A friend and former colleague of mine, Dr. Ralph Mirarchi, and his wife decided to move from Opelika to some property they own north of Loachapoka. The site where they planned to move was nearly a mile from the highway, Lee Rd. 188. Ralph called Alabama Power Company, told a representative he would need electrical service to his proposed home site, and described its location. The representative said, “Dr. Mirarchi, are you sitting down?”

Ralph said, “Yes, why did you ask?” The rep said, “To supply power to the site will cost you $35,000.”

Ralph said, “Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll explore alternatives.” He did and now lives in a solar-powered house. Ralph told me, “I love it, and the only utility bill I pay is about thirty dollars monthly to the Loachapoka Water Authority.”

I visited Ralph’s new house. In some respects it is cave-like, having been excavated in the side of a hill. But the interior is spacious, and each room has a skylight. The roof is covered with grass, except for the circular glass skylight covers.

Rectangular solar panels supply electrical energy to keep water hot and the interior of the house comfortable. Inside is a compartment containing an array of batteries to store excess energy. Outside is a diesel powered generator which can be used as a power source in the event solar radiation is insufficient to provide necessary energy. Humidity is controlled by a de-humidifier.