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Brad Kallio working on renewable energy projects

A Michigan man named Brad Kallio is on a mission to demonstrate how simple it is to get started using wind and solar power to save energy and money. His campaign to promote the use of renewable energy has taken him all over the world and to participate in recent historic events.

Kallio said that resources from within the planet are finite and global warming isn't going away, so it's important for people to think about alternate methods to generate energy. A more immediate concern, especially this time of year, would be if something happened and power lines were knocked out. Depending on the severity of the incident, it could be hours, days or weeks before electricity was restored.

“Many of us are not prepared to handle a catastrophe, that's bad,” Kallio said. “We should be.”

Kallio is from Mason, a town of 8,200 about 20 minutes south of Lansing. From there here builds solar power kits and offers classes in how to use the equipment. He has worked as an electronics technician for over 30 years.

“I sell solar panels and I teach people to put them together,” Kallio said. “It's 79 inches by 39 inches wide. I sell little kits with a class that I do. My goal is to teach everybody basic electricity, things like how to read a volt meter. For $700 bucks you get a panel for 350 watts, which is really worth it. You also get a charge controller, which is the device that charges the batteries and keeps them at the right level, and a small inverter, which converts it back to AC so you can plug an extension cord and run things off the battery. It also has a charge port so you can plug in your cell phone.”

If you can handle the initial solar panel kit and enjoy the decrease in your power bill, you can expand and use more free energy from the big battery in the sky.

“You can get 'em on a skid, which is 11,000 watts,” Kallio said. “That's a complete kit replacing all the energy in your house. It comes on a skid and you can set it up anywhere. You put an inverter and a battery bank on it and you have enough energy to survive on indefinitely. But with 300 watts, you have backup power forever. You can do a lot with 300 watts.”

Kallio was at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota during the 2016-2017 “Dakota Access Pipeline” protests. He brought his expertise in wind and solar power to the people there and left some renewable energy equipment behind for them to use after he left.

“When I was at Standing Rock I gave my designs to about 15,000 people,” Kallio said. “I was there for two tours, the first one was a week. That was when I brought the solar panels there. I donated them and showed the people there how to hook them up. Facebook Hill got one, Warrior Camp got one, Rosebud got one and Sacred Stone Camp got one. That was the main camp, so I actually started there. There were moments when they couldn't keep the gas generators going; my solar stuff never failed.”

Kallio is currently the owner of three electric vehicles including a golf cart, a motorcycle and another homemade vehicle called “the solar rover.” His motorcycle is a futuristic-looking thing called a “2017 Zero DSR electric.” Kallio said he can travel 90 miles at 55 MPH on one charge, and that it takes about seven hours to charge. And since he never has to buy gasoline, the bike will eventually pay for itself over time. Despite all this, somehow many consumers have never heard of the Zero electric motorcycle.

“My solar golf cart goes about 12 MPH,” Kallio said. “The Zero goes from 0 to 106 MPH in a little over four seconds, so it's insanely quick. And it's quiet, there's no sound. That makes such a difference. I hear everything going on around me. I hear people talking on the sidewalk, I hear birds as I'm driving down the road. Harley guys think 'loud is best.' No, because you're deaf! And the quieter you are, the safer you are. Plus, I put 5,000 miles on it in Michigan last summer and I didn't spend $1,200 in fuel. That's my bike payment and my insurance payment, so the bike is a wash, financially. Why doesn't everybody do this? Well, do you see or hear advertisements for the Zero in West Michigan?”

Kallio is also a proponent of hempcrete, an environmentally-friendly building material made out of industrial hemp. Last year he entered a hempcrete sculpture into ArtPrize.

“Hempcrete is a carbon-negative building material, it's like concrete only made with hemp instead of sand,” Kallio said. “Depending on the ingredients used, it can turn to a petrified stone within 30 years. It's a natural carbon fiber, so it's lightweight and it's super strong. It just grows that way!”

For more information about Kallio's classes, kits and other projects, call 616-644-4614, email bkallio@zynoc.com, visit zynoc.com or look for his Facebook page.

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