A Ghost Town, Going Green

A Ghost Town, Going Green

NIPTON, Calif. — Gerald Freeman leaned on a walking stick on a dusty hill near the four rows of his solar arrays, talking about it like an apostle on a mission. Down the road are the eucalyptus trees he planted as a potential source of biomass. And not far away, he said, he hopes to install a hydrogen system, another source of renewable fuel.

It’s all part of Mr. Freeman’s unlikely dream here in the Mojave Desert — to turn this tiny town into a community running on clean power entirely of its own making.

The dream began in earnest about 30 years ago, when Mr. Freeman, a gold miner living in Malibu, bought this ghost town — hotel and general store included. He still has a ways to go, but Nipton now produces roughly half the electricity for its fluctuating population of 30 to 70 residents from the array Mr. Freeman installed in 2010.

“The more independent we can become of outside resources, the better,” Mr. Freeman said, citing the rising cost of utility power, frequent outages and preserving the environment as motivation. “I’ve been conscious of the global warming issue since my early days in school. It’s only now beginning to be so much part of the present day. People are slow to adapt to an oncoming reality.”


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