Rainbow Power Co founder Peter Pedals of Blue Knob will celebrate his 65th birthday on Sunday.
Rainbow Power Co founder Peter Pedals of Blue Knob will celebrate his 65th birthday on Sunday. David Nielsen

Peter's solar idea now mainstream

HE’S been called an ‘extremist’, a ‘radical’ and many other things that aren’t fit to publish in a family newspaper, but 39 years since Peter Pedals founded Nimbin-based Rainbow Power Company he reckons society has changed so much that he has become mainstream.

“We were one of the first few solar companies in Australia and I used to be regarded as an extremist greenie who shouldn’t be taken seriously, but now my views have become mainstream although they haven’t actually changed,” said Mr Pedals, who celebrates his 65th birthday tomorrow.

“It was my desire for sustainable living that inspired me to conceive the Rainbow Power Company. I was unemployed at the time but I didn’t want a job which was environmentally destructive.”

Mr Pedals, aka Peter van der Wyk, moved to Nimbin a couple of years after attending the legendary Aquarius Festival in 1973 and his company is now headquartered only metres away from where the festival’s music stage once stood.

From its humble beginnings, his sustainable alternative energy power company now has several hundred shareholders and is expected this year to post a profit of about $4 million.

Not that Mr Pedals is a ‘corporate suit’ in hippy guise. In fact the company has gone out of its way to avoid becoming a corporation.

“I believe that corporations having achieved the status of living persons whilst having no life and no morals was one of the greatest mistakes that mankind has allowed to happen,” he said.

Each Rainbow shareholder has one vote, regardless of how many shares they hold, and the company’s 20-odd workers are encouraged to buy stock.

Looking back at his life Mr Pedals said he believes he has done what he can to help the environment, adding he is not finished yet and has no plans to retire despite his looming birthday.



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