Dwell on Design: High on Energy


Park your plug-in hybrid under Phat Energy's carport. Photos by RCruger

Day two at the Dwell on Design Show in downtown Los Angeles was open to the public who came in droves, filled showroom aisles to peruse eco-friendly, modern furnishings, and listen to speakers on a variety of topics from sustainable design to the garage of the future and ideal green kitchen. On the floor, Phat Energy, a Southern California solar company, displayed their PhatPort, a solar-powered carport/patio awning and promoted its attic fan as a way to reduce energy costs and avoid paying more to utility companies." Meanwhile, a hundred feet away, Edison, one of LA's utilities, spoke about alternative energy incentives and available rebates.

Phat didn't leave out the incentives: the solar fans are eligible for a 30 percent Federal tax credit, and between $100 to $200 rebates from different local utilities. On Friday, LA's Department of Water and Power gave compelling arguments on green retrofitting for homeowners and contractors, from solar powered water heaters to smaller Energy Star fridges. What about us apartment renters?


Plugged in: Is Chevy Volt's infrastructure key to our future energy source?

Edison gave two presentations about the future storage of energy for both the home garage and communities (i.e: apartment dwellers), harnessed from solar, mountain wind farms, and plug-in hybrid batteries. Its booth displayed the skeleton of the Chevy Volt. The privately-owned utility is calculating the future demands on the power grid from plug-ins and according to Edison's Ed Kjaer, Southern Californians will have new SmartConnect meters deployed by 2012 that "give the consumer control," determining peak hours and downtime for best energy efficiency.

Kjaer's presentation spoke optimistically of a bright future, but it's no wonder there's an estimated 40 percent rate hike looming. As he pointed out, the plug-in electric vehicle is one of many automotive panaceas over the last 25 years:

• Methanol 25 years ago
• EVs 15 years ago
• Hybrids 10 years ago
• Fuel cells 5 years ago
• Ethanol 3 years ago
• PEV now

"But this one has to stay the course. It's the perfect storm."

While some attendees were clueless ("Can you drive these new electric cars on the freeway?"), it was a worthwhile reminder that not everyone is on board the environmental bandwagon. Kjaer set the audience straight. With Southern Cal Edison's Electric Vehicle Technical Center, which Obama visited recently, the auto biz has a friend in nearby Pomona. Plenty others were well-informed, asking questions about how bad are lithium ion batteries for the environment. After its life in a vehicle, they can be recycled into energy storage facilities, claims Edison.


"Tesla is no golf cart. It goes zero to 60 in the blink of an eye."

As if on cue, the Tesla's horn started honking behind the partition, and another panel and many more booths beckoned. There was the Zuvo water purator, Dyson's new hand dryer, and everyone, it seemed, was handing out reusable bags.


More on plug-in power:
Plug In America's Electric & Plug-in Hybrid Vehicle Tracker
Plug-in Hybrids Might not Need New Power Plants
Plug-In Hybrids Address The OTHER Energy Security Issue: The Grid
More on solar power:
15 Photovoltaics Solar Power Innovations You Must See
Test Out Your Home's Solar Power Potential with RoofRay Online Solar Calculator
Are Labor Unions 'Greenmailing' Solar Power Companies?
Could Solar Power Satellites Beam Down Gigawatts of Energy

Tags: Batteries | Electric Vehicles | Hybrid Cars | Solar Technology | Utilities