Utah man drives solar LEAF to reduce pollution

polluted-salt-lake-collageThanks to its geography, which regularly creates so-called air inversion situations, Salt Lake City, Utah has a lot of problems with air pollution. And most of this pollution is generated by gasoline cars.

But Salt Lake resident Michael Mielke isn’t contributing to the smog that often envelops much of the Salt Lake area. That’s because he’s zipping around in a solar-charged Nissan LEAF.

As the Salt Lake City Deseret News reports in a recent feature story about Mielke – part of a series the paper is doing about air pollution problems in the Salt Lake area, “Mielke puts his money where his mouth is.”

Salt Lake City’s bad air
“The air we breathe not just smells bad and tastes bad, it’s also lethal for people and costing us billions,” Mielke tells the Deseret News, pointing to both health and economic studies citing the toll air pollution is taking in Utah. In fact, he bought a home at the top of 18th Avenue in Salt Lake City to escape trapped pollutants on the valley floor.

He proudly boasts that his all-electric Nissan LEAF has zero emissions.

And, as the Deseret News puts it, “Before critics rush to say he plugs into electrical power generated by burning coal — he points out that he doesn’t.”

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Mielke’s invested in 18 solar panels affixed to the roof of his home high in the foothills above Salt Lake City. All told, those panels generate 3.2 kW of power and provide enough electricity to charge the LEAF, which he bought last November.

Mielke told the News that he wants to augment his current solar system with 24 additional panels so that he can say he powers not just his EV with PV, but 100 percent of his home electric use, plus that of some of his neighbors, with solar electricity.

“It costs me about $400 a month, but that’s everything, and this is no junk here. The acceleration is amazing because there are no gears. She’s a sports car and she runs on sunshine,” Mielke told the News.

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