When Ted Dillard took an old broken-down motorcycle and converted it to run on electric batteries, he had one goal in mind: drive the bike up Mount Washington in New Hampshire.

The road to the peak of Mount Washington is steep, curved, narrow, and in places unpaved — a rigorous test track for new vehicles.


DILLARD: “This is a bike that I literally dragged out of a scrap heap, and built myself, and so it was a lot of fun seeing that thing climb its way to the summit, a great sense of satisfaction.”

Dillard is the director of the Mount Washington Auto Road Alt Energy Summit — an annual event that road tests new vehicles powered by renewable energy.

The event began in 1975, in response to the energy crisis. It included mostly home-grown solutions, such as a school bus that ran on methane from chicken manure. This year’s event highlighted more off-the-shelf solutions.

DILLARD: “A lot of electric cars, a lot of hybrids, a lot of very interesting solutions to transportation today.”

Dillard hopes the event — and its history — demonstrate how far clean energy has come. Today, consumers can buy an electric or hybrid vehicle off the lot and make it to the top of the mountain themselves.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: From the 2014 Mt. Washington Auto Road brochure announcing the Alt Energy Summit event (source: AltEnergySummit.org).

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Bud Ward was editor of Yale Climate Connections from 2007-2022. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as assistant director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission...