Updated 08/21/2012 06:25 PM
Rome community on board with company's solar powered future
It's common to see boats making their way up and down the Erie Canal, but usually the sound of a motor comes with them. A Rome company is working to change that. The Tamarack Electric Boat Company began assembly Tuesday on its new solar-assisted electric pontoon boat. Our Sarah Blazonis was there as passengers took a journey on the boat's prototype and tells us why builders say it will mean big things for the environment and city.
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ROME, N.Y. -- "The sun is shining and the birds are soaring overhead, as if leading the way. All forces of nature seem in balance and your own role in this moment is a supporting act, rather than invasive."
Montgomery Gisborne says this imagined scenario was a guiding principle for his business, the Tamarack Lake Electric Boat Company, while building its latest creation. The Loon, a solar-assisted electric pontoon boat, went into production Tuesday, but the project's roots go back to a solar-powered trip Gisborne and his family took along the Erie Canal.
"You start realizing, what was I worried about? I've got all this energy on reserve, I'm never going to use it, I've got more than I need. So, we're happy. And that's what this is about: it's about happy, carefree, worry-free boating," said Gisborne.
These solar panels on the roof help the boat generate enough energy for a 50 mile journey even on a cloudy day. And while officials say it may cost a little more than an average boat, owners should break even in about five years.
But officials say especially exciting is what it will mean for the environment.
"We think about our cars and trucks and buses and so forth, but we consume a lot of petroleum products in the boating industry as well and that results in the emission of a lot of greenhouse gases," said NYSERDA's president and CEO, Francis Murray.
Tamarack says it expects to grow its workforce from its current four employees to as many as 13 by the end of next year as production demands grow. The company could produce as many as 100 of the boats each year.