Yokoji-Zen Mountain Center

Blog / Post

Solar Power and Final Seals

November 28, 2011 by Yugen

Jim Lakey Rev. Jim Yugen Lakey
Yokoji Zen Mountain Center

Solar Power and Final Seals

I am excited to announce that yesterday we completed the solar install. I say completed, but it seems that really there is no such thing. The new panels are up and working, but we still have some issues with the other new elements in the system. On the whole, the issues are not major and the main thing is we now have around 30-35 A@120VAC coming in while the sun is high in the sky, which will be plenty to power the center and charge the batteries fully on sunny days (which get depleted from whatever power is used from when the sun goes down to when it comes back up again the next day). We are now in the best position we have ever been in in terms of running Yokoji on renewable power. It is too early to tell how the system will stand up on days when we have partial cloud, or when there is a large draw from power tools and vacuum cleaners and other high draw appliances, but on your average sunny Californian day, with average activities going on (whatever either of those might be), we are now positively dripping with power.

A big thanks is owed to Ambassador Energy of Murrieta. I have been working with Catherine, the off-grid specialist from Ambassador, over the past months getting everything planned and executed. She was paid for a single days work over the whole project but she certainly put in much more, not to mention 2 full days of installation. Our alliance with Ambassador started at the beginning of the year when Kelly and Steve, the President and CEO of Ambassador respectively, came to Yokoji for the Sunday program. I found out what they did for a living and we went on a tour of the panels and power shed and they expressed and interest to help in the future. I called on them in the Summer to see if they could help us to plan and install an upgrade to our existing system and they did so, in the form of free expertise and heavily discounted equipment. We got a great deal of bang for our buck thanks to Ambassador. Catherine also wrangled some volunteers from Intercoast in Riverside, a school that trains electricians and has a good working relationship with Ambassador. We had eight volunteers helping with the install yesterday, a mixture of professional electricians, teachers and students. I dread to think what the cost of all the labor would have been if they hadn't been kind enough to volunteer for the project. It is rare to have an off-grid project of this size, it turns out, so the experience gained has real value to the students who are learning how to install solar for both off-grid and grid-tie applications. I'd also like to thank Dan Puleo who has only been to Yokoji a few times, and most of them were to volunteer and lend his experience as a residential construction supervisor. Dan helped me prepare the racks for the panels as well as donating some of the angle iron that we used.

So all in all, the project is near a close and it is a happy ending in the making thus far. Thank you to everyone who contributed this year through the fund-raising drive. You guys made this possible and have really benefited Yokoji by doing so. Feel free to come up and charge your ipod on a sunny day to share and revel in the abundance of renewable power. No hair driers, though! We still have to be conservative with power and invest carefully where possible. Off-grid is still off-grid, however many solar panels there are.

Kaigen and Tenshin Roshi holding the Inka document which Tenshin Roshi read out.

In other news (and perhaps more importantly, but as you may notice I have a strong bias toward whatever project I have recently been working on), today Tenshin Roshi gave Kaigen Roshi (formerly Sensei) the final seal of approval as a Zen teacer, or Inka. Kaigen is now known as Kaigen Roshi (Roshi signifies someone who has received the final seal of approval from their teacher in our mixed Soto and Rinzai tradition). Kaigen Roshi and Jikyo Roshi (who are husband and wife) run the Three Treasures Zen Community in San Diego. What this all means is that Tenshin Roshi feels that Kaigen Roshi is fully independent and can stand alone without his support as a Zen Teacher, and today was a public recognition of that fact. This is the first time that Tenshin Roshi has given this recognition to one of his successors. It was a moving ceremony and Kaigen and Jikyo responded to questions from the people who had gathered to witness the event. It was great to meet some of the Three Treasures Community who came up to take part and I hope we may see some of them again.


  • Khembottra Oum:

    28 Nov 2011 02:54:25

    congrats to Kaigen Roshi. It was great seeing everyone there!

  • Jokai:

    28 Nov 2011 13:47:30

    I’m a little humbled as my singular contribution to the Solar install was to hold up one piece of angle iron. I feel like the guy who was asked to “here, hold this a second” as he breezed past the Great Pyramid of Giza. As to the ceremony, I must admit I’m completely enthralled with all aspects of the lineage and it’s attendant ceremonies. Kaigen Roshi and I were reminiscing about our visit to do Sesshin in England with Tenshin Roshi and Dave Scott (now Keizan Sensei) back in 2002 I think. Damn, I’m getting old…

  • Jishin:

    28 Nov 2011 20:18:54

    Congrats with the solar system!!! Congrats for Roshi and the new Roshi!!! Yokoji Zen rocks : )

  • Alston:

    29 Nov 2011 19:43:49

    as someone who uses that power on occasion, my heartfelt thanks to Yugen for managing the project, as well as to all the people at Ambassador and Intercoast who contributed so much time and effort. gassho and…shine on!

  • Ken Erickson:

    09 Dec 2011 19:11:46

    Hey guys, thanks for the solar update, and thanks to Ambassador. Yugen and Jokai, your blog posts make us frequent travelers feel less like “where in the world is carmen santiago” and gives the pleasant sensation of being with Yokoji when we are away. Jishin is right: Yokoji Zen rocks.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to the Yokoji Blog.