Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

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Guest Post by Tim Echols, Commissioner, Georgia Public Service Commission: Why Retain the ZEV/LEV Income Tax Credit In Georgia?

I was in a restaurant the other day when a legislator came up to me and asked an important question that all of us need to be ready to answer.  He asked, somewhat hostilely I might add, “what has Georgia received for the almost $15 million invested in electric cars via the tax credit?” 

Our response to this question may determine whether Georgia’s $5000 ZEV income tax credit lives or dies.

Probably our first answer needs to be economic, and not just “our” personal economics. Remember, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development, for every one percent of petroleum-based miles travelled in Georgia that is displaced by electric vehicles, approximately $201 million dollars will remain in the state of Georgia annuallyEach pure electric vehicle purchased keeps $2,242 annually in the state of Georgia by fueling with electricity rather than petroleum-based products.  This is huge.

The second reason is similar and one that Don Francis of Clean Cities Georgia talks about frequently.  The tax credit received comes back after we file our taxes as a refund, and then gets spent.  It buys things in Georgia like clothes, appliances and services.  That has a multiplier effect.

Third, electric vehicles fit nicely with our electric grid here.  Georgia Power has set up a special tariff [Editor Note: called Plug In Electric Vehicle Time of Use Rate Plan – see Resources tab] to encourage people to get electric vehicles and charge them overnight—when power is super cheap and plentiful.  According to a study of 1000 of these Georgia electric car owners on the PEV rate plan, they are not only using electricity instead of gas, but they are saving $180 per year to boot.  How?  They are shifting their usage to the evening and overnight period. This is good because we have extra electric capacity overnight, and these vehicles help us utilize it.  Then, during the day, electric vehicles and equipment are quiet, clean and efficient and offer users the opportunity to save money on fuel and maintenance costs and reduce their environmental impact.

Fourth, with Atlanta out of compliance with the EPA rule, the metro area needs all the help it can get to attain the standard and save everyone the cost of an emission sticker—not to mention their lungs. Remember, gasoline or diesel engines deteriorate over time, leading to higher emissions with the age of the vehicle, whereas electric vehicles will potentially get cleaner over time as the generation of electricity gets cleaner.

Finally, electric cars send a message to young people. As I sat recently with Mayor Reed discussing Atlanta’s success with electric cars, I asked him what he thought was the greatest benefit our region has received from the $15 million invested through state tax credits thus far. He didn’t hesitate.  He said it has sent a strong message to millennials about our priorities. This investment, he further explained, makes Atlanta a more livable city where people want to be.  He likened it to the Beltline and other quality of life projects that are drawing talented young people back into the city to live and work.  As an Atlanta native, I can get excited about that.

Nissan is having great success with the LEAF and Georgia is the 2nd largest market in the U.S. for all EVs.  But behind Nissan, BMW, Kia and many other manufacturers are coming with electric carsOur message to the legislature needs to be to hold off for another year before taking action.  Let’s allow the other manufacturers to benefit as Nissan has done.  Then, if they decide to eliminate this credit, do it slowly and phase it out over the next decade.  Georgia has a great business climate, in part because we don’t make knee-jerk regulations causing uncertainty and confusion in the marketplace.  Let’s not change that now.

I urge you to reach out to your legislator—now—before the session starts and communicate the value of the credit to our state and its citizens.

GA Power


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Georgia Power to Invest $12 Million to Advance Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

The  Atlanta Business Chronicle reported that Georgia Power is about to launch a broad-based round of incentives to stimulate residential, commercial and public charging infrastructure development in its service areas. The reported $12 million program provides for a $250.00 rebate for consumers who install a level 2 EV charging system at their homes, and $500.00 for commercial properties who install a level 2 (AC 240v/40 amp) or $250.00 for level 1 (AC 110v/16 amp) charger at their workplace.  Home and work are the top two places EV drivers want to charge up their vehicles.

Additionally, Georgia Power is working with the City of Atlanta to support the creation of 50 public charging ‘islands’ where both level 2 and Fast Charge (DC 480v/100 amp) will be built to dramatically enhance the public availability of fast charging systems which will improve EV charging infrastructure in metro Atlanta and begin to build fast charge corridors to the outlying metro Atlanta areas including Athens, Newnan and Conyers GA.

Here’s the link to the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s breaking story:  http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/blog/atlantech/2014/10/georgia-power-to-invest-12m-in-driving-electric.html.

Georgia Power is no stranger to building electric vehicle infrastructure.  In the early 1990s,  Georgia Power installed over 500 level 2 charging stations in support of GM’s EV1 program when Atlanta was a test city.  Some of those stations can still be found in and around Atlanta.

CleanCitiesGeorgia Coordinator Don Francis, a 31 year veteran of Georgia Power, will help oversee this new program.

Year to Date September 2014


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Have You Driven a Ford (Plug-In Electric Hybrid) Vehicle Lately? YTD September EV Sales Results

Electric Vehicle sales continue to break through new records, according to data published by the Electric Drive Transport Association (electricdrive.org/sales). Through September 2014, 88,149 electric vehicles were sold, up +30% versus YTD September 2013.  With 255,766 EVs on US roads since 2011, that number almost doubled the 138,894 cume sales 2011-September 2013.

EV sales in September 2014  were up +15% and EV sales per month are now averaging almost 10,000 units.

From a manufacturer share, Nissan has replaced Chevrolet as the #1 EV manufacturer at 25.0% vs. 17.6% for Chevrolet (VOLT, Spark).  Nissan sales are up 36% while Chevrolet is down -10%.  

Seems like Nissan and Chevrolet have just traded places?  Not so fast!  

According to data provided by Insideevs.com monthly EV Sales Scorecard, Ford has come on strong to take the #2 EV manufacturer position. Ford PHEV sales across the combined Ford Focus Electric, C-Max Energi and Fusion Energi grew +93% to 17,343 units.  Share grew from 13.5% (YTD September 2013) to 19.9% YTD 2014 leap frogging both Chevrolet (17.6% vs. 25.6% year ago) and yes beating Tesla (12.6% vs. 19.6%) with Model S unit sales down -16%.

American drivers are moving rapidly to adopt plug-in vehicles . . . just not quite ready to give up range concerns.  With 8,563 US public charging stations offering 21,126 outlets, that’s just 1 charging station for every 12.5 US based EVs.  Until charging station infrastructure coverage grows, and electric vehicle range increases, American drivers are going to continue to play it safe and buy vehicles which give them the best combination of energy efficiency and driving range.

Have You Driven a Ford PHEV Lately?


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What’s more popular Battery Electrics or Plug-In Hybrids?

According to the electric vehicle blog, insideevs.com, using data supplied by the EDTA:  both!  Battery only and Plug-In Hybrid Sales are at about a 50/50 split according to insideevs analysis released on Twitter on September 24th. Buyers venturing into the electric vehicle market are equally split based on their driving needs.  While about half live and work in communities which support an all-electric driving lifestyle, with EV charging at home and at work, BEV’s make sense.  For the other half, unlimited range with partial electric for overall improved fuel economy and a high number of CO2 emission free driving miles supports their life-style.  And if you can afford a Tesla, you get the best of both!  This charts tell the tale of the tape:

DEW TWC Champion LaRosa i8 Mitsubishi


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2014 DriveElectricWeek Atlanta GA – The Weather Channel AMHQ Launch Event

With Georgia the #1 state for electric vehicle registrations (YTD June 2014) edging out California, National Drive Electric Week was kicked off by the Atlanta organizers a few days ahead of schedule with a launch event held at The Weather Channel Studios on Friday morning September 12, 2014 as part of the AMHQ Morning Show with hosts Sam Champion, Maria LaRosa and Mike Bettes. All three celebrity hosts participated in the program, across three segments which aired between 8:00 and 10:00 AM.

Atlanta Drive Electric Week Co-Captain Michael Beinenson ensured that all key EV makes and models were on hand. My own 2014 Chevrolet VOLT got a prime slot in segment #1 facing off against the new BMW i3 while remaining in subsequent segments behind the hosts.  I can’t tell you how many hours I spent rehearsing my VOLT:  “now smile for the camera!”  She did great.

Here’s the on air segment:

Video is the property of The Weather Channel. 

The event was supported by the EV Club of the South, with members lending their EVs (Fiskar Karma, Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-MiEV) for the three hour segment filming.  

Video taken by the author.

But the surprise hit was the appearance of one of the first BMW i8′s to be delivered in Atlanta. In fact the car was driven over from nearby Global Imports with the almost owner sitting in the passenger seat.  We quickly re-arranged the third segment to get the i8 into the shot and both Sam Champion and Maria LaRosa quickly improvised to shift the audience attention from the Tesla Model S that with Mike Bettes speeding by to show off the $150,000 BMW i8!.  All photos taken by the author.  

LaRosa & Champion DEW TWC i8photo 4 (5)

leaf-battery


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A LEAF with a 500 mile electric change? A Tesla Model S over 1,800?

What if the range of a Nissan Leaf was 500 miles vs. 73-80 today?  With a range of over 1,855 miles, a Model S might never need to see a SuperCharger again!

Sound far-fetched? According to Gas2 author Steve Hanley maybe not. In his article, Hanley recently reported that “This week a research team at the University of Tokyo School of Engineering has announced a new lithium ion battery that packs seven times more energy density – at 2,570 watt-hours per kilogram – than current lithium ion batteries. The team, led by Professor Noritaka Mizuno, adds cobalt to the lithium oxide crystal structure of the positive electrode, which promotes the creation of oxides and peroxides during the charge/discharge cycle. In addition, it promises significantly faster recharge times as well.”

Whether the 7X lithium ion comes to pass or not, one thing is for sure: there is a lot of  R&D time and money being invested in higher capacity, faster charging batteries which will all but eliminate ‘range anxiety’ in EVs! With almost 250,000 on the road in the US, EVs, in all of their forms, are here to stay!


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Interview with Michael Chance, Marketing Director for Solar Energy USA

Interview with Michael Chance, Marketing Director, Solar Energy USA

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Solar Energy USA is a national solar integrator specializing in affordable residential and commercial solar solutions including photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, solar thermal systems, and energy efficient lighting including T5 and LED lighting. AEVDC had the opportunity to speak with Michael Chance, Marketing Director with Solar Energy USA, a self-proclaimed solar + EV enthusiast.

1). From a solar power standpoint, why would Atlanta and Georgia be a great market for PV2EV? 

Anyone who has spent a summer day outside knows that Georgia is a warm and sunny place. Georgia averages over 2,900 sunny hours each year, and over 100 clear days.  The potential for solar energy use in Georgia is dependent upon the amount of sun shining on the earth’s surface —called “solar insolation”. Insolation values are expressed in kWh/m² per day, or the amount of solar energy measured in kilowatt-hours striking a square meter of the earth’s surface.

Southern states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Florida all average 5 peak kWh of sunlight per day. By comparison, Northeastern states like New York, Vermont, and Maine all average 4 peak kWh per day. Southwestern states such as New Mexico, Arizona, and parts of California can average up to 6.8 peak kWh per day!

Photovoltaic

Additionally, anyone who has spent rush hour in Atlanta’s horrible traffic (ranked 7th worst in the nation in 2011 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute) has seen a first-hand account of how congested our interstate system is and how much smog and carbon we are emitting into the air.

Solar powered electric vehicles (PV2EV) take advantage of Georgia’s awesome solar resource and provide a solution to our smog levels caused by transportation congestion. Every EV that hits the road creates a level of clean air, and solar powered EVs use clean, unlimited sunshine as a fuel source (how’s that for a Clean Air Campaign).

2). What are the economic and environmental benefits of PV2EV?

From an economic standpoint, PV2EV presents a situation to realize tremendous financial savings. Ask yourself this, “How much money do I spent on gasoline each month?” If you are like me and have a roundtrip commute of 70 miles each work day, you are driving 1,500+ miles each month and spending in excess of $150 dollars on gasoline. If you are a stay-at-home mom or dad who runs errands during the day in a gas-guzzling SUV, chances are you could be spending more than $300 dollars per month on gasoline.

PV2EV allows a driver to use sunlight collected by solar panels as a fuel source, with the added convenience of the fueling station being brought into your garage electrical outlet. By recharging an EV each day with power generated by a solar energy system, you are, in fact, producing your own transportation fuel. Since you are no longer using gasoline to drive around, every mile that is driven in a solar powered car is a trip in which you are saving money.

House and Car

Here’s an analogy to put this into perspective: Imagine someone came to your door and offered you a credit card which could be redeemed at the gas station which would allow you to pay just $1 dollar per gallon of gasoline purchased for the rest of your life. You would be really interested, right?

The same is true with a home solar energy system – Solar panels are used to generate the necessary power for an electric car.  By installing a solar power system on your home you are essentially locking yourself into a set cost of power. If the price of power increases over time, and it will, you are immune to the price increases because you produce your own power thanks to the solar panels.

A number of environmental benefits relate to PV2EV as well. First, we are eliminating the carbon emissions associated with burning gasoline in an internal combustion engine.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), About 19.64 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) are produced from burning a gallon of gasoline that does not contain ethanol. About 22.38 pounds of CO2 are produced by burning a gallon of diesel fuel.

EIA estimates that U.S. gasoline and diesel fuel consumption for transportation in 2013 resulted in the emission of about 1,095 and 427 million metric tons of CO2 respectively, for a total of 1,522 million metric tons of CO2. This total was equivalent to 83% of total CO2 emissions by the U.S. transportation sector and 28% of total U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions.

In a non-PV2EV scenario, the carbon emissions associated with recharging an EV are a function of how dirty (or clean) is the power that is generated by the utility. Burning fossil fuels to make power, like coal-fired power generation for example, is one of the dirtiest forms of power generation. EIA estimates 2.08-2.18 lbs of CO2 are produced per kWh generated by coal. Because of this, the U.S. EPA recently announced regulations designed to encourage less power generation from coal (read more about that on our blog).

In a PV2EV scenario we are using the sun as a power source. There are no carbon emissions associated with harnessing clean, unlimited solar energy, so environmental benefits thanks to PV2EV driving are a double bonus – No emissions from burning gasoline or from burning fossil fuels.

3). What factors support PV2EV and what needs to be overcome to really drive installations?

One of the biggest misinterpretations about solar energy is that it is too expensive. In fact, going solar is actually a really smart financial decision. Ask yourself, “How much did I spend on power over the past 10 years?” My thought is that the cost of NOT going solar is a lot more expensive.  And when you factor in the savings from powering an EV with solar and no longer paying for gasoline (see above example) the savings is even greater.

Additionally, the cost of solar panels has decreased tremendously in the past few years. According to PV Magazine, solar PV system prices have fallen by 50% compared to 2010 prices. This is directly related to demand as more and more homeowners are going solar. In 2013, for example, a new solar energy project was installed in the U.S. every 4 minutes. Solar power in America now exceeds 14.8 GW (gigawatts), or enough to power more than 3 million homes.

There is also a misconception that an EV cannot support an average person’s driving habits. According to U.S. Department of Transportation, Bureau of Transportation Statistics from 2014, 85% of American drivers commute less than 26 miles to work one way.

Commute Distance Table

Their report found that 29% of Americans have a one way commute of 1-5 miles, 22% of Americans have a one way commute of 6-10 miles, 17% 11-15 miles, 10% 16-20 miles, 7% 21-25 miles, 5% 26-30 miles, 3% 31-35 miles, and just 8% of Americans have a one way commute of more than 35 miles. According to Green Car Reports, the 2014 Nissan Leaf has a driving range of 84 miles, long enough for 85% of American drivers to get to work and back on a single charge.

According to the Clean Air Campaign, in 2012 the average commute distance in metro Atlanta was 35 miles. So, in Georgia we travel a little bit further than the average American commuter, but it is still within the range of a Nissan Leaf. And a recent human resource news report found that offering on-site EV charging is a new trend being offered by HR departments, so there isn’t much cause for major range anxiety concerns.

4). What about home charging for EVs and Solar Power? Can I use my solar panels to power my home charging unit?  Does it help with payback?

Car

Yes, you can certainly use solar panels to power your home charging unit (we’ve already touched on this in an above answer). Solar Energy USA is available to design a solar power system to generate the equivalent amount of kWh to meet the daily or monthly needs of Georgia EV drivers. We have a number of solar powered EV customers whose installations can be viewed on the Residential Solar Case Studies page of our website. I encourage current and future EVdrivers to reach out to us to learn more about our line of Affordable Solar Solutions.

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