In the Pipeline: Pushing alternative power at 93

May 28, 2013|By Chris Epting
  • Alternative energy guru Philip Hodgetts in his solar-powered home.
Alternative energy guru Philip Hodgetts in his solar-powered… (Courtesy Chris…)

"My father worked on the takeoff mechanism for the Wright brothers back in 1906. He was a blacksmith and when Wilbur Wright came into the shop he got right to it."

Philip Hodgetts, 93, is at least as interesting as his dad.

We're sitting in his quiet kitchen just off Edinger Avenue near Newland Street and he is explaining a few things to me. Like how his father also served in the honor guard for President William Taft, in addition to helping the famous flying brothers. Which becomes even more interesting when one learns that Hodgetts himself was a design engineer on the space shuttle Columbia. Think of that. Think of the flight history that spans between this father and son.

But that's not why I'm here. Hodgetts is a man on a mission; a passionate alternative energy advocate who walks it like he talks it. He generates enough power through the solar panels on his roof that the energy company actually sends him a check every month for the amount he kicks back into the grid.


All of his appliances are run this way and he is so committed to teaching this country how to wean itself off of oil that he's written a book. It is called Solutions for Obtaining a Healthier Environment and a Wealthier Nation and with a little luck it will be published soon. He's been the president of the Electric Vehicle Assn. of Southern California as well as the President of the American Hydrogen Assn. among many other posts having to do with alternative fuel.

He took me through his book, which lays out in very simple order the steps that he believes will save our country from its oil dependency. He is tired of outsourcing and has deep faith in things like wind, water, sunshine, moonshine and harnessing the power of waste. He points to Brazil as an example of a country that has learned to harness the power of other elements including alcohol.

I first became aware of Mr. Hodgetts recently when I read his memoir, "Stirring Among the Playthings." In it, he detail's his fascinating life that began in Colorado before wending its way west. I learned about his military service, his family and of course his interest in alternative energy.

At 93, Hodgetts is still a sharp as a tack and deeply committed to creating awareness about things that he feels are very important. I think once he gets his new book published he will turn a lot of heads with his thinking.

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