By JOHN T. WARD
By all outward appearances, Pete Ptak may be the greenest guy on the Green.
The Red Bank resident has racked up his West Westside Avenue home with solar panels, just as he did with two houses across the street when he owned them and another he still owns.
In fact, he recently went through a major upgrade, replacing his panels with newer ones that suck up tons more power from the sun than the older ones, and adding others to his backyard shed.
Now, having cut his household utility bills to less than zero, he’s putting that free juice to work when he’s on the move. He claims to have the only Toyota Rav4 EV all-electric car in New Jersey. And thanks to the hardware on the roof of his house and shed, it costs him nothing to fuel.
But to Ptak, it’s not about saving the planet. It’s about saving money.
“I don’t care about being green,” Ptak tells redbankgreen. “The green I care about is the green that comes out of my wallet.”
“My joke is that every year, my husband picks something else he doesn’t want to pay for,” and then finds a way not to pay for it, said Ptak’s wife, Tanya.
Brian Kelly, owner of Sea Bright Solar, which installed Ptak’s home energy system, calls Ptak the most “hard-wired” guy he’s dealt with, as knowledgeable about solar technology as anyone.
That comes across in conversation about the car, too. You’d think Ptak was a paid spokesman for Toyota. Not so, he says. In fact, he had to lease the car in California – he’s an airline pilot, so the trip was free – the only state where Toyota is selling them, and pay an extra $925 to have it shipped to New Jersey.
If something goes wrong with it, good luck finding a mechanic. But Ptak isn’t worried, because there are so many fewer parts to fail on an electric car.
Ptak said the vehicle recharges overnight in about five hours, powering up for an estimated 103 miles of driving. That range can be increased to 130 or so miles.
Total cost for a “tankful” of electricity would be about $8, if he had to pay for it. But because of credits Ptak earns on his solar system, it’s nada.
He insisted redbankgreen get behind the wheel for a spin, and then urged us to hammer down the accelerator from full stop. Because there’s no engine noise, the sound of the drive wheel painting the asphalt in rubber was unmistakable.
So strong is Ptak’s advocacy for solar homes and electric cars that he invites any local resident thinking about getting an electric car to test-drive his. He can be reached at email@example.com. (Yeah, Ptak and his wife are also beekeepers, selling the honey of their bees for additional income.)