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SEI's Financial Director - Paul Gibb is "Born to Be Wild" on The Solar Scooter

Posted by: chris
April 19, 2013
I installed a PV system on my barn in November and it wasn’t until May or June of the following year that I realized I had one of those “nice” problems in life – my system was outperforming the production estimates and now my newly installed net-meter was hovering in the range of -98,250 to -98,750, or 1,750 to 1,250 kilowatt-hours (kWh) less than zero!

On one hand, I was pleased to see that my 3.6 kW system of SunTech modules (yikes!) and an SMA inverter was performing so well thanks to our abundant western Colorado sunshine. On the other hand, our co-op utility, Delta Montrose Electric Association, does not buy back excess production, meaning that I was making a nice donation of energy every month! We live on a small farm and my wife is a gung ho preserver and freezer of produce so we already had 3 freezers. Our cooktop is electric and the bulk of our heat is from a wood-burning stove. Not a lot of options inside the house other than converting the hot water heater to electric, which didn’t seem practical. We’re “lucky” enough to have a large yard to maintain so an electric mower didn’t seem realistic although I did replace my gas powered weed whacker with a spiffy little lithium ion model.

Where else could I replace my fossil fuel burning with solar powered ac electricity? Duh, transportation! I wasn’t ready financially for the big electric car plunge but I started looking around at other battery based modes of transportation. After a fairly extensive search, I settled on the iGo ECity electric scooter. Also powered by a lithium ion battery, this little bugger cruises at about 22 mph on flat ground. A charge lasts at least 25 miles (I’ve never run it down). Better yet, with its engine size of 500 W and the handy, functioning pedals (great for the steep incline up to my driveway), the ECity qualifies as a bicycle in the state of Colorado – no insurance or registration!! The ECity is perfect for my 4 mile commute to SEI world headquarters – the steep hill home made more than 1 daily round trip on my bike a sweat-fest during the summer. Now I buzz home for lunch, down to my noon tennis game, and back to headquarters before any one knows I’m gone.

I’ve got about 700 miles on the ECity so far in less than a year. Using the IRS mileage reimbursement figure of 56.5 cents, which is intended to factor in fuel, maintenance, tires, etc. (particularly on in-town driving with all of the starts and stops), that’s $396 of free transportation! At this rate, the ECity will pay for itself in 3-4 years (assuming no maintenance meltdowns). My PV system is still generating more energy than I’m using, but it’s inching closer to zero and, trust me, you can’t put a “feel good” price on free, non-fossil fuel transportation!
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