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Properties - United States

Power Generation and Storage

Reformation Christian Ministries is located at the following address:

13950 - 122nd St.
Fellsmere, Florida 32948-6411

We are located in the east coast part of central Florida about 1.5 hours from Orlando, 2.5 hours from Ft. Lauderdale and 3.25 hours from Miami International Airport. We are situated between Melbourne 25 miles to the north, Sebastian 15 miles to the east, and Vero Beach about 20 miles to the south. We are about 20 miles in the from the Atlantic coast.

Because our offices are located out in the country and rarely have walk-in visitors, we very much appreciate appointments being made by those who wish to visit us.

Our property is situated on 12 acres owned by Reformation Christian Ministries, and bordered by an additional 8 acres which we can use. Two families also live on the same property as the office in separate houses. We also have church worship services approximately 8 miles north of us in Palm Bay, Florida. (click here for more information)

RCM's main administrative office is located at this property and houses the administrative offices for both the church, the mission ministry and the college and seminary. Because our educational ministry is strictly off-campus, our current location is suitable for this purpose.

Here is a picture of our office facilities.

  We initially moved to this property for two reasons: we wanted to live in a rural location where children could be raised in a rural, farm-type setting allowing for extensive gardening and raising of animals.  Since two related families initially provided most of the manpower for the headquarters, it seemed efficient to both live and operate on one piece of property that would enable us to keep commuting costs down, and give us an opportunity to dove-tail work and family responsibilities because of close proximity.  Since the time of the Donnans going to Suriname, they have always worked and lived at the same location and this is but an extension of the same concept stateside.  This allows for far more to be done at a considerable less expense than if we had to purchase or rent additional facilities for office and then commute back and forth.  Additionally, as the Card family (David Card married Kimarie Donnan) have nine children, their anticipated assistance as occasional helpers made this same arrangement very suitable.  We may outgrow these facilities in the future, but they are suitable for our administration for the immediate future.

Rev. Rudy Poettcker, now that he lives in Florida, is located about 20 miles away and comes to the office for staff meetings once a week when he is not in Suriname.  He otherwise works out of an office in his home.

The second reason we located here was that it enabled us to have a rural location that was close enough (13 miles) to suitable shopping, and yet also out of the way of the typical problems of living in cities when hurricanes and other disasters hit.  We are out of the way of the not uncommon problems of city riots, vandalism and looting during times of no power and natural disasters.  And this particular property is sufficiently obscured, that only those who are coming here would know of its existence. 

With these advantages go some disadvantages.  We have more than the usual number of power blips because of long-distance from the electrical source.  We also are out of range for the foreseeable future for cable or DSL internet lines.  When power does go down, because of the lower population density in our area, we are not as quickly restored as others are.  (We have been through six hurricanes, three during 2004 and 2005 -- Francis, Jeanne and Wilma.)

To solve these problems, we have done the following:

We have several generators that give us power for basic electrical needs during power outages.

Solar power provides us temporary power during the midst of the hurricanes when it is not safe to be running generators outside.  Therefore, we have been able to literally watch television via solar power during these times when neither the utilities nor the generators are running.  This is extremely helpful in the midst of hurricanes as it enables us to see the TV broadcasts of the dopplar radar images and know exactly where the eye is and any ancillary tornadoes.  This enables us to hurry everyone into our hurricane saferoom which was built as a walk-in-closet in the Donnan's home and can withstand an estimated 200-250 mph winds.  Our solar power also serves as a UPS (uninterrupted power supply) for most of the computers and our electric phone system that we use in our office which works quite well during the long-sun season of summer and the sunny days that follow hurricanes.

The solar array is mounted on a specially reinforced shed just across the drive from the office. Power lines run underground to the office and are protected by lightning arrestors on both sides.

During the summer the panels lay flat as you see them here, to catch the sun at a more 90 angle.

 

During the winter months, after hurricane season is over, we will generally try to raise these up about 45 to again catch the winter sun at a more 90 angle. This substantially increases the performance during the winter, especially consider the much shorter daylight days.

We have also looked into wind and water power electric generation but found insufficient wind or water power from nearby flowing streams to be of much use except during the high wind and rain seasons, which are relatively short-lived and not cost-efficient.

 

We use Siemen 100W X 14 solar panels, which generate a maximum of about 4 kw hours at peak sunlight times. This is enough to run four computers and recharge the batteries so that several computers can run in the evening without drawing from utility power. During cloudy days, the utility may be required to recharge the batteries because the sun is not doing the charging. At any time during this process that the power blips or goes out, we have instant battery backup for the computers, which saves us money. We estimate approximately $75 per month is saved on electricity and several hundred dollars per year on UPS battery replacements. In addition, they provide us with the security of being able to have some electricity even when all other power sources are unavailable. This has enabled us to literally watch TV broadcasts that pinpoint tornadic activity by Dopplar radar and gather our crew into the hurricane saferoom we have built in one of our houses.

The power center for the solar electric takes the DC current generated by this 24 volt solar system and stores it in batteries from which power is then inverted to AC by the 24 volt Trace inverter and sent into both the office and the Donnan house (built with special circuits for the solar power).

The electricity is stored in 8 huge 6 volt batteries configured as a 24 volt storage system.  These are wet cell batteries that are used in golf carts and for other electrical backup systems for all kinds of applications, particularly control towers in small airports.  If cared for properly, they should last from 8-10 years.

 

Satellite TV (DirecTV) and satellite internet connection (Hughes.net) enable us to have relatively high-speed internet connection and avoid the very slow and somewhat unreliable dialup internet access.  Even more importantly, during times when phone and cable lines were down and cell phone service knocked out (as typical during and after hurricanes), we are some of the few who have access to the outside world.  Our solar power runs the internet and computers to enable us to maintain contact with the outside world even better than those with DSL and cable (which do not work during those times)

The picture to the left is our DirecTV satellite connection which will function in all but the absolute worst of electrical storms and can run off of our solar electrical battery backup without problems.

 

Once it is safe to reconnect our computers (which are generally taken to the saferoom during hurricanes) we have found our trusty Hughes satellite internet connection off the southwest facing corner of the RCM office ready to put us back in contact with the outside world.  This has been our only way to communicate in some cases for nearly a week after some of the worst hurricanes.

In addition to the above, we also well water with water pumps that will operate off of either solar or generator power.  Beyond that we have several ponds supplied by two Artesian wells (water pumps out without power) with potable water.  These wells are used to extensively irrigate our property, which is normally very well drained, since we have deep drainage canals running on north and west sides of the property and one deep drainage ditch running on the south side. Consequently, we are able to keep lush gardens (and weeds if we don't manage them well) anywhere on the property.

Additionally, the property is surrounded on three sides by woods, which makes for a very nice and relaxing work environment as well as a wonderful place for children to grow up learning about bugs, lizards, snakes, and all kinds of neat things that exist in the near 15 acres of woods surrounding us.

We will give you additional tours of the RCM property to let you know how we keep our expenses down through various self-support projects that the property provides for us.

Thank you for taking the time to get acquainted with the blessings of property that the Lord has given to RCM.

 
 
Reformation Christian Ministries - Reformed International College - Reformed Theological Seminary.  www.Reformation.edu