panels.
I don’t know if this is common amongst all Amish, or about as common as in is for us English, but it was an example that simple living can include solar power.
One nice thing about it being held on an Amish farm was they are strictly religious and so the show ended Saturday night. We were able to get home and still make it to the 24 Hour Kirtan that was going on that ran from Saturday to Sunday noon in New Vrindaban, always a treat to see the young people so enthusiastic for kirtan.
I even got a chance to meet my blogging shiksa guru, Sitapati (he runs Planet ISKCON besides his personal blog(s)), who was visiting from Australia for the event. We got to have a nice visit.