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Even with the economic and environmental advantages of solar technology, there is a lot of misinformation about it, and Mississippians have been slow to embrace it, says Will Hegman. “People say Mississippi isn’t geographically suited to solar power, that there isn’t enough solar radiation here, that solar systems are unreliable, that solar is just a fad, and on and on.” But, says Hegman, the facts are that solar systems are extremely reliable and can be economically feasible for many Mississippi farmers, homeowners, businesses, schools, churches, and almost any structure that needs electricity.
WILL HEGMAN with the solar carport that charges the batteries for his all-electric cars — a Tesla roadster and a Nissan Leaf.
Never a gas pump stop
And about those electric cars: The Tesla, with its carbon composite body and a direct drive electric motor that will take it from zero to 60 mph in under 4 seconds, is one of a 2,500 limited edition production from the startup California car company founded by Internet billionaire Elon Musk.
While Hegman acknowledges that the Tesla’s north-of-$100,000 price tag makes the idea of fuel savings moot, “It is an amazing piece of technology, and it’s a great promotional tool for American ingenuity and alternative energy.
“In addition to never buying gasoline, there are no oil/filter changes, no transmission or fuel pump, no exhaust/muffler system, none of the many parts and systems associated with gasoline engines. And the power of the electric motor is phenomenal; acceleration from a standing start is right there with a Corvette or Ferrari — and it’s instantaneous, no lag whatever.”
All the car’s systems can be monitored remotely via a smart phone app, and operational data are transmitted to Tesla for analysis.
Tesla is now building an all-electric sedan, cranking out about 600 per week at its California assembly plant, and the company is in the process of building a nationwide network of solar charging stations where owners can “fill up” for free.
Hegman’s Tesla roadster has a range of 200-plus miles, depending on speed and other factors. But for his everyday commute from home to office, he uses the Nissan Leaf, which is only about one-fourth the price of the Tesla.
Though not nearly so powerful, “It’s a great vehicle,” he says. “And it’s so satisfying to never have to stop at a gas pump.”