Mount Washington Auto Road to host largest gathering of alternative-energy based vehicles in North America
GREEN'S GRANT - As all-electric cars become increasingly common, their popularity can be credited in part to events such as the Alt Energy Summit, which next month is hoping to bring the largest field of alternative-energy based vehicles in North America to the Mount Washington Auto Road, according to its organizers.
Founded in 1975, the Alt Energy Summit went dormant in recent years but was "rebooted" in 2013 and returns again this year on Sept 13 and 14 under the direction of Ted Dillard, a Boston-area writer, photographer and businessman who expects as many as 100 alternative-energy vehicles to be on hand.
To be held rain or shine, the free event will feature a parade up the Auto Road as well as workshops for inventors and the public to educate both groups about the variety of alternate-fueled vehicles already out there and to inspire them to build - or buy - one.
This year's summit, said Dillard from his Dedham, Mass., home, will serve to kick off the New England celebrations of National Drive Electric Week. The New Hampshire Electric Cooperative is the presenting sponsor of the summit, which boasts major manufacturers, electric vehicle associations, industry suppliers and individual "makers."
Expected to be on hand at the summit is one of the earliest examples of an alternate-energy vehicle: a steam-powered Stanley Locomobile that was the first motor vehicle to ascend the Auto Road in 1899.
Howie Wemyss, who is the Auto Road's general manager, said given how the Auto Road has "seen the evolution of transportation play out on its 8-mile path to the summit," it seemed "very appropriate that we showcase how alternative energy technologies have evolved since then."
Many to attend
Dillard said attendees will include the New England Electric Auto Association; Bill Buchholz, with his Dirigo front-wheel drive, 90 mpg diesel tadpole trike; the MIT EVT team with its electric Porsche and latest electric motorcycle; Olin College's REVO Team; Zoombikes' electric bikes; Robert Worobey of Black Sparrow Industries, with his three-wheeled board, the Tribey; Ben Rich, Cross-Country EV adventurer and KickgasTV, who will display his Zero Motorcycle ride; and Smart Energy of New England, which will highlight its line of solar electric, solar thermal, pellet boilers and various wind-generation products.
Also on hand will be representatives from Outrider USA along with the company's three-wheeled electric/pedal power vehicles; Chargepoint; the ALT E Store; Foxfire Energy; Dragonfly Aerials; the Maine Chapter of the National Electric Drag Racing Association, which is bringing an electric motorcycle and Cobra drag car; and the Granite State Clean Cities Coalition, which will host a presentation on community-based charge stations.
Experts on hand
Gary LeMay from the NHEC will be on hand to answer questions about renewable and sustainable energy, and Twin State Ford will display an assortment of electric and hybrid vehicles available for purchase.
A full schedule of events is available online at www.altenergysummit.org.
The summit begins at 10 a.m. Sept. 14 with the "Alt Energy Parade and Drive to the Summit." The Auto Road will be open to the public both days, and the vehicles will be available for inspection.
Dillard said Tim O'Neil and the EVSR race team - as well as two of their cars - will be present. In June, O'Neil drove the first electric vehicle in the Auto Road's Climb to the Clouds race, finishing 24th,with a time of 7 minutes 28 seconds, or a minute and 20 seconds slower than the conventionally powered Subaru WRX/STi driven by David Higgins.
Dillard also expects some Tesla owners to be on hand with their high-end rides, as well as home inventors who may be bringing whatever they have developed since last year's summit.
Creativity abounds at the Alt Energy Summit, said Dillard, noting that in 1975, one entry was a chicken manure methane-powered school bus.
For the public's safety, Dillard joked, no vehicles are allowed to be powered by anti-matter or flux capacitors, the latter being the device that powered Michael J. Fox's DeLorean sports car in the movie "Back to the Future."
Other than those two exceptions, however, everything else goes at the Alt Energy Summit, said Dillard.
"Our effort last year, and a big part of our effort this year, is to inspire entrepreneurial inventors and to show the public what is here already, what they can buy right off the shelf," said Dillard, whether it's a hybrid or all-electric vehicle or a whole-house solar kit.
"This year is the tipping point for electric vehicles," Dillard predicted. "We're seeing a huge surge in the stock value of companies like Tesla and pure, electric vehicles are being offered by most manufacturers. Next year by this time, electric cars will be as common as hybrids today, and it will happen that fast."