Letter to the Editor: Good News for a Change

My wife and I attended the Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Energy Fest last weekend. This event has been held for 28 years just southwest of Stevens Point in Custer, Wis. It is an amazing event with businesses and organizations sharing information with the public on what seems to be a wide range of topics:  “alternate” energy; self-reliant techniques; organic, small-scale, non-industrial farming; resilient community building and many others.

The common theme, in my opinion, is getting our economy to a more human scale.

There were many small talks, workshops and demonstrations, but I want to mention especially, the major talk by JB Straubel, co-founder of Tesla, Inc. JB is the Chief Technical Officer of the company and has been working on electric propulsion since he was 14. That was back in the seventies. He was staying with his family at the Alpine Resort in Egg Harbor when he came across a discarded golf cart. He got permission to take it over, repaired it and souped it up. Before long he had also refurbished an old Porsche with an electric drive and while studying at Stanford, entered and excelled in the solar-powered race across the desert in the ’80s.

Mr. Straubel outlined in his talk the meteoric rise of Tesla. How they have expanded beyond the car and are now focusing on building the necessary infrastructure. With minimal help from government sources and with constant warnings that “it can’t be done,” they are now engaged in manufacturing (and improving) the batteries here in the U.S., building and installing solar roofs, and putting in place (already) a network of super fast charging stations across the country and in many other countries as well.

They are already a major car manufacturer with high marks from all the automotive and consumer analysts, and now their medium priced family car, Model 3, is ready to hit the roads this year. It will operate at an equivalent of more than 200 mpg fuel economy, will be offered with an optional package of solar roof and storage system at a deep discount. With this they have great expectations for putting a new face on American transportation. And, by the way, they are coming out with a semi-trailer truck this fall, ready to compete with the Peterbilts.

The most inspiring moment for me was when I strolled over to the Tesla Parking Lot and saw a line-up of 30 to 40 Tesla Model S and Model X cars parked together in little old Custer, Wis.

So, keep yourself informed!

Dave Lea

Fish Creek, Wis.

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