Green tech / EV links.

Here are several green tech links that I’ve been checking out:

Electric Vehicle News:

Green tech:

The best solar panels:

Global Energy Industry news:

I’ve been following these sites as a way to keep up to date with the advances in several fields that really cross-over; electric vehicles, solar tech, politics and green tech economics.


Ben Alexander

March . 2017



Will #technology replace your job?

Joseph Schumpeter was an Austrian economist born in 1883 who wrote about how new technology tends to replace and destroy old technology. The automobile replacing the horse and buggy, MP3 players replacing CDs, or solar panels replacing the traditional power grid.

Schumpeter called this process “Creative Destruction”.

My wife is a realtor, and we were talking about how realtors are starting to be replaced by online listing services. There are many sales people who have been replaced by technology already; travel agents, life insurance agents, even retail salespeople in chain stores like Kmart and Sears.

The internet has replaced millions of jobs, in Balloon Distractions I use an online scheduler to organize entertainers from California to Texas to Florida. Without the internet and our software I would need a full-time staffer to handle that function, but our online scheduler does it all, from scheduling to billing.

These job losses are obvious, toll collectors in Florida are almost gone, replaced by EZ pass. There is now automatic check-out at retail stores and McDonald’s. Online banking is replacing bank branches. The next decade will see more of this.

When solar becomes widespread the electric utilities will either go bankrupt or switch to a new business model entirely. Brick and mortar retail is going to disappear, along with millions of jobs. Truck drivers are going to be replaced by super safe robot drivers, probably before 2025. Jobs in fossil fuels will still persist until around 2035, but college students would be silly to pursue a long term career in coal mining, oil exploration or natural gas fracking.

I’m 43 years old, so the folks who are my age in these industries might make it to 60 and still maintain employment, but younger folks should gravitate to the industries that are going to grow between now and 2060; solar and renewables, robotics, artificial intelligence studies, composite and nanotech materials technology, battery technology, genetics engineering and biomedical, or even basic studies in entrepreneurship and leadership.

The future will require skilled entrepreneurs with leadership ability who can take a business concept and bring it to profitability in the global marketplace.

I started delving into leadership studies back in 2014, this has deepened my understanding of what it takes to develop and grow a team. I’ve applied this to Balloon Distractions as well as Life Leadership, and both ventures are now profitable.

In the last few years I’ve been learning about green tech (and writing about it as well). Sometimes learning comes before earning, there is a trillion dollar opportunity in solar for any entrepreneur who understands how to sell the new technology.

Solar is starting to pop up on roofs across the United States, so anyone who facilitates this process will profit accordingly.

Look at your current job and think about how artificial intelligence, robotics or the internet might replace you in the next decade. 

NOW is the right time to start a business on the side, you might want to dig the well BEFORE you need the water.

If you’ve been in a job your entire career you can still learn how to be an entrepreneur. This is a great skillset, and entrepreneurial skills can be used in any business model, with any product, no matter how advanced technology becomes.

Ben Alexander

March . 2017

Married to the Electric Company?

Most homeowners think they have to pay an electric bill for the rest of their lives.

Do you have to stay with FrankenElectric, ’til death do you part?

Not anymore.

It still makes sense to maintain your connection to the power grid, but the grid does not have to be your sole source of energy. If your summer bill is $300 per month or higher you can get a solar system that will knock your bill down to less than $20 per month!

A rooftop solar system will reduce your electric bill to pennies, with nothing spent out of pocket, provided your credit is decent. Solar panel prices have dropped 99% in the past 25 years! Solar is now LESS expensive than electricity from the local utility.

The tide has turned, the tipping point for solar is now, the year 2017.

When you install solar today you know that your system will be paid OFF at a specific date in the future, and the panels we install today will last until 2040, or even longer. There is a light at the end of the tunnel! You don’t have to stay with Mr. “Bolts in Neck” forever!

Tampa Bay Solar installs SolarWorld panels, which are pretty awesome, check this out:

Tampa Bay Solar is putting a system on the roof of my home, and I’m excited about what they can do for thousands of homes across Tampa Bay.

You don’t have to be married to your electric bill, go solar!

Check these guys out:

There is ZERO return on a dollar sent to the electric company, but a 10% to 12% return on every dollar you invest in solar!

Ben Alexander

March . 2017

Just Cleaner.

You don’t need industrial size vats of Dawn dishwashing soap to clean off ducks when everything is running on solar.

Put the panels on your roof, plug in your electric car, and enjoy life.

Some things will still need fossil fuels, like jet planes… but cars and trains and 18 wheelers will all run on electrons before long. There will be high efficiency solar panels on the roof of every train car, every trailer hauling freight, every home and business.

Battery technology is poised to take leap forward and when it does we’ll see inexpensive electric cars on the market with a 500 mile usable range, and you’ll be able to fully charge your car in a few hours. No one will worry about the range of their electric charge anymore, if you top off the charge on your car every few days you’ll always hundreds of miles of range on your electric car.

The old tech will still be around, gas stations and even diesel engines, but the efficiency of electric and solar and the low cost will move everything in that direction. When solar is everywhere electricity will get even cheaper, far cheaper than fossil fuels.

You’ll be able to charge up your car with 1,000 miles of range for $50. The same distance in a gasoline powered vehicle will cost $100 or $200 or maybe even more.

Blackouts and brown-outs won’t happen anymore, every home and business will have solar with a battery back-up storing an extra month of electricity, in case of an emergency.

There will be spare energy, for free, everywhere. Fast charging stations will be in the parking lot of every business you visit, if you need an extra 300 miles of range in your car just plug it in, no charge.

All of this is coming, so if you’re an entrepreneur looking to build a business think about the possibilities that will pop up as society makes this massive shift…

Ben Alexander

March . 2017


Solar as a hedge against inflation?

When I bought a Chevy Volt in January the wheels started turning in my brain… what if a solar system on my roof could power my plug-in car?

I’ve been researching residential solar and I’ve learned some cool facts.

5KW (kilowatts) of solar panels will lower your electric bill about $100 per month.

A 5KW system will cost about $15,000, minus the 30% federal tax credit makes the cost of the system about $12,000.

At 4% interest a $12,000 loan for 9 years is about $130 per month, that’s with no money down. You save $100 per month, your cost for a 5KW solar system is $130 per month.

Your NET cost for the system is $30 per month, and after the loan is paid off you GAIN $100 per month.

Since most solar systems last 20 plus years… that’s $30 per month for 9 years = $3,240

BUT… then you get 11 years at $100 SAVINGS = $13,200

Gain             =    $13,200


Net Cost      =     $3,240

Total back in your pocket =  $9,960 !  

The numbers skew in your favor if electric rates go up, which they tend to do.

If rates climb your net gain from a 5KW system might be $11,000 to $14,000!

If the panels last longer than 20 years you gain even more, and by the year 2040 there will be better panels to install anyway, you’ll want to upgrade your system.

What about inflation? If energy commodity prices go up (like coal and natural gas) your electric rates will go up as well. Check out this chart:

Oil and Natural gas prices will climb as global demand increases. Your money spent on a solar system now is really a strong hedge against monetary inflation.

When 70 or 80 million consumers start driving electric cars and plug-in hybrids this will also increase the demand for electricity and drive up utility prices even further.

But if your home has solar, and you plug in your vehicles? Fossil Fuel prices won’t matter to you, not that much. Other commodity prices rise with energy, like food and basic services… but you could use the gain from solar to pay off other debts, like your mortgage or credit cards.

I’m going to get a solar system on my roof in the near future, it just makes sense.

Ben Alexander

March . 2017

Soccer Moms & Electrons.

This is a first, a plug-in minivan… from an American company, no less!

The end is near for gasoline. The new Chrysler Pacifica goes 30 miles on full electric power, before the gas engine kicks in. For daily runs to drop the kids at school or buy groceries this minivan will use far less gas than the non-hybrid version.

Even if a Pacifica driver averages 40 miles per day, that means that 75% of the commute will be under electric power. Under that scenario they’ll average about 70 to 80 miles per gallon, a huge leap from a standard minivan that gets 24 mpg.

This is a sign that electric vehicles have truly gone mainstream. The minivan is the ultimate practical vehicle, especially for larger families. Traditional gas powered minivans and SUV’s tend to be gas guzzlers. The hybrid Pacifica partially solves that problem.

The Pacifica driver that rarely drives more than 30 miles per day might never fill up again, except for on the occasional road trip.

The one change in behavior when you own a plug-in hybrid is getting in the habit of charging it in when you get home. I plug in my Volt whenever I’m home. It takes about 2 seconds, like charging a cell phone. Pacifica drivers will spend 2 seconds plugging in their minivan, but they’ll save about 5 minutes NOT stopping at gas stations.

Now that the Pacifica is out there in the marketplace it won’t be too long until we see a plug-in Honda or Toyota minivan. Pretty soon after that we’ll see fast charge stations at every grocery store and municipal soccer field. I’d gladly park in the far corner of the Walmart parking lot if there was a charging station there.

The death knell of gasoline will be the fully electric Ford F-150 pick up truck, with a 300 mile range per charge…

The future is here folks, solar panels everywhere are the next step…

Ben Alexander

February . 2017

A question of efficiency.

I’ve been driving a 2013 Chevy Volt for the last 7,000 miles.

The Volt has a ton of electronics that measure everything, I can log onto the OnStar app on my smartphone to see the air pressure in each tire, the amount of gas in the tank and the exact charge on the lithium ion battery.

This is the most technologically advanced machine I’ve ever owned. My daughter Grace calls it the “space ship”. When my Volt is plugged into the charger it won’t shift into reverse or drive. I can even program the Volt app to notify me when the car reaches a full charge!

The Volt is truly a smart car.    

I get 36 miles per electric charge before the gas generator kicks in, so I’m still using gas anytime I have to run to the other side of Tampa Bay. If I drive somewhere in the morning I’ll plug the car in again when I get home. My electric bill went up $20 last month, but that was cheaper than putting $20 in the tank 3 or 4 times each week.

The new 2017 Volt has a 53 mile electric range, a little better than the 2013 model.

The Volt is more convenient than the Tesla, it takes 2 minutes to gas your Volt but several hours to charge your Tesla. The Tesla has a 230 mile range, but that’s not far enough to drive from Tampa to Miami, or Atlanta.

Until electric cars can go 500 miles on one charge its nice to have the gas option.  

One key metric I’ve been tracking is how far my Volt goes per 10 gallons of gas. On one cycle I got 770 miles, or 77 miles per gallon. There are Volt owners on YouTube who drive less than 35 miles per day… they can get 5,000 miles or more on ten gallons.

My experience is probably more typical. If I get 65 to 70 miles per gallon my Volt is far more efficient than my wife’s (non-plug-in) Prius, which averages 45 miles per gallon.

A four cylinder Honda Civic gets 34 mpg, most 6 cylinder cars get about 25 mpg. Any larger vehicle with a V-8 gets less than 22 mpg.

The big variable in Volt ownership is the longevity and maintenance costs of the vehicle, compared to the excellent reliability record of the Prius. There are a few Volts on YouTube with 300,000 miles on the odometer, this was one of my deciding factors in taking the leap to a Chevrolet product. GM put their best engineers on the Volt, knowing that they would look bad if the car was a failure.

The Volt sold new for $35,000, mainly because of the cost of all the technology baked into the car. If you get a used Volt for less than $20,000 you are getting a ton of value per dollar. I got my 2013 Volt for $14,500, with just over 15,000 miles on the odometer.

I enjoy driving the Volt every single day, the sound system is excellent, the front seats are great for my janky back, and I love how I can gas it up for $15 and drive all week.

The back seats are too small for larger passengers, ok if you have younger children. By September of this year both my daughters will be in college, so I’m alone in my Volt or taking my wife out on a date.

If you drive something old and you’re looking for a great commuter car look for a 2013 or 2014 used Volt online. Some people might have not considered the Volt because they were put off by the price of the new car, but the used Volts are really worth it.

If you’re a Prius driver get over yourself and go drive a Volt.  

You can find a low mileage Volt for around $15K, about the same price as a comparable used Prius, but you’re getting a faster and more efficient vehicle.

I tolerate my 2010 Prius, but I love my 2013 Volt.

Ben Alexander

February . 2017