News and notes from Reston (tm).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Frankie Goes To Reston: RA Considers Tightening Rules on RELAC (Don't Do It) Exemptions (Updated)

Back in college, one of the most sought-after pieces of paper was a doctor's note allowing you to have air conditioning in your otherwise sauna-like dorm room. Same thing in the neighborhoods around Lake Anne, where, after two ownership changes, Reston's jet-age RELAC system continues to churn through tepid lake water like so much... tepid lake water. An unknown number of residents have used a similar approach to add actual 20th century air conditioning to their homes, though, in true RA fashion, declassee window units are strictly verboten.

Anyhoo, RELAC's now under local ownership, having divested itself from Aqua Virginia, and the Reston Association is proposing tightened rules about who can be exempted from having tepid lake water chill slightly cool their home.

A Confidential Restonian Operative forwarded the letter sent to RELAC customers by RA, giving them upwards of a week to decipher the legalese and decide if they want to comment before the RA Board is slated to vote on the proposed changes on Thursday. And once again, someone's discovered the "track changes" feature in MS Word!

Relac changes
It goes on like this for a couple of pages, but the basic upshot is to get an exemption, you have to get a doctor's note every year, have an HVAC firm that knows something about a nearly 50-year-old cooled water chilling system inspect your home to make sure the problem isn't your fault, work with RELAC to fix any problems, and then -- and only then -- you can add a "supplemental" cooling system while staying on RELAC (and paying the bills). And once you've done all that, it'll be time to do it again, since exemptions now must be reapproved every year.

As always, the RA is in a bit of a bind. Since a referendum to get rid of RELAC way back in ought-five was defeated 130-100, the 300 or so homes attached to it are more or less stuck with it. So it's in the RA's best interest to keep the RELAC folks financially afloat (get it?), since there's not exactly a huge interest in tepid lake water cooling technology and only a handful of people with the know-how to keep the system working. The fact that the company's in local hands and not a side business for a bigger outfit also means that it probably needs all the help it can get to stay in the black. And, like the doctor's notes back in college, it's safe to say that some exemptions are probably a bit more medically necessary than others.

On the other hand, everyone should have the right to a cool house in the summer.

Update: The RA board has postponed a decision on the proposed changes until "early 2014."

14 comments:

  1. Plus, people pay crazy cooling bills for the privilege. I've heard upwards of $500/month.

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  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyl5DlrsU90

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H7CGkRxSANI

      Delete
  3. Why no window units? A practical solution that offends the highly developed aesthetic sense of Reston? Makes no real sense at all. Glad I do not live there.

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  4. My home is cool in the summer, RELAC works but is too expensive.

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  5. Reston Heights ObservatoryDecember 12, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    What were the people voting in support of RELAC in ought-five thinking?

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    Replies
    1. That their system works, and they liked the status quo better than the alternative.

      I have found that RELAC keeps houses cool (at least anecdotally). Traditional AC on incredibly hot days will still see the upper storys warm.

      RELAC notable cuts down on noise pollution and walking around a RELAC cooled neighborhood does not sound like a helicopter parking lot.

      It would be nice not to have to pay out so much every summer though.

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  6. So maybe instead of chopping down the trees behind the arc to built a parking garage a proper water chiller plant can be built to assist in the cooling for everyone. Or would that be too bourgeois for the comrades?

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  7. This is a problem that can be solved quite easily with a couple of gallons of kerosene and a couple of pounds of Ammonium Nitrate.

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    Replies
    1. Or a lone candle left unattended in a townhouse garage...

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  8. @ Convict an Anon 1:37
    What's with you guys?!

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    Replies
    1. Nothin'... We just love Reston so much that just like everyone else these days we're looking for ways to "improve" it a bit... ;)

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  9. I would never buy a house that relied on relac. Convert to conventional ac or suffer the financial and comfort consequences.

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  10. Capitalst Roader and his Sidekick Running Dog LackeyDecember 15, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    Attention, sweaty workers of the world! You shall sweat together in commutarian solidarity. All shall perspire according to one's ability, and cool off in accordance with one's means.
    Such is the price to be paid by the people and the cadres for enjoying bollardly goodness. The Central Committee has spoken.

    ReplyDelete

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