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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Researchers at Purdue University claim that because electric bills are tiered in California, Volt owners will pay more to operate their vehicles than in practically any other place in the nation. The researchers claim that oil prices would have to rise to between $171 and $254 per barrel before the Volt would be cheaper to operate than the Pius or the Chevy Cobalt. (The current price for a barrel of oil is $77.62.) http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/research/2011/110113TynerHybrids.html

This article was referenced by allcarselectric.com without question or comment. I contacted the researchers at Purdue with the following comments:
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date Sat, Jan 15, 2011 at 8:32 AM
subject EV Charging rates in California

bwallhei,

Although I assume you looked in to the fact that all utilities in California offer three types of electrical metering, I don't see any reference to that fact in the abstract and article about your study. Simply stating that California utilities have tiered pricing is misleading. For instance, SCE offers either a separate meter for EV owners, or a free meter with lower off-peak rates. To not address these facts would render any research worthless.

Was this addressed in your paper? If so, someone needs to rewrite this article, because the article is entirely misleading.

s/unplugged

_______________________________________________________
from Tyner, Wallace E. [email protected]>
cc to "Wallheimer, Brian J" [email protected]>,

date Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 4:52 AM
subject RE: EV Charging rates in California

Dear Unplugged,

Thanks for your message. Yes, we included the special PHEV rates, and, as you suggest, one of our recommendations was separate meters, but someone has to cover the cost of those.

Wallace E. Tyner
James and Lois Ackerman Professor
Department of Agricultural Economics
Purdue University
403 West State St.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2056

____________________________________________________________
to "Tyner, Wallace E." <[email protected]>
cc
"Wallheimer, Brian J" <[email protected]>
date Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 7:56 AM
subject Re: RE: EV Charging rates in Californi

Dear Mr. Tyner,

No. As I mentioned in my email below, the utilities, including SCE, my utility, offer a free option. I have had a free replacement meter installed that puts my entire home on a lower tier after 6 pm until 10 am. Although I have not yet had the opportunity to compare my bills, I expect my increase in electrical cost to be minimal. (My Volt is on its way here.) This is because most of my electrical use is at night, and the discount applies to the entire house.

Later today, I will compare the new rate difference with my historical usage and provide you with an expected rate increase or decrease.

I think it wise for you to revisit your conclusion that California users will incur excessive electric costs for electric vehicles. Your conclusion is simply based upon incorrect information: California does offer residents a no-cost lower tier for electric vehicles.

s/unplugged

_______________________________________
from Tyner, Wallace E. <[email protected]>
to unplugged
date Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 8:23 AM
subject RE: RE: EV Charging rates in California

I did not say you had to pay for the meter. I said somebody had to pay. That is correct. You can believe what you want. We stand by our conclusions.

Wallace E. Tyner
James and Lois Ackerman Professor
Department of Agricultural Economics
Purdue University
403 West State St.
West Lafayette, IN 47907-2056

________________________________________________
Well, I guess, I can believe what I want to believe, but it appears to me that these gentlemen are clearly misleading the public about California electrical rates. The other researcher contacted me later and stated that maybe I lived in San Diego and I was part of a 1,000 person test on reducing the tiered rate for EV owners.

No, I am from Irvine and use SCE. I read in a post by ocryan that his electric bill would actually be reduced.

What about you other California Volt owners? Have you had an increase of reduction in your bill, and if so, how much? I would like to respond to our Purdue researchers with some real FACTS.
 

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The article points out a problem with the economics of simply buying an EV and plugging it in. However, it makes several assumptions and fails to point out things that an EV owner can do to avoid the higher rates.

Southern California Edison offers two rate plans specifically for EV owners. Schedule TOU-D-TEV offers "Super off-peak" rates between midnight and 6:00 AM. Electric vehicles such as the Volt areeasily programmed to charge at night. This rate is available without any major changes to the home electrical system. All that is needed is a meter capable of tracking time of use. This plugs into the existing meter socket replacing the spinning-disk type of meter.

Another option is schedule TOU-D-EV1. This provides for an additional electric meter specifically for the EVSE charging equipment. Billing for this second meter ensures that power used for EV charging does not count against the customer's allotment for other residential use. The electric vehicle usage is metered totally separately. Lower rates for charging apply between 9:00 pm and noon every day.

Note also that California has different areas with different electrical needs. Residential customers in milder climates without air conditioning will pay less for power than those in warmer areas, especially in the summer.

Installing solar PV is another option that can be very economical, especially when combined with time-of-use metering. The customer generates the most power during the summer peak times and sells it to the utility when rates are highest, then buys it back during super off-peak times to charge the EV. Both Edison itself and the IRS are offering substantial rebates on solar generation equipment and installation.

Note that gasoline is also typically higher in California than much of the rest of the nation, so this needs to be taken into consideration as well.
 

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SCE offers a detailed rate analysis based on the individual customer's historical electricity usage and planned EV usage. PG&E and Sempra offer similar analysis. I encourage anyone served by these utilities to get the detailed analysis before making any decisions.
My rate analysis estimate from SCE predicts an annual electric cost based on the following factors:
42 all electric miles driven per day, 5 days per week 52 weeks of the year. For reference my average pre-EV electric usage is about 31kWh per day. The one meter solution does not work for me because I have high daytime summer usage for air conditioner load and I am always over 130% of baseline.

Rate TOU-EV-1 $528 Two meters required
Rate TOU-D-TEV $1094 Uses existing installed smart meter
Rate D $1600 I don't know why anyone would keep this rate

This is for a total of 10,920 miles. If we make the optimistic assumption that a Prius will get 50 MPG that would take 218.4 gallons of regular gas. At the current price (which we all expect will go up) of around $3.30 per gallon the fuel cost is $720, almost $200 more than the Prius, even in the best mileage case.

Even at the high CA rates the $528 works out to a 68 MPG equivalent at $3.30 per gallon.

My cost comparison is to a 20 MPG average vehicle that runs on premium gas. That's a $1911 annual fuel bill, so I will be saving a bunch! :)

So as you can see I have to get the two meter option to make the cost competitive. Everyone's electric usage and driving patterns are different so so need to get your own rate analysis to chose the rate best for you. As you may have seen from some of my other posts I believe it will soon be possible for the EV only TOU rate to work without a second meter if SCE will just integrate the smart meter capability of the CT500 charger.

Personally I would still get the Volt even if I didn't have the 2 meter rate and it cost more than a Prius to operate. I will not drive a Toyota or Nissan anything. And no, it has nothing to do with the recalls or the fact they are offshore companies. I just don't like them and haven't since I worked on car engines for a living in the 70's.

I think compiling some actual cost data based on our real world usage over the next few months would be a great project for some aspiring college students!
 

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What about you other California Volt owners? Have you had an increase of reduction in your bill, and if so, how much? I would like to respond to our Purdue researchers with some real FACTS.
From Tyner, Wallace E. <[email protected]>
Date Sun, Jan 16, 2011 at 8:23 AM
Subject RE: RE: EV Charging rates in California

I did not say you had to pay for the meter. I said somebody had to pay. That is correct. You can believe what you want. We stand by our conclusions.
Based on the tone of that reply, I don't think additional facts will be useful.

“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” - Robert Heinlein
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Based on the tone of that reply, I don't think additional facts will be useful.

“Never try to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and it annoys the pig.” - Robert Heinlein
Your are correct as to Wallace E. Tyner. However, his boss appears more willing to listen to reason. and this may be a little fun replying to Mr. Tyner with a copy to his boss about his apparent desire to push ethanol as an alternative to electricity. (This may be leaping to the conclusion that the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University has much to gain by showing that electric vehicles are inferior to ethanol alternatives.)
 

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Your are correct as to Wallace E. Tyner. However, his boss appears more willing to listen to reason. and this may be a little fun replying to Mr. Tyner with a copy to his boss about his apparent desire to push ethanol as an alternative to electricity. (This may be leaping to the conclusion that the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University has much to gain by showing that electric vehicles are inferior to ethanol alternatives.)
You can let them know we don't have much corn to make ethanol here in Cali, but we can make lots of electricity with the wind and sun!:p
 

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The Byzantine Electric Rate Tariffs in CA

One thing to keep in mind is that the famed tiered rates are at EOL. (For those from other states, CA electric companies charge more as you use more electricity. So the first 300 kWh might cost $.12 and after 600 kWh the rate might go to $.38). All those smart meters that are going in are designed to shift everyone from tiered pricing to TOU rates, and once there are TOU rates it's all about when you use it and not how much you use. So any study gauging costs based on tiered rates will only be valid for a short period of time.

The second issue relates to the fact that, as has been pointed out, most utilities have made provision for a separate meter for electric vehicles that allow you to start over at the baseline rate for charging your EV. The issue here is that this suggest a better outcome than you'll see in practice. One problem is that sometimes you have to pay for the installation of the separate meter. Other times the utility may provide the meter but there is an additional monthly charge. In either case the rates will be slightly higher than you might think just looking at the tariff.

Finally there are situations when the price will be far lower. For example, where I am the rates can be as low as $.06/kWh for charging an EV off-peak. Moreover, if you have a PV system and are producing more than you are using, which won't be that uncommon for people buying EVs, then, since the first 500 kWh or so every year are free, all the over production may be uncompensated, and the first 500 kWh are free based on the minimum charge, your rate might be $.04/kWh or less.

Because of all these sitautions I'd give this study an "F". Just not sufficiently nuanced to be serious.
 

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Your are correct as to Wallace E. Tyner. However, his boss appears more willing to listen to reason. and this may be a little fun replying to Mr. Tyner with a copy to his boss about his apparent desire to push ethanol as an alternative to electricity. (This may be leaping to the conclusion that the Department of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University has much to gain by showing that electric vehicles are inferior to ethanol alternatives.)
Well, it takes plants to produce ethanol, and it takes fertilizer to grow plants, and....
 

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The second issue relates to the fact that, as has been pointed out, most utilities have made provision for a separate meter for electric vehicles that allow you to start over at the baseline rate for charging your EV. The issue here is that this suggest a better outcome than you'll see in practice. One problem is that sometimes you have to pay for the installation of the separate meter. Other times the utility may provide the meter but there is an additional monthly charge. In either case the rates will be slightly higher than you might think just looking at the tariff.
The meter isn't the pricey part, it's the additional service entrance panel and wiring that goes with it. The additional meter might be cost-effective for new construction but the difference between TOU-D-TEV super-off-peak and TOU-D-EV1 off-peak isn't that great.

The big advantage for the second meter is, as others have noted, keeping the kWh used for EV charging from being added to the baseline.

If tiered rates are indeed coming to an end then avoiding the cost of the second meter and its associated entrance facility and breaker box makes even more sense.
 

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SCE Rates are Very High

I received by on Volt January 5, and I agree, it cost more money to run the Volt on electricity than it does on gasoline in California. Yes, the tiered rate system really sucks. California electric company's are able to increase rates at will without any meaningful justification; and their request to increase rates have never been denied. The California public utilities commission is run by former energy company executives. Smart Meters will not caused the commission to eliminate tiered rates; there's too much money at stake. I drive my Volt almost exclusively on gas. I am seriously considering having a solar system installed. The Prius may be cheaper to operate than the Volt, but who really cares.
 

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Smart Meters will not caused the commission to eliminate tiered rates; there's too much money at stake. I drive my Volt almost exclusively on gas. I am seriously considering having a solar system installed. The Prius may be cheaper to operate than the Volt, but who really cares.
The utilities want TOU pricing. FWIW SCE has TOU pricing for a separately metered EV. Price per kWh super off-peak is a bit less than $.08. http://asset.sce.com/Documents/Shared/CE324.pdf That should beat the cost or operating a Prius by a factor of 3x - 4x given $3.40/gallon gas prices.
 

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Take a peek at the residential rate sheet for OG&E to see one reason I am not pleased to be moving back to Southern California. Notice how the rate is cheaper in the winter as you use more. All these rates allow for comfort at a reasonable price.

http://www.oge.com/Documents/OK/3.00 R-1.pdf
There are reasons other than weather why energy consumption in CA is the lowest in the nation. This pricing would be one of them. The even bigger reason is that in CA utilities don't make more money by selling more kWh. They make their money on transport and distribution which is ultimately not tied to volume.
 

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There are reasons other than weather why energy consumption in CA is the lowest in the nation. This pricing would be one of them. The even bigger reason is that in CA utilities don't make more money by selling more kWh. They make their money on transport and distribution which is ultimately not tied to volume.
My rate sheet is from Oklahoma as an example of where rates go down as more is used in the winter. This is to encourage usage for electric heat. The reason the rate is so reasonable is coal and natural gas is used and the excess is sold to other areas. What forces the rates to rise in OK is the repair costs for the electric lines during ice storms. Still, it is a major bargain compared with SCE and makes you frustrated with the lack of new power plants in California that would lower rates. By keeping prices high in Southern California (and they are going higher) they force conservation and that lowers the demand to build new power plants.
 

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The reason the rate is so reasonable is coal and natural gas is used and the excess is sold to other areas. What forces the rates to rise in OK is the repair costs for the electric lines during ice storms. Still, it is a major bargain compared with SCE and makes you frustrated with the lack of new power plants in California that would lower rates. By keeping prices high in Southern California (and they are going higher) they force conservation and that lowers the demand to build new power plants.
Costs are going to be higher in CA than in OK. If you doubt that just look at housing prices. So the higher costs of power in CA has nothing to do with a lack of power plants. AFAIK there is no shortage of these. Since roughly half the cost of providing power is in the distribution and transmission, if labor costs and land costs are substantially higher in A than B then you're going to have higher power prices in place A regardless of the price of the power. That's more or less what the deal is here.

What accounts for the difference in pricing in CA and OK is that in CA the electric companies don't get paid for selling power. Hence they have no incentive to sell more but do have incentives to get people to use less. And guess what, they've gotten people to use less. Amazing what companies can do if the incentives are right.

FWIW heating with electricity is not the best of ideas. Rather than taking natural gas and turning it into electricity and shipping it to a home -- about 30% efficient -- it's more efficient to ship the gas to the house and have the home furnace burn it at 70% efficiency. Twice the bang for the buck. In this sense the sample tariffs are misguided. Until the light bulb comes on for regulators, we'll see pricing that encourages the build out of a lot of stranded avoidable infrastructure, the costs of which rate payers will have to cover in coming years.
 

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The utilities want TOU pricing. FWIW SCE has TOU pricing for a separately metered EV. Price per kWh super off-peak is a bit less than $.08. http://asset.sce.com/Documents/Shared/CE324.pdf That should beat the cost or operating a Prius by a factor of 3x - 4x given $3.40/gallon gas prices.
SCE rates are, $.20 TOU-TEV and $.16 EV (separate meter). California electric utility customers are mandated to reduce energy consumption; thus the tiered system and very high rates.
 
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