Will you join us?

(My window overlooks the Chevron refinery down the street…seemed only fitting to co-opt their slogan!)

I’ve been helping the Edison Electric Institute (EEI -an association representing the shareholder-owned electric utilities in the US), plan a campaign to generate consumer interest about the benefits of plug-in vehicles and using electricity as a transportation fuel. 

Specifically, the project aims to capture and convey the real-world, emotionally-connected experiences of driving plug-in vehicles- the fun, cool, convenient aspects that have been missing from many of the ads and “educational campaigns” to date. It is incredibly community-focused, recognizing that the current users and enthusiasts are the “experts” both on the vehicles and in talking to other people about them. This campaign aims to amplify your efforts and provide additional support in getting the best messages out more broadly and – to the extent needed – creating tools for all of us to more easily talk to neighbors, friends, and the random curious folks we find lurking around our cars in parking lots. :) 

Therefore, I’m hoping you’ll join me in helping to make this project all it can be by sharing your experiences via this survey. This is merely the first step in an ongoing engagement with the enthusiast community, but it will help establish the earliest priorities.

Bring your passion, and let me know if you have any questions!

More to come….

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24 Comments »

  1. Your sponsor is not a clean energy source and since the grid is 30% and most of the power on a national scale is still produced by burning coal, plugging an EV into the grid makes it a very dirty car from a carbon dioxide emission standpoint. Even a combined cycle power plant powered with natural gas which is far less polluting than a coal-fired plant, because the grid is so inefficient, still makes the plug-in car still a dirty car.

    • Johan: Your assertion that “plugging an EV into the grid makes it a very dirty car” is the long ago disproven “long tailpipe” argument. I suggest you look at the actual numbers. Feel free to identify whatever ICE and EV you like, specify your state, enter your EPA numbers into this tool, and then please report the results back to us. I purport that you will be pleasantly surprised:

      http://bit.ly/JoOfhu

    • evchels said

      Hi Johan,

      It’s true that some utilities have a cleaner power mix than others. However, coal generation dropped 19% in the last year alone, and is down to 36%- hardly “most” of the power on a national scale.

      Even before that, multiple studies have proven that EVs are cleaner than gas cars- and remain the only vehicles that can only get cleaner over time.

      http://images.pluginamerica.org/EmissionsSummary.pdf

    • Paul Scott said

      Johan, how many kWh do you use in your home? Please be accurate with your answer. Have you taken any steps to change the power you receive to a renewable source? If not, why not?

      If you live in a single family home, chances are very high that you waste more kWh than you would use in an EV. The average American in a single family home wastes at least 20-30% of the electricity they use.

      Also, please tell us what kind of car you currently drive and whether you practice hypermiling techniques.

      The answers to these questions will tell us whether you are indeed a concerned environmentalist, or just another typical American hypocrite.

  2. Done! With pleasure. Hope it helps.

  3. Helping? Ha! Sounds more like you came up with the idea, took it to the EEI, and are now managing the effort. :) (Well, more likely bumped into the right person at a conference somewhere who was willing to listen.) In any case, you’ve been preaching this approach for years Chels. Good job getting it launched–and maybe, just maybe, the auto industry might learn something… ;) (Taking the survey now!) …and thanks for all you do!

  4. luc336 said

    Tesla needs to make their in store Go Electric App public so people can educate themselves with real facts about energy production on a State by State basis.

    Johan, your comments are so wrong for so many reasons. If you live near a Tesla showroom drop in and play with their “Go Electric App” it’s on a big touch screen, it will change your opinion. So much so that you will be embarrassed by what you posted. How much electricity does it take to make a gallon of gas?

  5. Chelsea, two specific feedback points on this:

    1. You should say that this survey takes about 15-20 minutes to fill out. It’s not a quick thing.

    2. Tell EEI that their website doesn’t work if my browser rejects their cookies. Their webmaster will know what to about that.

    • evchels said

      Hi Chris-

      Great timing- I actually just hit “send” on an email on those exact points. Thanks for reinforcing that feedback. :)

      • Ya, it took me about 30-40 minutes to fill out the survey. (Great questions BTW.) But part of that was waiting for the pages to reload after answering the questions. In a lot of cases I had to manually hit reload, which produced a warning that I’d already answered the question and could not go back, but nevertheless it allowed me to continue to the next question. Running Chromium 18.0.1025.151 (Developer Build 130497 Linux) running on LinuxMint 9 with Adblock extension.

      • luc336 said

        Chelsea, the survey needs more Other or N/A options, hope you included that in your email to them. Thanks for all your hard work you do for us.

        • evchels said

          Thanks, Luc- that’s part of why we tried to include so many options to fill in answers not covered by the radio buttons. But if there are specific questions that need help, feel free to send me more targeted comments via email- I’m passing feedback along a few times/day.

          Really appreciate the effort. It’s no accident we call you guys the “experts”. :)

  6. Peter Phillips said

    This needs an equivalent survey in Europe as many of the issues raised are exactly the same on this side of the Atlantic.

  7. Nemo said

    I have a short reply on your twitter stating the survey is a bad one, imo. However, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love electric vehicles. I just know there is an even better way. The survey didn’t let me continue after I said I didn’t support plugin cars. It should allow for this response, otherwise it comes off as an entity who is unwilling to listen to the public. But to make a long post shorter, I support electric vehicles, but only partially these plugin cars.

  8. FYI EVeryone, here’s another EV consumer survey, oh boy! They ask me to send it out to my EAA member list and I thought I’d post it here as well: http://bit.ly/EAA-EVIXSurvey

  9. This needs an equivalent survey in Europe as many of the issues raised are exactly the same on this side of the Atlantic.

    • evchels said

      I agree! We did get some international respondents to this one, but it would be great to do one there.

  10. Earl Kofler said

    Can I suggest that you ask EEI to help potential customers? I’m in the process of preparing for a new electric car and ran into troubles with my municipal building department (El Segundo, CA). Let me explain. Since my electric car purchase will be later this year (or early next) I purchased Jim Motavalli’s book, “high Voltage” to bring me up to speed on the options. In the chapter “Charging Ahead” I got my moneys worth. As you know, that chapter talks about Southern California Edison’s option to install a second electrical meter to minimize charging costs. I thought that since you and others had blazed a trail it should be relatively straight forward to follow suit.

    It was easy enough at first. I contacted Edison who provided the details and recommended installing the second meter option to take advantage of the TOU-EV-1 rate. I next went to my city and pulled a permit to swap out my existing panel. Finally, I did research on hardware and settled on the Seimens SP2211 panel and purchased it along with other needed items for the installation. To be sure everything was in order before starting I made an appointment for a SCE planner to come out and “spot” the meter location, and then made an appointment with the city building inspector to pre-inspect the job. That’s where the I got a surprise. The inspector took one look at the two meter paned and said I couldn’t install it.

    Apparently the City of El Segundo does not allow two meters in residential (R-1) zoning due to concerns of folks illegally creating rental property in this zone. I pointed out that SCE does offer it and this would be used strictly for an electric car. Yesterday, I was sent an email with a 1998 zoning code interpretation stating the El Segundo “planning commission determined that a dwelling unit may not have more than one electrical meter.”

    At this point it seems to be a legal matter and I really don’t know how to move forward. Do you think the Edison Electric Institute would be able to help? I don’t know if El Segundo is typical in this but I would have thought SCE coordinated with the cities when they created this option. In any case I’m stuck in the mud and really could use help from EEI or activists like yourself.

    • evchels said

      Hi Earl,

      Actually, I’m happy to help you directly, esp as a fellow El Segundo resident! I’m going to run your situation by my contacts at SCE, and then will send you an email directly.

      chelsea

      • Earl Kofler said

        Thanks!

        If needed, I can provide more detailed information on who I’ve talked to etc. It’s funny that I thought my situation would be smoother than yours precisely because I’m not in a condominium and wouldn’t have to deal with association issues and approval. Turns out, the city doesn’t have an issue with condo/town-home owners having multiple meters. I really thought I wouldn’t be the first one to do this sort of thing. Since I’m on the edge of my cost/benefit calculation with electric cars, this is the sort of thing that could reverse my decision. I truly hope it won’t.

        Earl

        • evchels said

          Ha- you have been following for a while if you know about my struggles (which, ironically, had nothing at all to do w the City).

          I’ll bug you offline for more details if I need them- and I want to talk to you more about your situation in general- which car you’re getting, charging needs, etc. We couldn’t do a separate meter either, as it was just too far from our unit (though notably, neither the electrician or SCE planner seemed to think the city would have an issue with doing one, it just would have been expensive) and ended up going with the whole-house TOU option instead. I worried that it would be much fairly expensive based on SCE’s rate calculator and the fact that there’s generally at least a couple people home during the day. But it’s turned out to be only ~$50/mo for both the house and car- and these days, we’re only using 120v charging anyway, so we don’t entirely get into the off-peak hours for EV charging. In talking with others and the utilities themselves, it definitely seems that the whole-house option is getting a bad rap, especially in our area where we’re not nearly so dependent on A/C.

          For now, the SCE team jumped on the email I forwarded them w your initial comments, and I’m waiting to hear back regarding any specific issues they’ve encountered in this area. Stay tuned, and don’t give up yet! :)

          • FYI: NV Energy (in Nevada) has a “hybrid electric vehicle” TOU rider that requires no additional meter to save an additional $0.00815 during off-peak hours ($0.07068 v. $0.06253). The rider can be applied to any vehicle “in, upon or by which any person or property is or may be transported or drawn upon a public highway” (NRS 482.135), with the exception of golf carts and personal mobility devices. Seems like a much simpler, least cost, approach to implementing a TOU EV rate. What happens when people move, and the new homeowners don’t own an EV, does the second meter have to be disconnected? Because of the additional load of charging EVs at night benefits the utility, they should simply provide people with EVs an extra kicker to charge at night instead of all the headaches dealing with local ordinances and such. It all seems very silly to me. (Hum, or did CA do something stupid like creating a REC for EVs that the utilities can use for RPS compliance?) Thoughts? http://www.nvenergy.com/company/rates/nnv/electric/schedules/images/OD_RHEVRR_TOU.pdf

          • Earl Kofler said

            Not really, but I’m glad I did find this Blog. I did see “Who Killed the Electric Car?” but didn’t really make a connection until I read about your experience in Jim Motavalli’s book. In any case, I figured that since you live in El Segundo your experience was relevant to me so it stuck.

            Happy to tell you the details. It still is a surprise that I’m the first one facing this. I have seen other electric cars in the city but I now suppose they were or are unaware of the SCE options. Since the city services are closed on Fridays I’m guessing that you won’t get a response from SCE until early next week. Should note that I did talk someone there about it already but didn’t get anywhere.

            Bob, in California Southern California Edison has three options (rate choices) for electric vehicle. “D”, TOU-D-TEV, and TOU-EV-1 where TOU stand for time-of use. D is pretty much what most folks have already. However for us, there are multiple tiers in this option with progressively higher rates for using more energy. Charging a car is likely to push one onto a higher tier — effectively the car is going to be charged the highest rate. For the TOU-D-TEV rate, ” SCE will remove the customer’s existing meter and replace it with a programmable meter to accommodate the new rate.” Therefore, this does does not require a additional meter and would be transparent to the user. The TOU-EV-1 rate allows SCE to better plan for draw during the grids lowest use (i.e night). Since the grid is underutilized at this time (power companies have to reduce energy production during the night since they don’t have means to store it for later use), SCE is trying to encourage use at this time with low rates. For them electric cars charged at night is a win-win situation. They get more income from fixed capital investments while the customer gets lower rates. Basically, the whole reason for the low TOU-EV-1 rate is to help kick start an industry that could bring huge profits for them. Note. the case of someone electing the TOU-EV-1 rate and having the second meter socket installed does not preclude not using this option. In fact, since I don’t own an electric yet I intend on installing a blank over this slot. Or, if I move, the second meter is easily removed and the socket covered… so it’s identical to having a standard meter in the first place. The key point here is that having the second socket provides flexibility in terms of billing options. As Chelsea points out the big difficulty is that it can be expensive. For me it is a marginal cost increase (~$100) for the meter with this capability since I need to upgrade my panel anyway.

            Earl

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