Richard Thompson | The sun king of Tacoma has power to spare
The city of Tacoma paid "Solar Richard" Thompson $273.24 for electricity he sent back to them last year. When it comes to generating power, he has been "totally self-sufficient since 2000."
Because he makes more energy than he uses, his electric meter actually runs backwards.
Q: What's that big panel next to your home?
A: "It's a 10-foot-by-11-foot solar panel, actually 18 panels, generating 2 million watt-hours per year — and it's all made in America."
Q: What do your neighbors think of it?
A: They love it because this is the future. It's romantic and provides shade at my annual picnic.
Q: How does it work in the great, gray Northwest?
A: When there is more than 100 candle power of light it works — dawn to dusk — even during the full moon.
Q: All it needs is the light from a centenarian's birthday cake?
A: Oh yeah! A party for a 100-year-old.
Q: Why doesn't every home have this?
A: Americans are apathetic. I don't want to say we don't care, but we don't care.
Q: What other solar things do you do?
A: At the (state) Democratic picnic, I solar-powered the PA system.
Q: And the Republican picnic?
A: They have not asked me, and I'm nonpartisan. I'm a scientist, not a politician.
Q: You answer the phone "Solar Richard." Is that your legal name?
Q: Why not change it?
A: My mother would not be happy.
Q: What's your next project?
A: Trying to get the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge lit with solar-powered LEDs.
Q: What's your favorite song?
A: (Laughs) "Here Comes the Sun." Doo, duh, doo doo. (Hums a few bars from the Beatles' song.)