Gordon Rodda

Reminder to EV owners in the LPEA service area (La Plata and Archuleta Counties, Colorado)

On 1 July LPEA initiated a “demand charge” for residential electricity users. The point of the new charge is to “bend the curve” of electrical demand down at the time of day when high use is straining the capacity of the grid. EV owners are exceptionally well placed to assist in this endeavor, because most can automatically shift their charging time away from the peak demand period (4-9 PM) until later at night, when surplus electricity is available. Regardless of the new charge on our electric bills, this is a great idea, as shifting EV charging to times of power surplus will reduce the need to build more power plants. In most cases, this will not inconvenience EV users in the slightest; on the rare occasions when it might (you need to drive again in the evening after arriving home with a dead battery), tap the “override” button on your car’s charging display when you plug it in, and it will charge immediately.

The charge works as follows: LPEA calculates which single hour of a billing month you used the most electricity between 4 and 9 PM. It then charges you a high rate ($1.50/kwh) for that hour. Note that LPEA’s power supplier (LPEA has an electricity bill to pay too, for purchasing bulk electricity from Tri-State) charges 460 times more for the one hour of highest usage per month than it does for power used at other times. LPEA is passing a tiny fraction of this surcharge along to the consumer in an effort to nudge residential customers into shifting their usage to other times of day (https:\\lpea.coop/rates#collapse-accordion-173-4). Note that this extra charge does not apply to residential users that have already adopted time-of-use billing. Most EV users that do not have their own generation (e.g., photovoltaic [PV] panels) are likely to benefit from time-of-use billing. Most residents with PV panels with not benefit from time-of-use billing.

To automate your car’s charging schedule, open the charging options screen on your car’s dash and set the hours of 4-9 PM to be a “peak electricity” billing time, set the charging schedule to prioritize charging during off-peak hours, and then set the other options to ensure that your car will be charged by the time you are likely to next need it (typically 7 or 8 AM). All EVs have some menu choice to easily override this charging block-out, on specific occasions when overriding is desired. For example, on my Volt, a window pops up when I open the charging port, and the button across the bottom of the screen allows me to “override this time.” EV owners’ ability to shift electrical use to non-peak hours is one of the primary reasons why electric utilities love EVs.

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Thinking about a new Bolt or Leaf; now is the time

Once a year the Durango-based organization 4Core (Four Corners Office for Resource Efficiency) puts together a “group buy” for electric cars sold at a sharp discount. In exchange for placing a large order, the dealers drop prices for those buying through 4Core (contact: Laurie@4CORE.org). The Durango Nissan dealer has consistently reduced prices by thousands of dollars for those buying a Leaf, and most non-Tesla EV owners in the Four Corners are Leaf-owners as a result. This year, in addition to great discounts on Leafs ($3000 off from Nissan, $1000 off from Nissan of Durango, and eligibility for a federal tax credit of up to $7500), Laurie has cajoled Morehart-Murphy Chevrolet into offering impressive discounts on 2020 Bolts: $8500 off from GM; $1000 off from Morehart-Murphy, and eligibility for a Colorado tax credit of up to $4000. These are exceptional discounts, unlikely to be repeated, available through the end of July

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EVs under threat from COVID?

Today’s New York Times (10 March 2020) contains two articles about EVs. Although the articles appear independently, they speak to each other. In the automotive section is one entitled “Tesla’s Success in Europe Catches Industry Off Guard”. It notes that the Model 3 is, after only a few months on the European market, the third-highest selling car in Europe, “outselling competing models by BMW, Mercedes, and Audi.” In contrast, the coronavirus news section of the Times highlights the slowing economy and European government efforts to stimulate demand: “Oliver Zipse, the chief executive of BMW, said last week that European governments should put less pressure on automakers to stop selling cars with internal combustion engines….The most important thing the government should do is not prematurely rule out some kinds of propulsion.”

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Novel Colorado legislation would allow direct-to-consumer sales of BEVs

Tesla is already doing this, but apparently there is a general prohibition against direct-to-consumer sales of cars that new Colorado legislation would alleviate, but only for BEVs. This may be a response to recent opposition of the car dealers (and support by the car manufacturers) to Colorado’s Zero-emission Vehicle standard. Here’s the message we got today from the Denver EV group:

Last Thursday Senate Bill SB20-167 was introduced and assigned to the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee. The bill is titled: “Electric Motor Vehicle Manufacturer & Dealer” – Concerning increasing consumer access to electric motor vehicles by allowing manufacturers to sell their own electric motor vehicles directly to consumers.

The bill Summary is as follows: “Current law states that, with certain exceptions, a motor vehicle manufacturer may not own, operate, or control any motor vehicle dealer or used motor vehicle dealer in Colorado. The bill creates a new exception that allows the ownership, operation, or control of a motor vehicle dealer that sells electric motor vehicles of a manufacturer’s line-make. An “electric motor vehicle” is a motor vehicle that can operate entirely on electrical power.”

The hearing for this bill will be this Tuesday (2-18) at 2:00 PM in the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the State Capitol. If you can’t testify in person and would like to share your views with the Committee, you may email the five committee members. They are:
Senator Faith Winter, Chair faith.winter.senate@state.co.us
Senator Kerry Donovan, Vice Chair kerry.donovan.senate@state.co.us
Senator Mike Foote mike.foote.senate@state.co.us
Senator Dennis Hisey dennis.hisey.senate@state.co.us
Senator Ray Scott ray.scott.senate@state.co.us

As a courtesy to the committee members, you may want to put “SB20-167 For” or “SB20-167 Against” in the Subject line. Also include a brief reason for your view in the text of the email. This legislation might be especially germane to the Four Corners insofar as so few dealers in the Four Corners are supporting EVs.

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A solution for parking garages lacking chargers

Volkswagen is promoting (https://newatlas.com/automotive/volkswagen-autonomous-electric-vehicle-charging-robots/) a new twist on the problem of building difficult or expensive charging ports into every parking space: robots that bring the juice to the needy cars. We know of apartment complexes in Durango that are flummoxed by the problem that every parking space is assigned to an individual apartment, and there are no extra spaces that could be devoted to charging EVs. Even if there were a few such extra spaces, there would be conflicts over how many dedicated charging spaces to create and who is the reprobate responsible for leaving their fully charged car in the space overnight, preventing others from charging.

VW’s solution is a autonomous charger that, when requested through a car owner’s smartphone, hooks the car up to a battery wagon that the robot guides from needy car to needy car. The wagon can be hooked up to several cars simultaneously, and the robot will switch hookups as needed to ensure that all the cars get charged.

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Federal tax credit reinstated for 2018-2020 EV purchases and chargers

Chevy Bolt taking care of Christmas.

Current EVents (Jan 2020, the magazine of the Electric Auto Association) reported:

Receive a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost of purchasing and installing an EV charging station (up to $1,000 for residential installations and up to $30,000 for commercial installations) with this retroactive credit.

Previously, this federal tax credit expired on December 31, 2017, but is now retroactively extended through December 31, 2020. The full details can be viewed on the U.S. Department of Energy website: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/10513.

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December 2019 EV Policy Updates

by Gordon Rodda 0 Comments

Utilities join CA & CO against plan to force states to abandon Zero Emission Vehicle Standards

There is a very complicated legal fight underway pitting California against the Trump Administration (covered in: www.eenews.net/climatewire/2019/12/05/stories/1061727197). We have a dog in this fight because Colorado has chosen to follow the California rules on sales of zero emission vehicles (called the ZEV standard). It was in the news today (12/5/19) because a suite of electric utilities known formally as the “Power Companies” (Consolidated Edison, New York Power Authority, etc.) joined the legal battle on the side of California/Colorado, arguing that “ ZEV standards — regardless of changes in political leadership at the federal level – [have] provided the long-term certainty needed for the Power Companies to incorporate electrification of the transportation sector as a critical component of their business models and investment strategies.”

In other words, the electric utilities would like to promote electric vehicles, but the Trump Administration’s proposed rule would undermine the adoption of electric vehicles and therefore hurt electric power sales. This legal battle has major implications for global air quality, and will likely be fought all the way to the Supreme Court, unless Trump loses the upcoming election and the new President vacates the suit.

Compiled and summarized by Gordon Rodda

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