Leave the Lights On
Despite Trying to Procure Electricity for a Year, There’s No Power Shortage for this Texas Couple.

William Acosta and his wife, Kathy, live in the middle of nowhere. Actually, it is somewhere — on about 14 acres between the Texas towns of Bastrop and Elgin — but there’s not much there. There’s the 4,600-acre Steiner Ranch as a neighbor, and the closest easement for electricity is a mile and a half away. 

The Acostas see more there than what others do, however. They see their future dream home. They can picture a beautiful house and a large garage. They imagine spending the rest of their lives on their private, quiet, open Texas land with plenty of room for their pets to roam. They can see some permanency in their lives. 

“We’d like to build our final house,” William says. “I’ve moved around all my life and wanted to have a final home and stop moving the family so much.”

Dreams sometimes come with sacrifices. To avoid paying two mortgages, the Acostas sold their home in Oakhill, Texas, and moved to their land near Bastrop. Possessing a pioneering spirit, the couple decided to live on the land as they saved money to build their new home.  

Since they moved to the site more than a year ago, they have been without what many of us take for granted — a firm foundation and electricity. While they knew they might be living in the RV for a while, they didn’t anticipate such a prolonged wait for electricity. 

The Acostas’ land has a few other neighbors in the distance. They’re close enough that the 1.5-mile easement could be shortened if a neighbor allowed the electric company to have an easement right of way through their property. William estimates the cost to do so would be about $11,000 for 1,300 feet. Although the cost varies based on the amount of brush and trees that need to be cleared, a mile and a half would likely cost about $67,000.

Besides the huge cost savings, the plan also would prevent a significant inconvenience: The Acostas’ easement land also is their road. According to the electric company, power line poles must be centered on the easement. Going to and from their home would be something like a driving skills’ test, as they weave back and forth around the power poles.  

Unfortunately, getting an easement right of way wasn’t as easy as they expected. In short, “it was a big mess,” William says.  

After numerous roadblocks, with agreements falling through and property rights’ issues popping up, the Acostas think they may finally be close to a solution. They’re waiting anxiously for the confirmation from the electric company. 

In the meantime, a year has passed, but the Acostas aren’t faring too badly. Despite no electric easement, Kathy uses a hairdryer, they cook meals, charge cell phones, vacuum, run the air conditioning and do pretty much everything else one would do in a wired home. After all, they knew they would need a power source for “maybe six months,” so they checked into generators early on. 

They had searched the Internet with a brand in mind.
They wanted something quiet since it would be running at their home every day, but they also needed a generator big enough to handle their 15,000-Btu air conditioning — which is larger than the standard 12,000 Btu in most RVs. It’s a necessity for Texas summers. 

The Acostas connected with a Subaru dealer in Oklahoma with a good idea of what they wanted. The salesman had other things in mind. The generator the Acostas were looking at simply couldn’t handle an air conditioner that large, they were told. It’s one thing to have electricity-using products, but items such as air conditioners surge as they turn on, requiring a greater amount of power — sometimes as much as 50 percent more. 

“He said our 15,000 Btu load would be more than (the other brand) could handle, yet the Subaru and (other brand) were the same size. But Subaru put in an extra boost for that power surge once the AC kicks on,” William says.  

Subaru’s RG3200iS inverter generator cranks out a maximum of 3,200 watts of clean power at just 58 decibels. It’s powered by a 7-horsepower, four-cycle overhead cam EX21 engine, which also is built for quiet power and designed with durability in mind. The engine’s timing is precise due to a case-hardened steel timing chain, dual ball bearings support the crankshaft, and heavy-duty piston rings coupled with a cast-iron cylinder liner resist wear and contribute to the engine’s long service life.   

While William trusted the professional advice regarding all of these features, he took it one step further to ensure he was making a good investment: He called the vice president of sales and marketing at Subaru. He asked about not only Subaru generators, but the company from which he was considering purchasing one.  

“He said this guy in Oklahoma tests all of his stuff before he sells it or uses it, and that was good to know,” William says. “You know the guy went out of his way to actually do that instead of just ordering a bunch of stuff and selling it. So he was pushing Subaru, and we went along with what he said, trusted him, and it looks like we made a good choice.” 

Good choice, indeed. When asked about what problems he’s had with the RG3200iS Subaru inverter generator after a year of nearly nonstop use, he responds, “None at all.” Plus, Subaru’s Auto-Power System adjusts the engine speed according to power requirements, allowing the Acostas to save money through greater fuel efficiency. 

The Acostas aren’t “normal” generator users, either. Most generator owners use it for periodic applications at home or on the jobsite. Besides day-to-day needs, the Acostas also were looking out for Jeter. Their 13-and-a-half-year-old Vizsla dog was sick with liver problems, and it was important to the Acostas to make him as comfortable as they could during his final months of life, including keeping the air conditioning on constantly. It was the least they could do to ease the suffering of a longtime companion. (Jeter has passed away in May of this year.) 

“The air conditioner in the RV runs 24 hours a day from mid-May through late September,” William says, or 168 hours a week.

William recently decided to contact Subaru again, wondering how many hours of use the motor is expected to get. He was approaching 5,000 hours and figured he must be hitting the end of the motor’s expected life.  

“I told (the Subaru technician) that I was approaching 5,000 and someone told me I should check it out. That way we could go ahead and secure another machine because we hadn’t secured the power from the electric company,” William says. 

The technician was “dumbfounded,” he says. Subaru’s inverter generators are built for a wide range of end-users, from professional construction and building contractors to general consumers who perhaps take along power when camping or want an emergency standby at their homes. While high quality, powerful machines are Subaru’s trademark, they simply weren’t designed with the intention of powering a home for thousands of hours, especially without a break. On average, they’re predicted to get about 2,000 hours of use. 

“They were very surprised that the machine had that many hours on it. I guess people don’t normally do this,” William says.  

One year after purchasing the generator, the Acostas logged their 5,342nd hour of use. After more than 5,900 hours of use, William thought they might finally be hitting a problem. 

“The other night it was shutting off, so I went out there and changed the spark plug and that seemed to do it,” William says.  

Despite his praise for the dependable longevity the Subaru generator provided he and his wife and their beloved dog, Jeter, throughout the past year, William won’t be sad to see it go. They hope the easement goes through soon, and that they’ll have electricity to their lot within five to six weeks. 

“Once we get power, that’ll be the start of things,” William says. 

The start of great things, for sure. Their new home will be more than 10 times larger than their current, temporary home. They’ll have a game room, computer room, library, three-stall garage … and a permanent power source. 

“It’ll be great,” William says. “Can’t wait!”
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