May 03

Electric Cars and Utility Companies


We all cant wait to get into our Chevy Volts and drive off on electric power. After all, what could be better than not using gasoline for most driving needs? We are aware the source of energy for the Volts battery will be the electric grid. All indications are that the energy costs will be cheaper, at current average rates, roughly 80 cents for 40 miles of electric driving.

The Wall Street Journal reports our GM friend Rob Peterson saying that the utility companies will become more important than the oil companies in this electric car future. The story raises the question as to just what the utility companies think of this.

Per the story, "most utilities view the cars with a mixture of excitement and trepidation." The issue is that nighttime charging when demand is low will be a benefit to utility companies, but daytime charging could increase demand and thereby cost.

A study by the Oak Ridge National laboratory is cited as indicating that indeed electric costs could rise in the latter scenario.

The idea of smart meters that could titrate electric rates to the time and purpose of use was discussed and it was noted that these are already being rolled out in California.

There was also mention of studies which show the grid should easily be able to handle the demands of electric cars and allow dramatic displacement of petroleum as an energy source.

Bottom line, the grid will handle it, it will cost less than oil, and both the individual and the utility companies will benefit from plug-in cars.

And, in my opinion, the tide of the sea change is unstoppable.

Source (Wall Street Journal )

This entry was posted on Saturday, May 3rd, 2008 at 8:14 pm and is filed under Charging, Grid. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.


  1. 1
    Arch Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (8:27 pm)


    Thanks, this is a very important part of the story.

    Take Care

  2. 2
    vincent Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (8:43 pm)

    So it’s under $5 for the Tesla that gets 225 miles per charge.

  3. 3
    Texas Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (8:56 pm)

    1) Solar energy falls where it falls. Oil comes out of owned property.

    2) We need a new smart grid to handle the new currency – energy.

    I was thinking the other day as to why our country is so afraid to build out new and different infrastructure. Did building massive amounts of hydroelectric dams, building the interstates, running railroads, etc. hurt us financially? Just because we have old infrastructure in place does that mean we have to use it forever? Why have people never heard of sunk cost (where you use existing equipment even though you would be better off to just throw it in the garbage)? Hello! Our current grid is old, stitched together with tape and baling wire, feed by mostly non-renewable forms of energy etc.

    I say let’s mentally toss it in the garbage! We start today to replace it. Yes it will take many decades to complete but to me that sounds like many decades of great jobs and continually improving infrastructure that will help keep the US in first place in the global market. If you were another country would you rather compete with the US and our current energy situation or with the US and it’s bright and shiny just-completed smart grid and their fully independent and sustainable energy infrastructure?

  4. 4
    NZDavid Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (9:03 pm)

    Can’t really speak for USA, but the grid in NZ is similar, in many ways. At night EV’s will fit right in. During the day, could be a problem.

    So to fix it I think EV charge points should be utility controlled, so the power supply can be ramped down or up as required. (G2V)

    In return, power can be supplied at a cheaper rate. Also charge points or cars should have automatic load reduction software built in in case of frequency drops. This would be quite cheap & easy to do.

    Also, at night, we (power companies) would pay to know when the next day you want the car, how much charge is needed ie SOC reading, so we could vary the charge rate, to help us balance demand/supply. At the end of the day, who cares when over night it gets charged, as long as its ready when you want it.

    All of this before we even worry about V2G.

    Just my two cents worth.
    If anyone wants to see how NOT to run a grid check out this site.
    Note: These are the wholesale prices! I currently pay about 11 cents retail. Divide by 1000 to convert to cents per kWh.

  5. 5
    Arch Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (9:16 pm)


    Think about this. If our Chevy Volts were all hooked up to the power lines and the power went out because of a major storm. The power company could isolate the problem areas and start our cars. They could provide power for our neighborhood. I dont think many people understand what the Chevy Volt could mean beyound just a drive to work.

    Take Care

  6. 6
    matt986 Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (9:20 pm)

    Electrification of commuter vehicles will definitely change the way we need to think about our electrical grid.

    Luckily Texas is slated to get a couple new nuclear plants in the next decade or so. The rest of the country needs to ramp up. Nuclear reactor technology has matured so much… new designs practically CAN’T melt down. Screw Greenpeace. MORE NUKES!!!

    Supplement that with affordable solar to supplement the grid during peak usage, and wind for a more spread out addition.

    I hope this kind of change is change we’ll see SOON. I’m already thinking about ways I can trade my Fit up for a Prius to save more money on gas.

  7. 7
    canehdian Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (9:20 pm)

    You could also charge without using the grid. If I were to have a volt today, I probably wouldnt drive more than 65km for 3 days. With a solar setup, It might take 3 days to charge – but you could have it charge from solar during the day, and grid at night, getting the cheapest source of energy whenever possible.

  8. 8
    matt986 Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (9:22 pm)


    Negative. I don’t want MY gas giving anyone else power. It would be too costly to me, even to power my own stuff.

    You also have to consider – using a 110v circuit (15A), you could only push that much the other way… which still wouldn’t be enough to power much. Combined with the inherently low efficiency of an ICE generator… You’d be paying dollars for cents worth of electric power.

  9. 9
    OhmExcited Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (9:26 pm)

    Another interesting article from the WSJ: California’s Energy Colonialism

    If California wants to plug in at night and rely on the “existing generation capacity” that means it will have to burn a whole lot more natural gas, which will cause the prices to rise significantly. Reliable night time baseload power is needed. Nuclear power anyone?

    California’s only nuclear plants Diablo Canyon and San Onofre will apply for license renewal soon to go 60 years, but you can bet there will be a lot of local opposition. They managed to shut down Rancho Seco which had almost 1000 MW capacity and replaced it with a solar farm which produces 4 MW during the day only.

    California continues to buy a lot of power from out of state to make up the difference.

    Expect electricity prices to rise a lot in California with the advent of the electric car.

  10. 10
    Grizzly Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (9:59 pm)

    The first thing I thought about when EV’s become mainstream is the utility Co’s gouging to add to their bottom line. This shouldn’t happen since most are monopolies regulated by municipalities. Even if this weren’t the case the is good reason to keep kw/h’s low, particularly in the evening and that’s to make sure electrification of the automobile progresses despite OPEC and Big Oil’s inevitable shenanigans.

    Ultimately gov’t will find a way to replace lost tax revenue from gas, and I think it’s obvious that the early EV adopters will benefit by enjoying a free ride.

  11. 11
    vincent Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (10:05 pm)

    You can always make a small generator with a diesel engine and run it on peanut oil. they were designed for this from the beginning.

  12. 12
    Firefly Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (10:08 pm)

    My only concern is that the utility companies do not become like the oil companies-by that, I mean realizing that we put a few ten-thousand hybrids on the grid and they make up excuses to raise the rates astronomically high. Lyle? Pass this on to Lutz/Wagoner if you have the time:

    With the purchase of every one if the first 10,000 Chevy Volts, GM supplies the buyer with a discount voucher for some form of residential renewable equipment, or a discount vouvher for the installation of such. That way, charging the Volt could be supplemented by wind, solar, etc.-Thereby lessening the overall cost of ownership, ensuring grid reliability, and promoting renewable clean energy sources at the same time. Think about it. If someone in the mid-west buys a Volt, would it not be helpful if it helped them to get a wind turbine installed to assist in charging the car? Or what about Californians and Floridians who would see discounts on the purchase of a grid-tied photovoltaic system? That coupled with federal and state renewable energy incentives would foster a growth in the renewable industry. Keep the industry “in-house”, thereby putting more Americans to work. After all, I’m sure GM knows that it takes money to make money…

    …just a thought…Peace

  13. 13
    Arch Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (10:10 pm)


    The electric company would pay you just like they do for the folks who make electricity from the sun now. You would make a profit not loose money. The 15A circuit is only a way for you to feed your Volt for the time being. Once this game is understood the game will change. You will have a much larger wire connecting the Volt and the house.

    Take Care

  14. 14
    Steven B
    Steven B Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (10:53 pm)

    I’m still a big V2G and smart-grid advocate, in case any of you have read my postings before. I believe that a proper smart grid is the answer to how the grid should be updated. I think that proper use of a V2G-updated grid will provide our 21st century model of our electrical grid. If it is done right (and the utilities still have years to plan for it) E-REVs and PHEVs will be the biggest asset that we have ever seen for the grid.

    Excellent research has already been done on V2G and its promises. Proper use of it will provide us all with cheaper energy, cleaner energy, and a changed economics of driving. People who know nothing about grid management are understandably afraid of using their car’s battery for grid management, just as people who understand how it works are far more excited about the prospects. Back-up power is obviously the ideal first application of V2G, and it is important to understand that we will not be selling our electricity at base rates. Personally I think it would be best for us to sell our electricity back at a market competitive rate in those cases. That actually means exceptionally high prices that are only brought lower by competition with each other. And by that I mean, since in such grid-isolated cases (after thunderstorms, icestorms, tornadoes, or hurricanes) we choose the highest prices that our neighbors will bear, such as a dollar or more per kwh, and our neighbors can choose either to leave their lights and heat off or pay it. We can make a lot of money in those rare instances and it will bring us significant profit. Of course our neighbors can choose not to pay, we can choose not sell, and if we simply choose not to do so, then that’s our choice, and if our neighbors have their own electricity (such as from their own generator or E-REV or UPS) then they won’t pay. But we can let market dynamics work for us. I see that working very well. But including the hardware and software to enable those exchanges in our cars and at our homes and businesses is the obvious prerequisite.

    But over time, I believe, we’ll be able to get our utilities to update and integrate our cars into the smart grid and make V2G work. I’m very optimistic about it, and want to point out just one more thing: Advanced nuclear power is not the only prospect for good new baseline power, we’ve also got new geothermal power in development, and that has great promise. Look it up in Popular Mechanics to learn more. But again, I see great promise for V2G and I really want to see V2G capability built into the first generation E-flex vehicles. Plug-in vehicles are clearly our future.

  15. 15
    CS Guy
    CS Guy Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (10:54 pm)


    More nukes, definitely. New reactor designs need to be approved by the gov and DOE needs to mandate to use them only. Imagine how expensive a car would be if each one was made custom with every bend of metal or weld being one-off engineered. That’s how nuke plants have been made to date. Idiotic.

    Two or three designs should be approved and utilities choose which of the three to build. The parts would all be standardized and mass produced and limits should be imposed on custom engineering as much as possible to keep installation costs down. The differences in the designs would be either size (Gigawatt output), or technology (Pebble-bed vs Thorium vs whatever).

    My vote would go to Pebble-bed reactors. They are modular, each part can be mass produced, immune from meltdown, and if you need more power you just setup another reactor on the site so it’s expandable by design.

    Combine hundreds of new nuke reactors with a few $billion investment in solar and wind and we’d all be able to drive electric cars and say stick it to foreign oil.

  16. 16
    Nate G
    Nate G Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (11:17 pm)

    Mid American Energy has rebates for a new furnace or a air conditioner. And when you install a electric furnace or a heat pump your first 100 kw hours you are at the standard rate and then all else after that it is a real good rate. I’m sure you should be able to get either a rebate or a deal with your energy company.

  17. 17
    Jason M. Hendler
    Jason M. Hendler Says


    May 3rd, 2008 (11:20 pm)

    Nanosolar reported that the Europeans are creating small 2 – 4 acre solar farms to power 2,000 or so homes, and distributing them around the edges of cities. This approach allows them to complete projects in only 12 months, as opposed to several years for large PV installations, because the large transformers and long distance high voltage lines are no longer necessary. Also, these small projects can be handled by small local governments, instead of provincial (state) or national governments. Nevada Solar One (64 MW) was completed in 16 months, but cost $250 million, amortized over decades, which few local governments could afford.

    I don’t believe there will be a Big Electric, as there is a Big Oil, because individuals will be able to purchase solar panels to generate their own electricity. Nor will there be a Big Hydrogen, as individuals can purchase solar hydrogen generators.

  18. 18
    NZDavid Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:41 am)

    Damn; post in moderation again! The last time this happened it wound up as its own separate thread. lol.

    Will try putting just the CARB source in.

  19. 19
    Dave99 Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:43 am)

    14. CS Guy – Over this past semester, some people from DTE (a Detroit-based utility) came to speak in one of my classes, and I recall them speaking about something similar to what you’ve said… in streamlining the nuclear plant construction approval process, you basically have to choose from one of a few pre-approved plant blueprints and buy the patent from the firm that got the blueprint design approved.

    My comments –
    Solar and wind will only make a small dent (albeit important) in America’s short term energy needs. The magnitude of nuclear plants make them a much more viable option right away. Of course, the public has to be on board to take on some risk associated with building the plants because these are MASSIVE investments.

    Also a question – if we move to a new grid, do you guys see it as being a macro/smart grid, or micro grids? … the smaller solar setups sound like a very wise choice to me because it would eliminate some of the transmission losses.

  20. 20
    NZDavid Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:43 am)

    OK that worked, will try comments now.

    C.A.R.B. has released their final proposals which affect the Volt as followd:

    “· Modifying the AT PZEV requirements, primarily to address issues associated with plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles; including the deployment of “blended” hybrid electric vehicles through an equivalent all electric range (EAER) credit, adjusting the credits for advanced componentry and fuel-cycle emissions, and other conforming changes;”


    “Creating a new option within the new path gold requirement for ZEVs during the 2012-2014 model years, by requiring a minimum 30% of the gold requirement to be met with pure ZEVs, approximately 7,500 vehicles, and allowing the rest of the gold requirement, the remaining 70%, approximately 58,000 vehicles, to be met with enhanced AT PZEVs, which are AT PZEVs that utilize a ZEV fuel such as hydrogen or electricity, for example PHEVs or hydrogen internal combustion engine vehicles; this would increase the staff proposal of a 10% minimum floor option, or 2,500 pure ZEVs, and with the rest of the gold requirement, 90% or 75,000, allowed to be met with enhanced AT PZEVs

    · Creating a new Type V ZEV earning 7 credits and defined as a ZEV with a 300 mile or greater range and fast refueling capabilities;

    · Making the ZEV credit banks of manufacturers fully transparent, including trades, beginning in model year 2010.”

    And further for consideration by the Executive Officer:

    “· Granting additional credit for PHEVs that can drive the US06 cycle on electricity;”

    This can only be good for the Volt. It also explains why they want to put fuel cells in some of them.

    Lyle can you delete the composite post?

  21. 21
    Grizzly Says


    May 4th, 2008 (2:42 am)

    Dave99 #18

    “the smaller solar setups sound like a very wise choice to me because it would eliminate some of the transmission losses.”

    *** *** ****

    My understanding is that most people who have rooftop PVs work with the utility company supplying the grid during the day which runs their meter backwards and then use that credit (negative meter reading) to charge their vehicles and what not. Not bad, but with this system the utility company is always involved and what credit/rate they give you may be beyond your control.

    I envision more potent rooftop PVs and perhaps a Coke machine sized battery in the garage whereby you’d charge that battery to high potential with the Pvs, like say 900V and you’d use that to charge your vehicle and whatever else. It would work the same way that you fill your tires with air at the gas station. When you do this you’re not working directly off a motor, you’re working off a super compressed tank of air which fills your tires, then when the tank gets down to a certain psi the motor re-pressurizes the tank. The difference being that the Pvs are always feeding the “Coke machine” until of course it’s at capacity.

    This type of system could take the utilities right out of the equation WRT EVs.

  22. 22
    Steven B
    Steven B Says


    May 4th, 2008 (2:42 am)

    Smart grids are macro, mezo, and micro level systems with bi-directional inputs (from the central plants and end-users) and they are designed to allow smart pricing as well as distributed generation and storage. V2G is ideal for integration into smart grids. And ultimately, the term “smart grid” simply refers to full modernization. The real idea is to distribute power management throughout the system, and also the use of price signals to manage usage and reduce consumption of power from peak sources and polluting sources. The concept of V2G is to limit the usage of the most expensive peak (natural gas and coal) power and to maximize the usage of the least expensive base and intermittent (nuclear, geothermal, wind, and solar) power and to reduce or eliminate central storage (hydro and utility battery) power.

    And on the point of Big Electricity, in most places the power company is a government enterprise. Which, since we’re a democracy, we own as citizens. Most places in the US don’t have to worry about Big Electricity because we are them. I consider that a huge benefit of the future electrified vehicle fleet.

  23. 23
    omegaman66 Says


    May 4th, 2008 (3:54 am)

    V2G is something I don’t want to ever see. I have concerns and questions about it and I admit I don’t know all there is to know about it. Here are my thoughts on the subject. Correct or answer as appropriate.

    1. My power company has NEVER cut off electricity to me except during storms and such when trees fall on powerlines or when transformers blow up etc. Why would they ever need to buy power back from me in the first place.

    2. I can’t imagine the utility company buying back electric very often. I would guess that if they did it would certainly only amount to a few dollars a month!

    3. Cycling my cars battery even if never deeply isn’t going to make the battery last longer… it will shorten its life even if only a little. of course they are only paying me a little.

    4. If I ever get in my e-flex vehicle and the battery isn’t fully charged I could be required to use gasoline that I otherwise wouldn’t. That would eat into my “profits” that I did make from V2G.

    5. What happens when multiple cars are hooked up to the grid because they are now popular and the electricity goes out during a storm. Wouldn’t this cause a safety risk to the workers trying to fix the problem…. couldn’t this cause delays in fixing the power outage because they had to take time to isolate from sleeping peoples car batteries. How would they do that?

  24. 24
    mmcc Says


    May 4th, 2008 (5:44 am)

    #5 matt986
    I think Greenpeace supports nuclear energy now.

    #16 Jason M. Hendler
    I watched a program on TV recently (Nova I think) that showed a farmer in Germany installing solar panel on some of his acreage. Key to the success of this was that the German government was paying him a guaranteed $0.50 per KWH for the next 20 years. These numbers are from memory so don’t quote me on them.

  25. 25
    NZDavid Says


    May 4th, 2008 (6:12 am)

    Re point 5. In the event of a grid failure, All power is required by law to be cut off unless you put in a approved isolation switch. In this case you could do Grid 2 House. It is possible, we could use small amounts of power for grid (frequency) stablisation. Personally, I feel we can achieve the same thing by just varying the charge rate. Over millions of cars it would work just fine.

  26. 26
    Dave B
    Dave B Says


    May 4th, 2008 (6:55 am)

    Firefly @ 11,

    The beauty of electricity is that it can be created by so many different methods: nuclear, solar, wind, etc. It isn’t quite like the oil companies becase you can even make it at home. The competition in the industry is real.

  27. 27
    Joe Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:06 am)

    If I take a long trip to visit friends I would need a place to charge the Volt battery. My friends home would be a good place but friends should not end up with the electric bill.

    GM should design the Volt so one could easily enter the cost of kilowatts into the Volt computer, so the friend could be accurately be compensated for the use of it’s electricity.

  28. 28
    NZDavid Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:18 am)

    Joe, Just place a amp/meter on the end of the plug, cheap to buy. I am sure your friends will appreciate the extra $1 / day you give them.

    I am sure the Zap add keeps appearing here just to keep my hopes up. lol.

  29. 29
    MarkinWI Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:35 am)

    I’m with Dave B/#24. Diversity in electricity is its key strength. I’d prefer to see greener forms of generation (wind, solar), but over-reliance on any one form exposes the system to weakness. Also, even if meltdowns “can’t” happen, we still have not figured out how to safely neutralize nuclear waste.

    There will be no Big Electric the way we have Big Oil. Unlike the oil industry, the electric industry is already heavily regulated in this country. People can (and do) complain about the regulators being in the pocket of the power companies, but the bottom line is that we have not seen anywhere near the price swings for e.g. natural gas that we have seen in petroleum. The difference is striking, especially when you consider that both petroleum and natural gas tend to be provided to us by private corporations, from land that they own or have leased. Whatever some may say, some forms of government regulation actually do work of the benefit of the public.

  30. 30
    mmcc Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:42 am)

    #25 & #26
    Hey, what are friends for? I’ve already told an old AF buddy of mine to get a 220v outlet in his garage for the times we drive the 50 miles to visit…. and I won’t be reimbursing him! Of course he will return the “favor” because they are buying a Volt too.

  31. 31
    Jim D
    Jim D Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:48 am)

    Im in favor of new nuclear, and other energy development priorities. We should become more active/vocal or I fear electric vehicles may outpace electric power development, and power prices may do the same as corn prices.

    What a disappointment that would be.

    Here is a site I came across recently.

  32. 32
    mmcc Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:49 am)

    I emailed my electric utility a few months back asking if they would be promoting any special rates or incentives for plug-in electric cars. Here is the reply I received from them:
    At this time we do not have a program in place related to plug-in electric cars. We are always evaluating potential programs that promote renewable electric generation or reduce electricity use. One consideration is that our efficiency programs are designed to reduce electricity demand. On the surface, plug-in cars may increase the demand for electricity. However, we have heard of several utilities researching ways to use the cars as a storage mechanism or alternative energy source to provide electricity in times of high demand. We will continue to follow the research and evaluate potential program offerings.

  33. 33
    Jason M. Hendler
    Jason M. Hendler Says


    May 4th, 2008 (8:02 am)


    Yes, I saw that Nova program, and Germany has opted for a Feed-In Tariff, so that customers are paying for the construction of PV farms prior to delivery of the product / service – I am admantly against such a program. Customers should only pay for a product / service as / after they receive the product / service. Energy companies can achieve the same thing by having renewable energy vendors competitively bid on installations, in which they have their own long-term financing / amortization. The customers wouldn’t have to pay anything, until they receive the renewable energy. This approach pushes energy providers to continually cost reduce their energy sources, in order to be award construction contracts. The way the Germans do it, once the energy provider is making a good profit, there is little incentive to continue cost reduction, keeping renewable energy prices high.

    For example, Nanosolar, who was designing to compete with coal, came up with an extremely cheap renewable energy solution, whereas the Germans built out an entire industry on very expensive technology.

  34. 34
    KenEE Says


    May 4th, 2008 (8:20 am)

    Numbers aren’t adding up. If 40 miles equals 80 cents of electricity then we’re talking a very small $25 increase in monthly usage.

    Differences between a/c units vary way more than that from one model to the next.

    You’re either an alarmist, bored, or both :)


  35. 35
    Van Says


    May 4th, 2008 (8:32 am)

    In general the load leveling effect of adding the car charging at night to the load profile will help utilities better utilize their installed generation equipment. Read that to mean the average cost for electricity will go down.

    We have not built modern generation plants to replace the fossil fuel burners because the court system has allowed the few (the NIMBY) to dictate to the many. Yucca Mountain remains closed, tied up in endless litigation. Nuclear plants should provide 40% to 60% of our electricity, but the uncertain regulatory environment has forestalled us from actually reducing our dependence on Green House Gas emitters.

    But as the saying goes, clouds do have a silver lining, with the advent of electric cars, to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, we will then be faced with building GHG emitting generation, or non-GHG emitting generation. So perhaps a referendum in California cut the knot that allows the NIMBY to foster fossil fuel use.

  36. 36
    pdt Says


    May 4th, 2008 (8:34 am)

    I agree with several previous postings about the diversity of electricity sources. I could, if I chose to do so, buy solar panels and batteries and go completely off-grid. Others could put up wind generators or micro-hydro. We can’t generate our own gasoline, but we can generator our own electric power. I think this will at least put a top end on how much “Big Electric” could gouge us. Bring on the electron economy!

    I don’t know how real it is, but check out this link:

  37. 37
    Mark Says


    May 4th, 2008 (8:58 am)

    The formula for energy independance and drastically reduced CO2 emissions is very simple and readily achievable.

    Electification of the automobile + a nuclear power-based electric grid.

    If we use France’s nuke model, they supply 80% of their energy from nukes. They reproces all of their fuel. The volume of waste generated is acutally quite tiny, and unlike CO2 we actually can put it somwhere of our choosing.

    Nuclear power plants are incredible safe. It’s fear mongering for 30+ years that has ingendered this resistance to anything containing the word “nuclear”. And MRI actually uses the principle of “nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) ” however no one would get in a machine that has “nuclear” in the title so it was changed to MRI. We need to get over this, buy volts, and build nukes.

  38. 38
    Statik Says


    May 4th, 2008 (9:19 am)

    I’m sure electric companies are ambivalent to it either way. Depending on what day it is, they either want to produce more or for people to conserve more.

    What is good about the Volt, (and all other EVs) is that YOU, all by YOURSELF can choose to produce energy. Last time I checked it’s hard to get a oil rig and refinery set up in your backyard.

    Solar solutions are here now, anyone can do it. Depending on the state/country it takes between 7-15 years to be ‘neutral’ on the cost to set it up/payback.

    Also, don’t forget when you do that ‘payback’ math almost everyone neglects to factor that the cost of electricity rises (doesn’t everything?). ie) $13,000 on a 6kW system (after rebates), which @.12 kwh, saves me $1,500, so it pays for itself in 8.6 years…but as the retail price goes up, your breakeven accelerates…and when it’s paid for itself, your a genious…and now you have free power! Whats the cost per MPG on that?

    Average yearly price in KwH (official EiA numbers–

    2002 8.44/KwH
    2003 8.72/KwH
    2004 8.95/KwH
    2005 9.45/KwH
    2006 10.4/KwH

    (+ assorted random fees, taxes, infrastructure ‘bonuses’ you get on your bill)

  39. 39
    BillR Says


    May 4th, 2008 (10:49 am)

    #38 Statik

    I will assume your solar system can produce 12,500 kWh over a year’s time with 6 kW max power (very optimistic assumption in many parts of the country).

    At 8% interest, with a 20 year mortgage, the annual payment for a loan is nominally 10% of the borrowed amount. Therefore, a $13,000 system will require an annual debt service of $1300. In this scenario (which most business people will examine), your net annual savings are $200. If there are any maintenance requirements over the 20 years (more than $2400), your payback becomes negative.

    To get a true positive payback, you will need to rely on increases in electrical rates.

  40. 40
    frankyB Says


    May 4th, 2008 (11:39 am)

    Living in Quebec, this is only good news, we have cheap, green energy. We can and will produce more by increaseing our hydro capacity and by creating more energy from wind.

    And on the up side, it is own by me and everybody living in Quebec :) So yeah, I love electric cars

  41. 41
    Statik Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:04 pm)

    #39 Bill

    Actually for myself, (being in Canada), I produce less on a 6Kw system, I average about 26Kw/day…or about 9500/year…of course I have no electric car atm to need more juice than that, wish I did. (In Ontario the gov’t pays .42/Kw I produce, which is awesome…and unfortunately not something you can get in the states, so your math is slower.

    Why are we doing loan math at all? Is it lost on most Americans that you should actually buy stuff with cash? Your right, if you don’t have 13K, don’t do solar. As a matter of fact, don’t do a Volt. Buy a 2 year old Hyundai Accent and just work at improving your lifestyle/future security.

    If you buy in cash, the real world cost of things is measured in inflation, which is currently at less than 2 percent. If inflation was around 9-10 percent, I would say you should NOT buy something like solar….there would be much better places to park your cash.

    Most people who do ‘borrow’ for solar however, include it in their mortgage, which as it stands, the national average is 25 years at 4.2%, or 665/mth…which still net you $835 in year one. Given historical rate of increase on electricity of 5.25 percent, you would break even on (or around) the 12 year mark (even inside your mortgage). There is virtually no maintenance on solar arrays, other than sweeping them off.

    I will admit the way our society has gone, almost everyone has abandoned the concept of a little pain now for greater gain in the future. Save today for tomorrow? Crazy talk.

    +Special Bonus: you get to be a smug SOB plugging you EV into your solar house, lol

  42. 42
    Statik Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:07 pm)

    #40 frankyB

    Howdee! I forgot to mention wind.

    I get always stuck on solar because of the ridiculous credit we get from it here. It has kind of has turned into the ugly stepchild, but it is much cheaper on the whole if you are trying to offset direct power utility bills without rebates or incentives…or if you are out in the boondocks somewhere, lol.

    Depending on your location or situation, wind could be a answer as well.

    /vive le renewable energy threads, hehe

  43. 43
    Texas Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:07 pm)

    #5 Arch wrote:


    Think about this. If our Chevy Volts were all hooked up to the power lines and the power went out because of a major storm. The power company could isolate the problem areas and start our cars. They could provide power for our neighborhood. I dont think many people understand what the Chevy Volt could mean beyound just a drive to work.”

    I’m with you Arch. If you read the forums you will see that I’m also proposing using the quick-charge station’s batteries to give the grid more electrical storage. It’s all about the new smart grid. I love the idea and hope to see it flushed out to it’s ultimate functionality!

  44. 44
    Texas Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:21 pm)

    Guys! Nuclear?! Before you lock in on this idea please check out the lively debate going on in the forums:

    Please watch the two video links. One talks about the costs one talks about the science. Fasinating! It might blow your minds!

  45. 45
    RB Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:29 pm)

    #22 Steven said “And on the point of Big Electricity, in most places the power company is a government enterprise. Which, since we’re a democracy, we own as citizens. Most places in the US don’t have to worry about Big Electricity because we are them. I consider that a huge benefit of the future electrified vehicle fleet.”

    Municipal ownership may not work out in practice, unfortunately, For a long time I lived in a city that owned its electric plants. Service was unreliable, responsiveness was non-existent, and charges were high. The municipal company seemed to be mainly a jobs program for the politically well connected. Now I live in a place with a private company providing electricity, and things are better all around. No doubt there are comparisons where the reverse is true, too; my point is that things don’t always work out as hoped, when the government becomes involved.

  46. 46
    CharlieP Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:35 pm)

    Some of the folks posting above have strong opinions about something (electric systems) they obviously know little about. If what you know about electricity generation came from the mainstream media – you are seriously misinformed. This is my day job.

    Most utility companies will welcome the opportunity to provide electric service to cars like the Volt. By using remote metering (which is coming into use now in many areas) or Time Of Use (TOU) metering, the utlity can encourage customers to charge the vehicles off-peak, and make better use of existing base-load generating facilities, and existing transmission and distribution assets. This will tend to lower average costs. Time-Of-Use (TOU) rates for residential customers were a popular subject during the energy crises of the 70′s and 80′s, but the simple truth was that there was limited ability to move usage off-peak. In other words, most folks are not going to do laundry at 3AM no matter what the incentive. Cars like the Volt represent a true off-peak load opportunity. I think most utlilties will jump at that, especially those will adequate base-load resources.

    In the short-term much of the additional energy for charging will come from souces such as coal or gas generating units. But in the longer term the energy is likely to come from nuclear units. Filling in the early AM load valley would allow utlities to build additional nuclear capacity to replace existing gas (and evntually coal) generation.

    Although sources such as wind, hydro, and solar may make up a larger portion of our electricity supply in the future than they do now, it is unlikely these sources can supply more than a minor portion of our total electricity needs in the next 30 years. The future looks nuclear … or dark.

  47. 47
    CharlieP Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:45 pm)

    I forgot to address the “utility uses car batteries for back-up supply” issue. I would speculate that one good way to address this would be with variable electricity pricing coupled with in-home converters which would allow the customer to use the car battery to supply some electricity his home from the battery during periods of high prices. This would give the customer choice and would circumvent all the problems associated with the utility controlling the cars directly. To work well, the customer would need a computer system which would monitor the price, and make adjustments instantaneously. Neat, huh?

  48. 48
    GM Volt Fan
    GM Volt Fan Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:46 pm)

    I hear that the nuclear plants are indeed safer because they’ll shut down without any human intervention and with no backup power needed. Generation IV plants will be able to be built out in the middle of nowhere since they won’t need as much water for cooling. They produce less waste too, since they can reprocess the used uranium somehow or another.

    I think when it comes to nukes, there’s also the “not in my back yard” problem. Generation IV plants will deal with that complaint since they’ll be on lands not many people live near anyway. The BIG problem with nuclear plants these days is COST. They are ridiculously expensive. They’e heavily subsized by the government and STILL too expensive. They’ll have to compete economically vs. the alternatives like coal you know … just like photovoltaic and solar thermal. Nuclear plants also take YEARS to get built … 10 years maybe. It takes years just to get permission to build them I hear.

    If the nuclear industry can build their plants away from population centers and do it CHEAPER and quicker, they might become more viable. Nuclear is better than coal fired plants though. Gotta admit that. Coal plants spew out all kinds of toxic stuff like mercury you know. Coal plants aren’t going to be as cheap anymore though … because of supply and demand. China and India are grabbing all the coal and oil they can get their hands on these days I hear. I’m sure American coal mines will sell it to the highest bidder. Like almost all businesses, they just want to make as much money as possible. They aren’t out to help American electricity customers by selling us cheaper coal than the Chinese.

    Once the federal government puts in the cap and trade program or carbon taxes, coal plants are going to fade away. Coal will be the high cost source of energy. The world will be a much better place to live in once coal plants are gone forever. Humans have been “peeing in our own pool” environmentally for far too long. Just look at the pee soup that the people in Beijing, China have to live in this summer during the Olympics. It’s time for us to stop burning fossil fuels like cavemen and move on to modern 21st century energy technology.

  49. 49
    CharlieP Says


    May 4th, 2008 (12:46 pm)

    In-home INVERTERS not converters – doh!

  50. 50
    koz Says


    May 4th, 2008 (1:06 pm)

    #23 omegaman66

    Your concerns are understabdable but the V2G scenarios that are being discussed by power engineers are much different than you assume.

    “1. My power company has NEVER cut off electricity to me except during storms and such when trees fall on powerlines or when transformers blow up etc. Why would they ever need to buy power back from me in the first place.”
    The grid by nature is very interconnected and interdependent. There are isolating mechanism to safeguard the bulk of the grid from an unusual occurance on a segment, but these aren’t foolproof as recently shown by blackouts in Florida, California, and few years ago in the northeast. These outages range from several hours to a couple of days. The more loaded (closer to max capacity) the grid is, the more susceptible it is to blackout problems. Given the aging state of our grid in a lot of areas, cost reduction measures affecting maintainance, and higher average operating loads the grid is becoming less stable in many areas. The cost to remedy these issues are tremendous. Having 1000 Volts plugged in at the same time would be a very inexpensive stop gap to keep the grid up in the event of an unusual circumstance that would have otherwise brought a segment down in best case or a large portion of the grid in worst case. Plug-in car owners would compensated for the availability of their car’s energy not per the use of it (or at least not much of the compensation would be for actual energy transfer). This would work similar to load shedding programs that are currently in place in many areas of the country.

    “2. I can’t imagine the utility company buying back electric very often. I would guess that if they did it would certainly only amount to a few dollars a month!”
    See response to 1.) They would pay handsomely for the availability of your energy, not necessarily the actual use of it.

    “3. Cycling my cars battery even if never deeply isn’t going to make the battery last longer… it will shorten its life even if only a little. of course they are only paying me a little.”
    Yes, if your car’s battery is ever called upon by the grid it will lose the commensurate life (worst case 80% of one full cycle per event if GM sticks to 80% charge limit). From what I have read, the value to the electric company far outweighs any potential battery use, and if they don’t offer reasonable compensation for this value then you shouldn’t participate.

    “4. If I ever get in my e-flex vehicle and the battery isn’t fully charged I could be required to use gasoline that I otherwise wouldn’t. That would eat into my “profits” that I did make from V2G.”
    Another way for the Electric Utilities to gain value from V2G would be to manage the recharge rates and times. In high load situations they could reduce the rate of charge or delay charging altogether. If you only plug-in at night and won’t drive until the morning this should not affect you. For different charging scenarios it becomes more complicated. If it becomes an issue, then cancel your V2G.

    “5. What happens when multiple cars are hooked up to the grid because they are now popular and the electricity goes out during a storm. Wouldn’t this cause a safety risk to the workers trying to fix the problem…. couldn’t this cause delays in fixing the power outage because they had to take time to isolate from sleeping peoples car batteries. How would they do that?”
    This would be handled the same way home solar is isolated, with anti-islanding equipment.

    To me, the benefits of V2G for the utilities AND the EV owner are potentially tremendous. Both parties get benefits as described, plus the EV owner gets V2House at the same time as well as a more reliable grid. It really is a win,win,win! The government could play an important role in aiding V2G implementation through the DOE, and since it’s such a no-brainer you’ld think it was right up their alley.

  51. 51
    koz Says


    May 4th, 2008 (1:20 pm)


    Since you are in the power industry, perhaps you can answer a question I have. Does the DOE’s energy production breakdown include home and workplace production or only utility production.

    For those that are concerned plug-ins wil equate to coal burning vehicles: coal represents just over 48% (if I’m remembering correctly) of the national power production according to the latest DOE statstics and this is a falling percentage year over year. If home based production is not included in these statistics, as I believe it isn’t, then Coal’s percentage is even lower and it is with an advancing reduction rate.

  52. 52
    GM Volt Fan
    GM Volt Fan Says


    May 4th, 2008 (1:31 pm)

    It sure would be AWESOME if the battery or ultracapacitor technology got cheap enough so that people could buy “garage batteries” to use for charging your Volt “on demand”. The “garage battery” could even “quick charge” your Volt with special connectors in 30 minutes or less.

    People could program their garage battery to pull electricity off the grid at night when it is cheapest …. and maybe sell some excess energy back to the grid if the price is right like traders in the stock market. These “garage batteries” could enable Volt owners to recharge ANYTIME of the day … at the cheapest rates AS IF they were plugging it in at night.

    This would also help keep our electrical rates down because the utilities wouldn’t have to build new plants to deal with “peak loads”. I have a feeling that people will plug their cars in at 1-5 pm in the summer during “peak load” time anyway … because it’s still fairly cheap and they CAN probably. Who is going to stop them? The same folks who fine people for watering their lawns when they aren’t supposed to?

    Even better than a “garage battery” to pull electricity off the grid at night would be super cheap solar panels on your roof. Hopefully, the solar panels could convert and pass along enough electricity to the “garage battery” for just charging your Volt. THEN you would have the ultimate in environmentally clean electricity for your Volt. Maybe that uber environmentalist actor Ed Begley in LA will start a club for people that do this. You could get a bumper sticker for your car that says “My Volt is juiced up by the Sun” … Ed Begley Electric Car Club. :)

    I have no doubt that this kind of thing will eventually happen. It’s just a matter of TIME. Wealthy people will be able to do this right away. Us average Joes will have to wait for prices to come down. We’ll probably have to wait til 2020 to have “carbon footprints” for our cars as small as Hollywood stars like Ed Begley.

  53. 53
    Kevin R
    Kevin R Says


    May 4th, 2008 (3:16 pm)

    A great read Lyle. I have every intention of installing solar panels on my garage roof facing south to supplement charging my Volt off the grid. Helps the environment two ways and also my pocket book.

  54. 54
    omegaman66 Says


    May 4th, 2008 (4:57 pm)

    Thanks for the response koz do you have any sort of idea how much would be paid per month on average. If it only takes 80 cents to charge the vehicle it doesn’t seem like the utility company would be paying out very much to use the battery sometimes. 5 dollars seems like max use to me per month. Not much incentive there.

  55. 55
    omegaman66 Says


    May 4th, 2008 (4:59 pm)

    Oh and would it really help them at all if the availability of battery powered cars is extremely small??? And the numbers surely will be small for the next decade.

  56. 56
    Rockyroad Says


    May 4th, 2008 (5:30 pm)

    The utility companies are no different than big oil … they know that you MUST charge the battery at night after you commute home from work. I would not be surprised to see the rates HIGHER at night. They have the consumer where they want him. Why would anyone think the rates would be lower.

  57. 57
    Steven B
    Steven B Says


    May 4th, 2008 (6:02 pm)

    The amount of revenue for the average EDV owner, according to the research done at the University of Delaware, would be approximately $3000 or so. That’s $250 per month. That will, of course, be only in the early implementation. But the cost savings will be shared thoughout the grid over time, and those savings will mean either more profits and reinvestment in a better grid, or cost savings and price stability for consumers. Either way, everybody will win. So proper implementation of V2G will do a great deal to accelerate EDV adoption. The researchers have been advocating it as the “payback hybrid” model, so over the lifetime of our Volts, if V2G contracts are available from the start, our cars will ultimately cost much, much less than a comparable gasoline-powered car. (The cost reduction resulting from revenue through V2G contracts with our utilities, using electricity instead of gasoline for much of our driving, reduced wear and tear on brakes and engine components, etc.) It is actually conceivable that the end-of-use cost totals for a Volt, if V2G participation takes place, could be less than getting a cheap used car.

    When trying to understand the true promise of the Volt, and other EDVs, it is important to remember the concept of a “changed economics of driving.”

    The research on V2G (scientific and peer-reviewed) is available at

    The promises of V2G are very real, and are extremely significant.

  58. 58
    koz Says


    May 4th, 2008 (6:16 pm)


    I didn’t remember exact figures from what I read about V2G, but a google search brought the links below:

    They explain the different types of V2G. The Volt will fall into the battery/full function category. I think the Delaware study is a little overly optimistic and don’t think peak power V2G is a viable option for battery use (at least for the first couple of generations). The study does give an idea for the scale of value for Spinning Reserves and Regulation Services. It is much more than $5/mo. You can get $5/mo just for allowing the power company load shedding control over your hot water heater and A/C which offer much less value to the utility.

    From the Delaware study you can see the numbers of vehicles needed in the market studied to completely displace existing services. Fortunately it will not require complete displacement to be effective. They can offer payment based on likelihood (or percentage if availability). The V2G contract would likely include trrmination terms that require a minimum amount of availability. The biggest downside is that it doesn’t require that many vehicles (1.2 – 4 million for USA) before saturation relative to total number of vehicles in service. This can be an added perk for early adopters that the slackers will miss out on.

  59. 59
    bruce g
    bruce g Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:22 pm)

    Completely off topic,
    As a loyal GM-Volt follower I clicked on the Toyota ad on the home page.
    Their diesel Corollas are common rail and achieving 5.4l/100km.
    Available this year, presumeably in your town..
    But they dont do V2G…

  60. 60
    bruce g
    bruce g Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:40 pm)

    That Toyota link points to a New Zealand Web address.
    They may not be available in a US town, depending on the state of their approvals for their diesel.

  61. 61
    BillR Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:43 pm)

    #41 Statik

    Wow! You can purchase power for $0.12 and sell for $0.42. Now that’s what I call a solar subsidy! hehe

  62. 62
    jscott1000 Says


    May 4th, 2008 (7:48 pm)

    In addition to a smart grid I see it inevitable that a smart house be developed.

    I foresee a future in which a house has a 16 or 32 kWh storage battery and the house decides when to recharge it based on the demands. This would also encourage people to generate their own energy, via solar, wind or their Chevy Volt, and send excess energy back to the grid.

    The net result is a far more robust grid that can easily handle millions of vehicles charging.

    I don’t know if the electric companies are prepared for this future, but given the many ways to generate and store electricity it will never be the monopoly that the oil companies enjoy. If electricity gets too expensive people will simply generate their own.

  63. 63
    omegaman66 Says


    May 5th, 2008 (2:40 am)

    Too good to be true. $250 dollars a month. I just don’t believe that for a second. It just doesn’t make sense. If this were true then I could simply buy li-ion batteries soley for the purpose of selling energy back to the electric company.

    I fail to see how such a small battery in relation to the KW is going to be able to provide anywhere neer enough electricity for that kind of figure. Gee purchase a battery and you get to have free electricity for the life of the battery. Seems just a bit too good to be true.

  64. 64
    Tagamet Says


    May 5th, 2008 (8:44 am)

    Hey Statik!
    Please point me to that $13,000 6 KW solar system. I’ve tried and really cannot find anything close to that (granted, I don’t know what your rebate is).
    Here in PA the electruc rate is about to jump 33%.
    Be well,

  65. 65
    Michael Roberts
    Michael Roberts Says


    May 5th, 2008 (9:25 am)

    It would be nice and quite simple for the Volt charging system to have a programmable time to start drawing juice from the grid. That way you could plug it in when you arrive home and it would delay charging until a set time when the rates go down.

    Mike R.
    Huntsvilel, AL.

  66. 66
    Shawn Marshall
    Shawn Marshall Says


    May 5th, 2008 (10:49 am)

    There is a lot of bogus info on this site about utilities. The guys who work in the industry are giving the straight dope – the Volt will basically be a coal powered car and our future economic well being depends massively on the rapid expansion of nuclear power production. This has been ignored in our country since Three Mile Island, much to our detriment. OBL would be virtually powerless without OPEC dollars to fuel his terrorism against the West.
    Also being ignored at this site is the fact that new battery technology will make residential use of solar cells much more practical in the future and this will offload the grid which is not the ancient disaster that some posters pretend.
    You cannot backfeed into primary circuits without inverters, synchronization, overcurrent protection and some way of knowing that the grid is free of faulted sections and workers! Get real and try to know whereof you speak before you make folks suspect that a blabberpuss is amok.

  67. 67
    statik Says


    May 5th, 2008 (11:31 am)

    #61 BillR

    I know it’s hard to believe, but I can sell solar at 42 cents.
    I actually buy it at .05/kwH for first 600Kw, then it goes to 5.9/kW
    I just used 12 cents to illustrate the math to the US national average.

    No one ever believes us outside the province…so here is some handy links:

    A) 42 cent solar contract from gov’t website:

    B) Link to gov’t site on rates 5 cents/KwH

  68. 68
    MH Says


    May 5th, 2008 (11:32 am)

    I’m aware of three startup companies that intend to address the issue of managing the charging of plug-in vehicles:,, and (of course) Each has a different slant on the problem but are working on the issue of infrastructure that would connect plug-in vehicles to the grid. As I understand it, this is not simply a capacity problem (most grids have plenty of capacity assuming time-shifting to early AM). It is also a distribution problem. If a neigborhood full of EVs all plug in at 6PM when their owners arrive home you can see that there could be a local overload although grid capacity is sufficient. That’s an oversimplification but it gets the idea across. So what the grid operators need is technology that can cope with the fact that EVs are autonomous (they can plug in anywhere), they can plug in at any time, they can be at any state of charge, and they may request to be fully charged in any length of time. The grid requires a predictive model (or a extension to their existing predictive models) to accommodate the EV. Of course, this all doesn’t matter much until there is a substantial population of EVs. Nevertheless, the grid operators should be looking forward to having EVs plugged in since they will be able to be controlled by the grid and their requirements can be time shifted as well as modulated to accommodate other grid demands. Eventually V2G will become part of the equation.

    One other thing that isn’t mentioned in these discussions is taxes. Today most transportation infrastructure is paid for through taxes on vehicle fuels. Our road systems and public transit systems depend on these taxes. As EVs become ubiquitous it will be necessary to tax them in some way just as we tax ICE-based vehicles through fuel taxes. The grid operators will have to have some means of applying taxes to electricity that is used to charge EVs which means there will need to be some sort of remote and separate metering for EVs.

  69. 69
    statik Says


    May 5th, 2008 (11:43 am)

    #64 Tag

    Unfortunately in the US it varies from state to state and sometimes from utility company to utility company if I understand it right.

    I know in Florida you get $4/watt kicked backed to you (provided it is professionaly installed) up to 20K…If you are thrifty and do you homework you can get a complete system and install for about $7/watt

    I good starting point by state is the Database of State Incentives, linky goodness:

    I did a little research on PA since you mentioned it…and it looks like PA is relatively new to the rebate game, but under the ‘Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Initiative’ does the following:

    “Under the governor’s plan, homes and small businesses could receive rebates of up to half the cost of a solar power system, including a rebate if the solar power panels are manufactured in Pennsylvania. That could amount to savings of $22,000. ”


    Under the deal, you get $2.00/w off the top, plus another $2.50 if you buy state made panels.

    /hope that helps

  70. 70
    Tagamet Says


    May 5th, 2008 (11:51 am)

    THANKS Statik! Much appreciated (especially the links).
    I was in my Jeep today and on the raido they started discussing a trial of Smartmeters here in PA, so I called in and “pluged” the Volt. The comentator knew nothing about it and I’m sure he’s not alone.
    I’m about to call the power company to see if I can be included in the trial.
    Thanks again,

  71. 71
    statik Says


    May 5th, 2008 (11:54 am)

    #70 Tag

    If you do decide you want to do it, let me know. It is quite a task to get it started, buy the right product…and at the right price, lol. But if you do it all correctly (the first time) there is certainly payback and alot of satisfaction in it once it’s done.

  72. 72
    Tagamet Says


    May 5th, 2008 (12:00 pm)

    Hey StatiK,
    I appreciate the offer of help and definitely will take you up on it. We’re still recovering from our second daughter’s college bill and the older daughter and her hubby just moved back home (he lost his job). God willing, we’ll be looking at solar or wind in the next year or so. Gotta save some money to buy the VOLT too!.

  73. 73
    statik Says


    May 5th, 2008 (12:03 pm)

    No problem Tag, anytime.

    …I know we get at it here from time to time, but all in fun (internet warriors unit). We all want the same thing in the end. To me renewable energy solutions and EVs just plain go together/make sense.

  74. 74
    Kevin R
    Kevin R Says


    May 5th, 2008 (12:06 pm)

    So does anyone have some good websites/sources for solar cells and related equipment?

  75. 75
    Dave G
    Dave G Says


    May 5th, 2008 (12:17 pm)

    Here’s a good one:

  76. 76
    Tagamet Says


    May 5th, 2008 (12:50 pm)

    Yeah, I totally believe in your right to be wrong (just kidding). Seriously, I don’t take much of anything said on the net personally. In fact, and everything is relative, I consider you a buddy on here.
    Offering all those good websites and personal assistance just reinforces that feeling.
    Be well,

  77. 77
    Kevin R
    Kevin R Says


    May 5th, 2008 (1:14 pm)

    some new information just released on grid issues…

  78. 78
    N Riley
    N Riley Says


    May 5th, 2008 (2:12 pm)

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who are providing all these wonderful and most helpful links. It sure does save me time. i get to view a lot of information without the hassle of trying to find the sources.

    Thank you “guys”. Ya’ll are wonderful.

  79. 79
    Bryan Says


    May 5th, 2008 (3:45 pm)

    I think the early adopters of electric and extended range vehicles are smart enough to know when to charge their vehicles and can plan their schedules around that time. We certainly don’t want to cause problems with the grid so that others are encouraged to adopt the new technology as well.

  80. 80
    noel park
    noel park Says


    May 5th, 2008 (6:23 pm)

    Well I hate to keep harping on”Bad Money”, but I continued struggling through it over the weekend, and every chapter is more thought provoking and scarier than the one before. I hasten to add that I’m struggling not because of the writing, which is fine, but because of the content, which is hair raising.

    One thing is clear. If we don’t kick our oil habit, the future of our nation is in the balance. If the Volt provokes this kind of constructive discussion about how to structure other energy sources, it is perfoming a huge service to our society even before the first one turns a wheel.

    As are all of you. Thank you very much.

  81. 81
    Dave G
    Dave G Says


    May 5th, 2008 (6:30 pm)

    I don’t think it’s possible for early adopters to cause a problem with the grid. There won’t be enough of us to cause any havoc.

    But if the early adopter phase goes well (and lets hope it does), then the next wave will be the beginning of the mainstream. If those folks take their queue from us early adopters (as is usually the case), and early adopters say “sure, plug in whenever”, then the grid will start getting screwed for real. When rolling blackouts are attributed to E-REVs, then many people will turn sour on electric vehicles in general. This scenario could significantly delay our vision of eliminating foreign oil imports and/or curbing global warming.

    So, even though we know that we won’t make a difference directly, we can influence things to move in the wrong direction. With this in mind, I hope everyone on this forum embraces the idea of night-time charging. We should lead by example.

    Toward this end, I hope the Volt offers a built in timer that allows the driver to delay charging from the grid until a user specified time, with a default of 11:00 pm. If GM truly wants E-REVs to succeed, they will make this a standard feature.

  82. 82
    Guy Incognito
    Guy Incognito Says


    May 5th, 2008 (6:33 pm)

    From the article:
    [I]There was also mention of studies which show the grid should easily be able to handle the demands of electric cars and allow dramatic displacement of petroleum as an energy source.[/I]

    Most EV drivers will charge their vehicles at night, so its a win-win situation; reduction of dependence on oil & charging during off-peak hours.
    Don’t forget to plug the car in before you go to bed.

  83. 83
    Tagamet Says


    May 5th, 2008 (6:56 pm)

    Shout out to Arch:
    You’ve been a WEALTH of quick links to good info.

  84. 84
    StevePA Says


    May 5th, 2008 (7:31 pm)

    Re: all the posts on building more nuclear generating capacity to strengthen the electrical grid…thought one of the main stumbling blocks was not so much plant design, as what to do with the spent fuel.

    20,000 on the list…if even 50% of those folks are still willing / able / in the market in 2010…nice kick-start for the General.

  85. 85
    noel park
    noel park Says


    May 5th, 2008 (7:34 pm)

    #82 Guy Incognito:

    I dunno man, I’ll be lucky if I remember to plug it in at all. Remember when someone suggested hanging the plug down from the ceiling so it bangs the windshield and reminds you? That’s me. I already have a tennis ball to keep me from driving into the back of the garage.

    So I think Dave G has a great idea at #81. Plug it in whan you park it, and let the timer turn it on and off at the strategic times. I’m sure that you’ll remember, but some of us are getting a little forgetful.

  86. 86
    NZDavid Says


    May 5th, 2008 (8:44 pm)

    To whoever it was that wanted to keep track of recharge amount of their Volt. I suggest the following:

    It is possible to get 240v versions as well.


  87. 87
    Statik Says


    May 5th, 2008 (9:15 pm)

    #86 NZDavid

    Good call. I have one myself…that link you gave is a little steep at $35.00 bucks…you can hit up legit suppliers at around $21

    Or hit up and there is about a billion fafillion of them at $15-$20.

  88. 88
    Tagamet Says


    May 5th, 2008 (9:42 pm)

    OT, but Statik, do you know anything about the Kaito KA1121 radios sold at that site (Weems Creek). I need something that will pull in weak A.M. stations out here in the boondocks e.g. Rush

  89. 89
    Statik Says


    May 6th, 2008 (6:59 am)

    Hrm, Tag,

    I hear they are ok, I couldn’t tell you for sure.

    As long as you don’t mind a ‘butt ugly’ radio, your best bet in the sub $100 price point is probably the Sangean PR-D5.

    Can usually find them around the net about $80. Here is a Amazon linky:

    Dunno if you know much about AM, but it has a 200mm Ferrite AM antenna, which is, well…big…especially in a portable.

    IMO, this is your best choice (at least that I have experience with).

  90. 90
    noel park
    noel park Says


    May 6th, 2008 (11:01 am)

    After thinking about it, I would want to recharge during the day. I commute 24 miles each way, and it will be quite easy for me to charge at work. I do a lot of business errands during the day, so the less done on the engine the better. Plus, I have to drive 24 miles home. I doubt if I am alone in this. So the power companies do need to get ready for it.

    We are just going to have to figure out ways to use domestic energy sources without destroying ourselves and the natural world. It won’t be cheap, and the price of electricity will no doubt go up. Still, in 20 years an oil based transportation system will no longer be a viable option.

  91. 91
    BillR Says


    May 6th, 2008 (11:08 am)

    #69 Statik

    Regarding solar systems you state “If you are thrifty and do you homework you can get a complete system and install for about $7/watt.”

    This is somewhat close to this online system, that is a 6000 watt system, but doesn’t include installation.

    So a 6000 watt system, at $7 per watt ($7000 per kW, as those in the power industry would say) provides about 9500 kWh of energy per year (per your post # 41).

    Although you can argue about a loan for solar, anyway you approach it, there is a cost for money. For instance, you could chose to invest $42,000 in stocks, CD’s, or other money making ventures in lieu of solar panels.

    I will use 5% as a nominal return on money. Therefore, 5% of $42,000 is $2100 annually. Assuming 10,000 kWh from the solar installation, your cost of electricity is $0.21 per kWh from solar.

    Since in your post #67 you state that you can purchase power from the utility for less than $.06 per kWh, it is intuitively obvious that solar is not economically competitive without large subsidies.

  92. 92
    Tom "TJ." Thas Says


    May 6th, 2008 (12:04 pm)

    So, it is 2012 and a hot July day. I have just returned home from
    the 32 mile commute from my office in my VOLT. I see by my charge status gage that I can still run anither 7 or so miles as my 64
    mile round trip power usage was cut in half by my use of my United Solar Votaics of Greenville, Michigan ” Solar Blanket Parking Lot Multi Spectrum Charger” which even on an overcast day will provide an adequate boost.
    Since I enjoy working out I always pack my portable folding lightweight aluminum stair step machine ( generator ) which I can set up in 3 minutes or so and after a sweaty 10 minute go at it, as my volt battery charges can aways count on another 10 miles of highwy driving.

    Now home I hook into my home system. In the basement I have my 3rd generation NanoLithium Power Container. About the size of a large ice chest this device will store enough power to tap off for 9 days.

    The long wooden slat fencing in my back yard 6′ tall actually containes micro tube wind turbines in place of the typical verticle slats. Inexpensive to install by this time, the fencing runs the legnth of my yard. This feeds my bacement Power Container. Naturally some years ago I replaced my roof, installing Blended WIde Spectrum Solar Roof Shingles. This feeds my bacement Power Container.

    Scattered through out the property are groups of artfull canisters the size of a football. Some are elevated, some line the rails of my deck and glow at night…These also are verticle wind generators. They feed my bacement Power Container.

    Off in a well sunlit corner of my yard stands my Micro Thermal Solar Aray. Taking up just an 8′ by 8′ square area with the boiler tower quietly sanding not more then 7′ high. As you know the small, dense mirror array aimes at the top of the Solar Collector and a liquid turbine generator spins from the intense mgnified heat. This feeds my bacement Power Container.

    I am self contained. I do not buy power from the grid. Living in Michigan I have swiched from natural gas to electric heat in the
    winter and my hot water as well. When my bacement Power Container and My volt are topped off I am a net energy producer selling my product back to the uility.

    Remember, I am writing this in the year 2012, 4 years from your now.
    With the intence drive by General Motors to produce the Volt 4 years ago the effort has spauned massive innovation and has awakened “Moors Law in reguards to everyting solar, batteries, wind,
    solar thermal ect…

    Moor Law…Double the Power-Half the size every 18 months.

    I now shrug when friends complain of the budget busting cost of Propain or Gas or Heating Oil or Power.

    Thank you GM for makin it all happen !!

  93. 93
    Statik Says


    May 6th, 2008 (4:41 pm)

    #91 Bill

    Hey Bill, you put alot of work into that…sorry you didn’t read point of Tags and my conversation…the rebates.

    $42,000 is the net cost, then you get 21K in rebates…so you can only do ‘your’ math on $21,000.

    Also, the average US solar day (not me in Toronto) is 5.5 kWh/m 2/day (as those would call it in the ‘solar industry’), so that would be what you would use.

    Link to avg hours by region:

    Not sure where you are getting a guaranteed 5% rate of return with a open contract these days, but lets say you are…the capitlal gains rate in the US for contracts under 1 year held is a flat 35%. 28% on greater than 1 year (provided your in the top third of the income earners…which if your plunking down 41K, you’d think you were)

    Your 5%….only 3.6% clear.

    Even if Tag is just doing the ‘one-stop phone call’ I quoted at, thats $21,000 (after rebates)…thats only $750/year

    6kw system @5.5 = 12,000/year x .12= $1440

    Check your math.

  94. 94
    Statik Says


    May 6th, 2008 (5:08 pm)

    “Even if Tag is just doing the ‘one-stop phone call’ I quoted at, thats $21,000 (after rebates)…thats only $750/year”

    –that read kind of ambigous, $21,000 @3.6% = $756

  95. 95
    Koz Says


    May 6th, 2008 (7:04 pm)

    I’m all for Solar but using the US average solar day isn’t wise. The local (more local than national) solar conditions need to be factored or the results could be dramatically different. There would be a lot of PO’d folks in Seattle.

    Money for home value improvement projects should not be costed any higher than effective home loan rates (actual rate – tax savings). This is around 4% in today’s market.

  96. 96
    Statik Says


    May 6th, 2008 (9:27 pm)


    You are very right Koz! Excellent point. Talking ‘averages’ is ok for our ‘internet case study’ but the real world is TOTALLY different. Your pulling in 7-8 in Texas, California, Florida, etc…but mid 4s in Seatlle and the north east.

    …and that goes to what I was saying about to Tag about doing your homework. And if you want to get your system installed at the $5.00/Kw range…even moreso.

    YOU MUST KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING, before even remotely considering this, you should know exactly what your getting into, I suggest paying a professional to check out your site, get the data all ready to go, expected costs/production,etc. (Best $150 you’ll ever spend).

    For myself, and my system, I’m lucky…Canada has a awesome resource by municipality. It breaks it down by month, by degree/tilt and also by two-axis (which is great). Here is the link to my area for example:

    You should have that information, so you can do your ‘local math’ before putting down a nickel.

  97. 97
    Tagamet Says


    May 6th, 2008 (9:49 pm)

    What title does the professional go by who would do a site study? I knew a lot of people named “Sunshine”, but that was back in the 60′s (evil grin). Solar Site Survey Guru?
    I’m still wading throufh PA’s user-unfriendly govt sites.
    PS I didn’t know that they HAD sunshine in Canada.

  98. 98
    Koz Says


    May 6th, 2008 (10:02 pm)

    After you get your research done do you want to share? :)

  99. 99
    Tagamet Says


    May 6th, 2008 (10:07 pm)

    I’d be glad to, but it’s literally at an embryonic stage right now (But I DID stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night)

  100. 100
    Statik Says


    May 7th, 2008 (6:32 am)


    I’m not sure what your county is, but I did a little research and Philly gets 4.754 kwh/sq-m/day.

    The best guy in the Philly area is probably Heatshed. He has a nice little site and like ebay he has 18 of 18 for positive reviews. Although he hasn’t updated it to include the ‘sunshine initiative’ program…but maybe he knows something I don’t lol. (I’m sure he does).

    It would be worth a call anyway.

  101. 101
    Tagamet Says


    May 7th, 2008 (8:42 am)

    MOST excellent. I’m a “fur peice” from Philly (2.5 hrs drive each way, very center of the state in Clinton county). I’ll check with him and see if he knows of anyone in State College (Penn State, Centre Co.) or Williamsport (Lycoming Co.).
    Thanks again!

  102. 102
    BillR Says


    May 7th, 2008 (10:57 pm)

    #93 Statik

    My math is perfect.

    Rebates = subsidies. Tax breaks = subsidies. High prices for selling electricity = subsidies.

    In a world without subsidies, solar at $7 per watt doesn’t demonstrate very good economics. That’s my point.

  103. 103
    Statik Says


    May 8th, 2008 (10:16 am)

    #102 BillR


    “you could chose to invest $42,000 in stocks, CD’s, or other money making ventures in lieu of solar panels. I will use 5% as a nominal return on money. Therefore, 5% of $42,000 is $2100 annually.”

    In a world without subsidies? What? We are/have been talking about cost viability to the consumer. The subsidy is real…unlike your base calculation.

    You can’t use ‘hypothetical rate of return math’ to disprove why real world returns on investment don’t make sense.

    Perhaps 401Ks don’t really count because there is a ‘tax haven’ subsidy on that and therefore should not be utilized?

    Anyway, I made my point (if anyone is actually still reading this–probably not), they can decide on their own what makes sense to them. I’ll just let this thread go now, and stand on it’s own merit…

  104. 104
    BillR Says


    May 8th, 2008 (1:41 pm)

    #103 Statik

    From your personal perspective, I can’t blame you for installing a solar system.

    However, in other parts of the world and the US, rebates, credits, tax deductions, high selling prices for power, etc., either do not exist, or are much less than in your particular circumstance.

    I will reiterate my overall theme, in a totally competitive environment where solar would have to compete on an equal basis with other forms of electricity supply (namely purchasing energy from the grid), it is currently non-competitive.

  105. 105
    Craig Says


    May 12th, 2008 (5:51 am)

    Our local utility sees major benefits from electric cars, including better utilization of thier power plants. Taking generators on and off line during usage spikes, which drives costs up not down, should decline as more consumers plug in.

  106. 106
    Mitch Says


    Jul 18th, 2008 (2:19 pm)


    Look at the Freewatt from another American company

    ECR International ( natural gas powered generator providing heat, electricity for your home. The freewatt is 85% efficient meaning that of inputed energy to generate electricity, 85% is delivered to the house. Typical grid generation is only about 30-40% meaning that from the generating station to your door, 60-70% is line losses.

    The free watt is coupled to a high efficiency gas furnace, further reducing energy dependancy, and you can sell the excess electricity generated to the grid!!

    Home “refilling station” for the VOLT.

    Think it rates an article?

  107. 107
    bob beechler
    bob beechler Says


    Aug 24th, 2008 (12:50 pm)