Nipton, CA is ready for a future with rising energy prices and global warming. Gerald Freeman, the town’s administrator, retired from gold mining in 1984 and moved to the ghost town in the Mojave Desert. Since then, he has found a way of transforming the sleepy town into one less community dependent on conventional forms of electricity. Powered by the sun is Nipton’s town motto.
Since the days when Henry David Thoreau’s spent time at Walden Pond, people have wanted to find the best means of independent living. Hippies attempted communes. Survivalists build bomb shelters in the middle of nowhere. Freeman wanted a means of maintaining a community with modern conveniences. He is well on his way to establishing such a place in Nipton and preparing the little town for the future.
Freeman and his wife, Roxanne Lang, have twice renovated the Nipton Hotel making it into a Spanish style bed and breakfast. Outdoor there are eco-lodging tent cabins with high roofs. Freeman’s goal is to make the small town self reliant when it comes to energy. The more energy independent Freeman can make the town, the better. The town offers a natural resource such as an underground lake offering the town a clean water supply. The hotel has become a destination for bikers, hikers, and tourists.
Having been conscious of global warming for decades, he decided to do something about it rather than complain. Freeman wants people to become ready to accept the upcoming realities of a changing world. With a state grant, he began planting eucalyptus trees as a potential energy source. The plant produces latex capable of being refined into fuel.
Solar power interested him most. After speaking with companies about installing solar arrays, the costs always seemed too expensive. Then, he found a Palo Alto, CA company called Skyline. They used mirrors to concentrate sunlight upon light sensitive material. The process proved more efficient and less costly than conventional solar panels. Freeman had them installed. To date, he has reduced the conventional power for Nipton by half.
With more ways to make cheaper to make energy sources, individuals, towns, and communities can move closer to energy independence. Existing technologies like solar and wind have helped communities in Australia, the Americas, and Europe scale down their reliance on fossil fuels.
Although it has become easier to become less reliant on a power grid, Freeman has realized Nipon cannot yet become completely independent of outside energy sources.
The town has 10 full time residents within the tiny community. Some say the solitude and peace of the town attracted them. The town is close to Route 15, the main highway from Las Vegas, to Los Angeles.
Fernando and Susan Gamez run a restaurant called the Oasis. Using recipes handed down to Fernando from his mother, they serve Mexican food. They have begun growing vegetables using an intensive vertical vegetative roof system designed to save space, water, and energy.
Freeman wants to invest in hydrogen power to store and sell. He has always supported the need for self-sufficiency in a world of rising energy prices and global warming. With technology constantly evolving, the residents of Nipton, CA believe they are ready for the future.
By Brian T. Yates