Reporting from the Intersolar show in San Francisco, California -- Germany has long had an unhealthy preoccupation with some odd American cultural cul de sacs (see Bonanza, The and Hasselhoff, David).
Germany's SolarWorld continued this streak of cultural awkwardness with its press conference today.
Promising an announcement by a former oil tycoon, SolarWorld primed the press with a possible appearance by who? T. Boone Pickens? Don Paul, the former CTO of Chevron? Jed Clampett?
Nope -- it's Larry Hagman. In a case of being unable to differentiate reality from TV, SolarWorld disinterred Larry Hagman and had him pontificate about the virtues of solar. It's not as if Hagman doesn't own some solar panels. In fact, he has a massive investment in a 94-kilowatt solar installation on his southern California estate, where he also grows vegetables and avocado trees. A totally inappropriate example of a millionaire installing $750,000 worth of solar. Hagman claims he has a $13 per year electric bill, down from $37,000 per year.
"If we got the same breaks as the oil and gas industry, we could really make a difference," said Hagman.
Adding to the surrealistic aspect of his appearance, Hagman is encouraging consumers to go with U.S.-built solar panels, “made here by Americans, for Americans," from German-based SolarWorld.
SolarWorld does have a large manufacturing facility in Oregon and two other U.S. sites in which are employed almost 1,000 Americans. The firm has a market cap of $1.2 billion.
Hagman is a board member of nonprofit Solar Electric Light Fund (SELF), an altruistic organization that recently provided 100 kilowatts of SolarWorld panels to Haiti. SolarWorld celebrated that virtuous donation at today's press conference.
Charitable largesse notwithstanding, I for one will never forgive Hagman for the way he treated Barbara Eden.