New homes wired with the latest smart gadgets cluster together around shared park spaces. Blue-black panels that transform sunshine into electricity grace a majority of roofs. Electric cars or hybrids glide silently to rest in garages. This is not some distant future; this is life today in Mueller–an innovative suburb of Austin, Tex., and just one of the pioneering places I visit in the next episode of “Beyond the Light Switch,” premiering tonight in Detroit.
From how better batteries can make a better soldier to the race to invent those better batteries, this episode picks up where the previous award-winning shows left off–what would happen if the U.S. went electric? What would be the economic, environmental and national security impacts of that kind of transformation? It’s actually a transformation that’s already under way, from Atlanta’s airport to the Port of Los Angeles and beyond, to where Elon Musk’s self-described gigafactory to build batteries rises in the Nevada desert.
An electric future could be cleaner and help wean the country from its oil addiction with the help of new kinds of cars. That future is coming up fast, shaped by global competition for clean energy, but this is our chance to create a vision for the America we want to see. The children of Mueller I met don’t think about gas stations, gas prices or where the oil to make that gasoline comes from–they think cars just plug in to recharge and go. As one young boy named Zachary told me during my visit: “Mine and my family’s car runs on, well, it runs on battery power.” And with more and more of the electricity in those batteries coming from cleaner sources–solar panels on rooftops, wind farms, even burning natural gas instead of dirtier coal–American families can breathe easier. The lessons learned in Mueller may be unique but they can also spread. So tune in to go beyond the light switch with me and stay tuned to find out when to watch in your neighborhood.