PEI man drives gas-free on wind power

BONSHAW, PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND - A PEI man is driving his electric SUV entirely on power generated from his own wind turbine, putting him at the forefront of what one group hopes will become a movement.

Harold Smith of Bonshaw, just west of Charlottetown, bought his 1996 all-electric Toyota RAV4 on eBay for $38,000. He plugs it in every night to a system powered by an $80,000, 20-kilowatt wind turbine on his property, a system that also powers his house.

Unlike traditional cars or even hybrids, it uses no gas, and Smith has no complaints about its performance.

"This car is a highway car," Smith told CBC News.

"It will run much faster than I would be willing to drive it and much faster than I would ever admit to the RCMP."

The environmental group ECO-PEI has taken interest in Smith's experiments with generating himself all the power to run his vehicle. The group is doing research into what it would cost to get more Islanders using wind power to run their cars.

"What the big opportunity is, is electric vehicles can offer us a zero-emissions driving experience at the tail pipe," ECO-PEI's Matthew McCarville said.

ECO-PEI is looking at using the Island's commercial-scale wind farms for the project, not only to reduce emissions, but also to have Islanders transfer some of the estimated $200 million each year they spend on gas to P.E.I.-generated power.

"We can build an end-to-end solution, from the vehicle right back to the generating point, which can be wind energy," McCarville said.

The Island's main utility, Maritime Electric, said it is watching the electric car industry but has no plans now to help P.E.I. drivers go electric.

Smith would like government to offer incentives to get more people moving with the wind, such as cash rebates to homeowners who install wind turbines or purchase electric cars.


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