Sunita Halasz: Homeschooler & EV Pioneer
Like many Adirondackers, Sunita is an independent spirit who’s not afraid to blaze her own trail. Whether creating a curriculum for her children, who she home schools, or being an early pioneer of Electric Vehicles (EVs), Sunita’s independent streak is met in equal measure with an emphasis on community and being a good steward of the wilderness she and her family inhabit.
For the uninitiated, the idea of home schooling is a quaint, indoor affair. Not so, Sunita explains: “North Country Home Schooling is about 350 families and stretches all over the Northern Tier.” Along with other parent-educators, Sunita organizes classes and events for the entire community. “Living in the Adirondacks is unbelievable for educational opportunities whether it’s arts or science.” Upon becoming a Northern Power & Light customer, Sunita organized a field trip for her Earth Science Co op class to tour the region’s first community hydro project, Azure Mountain Power in St. Regis Falls.
Being conscious about her energy choices is nothing new for Sunita, who along with her husband Steve, got the bug for EVs early on. As infrastructure for charging was almost non-existent, everyday travel could be something of an adventure. Using the heating system in winter, for example, can impact a vehicle’s range. Simply bundling up was often the best alternative. “We had this system where we’d turn on the window defroster for one minute every five minutes.”
Sunita has been elated to see charging stations and other EV drivers proliferate throughout the region, but still recalls those early adventures fondly, “it was stressful but also a beautiful time of focus on how we move around on earth and the choices we make.”
How to source the electricity powering her family home and transportation has been an important question for Sunita, and the answer hasn’t alway been easy. “Energy can be a highly politicized issue,” she acknowledges, citing different perspectives on the development of wind energy in the region.
Sunita feels that being a Northern Power & Light customer is different, however, as it “crosses political boundaries for so many different reasons.” Northern Power & Light customers contract with local renewable energy businesses, such as small hydro. In addition to supporting the environment through clean energy, customers also support local businesses and the local economy.
“My brother was a CSA farmer in the Hudson Valley,” she explains. Upon learning that each Northern Power & Light customer gets a share of the energy a facility produces, a light when off, “I was like, oh my gosh, it’s exactly like a farm CSA!”