Burlington Free Press: Soaking up the sun at the CARnival

COLCHESTER –Duane Peterson started up his electricity-powered Chevrolet Volt in the parking lot of St. Michael’s College in Colchester on Sunday before taking the car on a test-drive around Burlington.

“There’s an amusement park ride aspect to this, ” Peterson said, calling attention to the small electric noise emitted from the car as it powered on. “Isn’t that hilarious?”

Peterson is the co-founder and co-president of SunCommon, a solar energy company run out of Waterbury. The company held its first SUN CARnival on Sunday at St. Michael’s College as a way to connect with those interested in solar energy and to educate those wanting to know more, lead solar organizer Clary Franko said.

The car emitted a small hum, that could only be heard if one turned down the radio and listened very closely. As Peterson drove onto Interstate 89 toward Burlington, the solar energy-powered car sped up smoothly and almost effortlessly.

“I don’t use much gas,” Peterson said, adding that he has gotten about 100 miles to the gallon with the car so far. Peterson said he fills his car with electricity both at work and at home. “You just drive right past the gas stations.”

Peterson’s was one of about 17 electric cars being shown off to CARnival attendees, and car owners offered test-rides to attendees throughout the afternoon. Attendees were also able to enjoy pizza made by Open Hearth Pizza, a mobile wood-fired pizza oven, and speak to other clean energy advocates and innovators.

“We are trying to make the world a healthier place with safer communities, and clean energy is where it starts,” Franko said. “Solar can power our homes, it can fuel our cars and heat our homes … We love the idea of helping folks have access to electric vehicles so they can make the connection between solar and everything it can power.”

Batteries charged by solar energy powered the bouncy house at the CARnival — a main attraction for kids.

Peter and Laurie Harrison of Alburgh brought their two grandchildren to the event both to entertain the kids and to learn more about how they can incorporate solar energy into their lives. The Harrisons said they already drive a hybrid car, but are looking to switch to electric power.

“We like SunCommon because we’re trying to get them to come to our area, but we’re kind of remote,” Laurie Harrison said. “We really believe in solar power, we just haven’t figured out a way to use it for our home yet.”

“Our roof doesn’t face the right direction,” Peter Harrison added.

Franko said she was expecting a few hundred people to come to the SUN CARnival Sunday afternoon, and was excited that the sun was beginning to come out about half an hour into the event.

“It’s been really cool watching all these folks come in here who talk about how they are truly thinking about getting an electric vehicle,” Franko said. “It’s really fun to see so many of our solar customers walk in, and talk about their negative electric bills and celebrate.”

To see the complete Burlington Free Press story click here.


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