Q & A with Travis Cox: Sustainability Professor, Solar Powered Homeowner


We’re chatting with Travis Cox, Co-Director and Professor of the Sustainable Living Undergraduate Program at Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, IA. Travis recently installed solar energy on his family’s home.

We discuss what inspired the Cox’s decision to go solar, doing the right thing, and ice cubes made out of sunshine.

Q & A with Travis Cox: Sustainability Professor, Solar Powered Homeowner

IE: Many of our customers say that they’ve been motivated to install solar for reasons ranging from creating a cleaner, healthier environment, having a more affordable power source, and creating greater energy security. What inspired your decision to install solar?

TC: All of the above. Also, as a professor in the Sustainable Living Department I felt like I needed to be walking the talk. As a concerned human being in the 21st Century, I felt like I needed to do it for moral reasons. As a father, I needed to be an example for my children.

IE:You’ve got strong roots in the sustainability community already, so were there any unexpected benefits to having a solar powered home/business that you didn’t perceive of prior to installation?

TC: It makes me much more conscious of my power use. It gives me something to say to the kids–“Remember to turn off that light; we’ve got solar panels.” Because it doesn’t supply all of our power right now we are trying to be conscious of our consumption so we can get as much of our energy as we can from solar.

IE: Anything especially notable about the solar installation process?

TC: Perhaps the best way to answer this would be to say that I didn’t have much of an experience with the installation process. One week we didn’t have panels, the next week we did. With regard to the paper work, Ideal Energy took care of everything.  In fact, the process was so smooth our family kind of felt obligated to give them a party to say thanks! From the initial site visit, through all the beginning paperwork, up to the install, and even with the final paper, Ideal Energy has taken care of everything so that our decision to go solar was effortless.

IE: Well thanks for that, and the party as well!  We strive to provide a seamless transition to solar energy, so we’re grateful to hear that was your experience.  So would you recommend solar to your friends or coworkers?

TC: Absolutely. Heck, I’ve even been recommending it to near strangers! People at the farmers market, people who are walking down the street, even the lady from Alliant who came to install my bi-directional meter had a lot of questions for me and left with a pretty big interest in solar.

IE: We love happy customers spreading the word about solar energy.  In closing, anything else you’d like to add?

TC: My wife had a lot of questions about the financial aspects of our decision and took a lot of time making up her mind, but this story is what she said put her over the top in favor of getting the panels. At one point early on in our exploration I told my 4-year old daughter that I wanted solar panels because I was tired of getting my electricity from coal. She asked what coal was and I told her it was a rock that is in mountains and they have to blow the tops off the mountains just to get the coal in order to burn it for our electricity. Therefore, the only reason we have ice cubes is because somebody blew a top of a mountain so we could burn the coal to make the ice cube.

A couple of days later my daughter told her cousin that “ice cubes are made out of rocks.” When the cousin protested my wife had to explain it to her properly. Finally, a week or so after that my daughter and my niece were playing outside in the summer sun with ice cubes and using them all up and my wife found herself saying “Wait until our ice cubes are made out of sunshine and then you can use all of them you want.” The thought of our ice cubes being “made out of sunshine” pushed her over the edge into saying “yes” to solar.
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