Our PV 2 EV Vision
Sand River Cohousing (formerly called Eldergrace) is a small (28 unit), low-to-moderate
income, 55+ elder community in Santa Fe, New Mexico. We are intent on reducing our carbon
footprint. The community is ‘green built’ and so our home energy use is very low. Some
residents have installed grid tied solar PV systems on their roofs to further reduce and offset our
community’s carbon output. But, what more can we do?
After heating and cooling of buildings, the next highest carbon output is from transportation.
For us, that is driving our cars. So, we have developed a plan that will eventually reduce our
community’s ‘driving’ footprint.
The first step of this plan has just been completed. With the help of a third party investor group,
we have installed a 5.52 kW grid tied, photovoltaic system on the roof of our Common House.
The electricity produced by this system will power the Common House, but it will also produce
enough electricity to power three to four electric vehicles depending on the current electric
vehicle technology and our driving habits. The PV system is now up and running.
The second step in this plan is two fold: putting in place the organizational structures involved
in group ownership of cars and developing the practice of sharing cars. We have recently
registered an LLC with the name PV2EV (photovoltaic to electric vehicles) that will own the
cars. And we have been working on the practice of sharing cars. The idea is that there will
be a small fleet of cars, jointly owned by a group of residents. Some of these cars would be
gas powered (including hybrids) for going on longer trips. And some of the cars would be all
electric for shorter trips around town – which is actually most of the driving we do. The idea of
sharing cars is a definite challenge for a group of older individuals who are used to having a car
for his or her use only, but we are working on this. We have done a few experiments of ‘virtual’
car sharing where we drove our own cars, but when we drove we signed out a ‘virtual’ car on
a real-time schedule. The results seem to show that we will need slightly more than half the
number of cars than people in order to meet our driving needs.
The third step in the plan is to acquire the electric vehicles. As a group of older individuals
with low to moderate incomes we cannot simply buy three to four EV’s. However, we are
working on the idea that someone (an electric vehicle manufacturer or dealer, a foundation
interested in showing how carbon footprints can be reduced without disrupting lives, or even
some individual with money to spare) will help us out with this part of the plan.
When the plan is fully implemented, we will be able to provide a powerful teaching tool for
other communities who wish to move towards a more sustainable way of life. How did we get
over our dependence on ‘my personal car’? How did we finance the major expenses involved
in the solar installation and the new cars? At the moment we have only some of the answers to
these questions. But we will find all of them!
For more information contact: Pauline Sargent, 505-467-8274, paulinesargent3 [at] gmail [dot] com