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Taranaki couple go off the grid

After learning how the power companies have been creaming it for years, Helen Harvey finds a Taranaki couple who plan to do what we all dream of.

At the end of a long and windy road is a big shed. A small wind turbine whirs on a hill behind it. Down the hill, slightly, the foundations for a house are laid out on one of the only flat bits of land.

In one direction is a stunning view of green hills and Mt Taranaki. In the other, chooks and ducks can be seen coexisting. Half a tunnel house is built nearby. The potting shed is under way, as is the berry house.

It's very much a work in progress, but Greg and Sue Rine's dream of having a self- sufficient lifestyle is getting close to becoming reality.

The Te Popo house is expected to be finished by the end of the year. It will be powered by the wind turbine and photovoltaic solar panels. Hydropower wasn't an option, due to the lack of a nearby water source.

But the combination of solar and wind power will run normal household appliances, including a dishwasher, TV and computer. The Rines have four children, so a bit of organisation might be required. An iron gobbles power, so ironing will need to be done on a windy, sunny day. They have an eco freezer, which has thick sides as insulation, and when it turns on and off doesn't cause as large a spike in electricity as a normal freezer.

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