Who Shocked J.R?
Larry Hagman Parlays Solar Arrays into Nation's Biggest
(released Dec. 10, 2007)
They say everything’s bigger in Texas. Larry Hagman took his native Lone Star State’s mantra to task when powering his sun-bathed Ojai, California home. It’s not ground bubbling crude that has this television oil tycoon gushing, but his own homegrown monopoly on energy that he says is “falling from the sky.”
According to the California Public Utilities Commission and the Solar Electric Power Association, Larry Hagman and his wife Maj own the largest residential solar-power system in the United States.
“This is the oil patch of the 21st century!” proclaims Hagman, who some have dubbed “The Son of Solar.”
His 102.7 kW (DC) system generates an electrifying 150,000 kilowatt-hours per year, enough energy to power a dozen or more average households.
“With climate change threatening the planet and dependence on foreign energy sources threatening the nation, we must all work together to find solutions. We need national policy-driven solutions, but also a collection of individual solutions,” said Julia Hamm, executive director of the Solar Electric Power Association. “Larry Hagman recognizes that individuals can make a difference. By combining energy efficiency measures and the installation of the largest residential solar electric system in the US, Larry has found a way to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem. We hope more individuals will follow his lead.”
Following the installation of his first solar array in 2003, Hagman experienced immediate return. The annual electric bill for his mountaintop home and 46-acre farm plummeted from $37,000 to $13 overnight.
“RICH!” Hagman exclaimed when asked how it felt to be the largest residential solar electricity producer in the country. “Anybody that uses electricity in the next ten years will be paying a tremendous amount of money for it,” he explains, “…and I won’t be paying anything.”
Hagman produces an excess 10,000 kilowatt hours per year. The power surplus accumulated by his solar arrays feeds back into the grid, equipping Larry with the ability to export clean, renewable energy and provide other California homes with an electricity source independent of coal and other environmentally hazardous fossil fuels.
“J.R. Ewing was an independent oilman,” says Topher Blunt, President of Ojai Solar Electric and personal energy advisor to Hagman. "Larry Hagman is an independent with a resource exponentially vaster than any oilfield.”
Hagman is urging Congress to extend solar investment credits in the current energy bill. Such credits are crucial for the industry and Wall Street to continue to make mid- and long-term investments in manufacturing plants, developing utility-scale solar projects, and adding much-needed jobs to meet current demand.
“The technology is here. Solar is real and more affordable than it has ever been,” says Hagman. “If we really want this to take, we have to give alternative energy the same perks that we give to oil and coal. So go out and buy a Senator!”
The California Solar Initiative introduced by the California Public Utilities Commission offers the nation’s most ambitious economic incentives for residential solar installation.
"We are elated that Mr. Hagman is helping to illustrate the way to reduce peak electricity use and carbon footprints by going solar," said Michael R. Peevey, President of the California Public Utilities Commission. "In the first 9 months alone, the California Solar Initiative is on track to see solar installations exceed the total amount of solar installed in California in the previous 26 years combined. Residential installations of all sizes, including Mr. Hagman's, help bring solar costs down and demonstrate today's solar reliability.”
Larry purchased his first array from BP Solar in 2003, becoming an active participant in BP’s Solar Neighbors program.
“Solar Neighbors utilizes celebrity activists who are leading by example to promote social change through solar power,” explains Todd Foley, Director of Business Development for BP Solar. “When a participating celebrity purchases a BP solar system for their home, we donate a similar system to a low-income family to offset electricity costs.”
In 2004, six Los Angeles families received 3 kW solar systems at no cost in Larry’s name. Solar Neighbors has successfully enlisted the aid of other Hollywood activists including the likes of Edward Norton, Brad Pitt, Alicia Silverstone, Robin Williams, Carlos Santana, Danny Devito, and Darryl Hannah. See: SolarNeighbors.com.
Hagman is slated to travel to South Africa in 2008 with the Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing solar electrification and energy SELF-sufficiency in developing countries. Since joining SELF’s Board of Directors in 2000, Larry has aided in delivering clean energy and sustainable power to hundreds of thousands of people living in the most impoverished and overlooked regions of the world. SELF’s installation of solar panels provides a no-cost energy source to pump and purify water, store vaccines, electrify rural schools and clinics, light homes, and provide wireless communications and internet access — vastly improving safety, medicine, education, health care, and economic development across the globe.
Hagman also sits on the board of American Green Holdings, an environmental solutions and renewable-energy innovation company whose slogan is “Reality-Based Energy.” Hagman and American Green Holdings recently launched BidForGreen.com, an online worldwide hub putting renewable energy and green products within a click’s reach. Utilizing Hagman’s connections in the entertainment industry, BidForGreen has been instrumental in providing effective alternative energy sources to major television productions and internationally touring musical artists including Willie Nelson, Styx, and The Black Crows.
Sustainable transportation fuels are an ever-growing concern, and Hagman and American Green Holdings have taken recent interest in an innovative carmaker’s vision to revitalize the American automotive industry. Palm Springs, California-based DiMora Motorcar promises to produce the most technologically advanced vehicle to date, blending ultimate luxury with energy-efficiency, flex-fuel options, and advancements in alternative-fuels engine technology never before seen in a single automobile. The Natalia SLS 2, DiMora Motorcar’s debut creation, is slated for unveiling in 2009. See: DiMoraMotorcar.com.
So what else does ol’ J.R. have up his sleeve? Hagman already has plans underway to install wind turbines.
“The only time the sun is not out in California is during a storm; so the silver lining behind that cloud is in the wind,” he grins.
Ever-expanding his alternative energy lifestyle and eco-consciousness, Hagman has no plans to stop with solar and wind technologies.
“I’m dickering with biodiesel, ethanol, hydrogen, electric cars, anything to spur investment in renewable resources,” he says. “We’ve got to do something before we get into an apocalyptic situation. People just don’t understand that when the end of affordable energy comes, it’s going to be chaos. What do we do to prevent that?”
The 76-year-old actor has emerged as a driving force in the alternative energy movement. As a leading industry authority he has been invited to speak at the largest energy summits in the world, most recently presenting at Solar Power 2007 in Long Beach, CA where he shared the spotlight with Ted Turner. On December 11th Hagman will contribute to Hollywood Goes Green, the first conference to specifically address environmental issues in entertainment and related industries. With cowboy hat in tow, Larry says he will continue to relentlessly tour to learn about developing energy technologies and share his own personal passion for conservation.
“Once you get into solar, you learn ways to conserve,” says Hagman. “You get into the thrill of not using electricity. It’s very thrilling using electricity, but the thrill of not using electricity is really wonderful.”