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Avista Sun Car

Avista Sun Car - Testing the power of renewable energy

Avista’s Sun Car is a Toyota Prius,® a hybrid estimated to achieve 45+ MPG. Our car, however, is a little different than the regular model. It has been converted into a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) that has the potential to double the MPG rating. The added plug-in system lets us charge the battery with power we’re generating from clean renewable sources, such as solar panels similar to a typical residential system, which we’ve installed on the roof of our corporate building in Spokane.

Why Do It?

Avista is conducting multiple tests to learn how plug-in vehicles will impact demand for energy in the not-too-distant future-and to give us a better understanding of the crucial role that renewable energy will play. Plug-in vehicle conversion kits are already widely available to consumers, and car-makers plan to release PHEV models as early as 2010. As more and more PHEVs appear, we’ll need to effectively manage the increased load on our power system, especially during peak usage times. Our Sun Car will help us plan ahead to meet everyone’s energy needs.

How Does Solar Fit In?

Avista Sun Car - Testing the power of renewable energyAvista’s goal is to generate enough clean, renewable energy using solar panels to power our two plug-in cars. In the future, we may test different renewable technologies from our Clean Energy Test Site in Rathdrum, Idaho. By testing and monitoring solar and other renewable energy sources in relation to auto battery technology, we’ll not only be able to predict the impact of transportation alternatives, we’ll learn better ways to generate renewable energy. So in the end, we’ll still be able to deliver all the reliable energy our customers will need.

Where Is Renewable Energy Headed?

As fuel and energy become more closely related, it’s no secret renewable energy will grow increasingly important to everyone. Nearly 50 customers have already installed their own renewable energy systems, interconnecting with Avista’s electrical grid. As we move forward with renewable energy projects, we expect even more people will join in. Thanks to solar panel testing and the Avista Sun Car, we’re gaining keen insights into what the future looks like.