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J.R. Ewing: Solar warrior?

July 12, 2010 |  3:50 pm

Hagman
Sometimes, the best person to preach the wonders of solar power is a man in a ten-gallon hat.

Specifically, that would be J.R. Ewing, the nefarious Texas oil tycoon from the hit television series "Dallas," though these days, he prefers to go by Larry Hagman.

The actor, who also portrayed Major Anthony Nelson in the sitcom "I Dream of Jeannie," is a major proponent of alternative energy. Solar panels blanket his Ojai estate, where he also grows vegetables and has 200 avocado trees. His 94-kilowatt installation cost $750,000 to install but helped cut his electricity bill from $37,000 to $13 a year, he said.

“It doesn’t make any noise and does a wonderful job,” he said. “I’ve realized that if the infrastructure is so delicate, then I better look after myself.”

That’s why on Tuesday, Hagman will be at the Intersolar industry conference -- his first solar trade show -- at San Francisco’s Moscone Center pontificating about the importance of solar power. The passionate thespian is a guest of Oregon photovoltaics company SolarWorld.

He will encourage consumers to go with domestically made solar panels, “made here by Americans, for Americans.”

“It’s keeping jobs here,” he said in an earlier interview. “This can turn things around."

Not to mention, he said, that using clean power could be a powerful hedge against rising electricity rates and surging oil prices.

“Our security is going to be in producing all of our own energy,” he said.

He’s also introducing a new ad campaign with SolarWorld, in which he cheerily pushes consumers to “shine, baby, shine.”

So maybe having J.R. Ewing stump for renewable power is a bit like hiring Darth Vader as the poster boy for Amnesty International. But Hagman laughs it off: “I’m an enigma to myself,” he said.

An eco-enigma, maybe. As a board member of nonprofit Solar Electric Light Fund, Hagman has made trips to Bhutan, Brazil and Rwanda to pitch sun power. The organization received a donation of 100 kilowatts of panels from SolarWorld to send to earthquake-ravaged Haiti.

“It does good, and it’s been fun to be able to help people on a daily basis,” he said. “I get a charge out of this.”

-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Hagman in a photo from the ad campaign. Courtesy of SolarWorld

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