Walton County - Gas prices have recently taken a dip, but just a few weeks ago they nearly topped $4 a gallon. Transportation costs are still eating up a major portion of every family's budget. A Walton County man wants to see our country's reliance on the oil industry come to an end. And he's leading by example.
Even before the worst offshore oil spill in our nation's history, Dave Rauschkolb was against drilling in Florida waters. He created the group "Hands Across the Sand" to spread his message. Two years after the spill he's even more determined to change the way our nation relies on oil. That's why he now drives a car fueled by the sun. "I can't tell you how freeing it is to actually just drive by the gas station, especially with how much everybody is paying for gas. Three thousand miles, $82.50, that is how much it cost me in electricity to drive this 100% electric Nissan Leaf," said Rauschkolb.
The savings are staggering. But they don't end there. Dave had solar panels installed on his roof, now they provide the electricity needed to fuel his vehicle and cut his home's power bill, netting a savings of $1,000 a year. "Add that to $3500 to $4000 a year in gas that I am saving and it will soon pay for itself," said Rauschkolb.
After the federal tax credit the Leaf costs about $27,000. The car, which Dave ordered online, goes 100 miles on a charge. "We as individuals have the technology in our grasp to be able to buy an electric car, put solar panels on our home and drive, effectively, for free," said Rauschkolb.
While the savings are impressive, it's not just about the bottom line. "I really feel it was important to actually live this and actually show that there are ways to do this and steer a clear path towards clean energy and away from dirty fuels," said Raushkolb. The solar panels cost him $8,200, after a $10,000 rebate check from Gulf Power. He says even if you don't have solar panels, you can still save about $3500 a year not buying gas, depending on how much you drive.