Amidst the news that EV maker Tesla Motors had completely repaid its DOE loan (with interest, thank you!), the folks at Media Matters put together the video montage below showcasing how Fox News has treated the car maker over the years. (H/T ClimateCrocks.)
Oh, and just a “head’s up” for the folks at Fox - people really, really do want to drive electric cars, particularly a Tesla! If you are lucky enough to have one - or any EV for that matter - give us a shout and let us help you to fuel that sweet ride with clean, green power from the Sun!
At Run on Sun we have long been fans of electric vehicles (EVs) - we devoted a page on our website to EVs and their cousins, the plug-in hybrids, years ago. So it is most gratifying to see the traditional auto universe wise up to something we’ve been saying for a long time - EVs are the future of driving. Now Motor Trend magazine has made it official by designating the Tesla Model S as its 2013 Car of the Year.
By any measure, the Model S is deserving of the title - it is crazy quick with a zero to 60 time of less than 4 seconds, it has great range of well over 200 miles per charge, and it can do all of that while looking great and transporting a real family in great comfort. But we love the car because of what it’s not - a gas guzzling, carbon-emitting dinosaur!
Alas, the Model S is out of our price range but it is a great step forward in producing a “real” car that happens to be powered by the most advanced drive train in the world.
You can learn about other EVs - and how to fuel them with clean solar power - on our website. After all, if you are going to have the most sophisticated car in the world, shouldn’t it Run on Sun?
UPDATE - Citing technical issues, PWP has informed us that for now, these rates are NOT available for solar customers. Apparently the Meter group does not yet have a TOU meter that will properly account for energy generation as well as energy consumption. We will report back when PWP has this resolved - hopefully in a couple of months.
Pasadena Water & Power (PWP) is rolling out on a temporary, experimental basis, new Time-of-Use (TOU) based rates for customers with electric vehicles. The new rate structures, designated EXP-TOU-EV-1 and -2 are available to existing residential customers (either single family or multi-family service) who can demonstrate proof of ownership of a plug-in electric vehicle.
The two TOU rates differ from the existing R1 residential rate structure in that they provide discounts for energy consumed during mid- or off-peak hours. (Mid peak runs from 8 a.m. to Noon and from 9 p.m. to midnight. Off peak runs from midnight to 8 a.m.)
Here is how the two rates compare:
|TOU Period||Rate 1||Rate 2|
(Noon - 9 p.m.)
(8a.m. - Noon; 9 p.m.- Midnight)
The second rate has much greater discounts for energy use outside of the On Peak window, but it is combined with a significant penalty for energy use during the On Peak window.
Of course, this is where a solar power system comes in. Since a solar power system produces the bulk of its energy during the On Peak window, it could prove highly beneficial to EV owners who add solar to their homes. We will do a more complete analysis of how these two rates could work for a solar powered home in a future post.
To learn more about the program, check out PWP’s webpage devoted to these new rates.
The most overlooked story of this weekend was the announcement that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gave the Chevy Volt a clean bill of health, determining that the vehicle does not pose any unusual risk of fire. But will the damning press coverage that tried to paint the Volt as the heir apparent to the Chevy Corvair’s “unsafe at any speed” moniker, reflect these vindicating results?
As you may recall, the Volt - Chevrolet’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle - was the subject of some very breathless reporting regarding vehicle fires that occurred during crash testing for the NHTSA. Was the vehicle a potential “fire trap” in the case of an accident? Here’s a not too atypical example of how the Volt was portrayed:
A symbol of the government bailout and continued ownership of General Motors, the Volt has been hailed as the vehicle of the future by the Obama Administration’s green energy pushers.
Now, the Volt is in danger of taking down the entire electric car industry as concerns about fire hazards involving the vehicles battery cooling system are creating a backlash across the nation.
Wow, that’s some pretty scary stuff. So what did the NHTSA actually discover? The agency reported that it “remains unaware of any real-world crashes that have resulted in a battery-related fire involving the Chevy Volt or any other electric vehicle. NHTSA continues to believe that electric vehicles show great promise as a safe and fuel-efficient option for American drivers.” (Emphasis mine.)
Chevy has made a change to the vehicle that will be retrofitted onto all existing Volts and incorporated into the assembly of all new vehicles to prevent the problem that arose during the crash testing. Aaron Bragman, an analyst with IHS Automotive told the LA Times, “GM came out with a fix for it because it was a public relations issue, but from an engineering viewpoint there really wasn’t a problem with the car, considering the conditions of the test needed to create a fire.”
This is all very good news for American consumers as gasoline prices are predicted to rise even more in the coming year. Even better news for California consumers, Chevy will be introducing a California-only version of the Volt in March that will qualify for a $1,500 state rebate and, even more valuable, single occupant access to California’s carpool lanes.
It will be interesting to see how opponents of EVs, like the Leaf, and PHEVs, like the Volt, will spin this news. More likely than not, they will ignore it altogether.
Every now and then you come across a news item that leaves you scratching your head - “What were they thinking?” you wonder. That was our reaction to a NY Times article reporting that giant retailer Costco is removing its already installed charging stations for Electric Vehicles (EVs). Really? Now they are doing this? Just as modern, capable EVs (and plug-in hybrids or PHEVs) become widely available, they are removing their charging stations? How does that make any sense?
Costco had originally installed its chargers back during the original EV boom that was documented in Who Killed the Electric Car. That boom ended when the California Air Resources Board caved on their EV mandate and GM - which had only leased, not sold its EV-1 vehicles - recalled them from their drivers and sent them to the scrap pile (despite howls of protest). But all of that took place years ago. So why remove the chargers now?
According to Costco management, the chargers were not being used enough to justify keeping them. Now part of that might be due to the age of the chargers which makes them a poor match for today’s EVs. Yet, the California Energy Commission has a program in place to help pay for upgrading old chargers - like the ones at Costco - with state-of-the-art models that are perfectly matched to the new round of EVs. “Not interested,” said Costco. According to the article:
Mr. Hoover [the general manager for Costco in northern California] said that E.V. charging was “very inefficient and not productive” for the retailer. “The bottom line is that there are a lot of other ways to be green,” he said. “We have five million members in the region, and just a handful of people are using these devices.”
Mr. Hoover said the company was aware of the state-funded upgrade program, but did not see a compelling reason to take advantage of it.
“Why should we have anybody spend money on a program that nobody’s thought through?” he said.
Hoover’s dismissive attitude was reflected in the comments - particularly the comments “highlighted” by NY Times editorial staff - that were shockingly ill-informed. Here’s one example:
Isn’t it enough the public has to subsidize the purchase of these slow-moving boondoggles, must we continue to coddle them throughout their entire (mercifully, short) lifespans? Calling them “green", btw, is laughable, as if the electricity coming through these chargers was generated by pixies using fairy dust. In the unlikely event these fadcars ever became popular, they’d add to the stress on our already over-burdened electric grid.
As we have noted before, we don’t believe in electricity produced by “fairy dust” - but we do believe that EVs, when combined with solar power systems - provide a way to have an incredibly cleaner driving system than what most of us are using today. And numerous studies have demonstrated that for EVs charging at night, they will impose no burden at all on the grid. Indeed, as the grid gets “smarter” EVs have the potential to help even out demand by providing power back to the grid.
The good folks over at Plug In America have launched a letter writing campaign to try and reverse Costco’s curious decision. We encourage you to check it out.