A while back I wrote a story for a magazine called Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure about the nation’s first solar highway project. Here are the first two paragraphs:
It’s not often that innovation comes from watching television. But don’t tell that to Allison Hamilton, a project director with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). While watching a NOVA special on PBS about solar power, she noticed solar panels on the German Autobahn. The sight of them made her sit up, turn to her husband, and ask, “If they can do that there, why can’t we do it here?”
Nineteen months after the light bulb went on over Hamilton’s head, ODOT commissioned the nation’s first solar highway project on Dec. 19, 2008, putting renewable energy into the grid to power lights on Interstate 5. By all measures, the 104-kilowatt solar array located at a freeway interchange 15 miles south of Portland is a success. Even so, the project showed some of the bumps on the long road that will exist until renewable energy is widely adopted on U.S. freeways.