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Dr. Timothy Rodgers and his wife Pamela live in a 1948 home near Hendry’s Beach. Over the years, they’ve been on a mission to retrofit their home to make more energy efficient. They’ve replaced single paned windows with double paned, added insulation to the attic, and replaced halogen lights with LEDs. Making a home more efficient is highly recommended before adding solar panels because “you don’t want to have to pay for a system that’s any larger than you need,” Timothy says.

After talking with 6-8 solar contractors and getting several bids, he contracted with REC Solar to install an 8.4 kW solar system on a hillside on his property in 2009. “We went with an 18-year lease – they do all the maintenance, manage any equipment that might break, and will replace the inverter when it dies, which is expected to be after 10 years.”

Recently, Timothy was ready to make another statement reflecting his environmental ethic. “I love cars, and I like the idea of electric cars. When the price of gas hit $4.50/gallon, I thought ‘that’s it!’ First, I went to test drive the Tesla Roadster, then I went to the Community Environmental Council’s Earth Day Festival, which includes a large Green Car Show. There were three Tesla owners showing their personal vehicles. I was still on the fence, but hearing them rave about their experiences really helped.” He ordered an electric blue Tesla Roadster that week.

The only concern that Timothy had was with the range of the car; in electric vehicles circles, this is known as “range anxiety.” Although he still owns a gas-fueled sedan, he wanted to see how the Tesla would handle on a longer trip to San Francisco. Because public charging stations are just starting to come online, his ideal midpoint stopping place – King City – didn’t have a station. Instead he stopped for a couple of hours in Atascadero and briefly in Salinas, both times refueling at a Rabobank, which offered free public charging, fueled by solar panels on the roofs “so I was still driving on sunshine, even away from home.”

Despite what might seem like complex technology, Timothy repeatedly said that the process to install solar and purchase an electric vehicle was seamless, with user-friendly systems that allows him to engage with the technology. “There is a transmitter on my solar inverter that sends out data on the amount of electricity that I generate and use, which I can pull up on my computer,” said Timothy. “It’s kind of nerdy, but I like to see how I’m doing.”

Combining solar panels and electric vehicles makes ditching fossil fuels closer than ever. Transportation and home energy costs make up the vast majority of the average person’s energy use. By eliminating reliance on dirty energy in these areas, Fossil Free by ’33 is well within reach.

Article modified from original submission to Seasons Magazine.

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