Why Would You Power A Clean Electric Car With Dirty Energy?

Buying a Tesla might lead to greener choices elsewhere

Red Tesla Model S (Image: T. Larkum)

You’ll want to know how the electricity is produced, right? (Image: T. Larkum)

NEW YORK — It’s one thing to get people to care about the price of energy. It’s quite another challenge to get them to care about the source of energy and its environmental impact.

But buying an electric car — presumably, in part, to reduce one’s carbon footprint — may push people to think about where the electricity to power that vehicle comes from, according to one early investor in Tesla Motors.

“The electric vehicle is like a Trojan horse for energy literacy,”

Nancy Pfund, managing partner at the venture capital firm DBL Partners, said during a panel discussion at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit in Manhattan on Monday morning.

Pfund said she noticed the possible linkage a decade ago, when DBL first invested in Tesla, which sells luxury electric cars, and its sister company, SolarCity, which markets solar power systems. Both are chaired by billionaire Elon Musk.

“In the early days of Tesla, early adopters would buy the Roadster or the Model S, and weeks later we’d see an uptick in solar adopters,” she told The Huffington Post in an interview. “They’re really examples of the connection between transportation and the green electrical grid.”

The idea is that no one wants to go greener by buying a battery-powered electric vehicle only to charge it with electricity generated from burning coal or gas.

Most Americans buy electricity from utility companies that produce energy by burning fossil fuels or generate power from water flow, wind turbines or solar panels. A small but growing number of people generate power from rooftop solar panels or backyard wind turbines and then sell any excess energy to the utility companies. To really go green, people need batteries to store their own clean energy for later use.

If purchasing an electric car focuses the buyer on other ways to access cleaner energy and use it in lower quantities, that can work to improve the whole system.

“Anytime you get people to be more literate and understand where something is coming from, they have a voice,” Pfund added. “And a more engaged and vocal population will demand more energy choices.”

Read more: Huffington Post

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