Alternative energy and electric vehicle news

Alternative energy and electric vehicles Monday news

Alternative energy and electric vehicle newsHere are a few alternative energy and electric vehicles stories to get you up and going on this Monday morning.

OK, so the title might be a little alarmist, but the articles talks about a common problem the private sector and politics have, where does one help the other, or infringes upon the other. While Massachusetts ranks 4th for most solar installed state, a legislation, officially known as H.4185 relative to net metering, is pending at the State House that could remove the net metering limits. You know who would profit most form this.

This is an article I wrote on Teslarati, but I was surprised at the comments, which made me wonder. Do people really read articles, or do they just skim over and lash out comments behind anonymity? The gist of the article was that anything connected has a potential vulnerability, that we are complacent when it comes to it and that the news media will exploit our fears over it.

Geothermal energy is the greatest type of energy. Always on, truly renewable and sustainable with its relatively small foot print is not taking off as well as it should. However, China is now looking into it more closely.

Over at Electricnick, we love new technologies and breakthroughs, but none have spiked our interest more than flow cell batteries. The Quant e Sportslimousine promises serious performance and range. How will Tesla respond to that one?

Sometimes study point to the obvious, but for those who absolutely demand the nut and bolts, bottom line numbers, this one speaks loudly. The reason why fleet managers adopt electric vehicles is because they started out with an interest in testing them in the first place.

  • Tesla juggles Supercharger, Gigafactory, Model X and Model III, as well as the Chinese market.

Yes, the Tesla Motors headquarter must be busier than an ant farm, crossed with a beehive managed by the Borg. Tesla Motors is juggling no less than five huge potential projects, all crucial parts of its future success. The MOdel X is about to launch in a few months, but we still don’t know how many orders there are. We know the Model E is now called the Model III and will launch in three years. All of this hunges upon the $5 billion dollar success of the Gigafactory, and that is if the Chinese market develops successfully. Can you say mad house?

I guess you save the best for last, but this is probably one the best, and most potentially dangerous news. If 25 utilities in 14 states currently offer special rates for EV owners at the average equivalent “price per gallon” of $0.75 when the average cost of gasoline in these states is $3.70 a gallon, what do you think will happen to the overall industry?

Having said, I look forward to your comments and hope you have a great week. It’s a big world out there, and there is much to do.

AB 2188 California affordable solar energy

AB 2188 Makes California Solar Affordable

AB 2188 California affordable solar energyA Bill in California, called AB 2188 aims at making solar energy more affordable.

AB 2188 makes California solar affordable

The very promising solar bill, AB 2188 is currently making its way through the California Legislature, with a good shot at taking the sting out of solar energy costs. As the U.S. and China fight a desperate tit-for-tat war on solar panel tariffs, consumers are left paying the extra fees, reducing our energy independence progression.

According to the ECOreport, the Californian bill AB 2188 would streamline the permit process, something that is still very much needed in the Sates, despite recent moves to make it easier to install solar energy. This could be the result of Sunrun, a company that recently released a report stating it could deliver an additional $5 billion into the State’s sagging economy.

Bill AB 2188 passed Assembly

So far, the bill passed the Assembly  by a clear victory of 58 against 8. It is now going to the senate. CleanTechnica printed the interview ECOReports conducted with Walker Wright, Director of Government Affairs at Sunrun.

Soft costs hinder residential solar energy progression

The gist is that, soft costs are still slowing down the progression of solar energy for residential areas. The cost of solar panels and associated electronics might have come down dramatically over the last few years, but the non-hardware costs (soft costs), are negating the price declines. In other words, the soft costs associated with alternative energy are still a high barrier to making solar energy affordable. Europe has already done much to lower these soft costs, but the U.S. trails other countries there.

Soft costs include the permitting, customer acquisition, labor, installations, etc., and account for up to 50-70% of the total installation cost. In other words, if your solar array hardware cost is $10,000, be prepared to spend anywhere from another $5,000 to 7,500 more for the installation. Add to this that the permits can run an extra 5-20% of the total cost, depending on your location and size of the system, and you can see how many shy away from installing their own energy system.

Money talks to politicians

Petitions might be great, but bottom line dollars is still what talks most to politicians eager to keep California’s chronic budget mismanagement problems under control. By streamlining the permitting process across municipalities, this will reduce the costs, which will make solar more affordable to many homeowners across various income levels. This in turn, helps grow the California energy economy, while creating clean economy jobs, other wise known as green collar jobs.

Specifically, AB 2188 would enforce short permit time lines, with inspections happening within 5 days of the request and the application review within 24 hours. This would cut down on the current weeks it takes to approve a solar energy project for a residential rooftop. We hope AB 2188 goes through the California Senate and help boost the economy, which is to everyone’s advantage.

Mitsubishi PV

Iowa Supreme Court Allows Solar Turnkey Solutions

Utility fight consumer energy choiceA historic ruling by the Iowa Supreme Court allows Eagle Point to provide its solar turnkey solutions services where utilities are. Why is this important? The consequences are far reaching.

Supreme Court allows residential solar energy

According to CleanTechnica, The Iowa lower court ruling nullified a previous finding by The Iowa Utilities Board that had ruled Eagle Point’s activities classified it as a public utility. This means that it could not operate within another utility’s service area, in this case, Alliant Energy.

It’s a shame the majority of utilities are stalling the inevitable with residential energy making. It must happen, will happen, and in many ways, is already happening. Going against it is a certain way to make sure they will be left behind as irrelevant business models. Fighting with lobby power against the wish of consumers will only further the negative image they already have.

Iowa Supreme Court allows Eagle Point to provide its solar turnkey solutions services

The Iowa Supreme Court sets a precedent allowing smaller solar energy companies to install an energy turnkey solution on the rooftops of private homes where utilities already operate.

“According to the district court, Eagle Point’s provision of electric power through a “behind the meter” solar facility was not the type of activity which required a conclusion that Eagle Point was a public utility.

“The district court further found that  although it was conceivable under some circumstances that an entity that was not a public utility could nevertheless be an electric utility under the applicable statutory provisions, Eagle Point’s proposed arrangement with the city did not make it an electric utility for purposes of the statutes.”

Thanks to Power purchase agreements (PPAs), distributed solar installations on residential rooftops is becoming a feasible possibility, alluring many families eager to tame the country’s ever-decreasing power of purchase and ever-rising inflation. In other words, the push from consumers to take back some power of decision by becoming energy makers with the help of solar panels on their rooftops is finally a reality with PPAs, something utilities are fighting back against.

In the end, I’m left with the words Ed Kjaer from Southern California Edison (SCE) told me back in 2008 that SCE is not interested in building new power centrals, but becoming energy efficiency managers. This is also a good definition of what a smart grid is, efficiently managing energy production form various sources, in a redundant way.

Make no mistakes, this court ruling will create waves among the utility circles, who will surely show they will be fighting it tooth and nail.


U.S. Plug-In Electric Vehicle Sales slump in June

June is never the best month for car sales, and this past one confirms the rule for electric vehicles (EV) and their plug-in hybrid (PHEV) cousins. Overall, EVs and PHEVs are still selling well, despite the predictable June Gloom. These numbers give us a better insight as to the motivation of the buyers. Consumers are looking for a more economical vehicle to operate in the long run than gasoline.

EDTA shows expected June Gloom sales

June Gloom is that time of the year in Southern California when a fine marine layer cover the sky in the morning and gets burned off by the mid-day sun. It usually lasts two weeks in June, and it’s expected. June car sales go through the same thing. Car sales predictably go through its June Gloom period.

The Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) shows  us the good news, EVs and PHEVs are still doing fairly overall, even if the number dropped down this past month of June.

As you can see from the chart, EVs and PHEVs are still selling well and continue to do so from year-to-year.

The numbers break down as follows:

EDTA June Sales EV and PHEVJune saw more EVs and PHEVs leave car dealerships than January, February and April.

You can compare those numbers to last year:

EDTA June Sales EV and PHEV 2013

Over all, the numbers are down by a few thousand compared to the previous year, but nothing dramatic, and certainly very much to be expected.

I believe the momentum of clean plug-in electric vehicle somewhat tapers off currently. We are experiencing a lull in new vehicles, as OEM have already delivered their first vehicles. After the first wave of early adopters bought the first round of the first generation of these electric plug-in vehicles, the next wave is getting ready. Tesla Motors will be releasing its Model X hopefully at the end of this year, although early 2015 seems more likely. Mainstream carmakers, such as GM, Honda and the rest, are gathering data on their first test in the field.

In the meantime, the hydrogen fuel cell team is beating the drum to let you know it is still here and pushing the technology. Again, as much as I believe in the hydrogen fuel cell technology, I see many obstacles when it comes to its use in transportation. I believe it will find a better application in the alternative energy world.

Plug-in Smart!

EPA mandates cleaner power plant emissions

EPA mandates cleaner power plant emissions
EPA mandates cleaner power plant emissions

Good news from the EPA who proposed on June 2, 2014, a commonsense plan to cut carbon pollution from power plants.

EPA mandates cleaner emission for power power plants

So far, States, cities and businesses are taking action to address the risks of climate change by looking at their environment. The EPA’s proposal wants to reinforce the actions already in place, in order States and power plants mix their various energy sources to take opportunities, as they go forward. This also helps the different key players see the important role they play as partners with the federal government in cutting pollution.

The proposal aims to maintain an affordable, reliable energy system that cuts down on pollution and protects our nation’s health, environment now, and for future generations.

Click here for more.