How Do You Make an Electric Car Even Greener? Solar Power!

by Green Jobs Ready on August 4, 2010

Start discussing Electric Cars with any group of people who don’t own one and sooner or later you’ll come up against this objection: it will run up their electricity bill.

You could say: Well, yeah ~ but even if it does, will it cost you as much in electricity as you’re now paying in gas and oil changes (to say nothing of the nasty oil stains on the driveway and garage floor)?

Then they might say, well, yeah, but the electricity from my house comes from coal, so it’s still not really a “green” electric car.

At which point, you may want to excuse yourself and leave, or ask them to go home, as the situation warrants.

Or you could point out the story on the Sierra Club website of Darrell Dickey and his solar powered life.

Dickey, of Davis, CA hasn’t put gas in his car in years. Besides that, he doesn’t pay for electricity in his house. In fact, my favorite quote from his story is this: “For $45,000 we bought a new car and fuel for the rest or our lives.”

And he’s not just talking about fuel for their electric RAV4. With his borrowed $45,000, Dickey bought the electric car “brand new” and the solar system now installed on his garage. That system now powers both the house and the car, and his payments on the loan are $120 less than what he paid for electricity and gas for the car, alone.

I guess you could say that his investment in solar started paying for itself from day one.

In the same article is the story of Stephen Weitz, and I love it’s title: “This Truck Runs On Sunshine.” It doesn’t get any cooler than that ~ or maybe it does, because Weitz, too, powers both his home and vehicle with a solar energy system installed on the rooftop of his house.

A PhD in Biochemistry, Weitz had multiple reasons for buying an EV and installing a solar system with which to power it: “1) global warming and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS); 2) Albert Einstein; 3) nitrogen “overdose”; and 4) open habitat and species destruction.”

All excellent reasons ~ although I’ve got to say, Dickey’s main reason was particularly appealing to me. When he and his wife had a baby, he realized that it “would embarrass me to have to explain to my daughter why we continued to import and burn oil when we knew the consequences.” Good on ya, Dad. (You all know how I feel about babies. ;-) )

But Weitz didn’t find it as easy as Dickey to implement his plans for driving a totally clean green car ~ at least the part about buying the EV.

He searched the web for some time before he “was lucky and found one of the rare vehicles in the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car” that hadn’t been crushed by the auto industry—a factory-built Chevy S10 pickup.”

Uh, I had a Chevy S10 pickup about 12 years ago ~ it wasn’t electric. I live in the midwest ~ I didn’t know there were any. Turns out GM was already making electric cars back then, more than 15 years ago ~ and doing so successfully ~ so why aren’t we all driving electric cars already?

The more I find out about the history of EVs in this country, particularly GM’s testing and discarding of the Impact and EV1 and 2 models out west ~ with no publicity or opportunity for anyone to try them east of Phoenix ~ the angrier I get, and the more I want to know why.

In fact, to be straight up honest with you, this is my second attempt at writing about EVs powered with solar energy ~ because I found out so much about the early GM electric cars that were collected up and destroyed that, combined with what I already know about GM (what anyone who’s been paying attention for the last couple of years knows), that first article took off in an entirely different direction of its own. And if I want to finish this article about solar powering your electric car, I’d better leave it at that.

Except for one thing: watch the move Mr. Weitz mentioned above: Who Killed the Electric Car? You can get it at the Plug In America website or rent it from Netflix. Then you’ll know at least part of why I’m so ticked off.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programing.

As I was saying (before I so rudely interrupted myself), one of the coolest ways to really go green with your electric car is by generating the electricity it runs on with renewable energy technology like solar panels and wind generated energy offered by the local power company, discussed in yet another story in the same article, this one about Alex Beamer’s experience.

Beamer also searched the internet for his truck, also a survivor of the EV massacre, a “1997 production vehicle made by Chevrolet . . . They made about 1,500 of them. Most were leased vehicles that were collected at the end of the leases and crushed.”

But let’s not go there again . . . easier on your eyes and my blood pressure.

See you on the green ~

Read the original Sierra Club article, which, as far as I can tell, is 3 years old ~ at

Rebecca Longster is a writer, editor, and lover of words. She believes passionately that people can be healthier, wealthier, and happier living and working in harmony with the earth, and that doing so is a practical as well as a moral imperative. In addition to writing fiction and non-fiction, both for the web and for print publication, she currently teaches writing at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. (and, apparently, she has a temper.)

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