Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The EVA/DC 2011 Holiday Party

All are welcome to join in at the 2011 EVA/DC holiday party this Wednesday, 21 December 2011, 19:00 at the Patent Office in Alexandria, Virginia.  Food will be provided and there will be a bowl if you wish to contribute to defray the costs.  You'll also have an opportunity to join the EVA/DC with a tax-deductible donation to the organization, though that isn't required to attend.

I'm especially happy to hear my friend Mahi Reddy will be speaking about his company SemaConnect which now has a contract for 1400 EVSEs in the Washington and Baltimore region thanks to 350Green!  Well done Mahi!

Now here's EVA/DC president Charlie Garlow to tell you more!

We are pleased and privileged to tell you that Mahi Reddy of Semaconnect has accepted our invitation to be our keynote speaker.

Mahi has been a long time EVADC member, and after he joined, formed his new EV Charging Station company, Semaconnect, out of Annapolis.  www.semaconnect.com

Mahi will be sharing with us his vision for EV infrastructure roll-out and EV markets, and anything else he wants to talk about!

Please RSVP if you are coming and how many friends you will be bringing.  Can't come?  Time to send some love: http://www.evadc.org/members.html

Update: Veggie and meat lasagnas will be the main course.  Beverages of various "octanes".  Salad.  Desserts.  Want to bring a special dish?  RSVP.

Here are the details we sent you earlier for the Holiday Party


Hello everyone,

You are invited to the 2011 EVADC Holiday Party.  I have secured the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum at the Patent and Trademark Office in lovely Alexandria, VA for our party.  The event will be on December 21st, starting sharply at 7:00pm and going until 10:00pm.  The museum is located directly inside the Madison Building located at 600 Dulany St, Alexandria, VA, 22314.  The location is metro accessible from King St. Metro.  There are two Level-2 Chargers located within a short walking distance from the PTO as well as there are plenty of 110 outlets located in the adjacent parking garages.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum features a display of the 460 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees.  Large panels present the names of all Inductees, and an interactive kiosk allows visitors to learn more about each Inductee.  The Hall of Fame and kiosk shares with visitors the significance of the inductees’ life-changing work and also the importance of their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.  The Museum currently features: Exercising Ingenuity: Inventions in Health and Fitness.  This new exhibition is a tribute to the importance the health, fitness, and nutrition industries have played in American lives over the years.  Exercising Ingenuity highlights the historic advances, current trends, and future technologies relating to a healthier body and mind.

Further details, including food, and detailed maps including location for the meeting and chargers will follow shortly. If anyone has any food ideas they would like to bring please contact me directly.

Mark your calendars and bring friends.  RSVP with the number of people coming.

Have a great week,

Eric Cardwell
Vice President EVADC

Charlie Garlow,
President, EVADC

Dave Goldstein,
President Emeritus, EVADC

and a cast of thousands.


View Patent Office Parking in a larger map

Walking from the King's Street Metro?

We've got you covered:

I hope everyone can make it to the holiday party at the USPTO this Wednesday. I highly recommend taking metro since it is very convenient. The USPTO is about a 7 minute walk from the metro.

When you arrive at King street and exit through the main metro station doors you should be looking at the kiss and ride parking lot and the bus pickup. Across the street you will see the Embassy Suits hotel. When you exit the King street station, just follow the side walk to your right, it will take you up a short hill and from there you will see a red light and main busy intersection of Duke street, just keep walking to the right and follow the side walk through big iron gates, it will lead you down to an underground tunnel that will take you under Duke street so that you don't have to cross that busy intersection. When you come out the other side just continue to follow the side walk (to the right). You will come up on another red light. Continue walking straight across. Follow the side walk straight a block further and you should be within the USPTO Campus with a green grassy middle area surrounded by buildings. Straight a head of you should be a building with a huge glass atrium, that is the madison building, just keep following the side walk until you get to the main entrance of that building. When you enter madison building, turn right and there is the USPTO Museum where the meeting will be held.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Changes for a Better EV Life: Where for art thou, CHADeMO?

Having driven CO2 Fre for over a month now, I feel I can now safely make some recommendations for change that would make my life infinitely easier.<  Some of these things I've been writing about long before I purchased my Nissan LEAF; I knew going in some sacrifice would be required for the greater good.  That's not to say there aren't great things like the burgeoning Charging Infrastructure and wonderful LEAF features to help get me through the day!  But there's always room for improvement and if you don't speak up, nothing will get done.

What about CHAdeMO?

Granted, the LEAF SL has a TEPCO plug and CHAdeMO support, so it can theoretically be charged from 0% to 80% in twenty-five minutes.  But CHAdeMO stations are few and far between currently and even with with the 350Green announcement of 47 new Charging Stations in the Baltimore and D.C. regions, if I recall only 5 of those will be CHAdeMo.

Fortunately, 350Green chose CHAdeMO as the Level 3 standard they and aren't going with the the odd-ball SAE proposal currently floating with the J1772 plus two prongs below it for the direct current connection of Level 3.  On the one hand, CHAdeMO is the de facto standard because it has the most stations and the most cars that can accept it.  But right now, those numbers aren't big and if the SAE comes up with something cheaper and car manufacturers or EVSE makers decide to take a risk on following the official recommendations, it's possible over time CHAdeMO could be the BetaMax over the SAE's VHS.

Changes for a Better EV Life: Slowest EV Charge Time: LEAF

Having driven CO2 Fre for over a month now, I feel I can now safely make some recommendations for change that would make my life infinitely easier.  Some of these things I've been writing about long before I purchased my Nissan LEAF; I knew going in some sacrifice would be required for the greater good.  That's not to say there aren't great things like the burgeoning Charging Infrastructure and wonderful LEAF features to help get me through the day!  But there's always room for improvement and if you don't speak up, nothing will get done.

Putting the LEAF Charger in Perspective

The chart above demonstrates how of the most popular EVs today, the LEAF takes the longest to charge from depleted to full:

As can be seen, the LEAF is slower by an hour even over the Tesla Model S and is clearly the slowest to charge of all; it's even twice as slow as the Focus Electric and Chevy Volt.  Of course, in terms of the amount of mileage you get from charging any of these cars can differ greatly so to be fair, compare them to the total pack size:

Obviously, the Model S has a lot more battery than the Nissan LEAF but still only takes about 6½ hours to charge.  And since most cars in the sample range in capacity from about 16 kWh to the LEAF's 24 kWh, yet most of these have much shorter charge times, it's clear that Nissan underestimated the competition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Changes for a Better EV Life: The 6.6kW Charger (Part 1)

Having driven CO2 Fre for over a month now, I feel I can now safely make some recommendations for change that would make my life infinitely easier.  Some of these things I've been writing about long before I purchased my Nissan LEAF; I knew going in some sacrifice would be required for the greater good.  That's not to say there aren't great things like the burgeoning Charging Infrastructure and wonderful LEAF features to help get me through the day!  But there's always room for improvement and if you don't speak up, nothing will get done.

The LEAF Needs a 6.6kW Charger

I've written about this numerous times and even created a Facebook Group for it.  Put simply, there are two basic reasons I would pay a pretty penny for the 6.6kW charger.  The first has to do with situations like the one where I had to spend three hours at Rosenthal's Nissan/Mazda waiting for enough electricity to get home.  With a 6.6kW charger, that would have been a mere ninety minutes.  Put another way, with the 3.3kW charger, you only get about 10–15 miles (15–25 km) of driving per hour of charge.  Since my driving average comes out to 4.0 mikWh (6.4 kmkWh), this comes out to 11.52 mi (18.54 km) for me.  With a 6.6kW you double that!  And that means 45 minutes out at a nice restaurant like the Cracker Barrel in Manassas next to the IBEW Local 26/JATC ChargePoint stations would net about 20 mi (32 km), more than enough to get home on a near-depleted pack; with only 10 mi (16 km), I feel I'd be pushing my luck!

The other reason has to do with the new Dominion Virginia Power Time Of Use rate.  Specifically, by going to a 6.6kW Charger under Schedule EV, I estimate I could be saving $80 per year in electricity costs by limiting my charge time to the hours 1–5 am.  Now, if the 6.6kW charger costs $1,000 to retrofit into a 2011/2012 LEAF, as I once suggested I would still pay it gladly.  Sure, it would be a 12½ year return on investment, assuming current electric rates, but the time I don't have to spend at places like my local Nissan Dealer or Panera waiting for a sufficient charge to my car is quite valuable too.  By some estimates this could be as much as $40 per hour for a skilled software engineer such as myself, and at that rate it doesn't take long to equate an hour wasted waiting here, an hour wasted waiting there and before you know it, you've wasted a grand.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nissan LEAF meetup Today

Come see the array of Washington area LEAFs today at Nissan of Chantilly, noon–4 pm! All are welcome. There will be pizza.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ring out the Old, Ring in the New

This Sunday, Nissan is celebrating Gudy / Olivier Chalouhi's 1 year anniversary of accepting the very first Nissan LEAF.  This momentous occasion none the less brings back a melancholy memory for those of us in the D.C. Area and on the east coast.  It turns out our first Capital LEAFs meetup will be on the 1 year anniversary of, well, let me explain it via the article I published that day: Nah, No LEAF for You.

For the record, we chose 10 December via a poll in the Yahoo! group mainly to make sure we gave time for everyone who could to get their cars before the December holidays so it's quite the coincidence that it falls on the same day of the news from last year.  For those of us in it from the beginning, it's been a long and rocky ride, but most of you either have your LEAFs now or will soon so let's not dwell on the somber past as we celebrate our Electric Future!

But one thing I do ask of everyone, after you return home from our fun celebrations of the comfy, cosy electric that could, at 9pm, Saturday Night, we have 7 seconds of silence for the lost 7 months and all that could have been had we been allowed to order when promised.  Thank you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bring Out Your LEAF: The Capital LEAFs is meeting this Saturday

Come one, come all and check it out as we gather our LEAFs at Nissan of Chantilly!

Date: Saturday, 10 December 2011
Time: 12:00 to 16:00
Host and Honored Guests:

14840 Stonecroft Center Court
Chantilly, VA 20151

Everyone is invited to check out the plethora of Capital Region LEAFs as we gather to recount stories of our adventures in the world of EV Driving!


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Don't Give Up on the Chevy Volt Just Yet!

With all the bad press the Chevy Volt has been getting recently, I think it's time for some perspective.  We've all heard the stories about how the Lithium Ion battery in the Volt has the potential to catch fire in a severe crash.  And sure GM is now offering to buy back certain Chevy Volts.  But as someone who's invested long hours in the EV world, I feel it needs to be said, if I had a Volt, GM would have to pry the keys out of my cold, dead hands!

In the grand scheme of things, it's amazing how easily we forget that the petroleum tank of a standard Internal Combustion Engine vehicle can also catch fire under the right evaporated temperature and pressure.  In my years of driving, it may be unfair of me to say I've never seen an electric vehicle fire, but I've certainly seen more than one car ablaze on the side of the road.  Sure, Lithium-Ion batteries can get hot, and yes, they can cause fires.  But that's why all EVs, including the Chevy Volt, us a very intelligent battery management system.  These systems monitor battery load and keep them from overheating due to rapid charge or discharge.  The only way you're going to see an EV battery catch fire is if it's in a catastrophic accident, like the one in the NHTSA tests.

That's not to say you shouldn't get your Volt repaired.  There's no sense in being reckless and the Volt will be repaired.  GM, after all, has been long invested in the EV market.  After all, they made the EV1.

And the EV1 is exactly why you need to keep your Volt!  It broke my heart when GM recalled all their EV1 leases; it was such a beautiful car!  This was the subject of a wonderful documentary by director Chris Paine called Who Killed the Electric Car?  Seeing all those electric vehicles crushed, we EV advocates swore never again!

So get your Volts fixed, and then take them home and drive, drive, drive!  Show the world how great a car the Chevy Volt is!  Be a good-will ambassador for we few, we proud, we EV owners!  Don't let them take your electric car away again!

The EV Project in Washington, D.C.

For a number of months as I've read wonderful news about the progress ECOTality has made with The EV Project in terms of both improving the charging infrastructure here in the United States as well as working with we EV owners to try and learn how a typical EV Driver uses his EV.  One of the ways ECOTality is helping EV Owners is by providing them with the free installation and use of an EVSE in their home.  In return, via a networking connection on the EVSE and the car, the EV owner provides The EV Project with detailed statistics on their vehicle's at-home and around town charging pattern.

The EV Project has been very active on the West Coast in California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona as well as Texas and Tennessee.  They've worked closely with both Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt buyers to identify homes which qualify for their program.  In these states, ECOTality contracted Blink to provide the EVSEs for the program.  However, the Washington, D.C. region has been mysteriously absent from all but a handful of press releases.  In fact its hard to find any press release about the capital region beyond the one announcing the region's addition.

For months now I've been trying to get answers from ECOTality as to why there's been no news of installations in the D.C. region.  Yet every inquiry I made was met with silence.  And until recently I thought I was alone in this curiosity, but the topic is now become quite popular in the Capital LEAF Owners Facebook page as well as among the EVA/DC members.  So I was happy to finally hear back from Robert Nowaczewski from the Blink Network Support with some information that can finally shed some light on The EV Project in D.C.

officially only the Chevy Volt qualifies… not even the Nissan LEAF

It turns out that The EV Project won't will be using Blink chargers for the home EVSE program; the SPX EVSE isn't part of the program.  However, they are subcontracting the installation to SPX.  SPX produces the the official EVSE recommended by GM for the Chevy Volt.  What's more, officially only the Chevy Volt qualifies under The EV Project in the D.C. region, not even the Nissan LEAF.

The reason for this is likely due to Nissan's seven month delay in opening up orders for the D.C. region.  But now the LEAFs are popping up like weeds in the D.C. region and there's no excuse why this car can't also be part of the project in the nation's capital.  Unfortunately, this isn't the only injury the LEAF delay has caused.

As for which zip codes qualify for The EV Project, these need to come from SPX.  I've yet to hear from Mr. Nowaczewski or SPX with a list of qualifying codes.  Thus, I'm unable to provide any details for Chevy Volt owners to apply, however I will update this post when new information arises.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Opened Letter to the President of the United States of America

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you sir for being such a great advocate for American energy independence and providing the American people with a choice over what type of vehicle they drive.  As the administrator of the Affordable Electric Car NOW! website, I wholeheartedly agree with your goal to see one million electric vehicles on American roads by 2015, just as we saw with hybrid electric vehicles in 2005.  But I also recognize the limitations of the Office of the President in driving this great nation toward that lofty yet attainable goal.

Let's be frank, Mr. President.  You can't control Congress.  You can't control the Supreme Court.  You can't control the private sector.  There are a lot of things the President has no control over, but there is one thing you can, Mr. President: the federal infrastructure!

President Obama, if you want to see one million EVs on the road by 2015, the most effective thing you could possibly do is require all federal facilities provide a place where employees and contractors can charge their electric vehicles.  This isn't to say that this should be a free service which would none the less reduce our dependency on foreign oil; a nominal fee that reflects the going local electric rate would be more than reasonable.  But the important thing is to let the federal workforce charge at their federal installations.  This would eliminate the most salient of potential EV Buyer's fears.  This, Mr. President, you can control.

Thank you.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Come See the Tesla Model S in D.C. Today and Tomorrow

See the Model S Beta on display.

The Beta version is a 90% production intent prototype of the Model S.

  • Saturday, November 26: 10am - 5pm
  • Sunday, November 27: 10am - 5pm

Tesla Washington DC
1050 K Street N.W. Suite 101
Washington DC 20001

I may own the prettiest EV in town, but there's no way I'm gonna miss seeing this!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Come see Revenge of the Electric Car

Come to the Washington, D.C. premier of Chris Paine's latest documentary, Revenge of the Electric Car tonight at the E Street Cinema at 7:45.  If you missed it's first showing in Silver Spring, MD earlier this year, now's the perfect opportunity to see the best film this year!

And as a special treat tonight there'll be a special panel after the film that the EVA/DC will be holding where you can get special insight into the latest in Electric Vehicle news, advocacy and information.  Finally, join us outside for a tour of some of the group's member's own EVs, including the Smart ED and, hopefully, even CO₂ Fre, my very own Nissan LEAF.

So come on down to the E Street Cinema and see automotive future in the making!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meet your Dealership: Priority Nissan/Mazda

Welcome to RosenthalPriority Nissan/Mazda, in Tyson's Corner (Vienna), Virginia

Hello again everyone and welcome to another edition of the Meet your Dealership series, my seventh installment.  "Seventh?" you ask, when so far there is but one other?  Okay, you caught me.  My apologies go to the other 5 dealerships who's photos are waiting for a story but now I'd like to present a more current tale.

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It was Friday, 18 November.  I started out making good mileage in my Nissan LEAF on my way to work.  I'd used 4 bars and my LEAF was reporting over 50 miles (80 km) remaining range on my car, more than enough to see me home again.  However, to get to work I have to cross the Potomac River and on that 34°F (1°C) day as I reached the far side of the bridge my car's range dropped by half to 26 mi (42 km) and only 3 bars — not enough to get home!  I can only guess that despite my hypermiling with no heater, no heated seats and no heated steering wheel, the car must have activated the heater beyond my control in order to heat the traction batteries.

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Even though it's well know that the estimated range of the LEAF is quite inaccurate, the 3 bars remaining pretty much proved I needed a boost to get home.  Since my job site has no policy against charging an electric car on site, yet chooses to enforce a no charging policy, I had to make other arrangements to get home.  Knowing my car could probably make it to Tyson's Corner, I decided to give Priority Nissan/Mazda a call to see if I could us their Aerovironment EVSE.  So I phoned up and left a message with the service department and the Service Manager, Gary, called me back and told me it was a-okay!  Thank you so much Gary!

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So I left work around 15:30 and made it to Priority around 16:15, about 15 minutes earlier than expected.  There I met Gary and showed him my LEAF.  We chatted a bit about how fun it was to drive and then he showed me to their one public AeroVironment EVSE, which they have behind the dealership.  They have a second EVSE for the Service department which I didn't see.  We immediately plugged in and after a moment of confusion I pressed the charge now button and we got the electrons flowing!

I thanked Gary for his help and proceeded to the dealer showroom to get some reading done for my Loudoun County Writers meetup on Saturday.  The folks at Priority were kind enough to let me borrow one of their desks and do my reading though I was very happy whenever one of them came up and asked me how I enjoyed my LEAF.  Unfortunately, by this time Gary had left for the day which is why his image is missing.

The showroom is long and thin and on the left as you face the wall you have a selection of Mazdas and on the right and a variety of Nissans on the right.

After I finished my reading I went to find my old friend Mohamed Wadood.  I first spoke to Mohamed over the summer when I was trying to compile a dealer reservation list to help customers find dealerships opened LEAF quotas.  Mohamed agreed then that Priority Nissan would not sell the LEAF for above MSRP and would not include any surprise options when buying the car.

Mohamed has worked hard to keep Priority Nissan/Mazda clean, spotless and honest.  He stands by Rosanthal's Fair Price guarantee.  Mohamed is well-versed in the nuances of leasing and promises a 62% residual.

He's achieved the Platinum Elite Award and a near perfect rating.  And Priority is quite honest and upfront about their $389.00 processing fee: it's printed right on the wall.

Priority may not have been the first Washington area dealership to become LEAF certified, but with folks like Mohamed they know the LEAF and are ready to bring the automotive industry into the 21st Century.

Priority Nissan/Mazda has been in business since 1988 when it was one of Washington's main Datsun dealerships.  The current building was constructed in 1989 and has been a Tyson's Corner landmark.

Need a test drive?  I didn't learn until the end of the March Drive Electric event that Priority had a Blue LEAF for test drives on Wednesday, 16 March.  None the less, I was very happy for Mohamed (telephone: 703-867-7087, email: mohamedwadood@me.com) to show me the Grey LEAF Priority has available for anyone to take a test drive.  Give Priority a call and schedule yours!

Priority Nissan/Mazda is located at:

8525 Leesburg Pike
Vienna, VA 22182
703-442-8700


View PRIORITY NISSAN MAZDA OF TYSONS CORNER in a larger map

Priority Nissan/Mazda, your source for the Nissan LEAF in the heart of Tyson's Corner.  Welcome.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Fascinating Tale a week long Chevy Volt Test Drive

My friend, Gina Coplon-Newfield, Sierra Club’s Senior Campaign Representative for Electric Vehicles, recently test drove Chevy's new Volt for a week.  It's a great two-part story which gives you the feel for what it's like to own an electric car in Massachusetts, an area of the country, unlike California, with a true 4-seasons climate.

The first part covers the initial delivery and excitement that driving an electric car gives; the quintessential EV Grin.  You can read all the details here:

My Week Driving the Chevy Volt: Part 1

In the second part, Gina runs the numbers, including the true cost per mile when emissions are taken into account.  Gina even investigates how solar could allow her to run her EV completely on sunshine:

My Week Driving the Chevy Volt: Part 2

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rant to Nissan in latest survey

Any state outside of the blessed 5 (AZ, CA, OR, TN, WA) were left in the dark; then we heard that we in the South East could order in December and then, the day before my friend Olivier (Gudy) took possession of his Nissan LEAF, were told Nah, No LEAF for You and that I'd have to wait 8 more months to order my LEAF while Texas and Hawaii had already ordered.  This pushed my delivery past 1 July 2011 which caused damage which is impossible to remedy in that I was forced to loose HOV access to I66, one of DC's main arteries since you needed to have registered your car by that date in order to qualify for Tier 2 Clean Fuel Plates.  Instead, all I can get is a Tier 3 Clean Fuel plate which only allows me to use HOV on the Dulles Toll Road.  Yet, we thought we may have an advantage in that we'd be first to get the 2012 model year.  But you know what the 2012 model year is?  It's the same as a late 2011 Model Year car (when you could get the Cold Weather Trim) but for $1500 - $1900 more — for exactly the same car!  I had asked, and even offered to pay up to $1000 more for a 6.6kW charger.  I warned you that was the Ford Focus Electric killer option!  But no, you didn't offer that in 2012.  You don't even offer the car in Green yet.  :(  So am I annoyed?  Yes, unbelievably so!  But do I love my red, zero-emission, CO2 FRE LEAF, yes!  Unbelievable so.  But the one does not negate the other.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Capital Area Nissan LEAF Owners Group & Meetup

I've been looking into setting up a meetup for all you Northern Virginian, Washington D.C. and Southern Marylanders to gather and talk shop about their brand-spanking new Nissan LEAFs.  Although I considered using Meetup.com for this like I do my Reston Writers Roundup where I share my work on Project Kronosphere, I decided that since Facebook would give this too me for free, that's the best place to begin this organization.  So hop on down to the Capital Area Nissan LEAF Owners group and help me plan our first official meeting!  Not on Facebook?  We also have a Yahoo! discussion and planning mailing list at Capital Area LEAF Owners!

Of course, if you don't want to do this through the behemoth that is Facebook, please suggest another site in the comments as I'm truly agnostic about the how or the where save that we'll typically meet in Northern Virginia since my beloved EVA/DC typically meets in Southern Maryland.

Official Site Endorsement: Barbra Favola for Virginia Senate

Normally I don't want to use this site to endorse candidates specifically but tomorrow is election day here in Virginia and as I was recently redistricted into the 31st Senate District (as well as the 86th House District, but here my friend Tom Rust is running unopposed), I've been trying to give both Barbara Favola and Caren Merrick a fair listen in terms of where they stand on the issues and who could better represent my interests.

Now, the Merrick campaign has called me on two separate occasions to ask me for their support.  As I keep an opened mind, I basically said if Ms. Merrick can support me on fixing the anti-EV HOV situation here in Virginia, I'd be more than happy to support her.  On both occasions, the friendly campaign worker took down my query and the second time I was hung up upon in mid explanation.  Although I've not had dealings with the Favola campaign, this disregard for constituent interests is in my opinion inexcusable.  As today is the day before the election, I find it highly unlikely the Merrick campaign will call me in the next 19 hours so I'm willing to call it like I see it, and for her lack of responsiveness I'm officially throwing my weight behind Favola!

Now, if the Merrick campaign had contacted me by now and her response was she opposed my viewpoint, I would have remained neutral in this, but it's the lack of response one way or another that makes me believe she's not the best woman for the job.  I was in Barbara Comstock's House District when I wrote my original opened letter to this representative who was elected solely on the grounds of her muck-raking and mud slinging and who completely ignored my inquiry.  Needless to say I'm very happy to no longer be in that person's district.  Now that I'm in Tom Rust's district, I will admit we don't see eye-to-eye on the HOV issue (he's a Civil Engineering graduate from Virginia Tech and understands quite well the limitations we need to put on HOV access in terms of road usage and thus he supports option 2) but he was willing to discuss the issue with me, to meet with me and make sure my needs were addressed to the best of his ability.  Short of agreement on an issue, I could think of no better reason to support a candidate!  Not so with Caren Merrick.

And that is why I support Barbara Favola for Virginia Senate District 31.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Nissan needs a Way-Back machine

The day after I took delivery of the first Nissan LEAF first Electric Car on the East Coast first Nissan LEAF on the East Coast first 2012 Nissan LEAF first Nissan LEAF sold in Virginia first Nissan LEAF sold in Fairfax County best priced Nissan LEAF arbitrarily numbered, high-priced, nothing special other than being mine, every-day, fully-loaded Nissan LEAF (come on, Carlos, je parle français, et mes ancêtres sont libanais aussi), I got this kind letter from Nissan:

Jeffrey, the excitement of driving a part of automotive history is almost here! Your Nissan LEAF™ is scheduled to arrive at your local dealer soon. Once you take delivery of the vehicle, your initial $99 reservation fee will be refunded. If you have any further questions about the delivery process, just contact your Nissan Dealer.

Oh, thanks Nissan.  I'll let my yesterday self know that right away; doctor Strange will take care of it for me!  Now, where is my $99 again??  It wasn't on my sales receipt.  And for the record, the $99 was refunded on my credit card along with the charge for $5,000 I put on it when I bought my LEAF.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I am Electric!

This morning I took possession of the very first Nissan LEAF sale on the Eastern Seaboard, and also the very first 2012 model year LEAF. Don't believe me? Well neither do I, but I haven't heard from anyone disputing the title so I'm claiming it as my own!

Having owned this car for the past 5 hours, I can say it is frankly driving bliss. Sure, the cost was exorbitant and it's missing its Zero-Emission graphic due to a snafu at the dealership, and I'm still unable to order new clean fuel plates, but man, what a sweet, sweet ride!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Commonwealth's Six-Year Transportation Plan Meets Today

My helpful Commonwealth Delegate Tom Rust, who is currently running unopposed, conveyed a bit of information which I certainly found interesting and I hope you will too.

N. Virginia Transportation Meeting Is Oct. 25

Board seeks input on highways, rail and transit projects

The Secretary of Transportation and the Commonwealth Transportation Board will conduct nine public meetings across the state in October and November.  These meetings are being held to give stakeholders the opportunity to review and provide comments on projects and programs to be included in the Fiscal Year 2013-2018 Six-Year Improvement Program.  This includes highway, rail, and public transportation initiatives.  Following the open house from 6:00-6:30 pm, there will be and opportunity for the public and transportation stakeholders to comment.  Written comments may also be submitted during this informal session, or they may be mailed or e-mailed until December 12, 2011.  The Northern Virginia meeting will take place on Tuesday, October 25 beginning at 6:00 pm at the VDOT office, 4975 Alliance Drive in Fairfax.

I plan on attending this meeting to speak about an issue very important to me at the Commonwealth level: Electric Vehicle access to High-Occupancy Vehicle lanes with single occupancy.

Electric Vehicles Too New for HOV

The Clean Fuel Club

In Virginia, we've had 3 different phases of the HOV easement for clean fuel vehicles.  It all started with House Bill 1881 and Senate Bill 771 of the 1993 session of the General Assembly, which established the Clean Fuel license plate and is the origin of the Virginia Code § 46.2-749.3. Special license plates for clean special fuel vehicles. (Unfortunately, the on-line legislative records don't go back as far as 1993 so I can't provide an exact link to the text of these bills.) Then in the 1994 session, Senate Bill 71 added an easement to allow Clean Fuel vehicles to use the HOV lanes as single occupancy as per Virginia Code § 33.1-46.2. Designation of high-occupancy vehicle lanes; use of such lanes; penalties. However, this bill only extended the easement up until 1 July 1997; the law was later amended by 1996 Senate Bill 274 and 1996 House Bill 585 to extend the easement to 1999 and by 1999 Senate Bill 1068 to 2004 and finally by 2003 House Bill 2316 to 1 July 2006.

It was a brisk, autumn morning while on my way to work my 1995 Nissan Altima was totaled by a minivan at the American Legion Bridge.  It was 2000 and the hot, new technology was the 2001 Toyota Prius and the 2001 Honda Insight: the first generation of hybrid cars.  I needed a new car, and I wanted one badly!  But the Prius was back-ordered for months and I needed to get to work; I couldn't wait.  So I resigned myself to the most fuel-efficient car I could get in the full-sized class.  I'm still driving that 2001 Toyota Avalon today.

Around this time the Federal Government started to get involved in national guidelines for HOV designation and usage.  On 10 August 2005, Public Law 109-59 was passed, adding Section 166: HOV Facilities to 23 United States Code, Chapter 1.  This set at the Federal level the allowances already specified by the Commonwealth, which was charged with defining rules for its Clean Fuel easement by 30 September 2009.  Yet while the U.S. Congress was providing an HOV easement for all, Virginia was beginning to clamp down.

Second-Class Clean

On 19 April 2006, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 1248 and Senate Bill 454, which amended Virginia Code § 33.1-46.2 to define a second type of Clean Fuel plate.  This new plate would begin issue on 1 July 2006 and entitle any vehicle which bore it an easement to travel on any HOV lane in the Commonwealth of Virginia except along the I95/I395 corridor.  Where as any car registered before 1 July 2006 would continue to be given carte blanche access to all of Virginia's HOV lanes with single occupancy.  With this new provision, the easement was extended another year where by both types of clean fuel plate would be allowed to use the HOV lanes outside of I95/I395 and the older plate allowed to continue using those lanes too.

I was quite angry when this was announced.  After all, I had wanted to get a hybrid, but they weren't available.  I certainly wasn't going to trash a five-year-old car for a new one at that point.  As an environmentally conscious individual, such waste would have been anathema to my nature.  So instead I planned.  I knew that my car should last another 5 years, and I knew the days of better technology were coming.  This was the seeds of the website you see here: if I couldn't have a car with clean enough fuel for all HOV, I'd get an even cleaner fueled vehicle for my next automobile!  I'd get an electric car.

This system of two-tiered Clean Fuel categories was extended to 1 July 2008 by 2007 House Bill 2132, to 1 July 2009 by 2008 House Bill 1014, to 1 July 2010 by 2009 House Bill 2476 and finally to 1 July 2011 by 2010 House Bill 214 on 11 March 2010 and by Senate Bill 552 on 10 April.  On 20 April 2010, I placed a $99 reservation on a Nissan LEAF.  Finally I was going to get my Electric Car!  We were told that the Southeastern United States would be allowed to order the car in December 2010, and assuming 6 months of production, we'd have our cars by June, 2011.  I might not be able to drive HOV single occupancy on I95/I395, but at least there would be I66 and VA 267, the Dulles Toll Road and Greenway.

Insult to Injury

On 10 December 2010, my dreams of driving electric were dealt a serious blow.  The night before the delivery of the first production Nissan LEAF, they informed all reservation holders in the Tier 2 market, which at that time consisted of the 7 states of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, as well as the District of Columbia, wouldn't be able to order their car until Late Summer 2011.  Late Summer 2011 ordering meant late autumn delivery at best; well after the end of the HOV easement 1 July 2011.

Why would I worry about that when the General Assembly had been steadily renewing the easement each year?  It comes down the second part of 2010 Senate Bill 552.  Just like 2006 House Bill 1248 and 2006 Senate Bill 454, the 2010 bill defined a third class of Clean Fuel plates with a further restriction: no more access to I66 HOV as single occupancy after 1 July 2011.  By delaying the car release in Virginia by 8 months, Nissan was injuring its customers not only by the delay itself but by the fact that no LEAF bought in Virginia would qualify to drive on the HOV lanes of either I95/I395 or I66 with single occupancy.  The 2011 Chevrolet Volt, with it's late 2010 release, would qualify, as well as any Smart ED leased here in addition to the Commonwealth's 2 or so Tesla Roadsters.  None of those cars were released before 2006 and thus none qualify for the original Clean Fuel badge, but at least the handful that got in before the deadline get to use I66 single occupancy — but not the LEAF, not the Ford Focus Electric, not the Tesla Model S.  Clean cars can drive, but Cleaner cars are left sitting in traffic.

On 28 March 2011, Virginia House Bill 1432 extended the HOV easement until 1 July 2012.  Yippie!  I can use HOV single occupancy if and only if I pay a toll.  And the badge in the middle: how can I spell anything with that?  It's ugly!

California

California knows how to treat environmentalists right.  Effective 1 July 2011, while the Commonwealth of Virginia was taking away HOV rights from the first generation of Electric Vehicles, California started restricting its HOV single occupancy to only cars with a White sticker, meaning Super Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (SULEV), Inherently Low Emission Vehicles (ILEV) and certain Ultra-Low Emission Vehicles (ULEV).  The LEAF qualifies for this, but hybrid gasoline vehicles don't.  Not even the Chevy Volt qualifies in California.  Effectively, you need to be nearly Zero-Emission to get the White Sticker.  The White Sticker easement extends until 1 July 2015.

Yellow stickers for Hybrids and Advanced Technology Partial Zero-Emission Vehicles (AT PZEV).  They were limited the first 85,000 applicants and expired as of 1 July 2011.  California is also considering a new Green Sticker to begin distribution on 1 January 2012 and restricted to the first 40,000 applicants.  It's unclear whether the LEAF would qualify for a green sticker, but according to the list of qualified vehicles, the 2010 Plug-In Prius does.

More information can be found in the California Clean Vehicle Incentives FAQ.

Maryland

In Maryland, Virginia's neighbor to the North, they also have an HOV easement, but they restrict it to plug-in vehicles only.  This means the Chevy Volt and the Nissan LEAF qualify.  I like the Volt so I like this system.  I prefer Zero-Emission as the standard, like California, but the advantage of following Maryland's lead is that we could co-operate on the issuing of stickers and recognize them in both states.  Thus Marylander could use Virginian HOV lanes and Virginians could use Marylander HOV.  I also like the sticker approach because it ties the qualification to the vehicle and doesn't allow it to convey the benefit in perpetuity like you can with the original Clean Fuel plate in Virginia.  I don't mind people who were early adopters having an advantage for HOV usage, but it's time for a new generation of early adapters.  It's time for the Electric Vehicle.

My Speech

Now you know the background, here is what I'm planning to say tonight.

In 2000, when I bought my last car, it was next to impossible to get a hybrid.  Hybrid vehicles were, after all, limited to a handful of custom imports and hobbyist vehicles.  There were barely any of these new, clean cars on the roads of the Commonwealth back then.  Hybrids were, after all, expensive, untested domestically and weren't even available in major dealer showrooms yet.

At that time Virginia Code § 33.1-46.2 Section A Paragraph 6, allowing single occupancy HOV usage to cars baring Clean Fuel plates, made a lot of sense.  There weren't very many hybrids on the road so letting them use the HOV lanes wouldn't affect traffic congestion greatly.

However, as of mid 2011, we now have over two million hybrid vehicles on the road, and many of those are right here in Northern Virginia and around Washington, which boasted the fifth largest growth nationally in the hybrid market.  The Commonwealth has adapted to this, limiting single occupancy access to certain HOV areas, but this favors the oldest hybrids and doesn't encourage our citizens to help our business by buying new cars.

Today, hybrid vehicles are ubiquitous.  Plug-in and Battery Electric cars, however, are still rare.  These newer, cleaner vehicles are today where hybrid vehicles were back in 2000 and 2001: expensive, untested domestically and not even available in major dealer showrooms yet.  Just as the Commonwealth helped the nascent hybrid vehicle market to grow though the HOV easement, so too, I argue, that the next generation of even cleaner fueled vehicles should have that privileged.

It's time we cleaned up our clean fuel cars.  It's time to put zero-emission vehicles on I66 and I95/I395.  It's time for those busy and congested roads to produce no pollution for the housing that runs along these highways, where families live and children play.  Don't we want to stop our voracious appetite for hydrocarbons coming from nations which dislike us?  Isn't that the kind of kind of Virginia we should be striving for?

That part of the speech should run about 2½ – 3 minutes, which would be my allotted time; I'll therefore submit the rest of the speech as follows in written comments.

The way I see it, we have 6 options:

  1. Keep things as they are, with new, zero-emission vehicles restricted to VA 267 and no access to I95/I395, nor to I66.
  2. End the Clean Fuel HOV easement all together, which although fair would, I suspect, make no-one happy.
  3. Evolve the requirements for the HOV easement over time, expiring dirtier cars and creating openings for cleaner ones.  We might not be able to tie this to specific CAFE standards according to the EPA, but at least we could work towards emission targets.
  4. Simply put a time limit on the HOV easement, so that the oldest cars only qualify for say 10 years and as those cars expire, new slots open up for the new generation of cleaner vehicles.
  5. Follow California by completely ending the easement for hybrid vehicles and only allowing Ultra-Low Emission, Inherently Low Emission or Super Ultra-Low Emission on our HOV lanes.  I don't expect the Commonwealth to be this draconian but I see it as still preferable over the Status Quo.  And finally…
  6. Allow only Plug-In Vehicles, vehicles that can be plugged into the wall, to take advantage of the HOV easement.  As a resident of Northern Virginia I find this the best solution for the Commonwealth because it's the exact same rule which governs our neighbor Maryland.  In fact, what would benefit the residents of Northern Virginia most would be if Richmond and Annapolis could set up a joint commission and co-operate on the issuing of this Plug-In easement such that each state would recognize the other's right to use HOV single occupancy within both states.

And finally, if we're to enact any but the first two options, I would recommend that we end the use of the Clean Fuel plate in favor of a non-transferable sticker, like California and Maryland.  The ties the easement to the qualifying car and allows the Commonwealth to restrict usage to specific vehicles rather than to an owner, since it's the car we need to be clean.

I know I'm not making any friends with this viewpoint but in the long run, I see any of options three through six as in the best interest of the Commonwealth.  Let's keep Virginia green and I thank you for your time!

I know this speech will rub a lot of people the wrong way, but it's from the heart and I feel it must be said.  Will you join me tonight?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Schedule EV, the rate for me!

After months and days of complex posts and decisions, I finally put in a work order for the two meter solution.  I called Dominion this morning trying to get more information on the meter base that my electrician Joe from Cullen Electric will need to install.  After many attempts to retrieve that last piece of the puzzle, we determined that the work order for the meter has to be submitted first before Joe and I can get the correct meter mounting.  With the work order, a Dominion engineer will examine the premises and hopefully work with Joe to get the meter installed properly.  I trust Joe and just need to find out when would be the latest he could come before the meter itself was installed.  Otherwise, it's pretty much a done deal!

Daily Electrical Usage Curve

I decided to go with Schedule EV because I really don't trust my calculations for what my household electrical usage is.  I worked out the estimates for my hourly usage 8 months ago and wanted to post this chart at that time, hoping for reader's feedback.  But now I'm up against the decision time; I just couldn't wait any longer.  The simple, one-meter, no new holes, no complex electrical work solution just wasn't enough to put me in that camp, even though I was leaning that way when I first contacted Dominion.  Instead, I get to live as I have been living under Schedule 1, and yet charge my EV, and my EV alone, under Schedule EV.  It's a more complicated solution, but it'll make the charges easier to isolate and I can get a decent picture of how much electricity my car is actually consuming.  That is, assuming I don't also charge at work.

The one major danger is the gap between Joe bringing out the circuit to the meter mounting and when the meter is installed and the circuit goes live.  During that period, I'll not have any access Level 2 charging, and with my long commute, it looks like I'll have to be driving my ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) again.  Sigh.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Electric Vehicle Calculator by Dominion

I wanted to post this sooner, but a post that has been waiting 8 months for me to complete for once had to take precedence.  And although I could have included this there, it would've been buried and it's bad enough how long that last post is!  Schedule 1EV is complicated!

From Affordable Electric Car NOW

Anyway, I digress.  The point is, now you can get a rough estimate of how much it will cost to charge your vehicle under Dominion's new EV rate programs.  Simply visit the this site and enter information about your vehicle, the length you typically drive and how you plan to charge.  Dominion offers 3 vehicles in their HTML application: the Ford Focus Electric, the Nissan LEAF and the Chevy Volt.  In terms of charging, you choose between your standard wall outlet running 120 V, which you would typically connect to via the car's included EVSE, or 240 V which assumes you already have an EVSE pre-installed which is set up to use the higher voltage.  Finally, you can set the time to start charging.  Personally, I like to work backwards from the end since I know when I need my car by, but even cars like the LEAF don't let you do that so the start time is quite reasonable, even if it does mean I may not be taking full advantage of all 4 hours of super-off peak.

One final note should be made of the Ford Focus Electric cheating with it's expected range numbers.  This time last year, the LEAF was rated at 100 mi per charge and many of it's promotional materials still maintain that.  The EPA, however, though on an environmental penalty of about 30% when they derived the 73 mi per charge rate used by the Dominion calculator.  The Ford Focus has yet to be tested by the EPA and thus it's marketing of 100 mi per charge is taken as an official value, making it look like a more efficient car than the LEAF.  The truth is, when the EPA evaluates the Focus it will likely receive a grade of about 70 – 75 mi per charge with its 23 kWh battery as opposed to the LEAF's 24 kWh pack.  The Volt values are also based on their EPA evaluation.

Dominion Virginia Power EV Rates Revealed (Part 3)

Calling Dominion

During the Canadian Thanksgiving Day weekend I called Dominion's Electric Vehicle information and sign up line to discuss which pilot project I should choose: Schedule EV or Schedule 1EV, below.  I found out that if I signed up then I'd be getting my new meter before my EV arrived which wouldn't be useful for the program.  We thus decided to punt the decision until after my next meter reading on the 17th of October.  That way, the new meter would be installed during the subsequent meter reading in November, which should be after my LEAF arrives.

Not So Smart Meter

The other thing I found out was that the Smart Meters Dominion installs are an earlier design.  These units are only capable of sampling electrical usage at fixed intervals which allow them to calculate for each of the prescribed Time-Of-Use intervals under the given rate plan.  They don't have the advanced technology of having 3 lines to the house, where, for instance, one has a household line, an EV line and potentially a line to a Solar or Wind generator.

In fact, the Schedule EV program installs 2 meters on your home.  You keep your original meter for your household, ticking off net electrical usage under the standard Residential Schedule 1 rate.  Typically next to this, they add a second meter to the mains which is the smart meter monitoring the EV usage under Schedule EV.  However, if they find it convenient, they may place the meter anywhere where an electrical line in can be tapped, though the location of the current meter seems the most logical.

The other new Smart Meter technology is the ability to create a mesh network, as they're doing in Austin, TX.  This technology allows the customer to monitor their current and historical electrical usage via a wireless network that sends information to Austin Energy.  What's more, these new Smart Meters can communicate with smart household appliances to regulate appliances like a refrigerator or central air conditioning, allowing the power company to reduce household electrical usage during peak hours.  On the surface this may sound like big business controlling we the consumers, but it benefits us too.  After all, throttling our appliances during the most expensive, peak demand will save us money, especially if we're under a Time-Of-Use rate.

Second Meter?

As stated above, folks interested in the Schedule EV plan will be getting a second meter to monitor the EV electrical usage.  Because this is a second meter, it needs to have its own line into the house which must be provided by an accredited electrical contractor.  Dominion's responsibility is only to the meter.  They'll hook up the meter if and only if there's already a line into the house with a empty mounting for a that meter, as would be for Schedule 1EV (household Time-Of-Use).  If your electrician hasn't yet run the line out for the second meter and installed the meter mounting, Dominion can't connect the meter to your EV.

So today I spoke with my favorite Electrical Contractor, Joe from Cullen Electric, Inc..  Unfortunately, for most of the conversation I had him confused with a representative from Dominion, much to my chagrin.  I'm waiting for a call from the Net Metering folks at Dominion to answer a question I still have about hooking up solar panels under one of the EV schedules.  So unfortunately I dragged Joe into a long and only partially productive debate about installing Photovoltaic panels on my home.  My plan is still to consider installing Solar Panels on my home, especially if I can get the guidelines of my HOA overturned this week, but obviously that's not why I asked Joe to call me.  Sorry about that Joe!

Anyway, Joe estimates the job to be about three-quarters of a day's work and estimates about $700 – $800.  Basically, since there's already a circuit breaker panel in the garage for the EV, Joe just needs to pull the 125A 1/0 SER cable out of the main breaker, hook it into a new cut-off switch and then run a wire out from the cutoff to the new meter mounting.  The cutoff switch is for safety since it needs to be within a minimum number of feet from the meter, but is convenient since it doesn't require the current 125A wire to be extended.  As of the time of this writing, I'm still checking with Joe on whether he knows which meter mounting to get but if I do go with Schedule EV, it looks like he can install it pretty close to the Smart Meter installation date, assuming it's 17 November as Dominion indicated to me when I first called.

I'm considering just going for the Schedule 1EV to simplify the work by Dominion and not have to run a new wire out of my house, though I certainly could budget the extra electrical work.  I certainly have always preferred the EV-Only Schedule EV, but it's looking more and more like I'll be going with Schedule 1EV.  But each day this changes and Joe is still trying to track down information on the correct mounting…

Schedule 1EV

Finally, we come to the long sought after description of Schedule 1EV — it's only taken me 8 months to write!  Recall from Part 2 that we start with 4.417¢kWh for fuel, transmission, taxes and other various fixed costs.  We then need to add in the base Distribution and Support rates for Schedule 1EV; these rates are summarized in the following two tables:

Schedule 1EV Rate 16 April – 15 October
Hours Distribution rate in ¢kWh Supply rate in ¢kWh Net Cost (EV) Net Cost (House)
01–05 (Super Off-Peak) 0.000 0.444 $10.32 $0.73
05–10 (Off-Peak) 2.053 1.652 $0.17 $164.49
10–13 (Intermediate) 2.053 3.818 $0.16 $57.92
13–19 (Peak) 2.053 9.501 $0.63 $398.98
19–22 (Intermediate) 2.053 3.818 $0.16 $193.08
22–01 (Off-Peak) 2.053 1.652 $46.59 $56.35
Totals $58.04 $871.56
Schedule 1EV Rate 16 October – 15 April
Hours Distribution rate in ¢kWh Supply rate in ¢kWh Net Cost (EV) Net Cost (House)
01–05 (Super Off-Peak) 0.000 1.388 $32.14 $1.25
05–06 (Off-Peak) 2.053 2.106 $0.04 $11.24
06–11 (Peak) 2.053 4.605 $0.30 $155.89
11–17 (Off-Peak) 2.053 2.106 $0.23 $56.18
17–22 (Peak) 2.053 4.605 $0.30 $179.88
22–01 (Off-Peak) 2.053 2.106 $52.08 $34.65
Totals $85.10 $439.09

This by far is the most complicated rate of all that I've analysed.  Not only is it a Time-Of-Use rate, like Schedule EV, Schedule 1T (The old Time-Of-Use household rate) and Schedule 1S (The Time-Of-Use rate used for houses with Solar Net-Metering), but its seasonal periods break mid-month so it means I have to compute complete months then prorated, partial months in during the summer schedule and add that to prorated, partial months in the winter schedule.  Thus, my sheet does 3 look-ups for each month and each hour, making it bulky, slow, hard to maintain and from which it's hard to get specific details.

What's more, Schedule 1EV is an alternate rate, not an additional rate.  You use Schedule 1EV instead of Schedule 1, not in additional to it like with Schedule EV.  This means that your entire household rate could be effected by the change, not just by the addition of the EV, but now your usage and time of usage matters for everything.  When you run your A/C or Electric Heater, when your Refrigerator cycles or when you watch Television or Browse the Internet can all effect your total electricity rate.

Since my home is currently on the 2-tiered, fixed-rate Schedule 1 plan, I don't have any information about how many kWh of electricity I use at say 10 am (hour 10) or 10 pm (hour 22), or when I may be my peak usage and when do I use the least.  The EV is easy to estimate because I know when I plan to charge it, how long it takes to charge and thus when the charging will typically stop, not so with the whole household.  All I know for sure is the total electricity usage in my one month billing cycle.  Any more detail than that, and I have to guess.

Estimating Home Electricity Usage

I've literally wanted to post this since I wrote the first part of this article back in February.  Indeed, it's the entire inspiration for this series I've made about explaining the electric rate.  Of all the things I've discussed thus far, I can show evidence, trace steps, and point to solid sources of information to back up my claims.  When it comes to estimating household electrical usage, however, things reduce to an educated guess.

Daily Electrical Usage Curve

To start with, I decided to assign an arbitrary point system to my daily electrical usage.  The points don't correspond to any real-life value, they just follow the rule that if hour x value is greater than that for hour y, then that hour is estimated to use more electricity and if the value at x is twice y then x used twice as much electricity as y,  The following table details the numbers I used and some of my reasoning.

Daily Electrical Usage (Estimated)
Hour Value Percent Reasoning
00 0.25 0.30% Sleeping, for the most part
01 0.25 0.30%
02 0.25 0.30%
03 0.25 0.30%
04 0.25 0.30%
05 3 3.56% Wakie, wakie!
06 6 7.12% Get ready for work (or sleep in on weekends)
07 6 7.12%
08 6 7.12%
09 6 7.12%
10 2 2.37% At work with alarm active or relaxing in front of the Television or Computer
11 2 2.37%
12 2 2.37%
13 2 2.37%
14 2 2.37%
15 2 2.37%
16 5 5.93% Chillin after work
17 5 5.93%
18 5 5.93%
19 7 8.31% Primetime: The height of activity
20 7 8.31%
21 6 7.12% Evening slowdown
22 6 7.12%
23 3 3.56% Getting ready for bed

Phew!  So, that's what I estimated.  I took those numbers, summed them to get a total points used, then divided each by that number to get a percent usage, which you can see next to the raw values above.  I take these percents and multiply the total monthly usage by them to get the estimated total monthly electrical usage for that hour of the day.

Because I've never been on a Time-Of-Use rate before and I'm no-where near confident with these numbers, I would be happy to hear from one of my readers to show my my mistakes.  Barring that, I could just go with the Schedule 1EV rate and see what happens.  They won't break out my usage in hours for me, as I explained above, but I could at least see if my estimates were near the mark.

Rate to Rate: Who's cheaper for a household?

Up until now, I've only been talking about EV rates.  The amount of money it costs to run the household electricity is different than that for an EV because the costs for an EV already assume some electricity usage so the electricity is never metered from zero.  For instance, under Schedule 1, there are 2 tiers of electrical usage for the base Distribution and Supply rates: the first 800 kWh are charged charged at one rate and anything above that at another.  As such, since my home already uses more than 800 kWh per month, my EV would always be charged the abouve 800 kWh rate.

In addition to this, there are taxes like the State Consumption Tax, the Special Regulatory Tax and the Local Consumption Tax, as well as the Fairfax County tax.  In the case of the three Commonwealth taxes, they are each 3-tired taxes.  In Part 2 I estimated that most of my EV's electricity would be in the in the first Tier, with a little less than ⅓ in Tier 2.  With the household, we're counting from zero so all again most usage is at Tier 1 with a bit in Tier 2 with the above 2,500 kWh usages over Summer.  Also, where as the Fairfax County Tax has already reached its $4 cap by the time we start to count the EV, that entire $4 is paid at the household level.

Household Rate Fixed Costs

Fortunately, the only thing different between the Schedule 1 rate household and the Schedule 1EV rate household is the Distribution and Supply usage rates.  Even the monthly rate of $7 is the same under both schedules.  These invariant values a summarized in the next table:

Name cost in ¢kWh Annual Cost
Schedule 1 & 1EV: Distribution (Monthly cost, $7.00) $84.00
Rider C1: Peak Shaving 0.009 $1.93
Rider C2: Energy Efficiency 0.044 $9.43
Rider S: Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center 0.280 $60.03
Rider R: Bear Garden Generating Station 0.117 $25.09
Rider BRC: Base Rate Credit -0.132 -$28.30
Rider T: Transmission 0.616 $132.08
Fuel Charge Rider A 3.289 $705.19
Sales and Use Surcharge 0.056 $12.01
Consumption Taxes (Tier 1) (< 2.5 MWh) 0.155 $31.08
Consumption Taxes (Tier 2) (2.5 MWh ≤ x < 50 MWh) 0.099 $1.38
Consumption Taxes (Tier 3) (≥ 50 MWh) 0.075 $0.00
Fairfax County Tax (Min 56¢; Max $4) 0.605 $48.00
Totals 4.430 $1,081.92

As before, we need to explain the base rate calculation here.  I currently estimate about 21,441 kWh per year of electrical usage in my household given the pattern of data I have going back almost two years.  How this breaks down in terms of the Consumption Taxes is 20,051½ kWh of that is under the Tier 1 level and only 1,389½ kWh falls under Tier 2.  I again use these estimates to calculate the last 0.151¢ of the tax total.

I've also eliminated the County Tax from the calculation but not because it isn't paid, but because it's always always $4.00 per month for me, regardless of how much electricity I use.  For this rate to be relevant, I'd have to use less than 661.157 025 kWh of electricity in a given month and that is no-where near happening.  After all, I'm never even going below 800 kWh to stay within the Schedule 1 Tier 1 Base rate.  Thus, the County Tax and Monthly Distribution rate are not counted in the total cost per kWh, but are included in the annual totals.

I spend about $1,081.92 each year … on all secondary items

In summary, I spend about $1,081.92 each year in electricity regardless of rate schedule on all the secondary items, riders and taxes.  This value is without the Base Rate, which turns out to be the lion's share of the calculation.

Comparison of Rate Schedules

As I stated before, Schedule 1 is a 2-Tiered system.  It's also a seasonal schedule, with different rates depending on the time of year.  These rates are summarized in the following table.

Rate Category Non-Summer Rate, 1 October – 31 May, in ¢kWh Summer Rate, 1 June – 30 September, in ¢kWh Net Cost (EV) Net Cost (House)
Distribution ≤ 800 kWh 2.233 2.233 $0.00 $214.37
Distribution > 800 kWh 1.260 1.260 $90.49 $149.20
Supply ≤ 800 kWh 3.795 3.795 $0.00 $364.32
Supply > 800 kWh 2.927 5.773 $278.48 $574.71
Totals $368.97 $1,302.59

Putting it all together

Compare this to the results from the Schedule 1EV rate above.  In the tables describing the Schedule 1EV rate, we have the totals for both the car and the household for the base Distribution and Supply rates.  The household rates are based on the estimated electricity usage from that section, and as such are only my best estimate for how much it would cost under Schedule 1EV: my own mileage may vary.  Summing together the values from that table and the one for Schedule 1 and finally pulling in the results for the Schedule EV in Part 2, we can finally compare each of the above rates:

Rate Schedule 1 Schedule 1 with Schedule EV Schedule 1EV
Distribution Cost per Year (EV) $90.49 $98.83 $52.17
Supply Cost per Year (EV) $278.48 $70.63 $90.97
Subtotal Cost (EV) $368.97 $169.47 $143.14
Total Cost (EV) $686.16 $486.66 $460.33
Distribution Cost per Year (House)1 $363.56 $363.56 $434.96
Supply Cost per Year (House) $939.03 $939.03 $875.69
Subtotal Cost (House) $1,302.59 $1,302.59 $1,310.65
Total Cost (House) $2,384.51 $2,384.51 $2,392.56

The Subtotal in the table above contains the sum of the Distribution and Supply costs and the Total adds this to the cost for everything else, including Taxes, Fuel, Transportation and the various other Riders.

The main take-away here is that if my estimates are correct, there's not much difference for the household electricity cost under Schedule 1 and Schedule 1EV; my calculations show less than $10 per year!  Stranger though is that the Distribution is about $70 higher under Schedule 1EV but about $60 lower than Schedule 1 for Supply.  Secondly, as you can see, the cost to run an EV under Schedule EV and Schedule 1EV doesn't differ much either.  Schedule 1EV looks to be about $25 cheaper than Schedule EV, but both are clearly less than half the rate under just Schedule 1.

What if the LEAF had a 6.6 kW charger?

I would be remiss if I didn't do the same analysis for the Schedule 1EV that I did for Schedule EV with respect to 6.6 kW charging.  Specifically, the $98.68 I pay per year for charging my LEAF from hour 22 to hour 1 (Off-Peak) could be reduced to a mere $0.22 cents and my Super-Off-Peak per year goes from $42.46 to $65.38 per year because of the greater overall electricity usage.  Thus, the cost to run the LEAF under Schedule 1EV goes down to $384.78 per year, about $75 in savings per year.

And that's all you need to know when you choose a new EV rate schedule.  So call Dominion right now: 1-866-566-6436 and join the EV Rate Revolution!


1Doesn't include the Monthly Charge since this is already assumed in the fixed cost independent of the rate program.