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US Pulls the Plug on Tiny Island Kingdom

Photonics Spectra
Jan 2009
Off the Grid, It’s Green Power to the Rescue.

Lynn Savage, lynn.savage@laurin.com

The tiny island of North Dumpling, which lies about a mile off the coast of Mystic, Conn., has been removed from the American electrical power grid. The three-acre island, ostensibly part of New York state, was declared an independent nation several years ago by Lord Dumpling II, who is still the island’s iron-fisted ruler.

North Dumpling Island has belonged to Lord Dumpling – aka Dean Kamen of Segway and iBOT fame – since the 1980s, but he has shared the territory with the Coast Guard, which operates a lighthouse there. Although it is not Kamen’s primary residence, he has enacted the island’s own constitution, currency, flag and anthem and has signed nonaggression pacts with the US and with Connecticut separately.

Pereg_1.jpgDespite these pacts, however, the Coast Guard recently notified Kamen that it was converting its lighthouse to solar power, and that the electrical connection would be cut off to the island. Instead of negotiating back the rights to the connection, Kamen decided to make his island estate an example of green efficiency. The home already boasts solar panels and a lone wind turbine, but these were not completely adequate to provide self-sustaining power full time.

Working with Philips Color Kinetics of Burlington, Mass., the self-styled Lord Dumpling is ratcheting down the power consumption of everything electrically operated on the island. Primarily, he is switching out all of the lights to LED-based systems. The LED lighting supplied by Philips will reduce the power load by 50 to 70 percent, enabling Kamen to light his getaway there inside and out. He even can keep his replica of Stonehenge brightly lit with decorative lighting kits.

Kamen reportedly has issued visas to dignitaries from such companies as Walmart, inviting them to visit North Dumpling and see how taking one small island off the grid can be scaled up to larger operations.

This spring, Kamen will host a two-day fundraising event on the island in support of his youth organization, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).


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