Canadian Broadcasting Company’s The National came to Atlanta to learn why we have embraced electric vehicles – up to now. Watch this terrific 10 minute video released on December 1st and hear from the Atlanta EV trail blazers as to why we have been so successful and the need to keep pushing to get the $200.00 EV Road Tax reduced, the an EV Tax Credit restored and continue to build out EV charging station infrastructure in time for the upcoming new generation of EV’s to hit Georgia’s roads!
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is out to cement his reputation as the Environment and Sustainability Mayor! He has been on a global quest to show what Atlanta is already doing to address climate and environment. Here’s a summary of his activity and the full press release is in this link: Mayor Kasim Reed Participates in COP 21 Panel in Paris:
City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is among the leading city executives in the U.S. on climate change. This year, he addressed a joint U.S.-China summit on climate in Los Angeles, sharing many of the ideas and solutions currently in use in the City of Atlanta with an audience of hundreds of Chinese officials and dignitaries. In November, Mayor Reed presented at the World Economic Forum Conference on Urban Mobility and the McKinsey & Co. Global Infrastructure Initiative in San Francisco.
Mayor Reed was just in Paris France for a series of speaking engagements and to participate in the Climate Summit for Local Leaders, organized by Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The event is a series of negotiations among world leaders to make an agreement to address global climate change, known as COP 21. Mayor Reed pictured taking the Paris Metro to meetings with Jenna Garland, Stephanie Benfield and Claire Angelle.
“Climate change is one of the most important issues we face nationally and internationally,” said Mayor Reed. “Atlanta’s presence at the COP 21 Paris climate meetings demonstrates our commitment to local action. I look forward to sharing our work in the City of Atlanta with other leaders from around the world, and collaborating on opportunities to cut pollution and secure a stable climate for future generations.”
Mayor Reed participated in a number of panel discussions and sessions with world leaders, including a “Buildings Day” session focused on ways to reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint from commercial buildings. He discussed Atlanta’s national leadership in the Better Buildings Challenge, The Better Buildings Challenge is a public-private partnership to reduce energy and water consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. Atlanta leads the nation with more than 100 million square feet of commercial building space committed to the challenge.
Under Mayor Reed’s leadership, the City of Atlanta is innovating in implementing solutions for climate change and sustainability. Among them:
1). Undertaking a project to increase its reserve waters supply from three days to 90 days by turning Bellwood Quarry into a reservoir;
2) Creating a Solar Atlanta initiative that will see solar panels installed on 28 firehouses and recreation center, lowering energy consumption by as much as 40 percent, and the Better Buildings Challenge, a national initiative to lower commercial energy consumption.
3). Electrifying the City of Atlanta Vehicle Fleet. Through partnership with California based VisionFleet, Mayor Reed has committed to replacing fossil fuel based City vehicle fleet with electric vehicles. City of Atlanta Electric Vehicle Fleet Program
Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition is proud of the work Mayor Reed and his Director of the City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Stephanie Benfield are doing to rapidly promote and advance energy efficient, climate favor solutions for the City of Atlanta. Watch for more from our Mayor and his Sustainability team in 2016!
WOW! Big news from Mayor Kasim Reed’s office about the City of Atlanta moving to Electric Vehicles in its Fleet Program – 50 EV’s in the City’s Fleet by the end of 2015 in partnership with Vision Fleet:
ATLANTA – The City of Atlanta announced today it will deploy one of the largest municipal fleets of electric vehicles in the United States by the end of 2015 under legislation approved this week by the Atlanta City Council. The measure is part of Mayor Kasim Reed’s agenda to ensure that Atlanta is one of the nation’s leading cities for sustainability, and will reduce the city’s dependence on fossil fuels while saving taxpayers thousands of dollars per year.
The new fleet deployment complements the existing efforts of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability to support electric vehicles such as the recent installation of the first public charging station on Mitchell Street near Atlanta City Hall. The charging station is free and open to the public.
“Replacing our current cars with clean-fueled vehicles, powered by cutting-edge technology, is a historic step for the City of Atlanta,” said Mayor Reed. “The program is yet another example of how we are fully invested in making Atlanta a healthier and more prosperous city.”
Spearheaded by the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the new vehicle fleet program is aligned with the City’s Power to Change Plan which seeks to reduce vehicle emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020.
“This is the start of a long-term program to develop policies and programs that will encourage employees, residents and businesses to consider using electric vehicles,” said Stephanie Stuckey Benfield, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. “We are grateful to our partners who helped with the passage of this program, including the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Clean Cities Georgia, NRG eVgo and Georgia Power’s Electric Transportation Team.”
In partnership with Vision Fleet a plug-in vehicle fleet company, the City of Atlanta developed an innovative financing structure that bundles together all the expenses of purchasing, fueling and maintaining the electric vehicles into a guaranteed rate that is a lower cost than conventional vehicles. Additionally, Vision Fleet will utilize its comprehensive suite of technology, data analytics, and provide operational support designed specifically for reducing the cost of ownership of alternative fuel vehicles.
The City of Atlanta fleet vehicles will include 100 percent electric models, such as the Nissan LEAF, as well as plug-in hybrid models like the Chevrolet Volt and the Ford Fusion Energi. Cars will be distributed throughout the city’s fleet based on the needs of each department.
“This project will have enormous impacts on fuel consumption and fleet service costs,” said Vision Fleet CEO Michael Brylawski. “For example, each of the 50 electric vehicles deployed will save at least 550-600 gallons of gas annually. In addition, fuel costs for the new electric vehicles will be about one-third of the old gas vehicles costs, and maintenance will be reduced by approximately 40 percent.”
I want to thank all of my faithful blog readers for your support over the past year since Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition was launched! The blog has reached readers in over 80 countries with almost 14,000 views!
It has been very exciting to see just how much Atlanta has embraced electric vehicles (projection of 25,000 in metro Atlanta by year-end 2015) and to see the incredible build out of EV charging station infrastructure since I put my first Chevrolet VOLT on the road in August 2012. Now it really is possible to own an EV in metro Atlanta and find public charging almost anywhere!
With the build out of charging infrastructure a new opportunity presented itself: offer non-EV owners the opportunity to experience the thrill of driving an electric vehicle and experience the joys of low-cost ownership, and gasoline free, CO2 free driving! And offer current EV owners the opportunity to really experience the Tesla Model S.
I am delighted to introduce to my readers a new company: Georgia EVentures, LLC. My mission is very simple: enable Georgians to get behind the wheel of two of the best examples of range anxiety free electric vehicle driving and to drive these vehicles they way they drive their fossil fuel powered vehicles: in their neighborhoods, to their offices and shopping areas and for day trips to destinations they enjoy.
Georgia EVentures, LLC currently offers two vehicles for short and long-term rental:
2015 Tesla Model S 60 with 208 miles of electric vehicle driving range plus 5 passenger comfort, super charger enabled. The current daily rental rate is $169.00/day (rental car companies’ rate is $400/day). 2015 Tesla Model S60 RelayRides
2014 Chevrolet VOLT Premium with 38-47 miles of electric vehicle driving range and 400 miles with the range extender. The current daily rental rate is $59.00/day. 2014 Chevrolet VOLT RelayRides
Georgia EVentures has partnered with RelayRides to offer these vehicles to you in an easy to rent manner.
In partnership with StudioFindit (StudioFindit 2015 Tesla Model S60) the Tesla is available for film production. Who knows, “BlueBeauty” may be seen in an upcoming feature film or cable or network TV series!
Thanks for your faithful readership! I look forward to hearing about your experience with these amazing electric vehicles and Georgia EVentures!
The Union of Concerned Scientists released the following statement about the benefits of driving on electricity to the State of Georgia:
ATLANTA (February 11, 2015)— “In 2014 alone, Georgia drivers saved 4.5 million gallons of gasoline thanks to electric vehicles – and that means these drivers have an extra $10 million to put back into the local economy. A new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) shows that driving 100 miles in the average conventional vehicle costs a Georgia driver $13.57 – but in an electric vehicle, driving those same 100 miles cost $3.53 or less. The UCS analysis also shows how important it is for Georgia to continue implementing forward-thinking policies that expand access to electric vehicles in the state.
Georgia is a national leader in electric vehicles, thanks in part to strong state policies that help Georgia drivers take advantage of the many benefits of driving on electricity. Georgia has the second-highest number of electric vehicles on the road in the country, and Atlanta passed Seattle this year to become the second-biggest metro area for electric vehicles.
“Electric vehicles are cheaper to fuel, are cleaner to operate, and are benefitting Georgia drivers,” says Joshua Goldman, a lead policy analyst for UCS. “Georgia has been a pioneer in putting electric cars on the road.”
While gas prices rise and fall, electricity rates in Georgia have been relatively stable for years. Electric vehicles protect drivers from future changes in gas prices.
“I’m really encouraged by the progress we’ve made on electric vehicles,” said Anne Blair, the Clean Fuels Director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “I hope leaders here in Georgia recognize how important electric vehicles are, and what a standout Georgia is on adopting them.”
Georgia has thousands of electric vehicles on the road, but there’s still room for growth. Policies that encourage consumers to choose electric vehicles will continue to pay dividends for Georgians.”
Click here to get the facts on the benefits of driving on electricity in Georgia: UCS Study EVs and Georgia
No that’s not a typo in the headline! 2014 is in the history books and by all accounts, has been a fantastic year for electric vehicles – smashing the 100,000 annual unit sales mark in November! More new EV models have launched in 2014 than in the prior 3 years combined and many new/upgraded EVs are coming in 2015 and beyond.
So when we look back at 2015, here’s what I believe the top stories will read nationally and right here in Georgia:
1). Electrified Vehicles Reach the 1% of vehicles sold nationally in 2015. EVs should easily reach this mark on a total industry sales of 16.5-17.0 million yielding 165-170,000 electrified vehicles added to US roads in 2015. Many states have added electric vehicle or charging station incentives or both. With expanded charging infrastructure and high satisfaction rates among EV owners, the rate of sales growth should propel EVs close to 1% of all vehicles sold.
2). Nissan LEAF approaches the 200,000 Federal Tax Credit phase out. What Now? Arguably, Nissan has done the best job marketing their all electric LEAF which launched in the US in 2011. By the end of 2015, cumulative LEAF sales will be close to 170,000, just 30,000 units shy of the Federal Tax Credit phase out requirements. With an all new vehicle slated to launch in the 2017 Model Year (on sale as early as January 2016), how will Nissan market the all new LEAF without its $7,500 tax credit? Stay tuned – Carlos Ghon has a plan!
3). Tesla FINALLY launches the Model X – Falcon Wing Doors and All. Look for a Merry Christmas 2015 post on the Tesla blog from Elon Musk announcing the first deliveries of the 2015 Model X – it’s still 2015 and Elon has ‘kept his promise.’ Seriously, the Model X will be another game changer in the high end 6-7 passenger SUV market and will begin to impact Tesla sales in 2016, attacting new buyers to the marque. Of course, it won’t hurt sales of the Model S, since the majority of its owners have already traded up to the Model D – satiating their need to have the latest Tesla gadget. Savvy used car buyers will snap up the discarded Model S 1.0 offerings at reasonable ($50,000 – 60,000) prices knowing that Elon has promised a battery upgrade in the future and the software upgrades continue.
4). Chevrolet VOLT 2.0: a lower cost VOLT 1.0? Let’s face it, without Bob Lutz there would not have been VOLT 1.0. And without former GM CEO Dan Akerson pushing to get $10,000 of cost out of the VOLT, there would not be a 2.0. GM is working hard to ‘tease’ us with it’s mini reveals. But look at the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze and you get an idea of what the 2016 VOLT is going to look like: compact. Range may improve modestly (45-50 electric miles) but this vehicle will not be a game changer; it’s likely the vehicle that should have launched in 2011: $29,995 base price, useable gauges, 3 person “Cruze Sized” rear seat.‘ I hope there are more substantial surprises when the VOLT 2.0 is unveiled at the NAIAS the week of January 12, 2015: like using more than 60% of the 17.1kWh battery!
5). Georgia’s ZEV Tax Credit takes center stage. With Georgia and metro Atlanta garnering a lot of headlines in 2014 as the fastest growing EV market in the US, the handling of the current ZEV/LEV tax credit (currently $5,000/$2,500 with no sunset) will become a national story. How this one ends up is anyone’s guess. But one thing’s for sure: Nissan will have the best sales month ever in December 2014 for the LEAF given the metro Atlanta dealers are selling/leasing against the fear that the $5,000 ZEV tax credit will disappear in 2015 so get your LEAF now!
Let’s just hope that everyone can agree on the core issue: air quality in metro Atlanta/Georgia needs more EVs on our roads to help get annual CO2 emissions well below the 150 million metric tons emitted in Georgia!
6). “PV2EV” begins to have it’s day in the sun. Wouldn’t it just be smart to tie EV charging to its own renewable power generation? For years, separate and uncoordinated incentives (and arguably disincentives) between solar power and electric vehicle charging station infrastructure has kept these two technologies apart. 2015 might be the year when enough solar powered charging stations are built to move the needle in the direction toward a sustainable PV2EV deployment. With solar power costs falling and the cost to retrofit parking lots and garages with EV charging stations expensive, the time has come for PV2EV to have it’s day in the sun!
7). Georgia Becomes A Leader in Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure. Between the push by NRG into the metro Atlanta market from it’s home base in Houston TX, and the announcement by Georgia Power to construct it’s own charging islands (both firms offering DC Fast Charge and 240 V Level 2) Georgia and more specifically metro Atlanta, will become a model for the deployment of fast and convenient EV charging. By the end of 2015, metro Atlanta will have at least 50 charging islands including installations in Athens and other outlying cities. Added to that are the public charging stations funded by GEFA that will improve EV charging station availability in the Atlanta suburbs.
It will be fun to see how 2015 unfolds for electric vehicles and the supporting infrastructure. We’ll come back and revisit these ‘headlines’ and see where we hit and where we missed. Your comments and your own headlines are welcome.
Thanks for your readership in 2014!
This article was originally published in the December 4, 2014 edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution by AJC Senior Staff Writer Richard Halicks. I have corrected the tax information section, updating the description of the Georgia State Income Tax Credit.
It’s fall, and the LEAFs are turning left and right. The handful of plug-in electric car models available here, led by the Nissan Leaf, has come as a bit of a shock to the Atlanta market. They aren’t underpowered golf cart-like vehicles, for one thing. The coolest and most expensive plug-in, the Tesla Model S, goes from zero to 60 in, well, it was there before you finished reading this. (For the record: 3.2 seconds.)
By the end of 2014, 18,000 to 20,000 all-electric cars will be on the road in Georgia. Although that’s still a relatively minuscule number, it suggests that the vehicles have passed a big milestone: the market has outgrown the hard-core enthusiasts who would have bought the cars no matter what and now takes in people looking for a good deal.
And such a deal: some people who lease the Nissan Leaf find that, between the state’s tax credit for zero-emission vehicles and the savings on gasoline, the monthly cost of the lease comes out roughly to not much. (Fair warning: the tax credit cost the state $13.6 million in 2013 and may be much more costly in 2014 because of greater sales of electric vehicles; the credit was nearly repealed earlier this year, and a state legislator wants either to repeal or revise it in 2015.) Leaf buyers tend to be enthusiastic about the cost, the quiet and the absence of emissions.
“I absolutely love it,” says Leaf driver Karen Hines, who commutes about 18 miles one-way from her home in Tucker to her job downtown. “When my lease is up on this one, I will get another one. No question.” Hines was driving a grumpy old minivan when she got a new lease on Leaf a year ago. “I think my monthly lease payment is probably just a little bit more than the gas I was buying for my van,” Hines said. “We got a really great deal. The van was big, didn’t have great gas mileage. And I get to travel in the HOV lane all by myself.”
People like Hines have made Atlanta the No. 1 market in the nation for the Nissan Leaf, which is also the nation’s No. 1 plug-in electric car. A third of the LEAFs sold in the United States are sold here, a Nissan spokesman said, and while the Leaf accounts for about 2 percent of Nissan sales nationwide, it adds up to 25 percent of the automaker’s sales in Atlanta. The biggest concerns about plug-ins — the range is too limited, the price is too high, charging stations are too few and far between — are still concerns, but there’s progress on every front: range for the typical plug-in is now about 80 miles on a charge (265 miles for that supercharged, $70,000 Tesla); the price is steadily coming down for most models; and charging stations are increasing in number.
‘They’re finding out it’s a very fun car to drive’
Don Francis, the executive director of Clean Cities-Georgia, which promotes alternative-fuel vehicles — natural gas, propane, electricity, hydrogen and more — is both a promoter and a believer. “The customer is beginning to see the financial benefits of the vehicle,” said Francis, who is driving his second Leaf. “It’s very inexpensive to operate. In addition to that, they’re finding out that it’s a very fun car to drive.”
William Cook, who runs the state’s tax credit program for the state Environmental Protection Division, said he has been surprised by the growth in the program this year. The state approved 132 tax-credit certificates in 2012, he said. The number jumped to 1,372 in 2013. Through September this year, the total was 4,591. He estimated that 90 percent of the plug-in electrics certified are Nissan LEAFs. No. 2, though quite a bit lower, is the Tesla. The list then dwindles to a few BMW i3 models, Mitsubishi I-MiEVs and SmartCars. And one Toyota Rav4 plug-in, Cook said. Cook noted that Georgia’s tax credit, which is among the most generous in the nation, is always subject to legislative review. Repealing the $5,000 credit could take the steam out of the electric-car market in the state.
‘Leaf inventory was measured by the hour’
This past year, for example, Alpharetta Republican Chuck Martin, who chairs the House Budget and Fiscal Affairs Oversight Committee, filed a bill that would have repealed the credit, which Martin said was too expensive. The House passed Martin’s bill, but it didn’t make it through the state Senate. Contacted late last week, Martin said he still believes the credit is bad policy and plans to renew his effort to repeal it in the session that begins in January. In an email, Martin said he hopes a renewed “discussion of the policy could lead to a revision, reduction, or phased elimination of the credit or just sunset at some future time.” The Nissan Leaf has changed the game in the Atlanta market in at least two ways: first, it comes with the lease that takes advantage of that $5,000 tax credit for zero-emission cars (caveat emptor: the credit has limitations); and second, Nissan builds the cars in Smyrna, Tenn., ensuring a steady supply to meet demand in Atlanta.
The trick for car dealers is to have enough cars on hand to meet demand for, say, 60 days, but not so many cars that they’ll sit on the lot for months. Not long ago, however, you couldn’t count Leaf inventory by the month or even the week, Francis said. “Leaf inventory was measured by the hour,” he said. “People would follow the trucks in. The dealers have the cars now. It’s not up to the 60- to 90-day ratio, but it’s more than 30 days.” Cautions on the lease: check the distance of your commute, as well as the availability of charging stations either at work or along the way. Second, and perhaps more important, remember that auto leases often carry a mileage limit, with costly penalties for exceeding it.
‘We take turns going down to plug the cars in’
Karen Hines said she’s one of about 20 Leaf drivers at the law firm King & Spalding, where she works in telecommunications. The firm provides free charging stations in its parking garage, and the Leaf people have created a Google doc that schedules charging time for everybody. “One Leaf owner here keeps us all organized and playing nicely together,” she said. “We take turns going down to plug the cars in. That’s how we worked it out.” “Hines said her car is just about perfect for her commute — she needs to charge it every few days — but she doesn’t use it for longer trips and doesn’t usually go places if she doesn’t know there’s a charger in the vicinity. Nissan has a promotion for that, too. The company last week announced a “no charge to charge” promotion in which it offers free public charging for two years to those who buy or lease the Leaf. The special quick chargers, at 12 stations across metro Atlanta, can charge the car from zero to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes, Nissan said. Some retailers, notably Whole Foods and Kohl’s, some employers and some municipalities offer free charging. EV owners also may pull up to a charging station that, um, charges, for about $2 an hour.
About EV tax credits
Georgia has one of the nation’s most generous personal income tax credits for zero emission electric vehicles, up to $5,000. The federal and state income tax credits can make electric vehicles affordable for most of us. But Jeffrey Cohen, founder of the Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition (atlantaevdc.com) says it’s important to know how the credits work and the limitations that apply to them. Much of the information below comes from Cohen, who emphasizes that he’s not a tax attorney and suggests that current and prospective EV owners consult a tax professional.
Federal: Income tax credit of up to $7,500, (depending on the electric vehicle’s battery size, so consult the IRS schedule of makes and models can be taken against the purchaser’s personal or business income taxes. Important: the credit is not a rebate or a specific tax deduction. It’s a credit against your tax liability. Note: IRS has not yet released the form for the 2014 tax year. In leases, auto financing companies typically take the tax credit, since they own the car, and then reduce the lease payment accordingly. The lessee cannot claim the federal tax credit. The credit can only be taken by the first owner of the qualifying vehicle; it can’t be passed along to later owners.
State of Georgia: A personal income tax credit of $5,000 is currently available to purchasers and lessees of zero-emission vehicles. Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles do not qualify because they emit some carbon dioxide. Georgia permits the credit to be taken over six years – the year of purchase and five additional years -rather than just one tax year. Remember: you don’t just get a check or a rebate for $5,000. The credit applies to your tax liability, reducing it by up to $5,000 over six tax years. You claim the tax credit on your Georgia return, so it doesn’t matter whether you buy or lease the car. The auto financing company that provides the lease cannot claim the Georgia tax credit as it can with the federal tax credit.
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 annually. Each 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 cars. Our 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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?
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.