Photo by Gary Reysa,   http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/PV/ColdSprings.htm 

It was one of those road trips where you are in desperate need of a restroom.  It around 1 pm in May, 2008.  I was driving across country from my winter job in Florida to my summer job at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.  On this day, I was driving across the World’s Loneliest Highway, Highway 50 going across the state of Nevada.  There were no developments (i.e. RESTROOMS) for past 100 miles of my drive.  As usual, I was drinking lots of water to keep me awake and hydrated while I was driving.  However, I thought my bladder going to burst before I reached any civilization.  I still had around 100 miles to drive to meet up with a friend in Carson City, Nevada. Finally, I saw a gas station/mini mart around the “blink and you will miss it” extremely tiny town of Cold Springs, Nevada.   It felt like a miracle to finally see an active building that may have a restroom.

I very quickly pulled over, ran out of my car to go inside the mini-mart.  As I bolted from my car, I was doing that funny walk/run where you desperately need a restroom.  Yet, your bladder is so heavy you can barely use your walk.  When I walked inside the store, the clerk at the counter told me the restrooms were ‘way out back past the solar panels.’   Whatever.   It was an emergency so I ran past the rows of solar arrays to get to the tiny-Johnny-on-the- spot.  I thought for a second, ‘Interesting, solar panels’ as I really needed to relieve myself in time. Fortunately, Thank God!  I did make it to the Port-a-John just in time. I was then so much more relaxed and mellow as I strolled back towards the mini-mart. Then, I really noticed, “WOW! LOOK AT ALL THESE SOLAR PANELS!”
I then asked the store clerk, ‘So how do you like those solar panels?’ She responded, “GREAT! We love them. We still have to go on the grid at night. However, the solar panels do provide all of our electricity during the day and we are even able to sell some of it to the electric utility.”  According to Gary Reysa on his website www.builditsolar.com, the owner of the Cold Springs facility also told him that it is a 30 Kilo Watt grid tied solar photo voltaic (PV) installation that sells excess power to the utility.  The owners installed the solar PV as an investment, and feel that it has paid well — they intend to install additional PV in the future.
I then mentioned the solar panels at Cold Springs to my friend, Dave, in Carson City. He responded that Nevada was even offering tax credits to residences at that time for those who put solar panels on their homes. I believe, Like the Cold Strings Station Motel, RV Park and General Store, there are so many more things we can be doing to be energy independent and use clean energy here in America. The problem is that often we do not notice these things, unless we really, really truly have to use the bathroom.


  1. Maku

    Very cool! I bet they could add a battery bank and go off the grid entirely. But, then again, that would keep them from selling their excess energy. Thanks, Brian!

  2. bettling Post author

    Thank Maku! Yes, there are still problems with solar, especially trying to store the power when the sun does not shine. I consider them to be fun problems though. I would still rather have the struggles with solar, which can be overcome with innovation, than the problems of pollution and climate change with burning coal, oil, and natural gas. The key is to keep this conversation going among people. The cheapest and easiest thing to do so far is still to burn coal and oil. However, it is proving to be more and more expensive for the planet, other species, and future generations. A combination of solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, biofuels (without reducing food crops) and other alternative clean, green energy could easily us ween our collective addiction to fossil fuels. Thanks again for your comment! I always enjoy hearing what you have to say. Brian

  3. sailorsedge

    Thanks for the wizzer of a story Brian. We have all solar/wind on our sailboat but have also been researching a system for the house. Here in Florida one side of our tin roof is the perfect angle for panels. The grid tie seems the most cost effective at the moment. Batteries and controllers are expensive! I just like the thought of a cleaner environment.

Comments are closed.