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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi all,

We have a new Volt and enough solar panels on our roof (hopefully) to bring our PG&E bill down to zero. I love the way we can use the electric rate feature on the Volt to start charging at midnight and stop charging at 7 AM to ensure that we pay only 3.5 - 4 cents per kilowatt hour (kwh). If we get 40 miles on a charge of 12 kwh, that is 3.3 cents per kwh--i.e. about 1 cent per mile! And the low charging rate at night combined with the high summer peak payment for solar electricity (28 cents per kwh) brings our solar electricity cost down to less than 12 cents per kwh--very cost effective.

I started a blog to encourage others to do the same--please see: solarpowerelectriccars.blogspot.com

Jack, in Oakland, CA
 

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Love it, I plan on puting in solar panels this summer. We already heat our pool with solar.

Matt
 

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Very cool Jack! Couple of questions:
1. How do you factor in the ~$12 per month "partner fee" to PG&E?
2. Have you come up a way to factor in the cost of your solar array? Average KWH generated per day/cost of the array/etc.

I suggest a standard, such as, half of the cost of the solar system divided by 15 years to get a cost per year. (logic: a solar panel should last about 30 years, but the inverter will only make it to 15 years. therefore, half of the cost of the system will last 15 years.)

Not thought out.. but how about household electrical? I'm sure that will "win".

Cheers!

// Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Costs of solar

Good points.

1. My understanding is that PG&E (our local utility company) has a minimum of $6 per month for connecting to the grid. I'm not sure if that applies in the winter months when we do not have a credit with the solar. If it doesn't, then I should add in another $36 per year to the electricity costs.

2. You inspired me to post some detailed calculations on my blog: solarpowerelectriccars.blogspot.com My calculation comes to 11.4 cents per kwh, but if I add the $36 above that will raise it to 12 cents per kwh--still about the same as PG&E's lowest rate for regular household use.

I hadn't included the cost of replacing the inverter--is it really half as much as the system--i.e. $9,000? I had thought they were a few thousand dollars now, but would be a lot cheaper 10 or 15 years from now, given the way solar prices have been plummeting.

What do you think?

--Jack
 

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I can't wait for the 2012 Volt solar roof option. As long as it connects to the battery and not just to some silly fan then great.

The Fisker Karma will have this as standard and should be out in a few months.

To all those that are about to say that a solar panel is about as useful as lipstick on a pig, please search the exhaustive threads dealing with this subject.

Summary - solar can provide many new features that go beyond what a traditional ICE car can provide, even though it is not going to be adding too much range (unless you live on a golf course and only drive to get beers once a week). It that case, you may never need to even plug in, ever!
 

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I can't wait for the 2012 Volt solar roof option. As long as it connects to the battery and not just to some silly fan then great.

The Fisker Karma will have this as standard and should be out in a few months.

To all those that are about to say that a solar panel is about as useful as lipstick on a pig, please search the exhaustive threads dealing with this subject.

Summary - solar can provide many new features that go beyond what a traditional ICE car can provide, even though it is not going to be adding too much range (unless you live on a golf course and only drive to get beers once a week). It that case, you may never need to even plug in, ever!
Solar panels on the Volt would be cool, but if it was up to me I would spend the money instead on adding a couple of panels to my existing solar array.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
oops, just to clarify--the solar panels I am talking about are on the roof of our house. We have 18 of them that measure abour 13 square feet each. They provide enough power to cover our house electricity and the cost of the electricity to charge the Volt.

--Jack-#575
 

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There is a nice website devoted to exactly this topic:

solarchargeddriving.com

Check it out...

We have 25 Sunpower 220v panels on our roof, and last year generated a credit of $438 with PG&E that they won't have to pay or carryover....

We produced 1200kW more than we used for the year. And yes, the monthly "grid service fee" is around $13/month annually.

With time of use charging on the Volt AND our incoming LEAF (arriving before the end of THIS month/February), we will still, I am projecting have ZERO annual electricity use costs...just that $13/month service fee. We also have a solar hot water system which wipes out about half of our annual gas bill with wonderful PG&E.
 

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We would have had our solar panels installed (had plans done, money reserved to pay for them, etc..), but our HOA said no. They still have this power in Texas, but hopefully will be stripped of it in the next few months.

Paul (Cari's husband)
 

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I thought the feds passed a law would override the state law allow you to put them in.
 

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I thought the feds passed a law would override the state law allow you to put them in.
I would think I would have heard of this. Also, the solar panel company would have known this as well. I don't think there have been any new laws in 2011 yet regarding solar, so I am still out of luck. I believe many states have laws stating HOAs can't block them with reasonable limits (can't be installed on the part of the roof that faces the front of the house), but not Texas. I was pretty pissed when they declined..to the point that I appealed, but the HOA board still rather decline than approve anything different. The rules state you can't have one without board approval (as opposed to just stating no solar panels), yet the board declines stating the rules don't allow them. I am like.."why state with board approval if you are just going to decline all them anyway". On the one hand, with rebates and incentives, we could get a system for about 10% of the price or less out of pocket, but as it stands, only people in non-HOA areas can get them. It isn't like my neighbors would object, we can't even get enough people to show up to the meetings to have any offical HOA work done.

If anyone does find a fed law preventing HOAs from blocking solar panels, please let me know.

Paul (Cari's husband)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for pointing out the website solarchargeddriving.com. Looks excellent.

Also thanks for your comment about the "grid service fee". I double checked with PG&E and confirmed that there is a 22 cents per day meter charge plus 15 cents per day "minimum" charge added to Time of Use (TOU) meters. They couldn't explain why these charges are justified--i.e. why it actually costs PG&E more for people who use TOU meters, so I am looking for more explanation in case you are aware of it. I'm thinking the fees should be called "solar penalty fees" since I can't see why they are justified. I'm reminded of the early 70s when the phone company tried to charge people for adding an answering machine to their line. Hopefully, once solar becomes as popular as answering machines, PG&E will drop these charges. In fact, what we really need is a feed-in tariff law that would allow us to sell our excess electricity to PG&E. Anyone know the status of attempts to enact such a law?

And congratulations on getting a Volt and a Leaf. Felix Kramer of Calcars.org also has one of each and has been writing about both of them. I also raised with PG&E the issue of their pricing Tiers for the off-peak--the way their pricing is structured, it would be cheaper to charge the second electric car in the partial peak periods than in the off-peak once you go past the second tier of pricing. They said they are thinking about that issue.

Anyway, adding the $12 or so to our monthly electric bill will bring the cost of our solar power to about 13 cents per kwh, slightly above the 12 cents that our previous Tier 1 and Tier 2 bill charged, but still a lot less than higher tiers.
 

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Summary - solar can provide many new features that go beyond what a traditional ICE car can provide, even though it is not going to be adding too much range (unless you live on a golf course and only drive to get beers once a week). It that case, you may never need to even plug in, ever!
Golf courses have specialty EVs designed for exactly that purpose. They're also used to transport golfers and their clubs from the tee to the green. :) These have a lot less horsepower than the Volt, and solar on the roof might actually propel them a couple of hundred feet per sunny day.
 

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The best electric rate in San Diego via SDG&E is called EV-TOU2 (TOU = time of use). The cost per KWH from midnight to 5am for TOU2 is 14 cents. Are you sure your rate is 4 cents per KWH where you live?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Electricity rates

In response to the question about electricity rates, here are the PG&E rates for their special electric vehicle E9 tariffs for our area in Northern California:

Summer rate schedule (Peak is 2-9PM M-F, off peak is 12 AM – 7 AM M-F and weekends except 5 – 9 PM). Offpeak in the winter is $0.04457 per kwh for the first 294 kwh and in the summer it is $0.0365 per kwh for the first 249 kwh.

Perhaps you can ask SDG&E if they are planning to provide electric car rates similar to PG&E's E9 rate structure.

Here is my attempt to copy their table:

(sorry about the numbers not lining up---I'm still trying to get the hang of this)
Rate Structure Baseline (KWH) 130%
Baseline 200%
Baseline 300%
Baseline
Territory T 249.0 323.7 498.0 747.0
Peak ($/kwh) 0.28741 0.30470 0.44575 0.55420
Partial Peak 0.09406 0.11135 0.25240 0.36207
Off Peak 0.03565 0.05294 0.13998 0.18172


Winter rate schedule: No Peak time, off peak is the same as summer—12AM – 7AM M-F and weekends except 5 – 9 PM
Rate Structure Baseline 130%
Baseline 200%
Baseline 300%
Baseline
Territory T 294.0 382.2 588.0 882.0
Partial Peak 0.09394 0.11123 0.25227 0.36194
Off-Peak 0.04457 0.06186 0.13998 0.18172
 

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(sorry about the numbers not lining up---I'm still trying to get the hang of this)
You can use the [code] and [/code] markers to enter a formatted table. For example:

Code:
Partial Peak  0.09406    0.11135    0.25240    0.36207  
Off Peak      0.03565    0.05294    0.13998    0.18172
 

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We are fortunate enough to generate more electricity than we use. When we get our Volt that excess will probably disappear. However, rather than go onto one of the EV rate structures offered by SDG&E, I believe it will be cheaper for me to just stay on my existing plan as I do not believe our electricity usage, even with the Volt, will exceed the Tier one level. Since the baseline and Tier 1 rates are lower than the special EV rates (EV time of use, and EV time of use with dual meter), it doesn't make sense for use to switch.
 

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About PG&E's TOU meter fee - when PG&E installs a smart meter on your house, this fee will go away so you will just have to pay the minimum charge fee. I've heard that San Francisco is due up next for the smart meter rollout so hopefully this year it will be a thing of the past for those of us in SF.

About EVs and solar - PG&E (or the PUC) has created a huge incentive to put solar on your house - the E9A rate (the experimental solar vehicle rate) has incredibly cheap power (around 5 cents per kWh) during the off peak hours and incredibly expensive power (around 40 cents per kWh) during the peak times when the sun is out and the solar is generating more than we use. So what happens is this: we generate a lot more power than we use during the peak period and PG&E pays us at the expensive rate for the excess power we generate; when the Volt consumes power, it's at only 5 cents a kWh as it's programmed in the evening. Putting solar on our house AND buying a Volt has a) reduced our PG&E bills to almost nothing, b) reduced our gasoline bill to almost nothing. In addition, it provides a huge amount of satisfaction knowing that you are essentially generating the power that powers your car. The cost is the price of the solar array (around $11k after rebates). And, keep in mind, the value of your property with solar on the house is definitely more than without solar on the house (and probably more than $11k). Not often that you can invest money in your house and have it more than pay for itself.
 

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...we could get a system for about 10% of the price or less out of pocket...
Paul,

I'm curious what kind of system you have planned, suppliers, etc. I'm in the Austin area, and would be very much interested in installing a system at 10% out of pocket. Could you please post some links? I'm really new to all of this; I did some searching, and I really didn't come up with much, or at least a straight-forward approach to planning, designing, estimating, and getting the best deal with rebates, etc. Any help is much appreciated.
 
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