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[Cob] New to cob; particular question re: bringing electricity to a cob structure

Leslie Moyer Unschooler at
Fri Nov 21 15:25:53 CST 2008

Too many factors we don't know to give you even a rough estimate, I 
think.  Power costs vary a LOT from company to company, state to state.  
Is this a municipal electric company?  Rural electric co-op?  Private 
company?  What is the distance you need to run the power lines?  20 
feet?  4 miles?  Above ground or below ground?  Are utility easements 
already in place or will surveying need to be done?  How much power do 
you need?  (i.e. do you want a 220 capability?)

I can tell you about what it cost us in rural Oklahoma, where I live, 
with power coming from a rural electric co-op....

We ran our electric lines below-ground, which costs more, but in this 
part of the country they do NOT (ever!) bury existing electric lines, so 
if you EVER want them buried, you have to do so when they first go in.  
Our thought (though not researched) was that burying the lines kept the 
electromagnetic energy at a reduced level. 

IF we were to have brought it in on an above-ground pole, they provide 
the first two poles for free....any additional poles are $700 each.  
(That includes electrical wire.)  We had to dig the holes at their 
specified depth, but then they come set the poles and string the wires.  
Each post can only be some maximum distance from the previous pole, but 
I don't remember exactly what it can look at electrical poles 
along the road and make a good guess.  Giving the utility company an 
easement entails a professional survey, adding the easement to your 

To bury the wire, we had to hire the backhoe digger to dig the 6' deep 
trench for us.  Our trench was very long--about 500' or more?  That cost 
about $2000 I think?  Digging was hard since we have a lot of rock in 
our soil, but labor is fairly cheap here.  Then we had to have it 
surveyed.  This was another $500, I think.  We had to buy the wire that 
is covered in order to be buried.  I don't recall how much this was, but 
maybe another $400 or so?  We got the heavy-duty stuff to run 220 volts 
to our barn.

We were already members of this electric co-op, so no "new customer" 
charges applied. I *think* that was all of our costs in getting the 
power onto our land.  Did I forget anything?

Hope this helps!
-Leslie Moyer

Andrew John Martinson wrote:
> Hello,
> My wife and I are researching alternative living/building with the aim of building a small cob cottage in Oregon's mid-Willamette valley.  She has experience building with cob at her school in Portland, and my intention is to take some classes in cob construction (to augment what I've been learning from books, the web, etc) through Cob Cottage Company.
> Of the myriad questions I have, one has to do with bringing electricity to a cob structure.  Though we are considering (and trying to learn more about) solar PV, wind, microhydro, etc., we realize that we may want to have utilities to our property.  I believe that bringing municipal utilities such as electricity to a building and site invites beurocracy and expense, but could anyone give me A) a rough (or specific) charge for such a hookup, and/or B) anecdotal experience of such an effort?  Perhaps if we purchased land with a pre-existing structure that was wired (and plumbed) we could renovate that electrical system to bring power to the cob structure.
> Thank you.
> Andrew
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