Electric vehicles (EVs), their emissions, and future viability

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TomJD

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There are a few hidden costs that people should be aware of before claiming that Solar is this “free” energy source.

Unless you have batteries and an inverter, you’re dumping that solar electricity onto the grid. The power company in turn returns it to you at 60hz. That service isn’t free to the power company, so while you might get a rebate for having solar on your house, the guys with no solar pay for your electric to come consistently so your lights don’t flicker. He sees a rate hike so the power company can cover not getting any money from you.

In Missouri the power company pays people with solar the going rate for electricity (this may vary by a state’s public service commission). The price today is $0.12/kw. However, the power company obviously makes electric at a lower price. If it has to pay out $0.12/kw to everyone with solar, it will need more revenue because solar costs the company more per kw than burning gas/coal. So where does it get money to pay the guy with solar the going rate for electricity? Price increases on everyone else.

People often say “well that’s the price you pay.” But, electric companies aren’t going anywhere until we can store solar locally. We need them for 60hz. Someone has to pay them for that. And if you’re on a fixed income like my 89 year old neighbor, she doesn’t understand why her electric bill keeps going up when she isn’t using any more electric. That might mean she turns off the A/C when the summer rolls around because she can’t afford the bill. Then who is the “moron” or “monster?”

Just know there are more costs than what you see on your monthly statement.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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Tom, those "hidden costs" as you call them are going to vary by power company. For example, my power company allows the meter to run backwards, so I have a 1:1 credit for power generated in excess of demand at that moment. I can use those credits for up to 1 year. After that I get approximately 10% of the company's current retail cost for power as a credit. Not a lot.

The company also includes distribution, transition, transmission, revenue decopuling, distributed solar, renewable energy and energy efficiency charges on my bill. In total those fees are about twice the actual power generation cost. I can use the kWh credits towards those fees, but those costs are borne by me, not other customers. At least they are with my power company.

Net metering is a hell of a deal, so I'm not complaining. If it went away for some reason, solar would be far less attractive for me. At that point I'd probably invest in a Tesla Powerwall or similar to store the energy generated each day for use in the evening.
 

turbobrick240

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Unless you have batteries and an inverter, you’re dumping that solar electricity onto the grid. The power company in turn returns it to you at 60hz.
That sounds like you're under the impression that solar installations are pushing power at unregulated frequency onto the grid. That is not the case. If you think your neighbors solar install is why your bill went up, somebody has been feeding you a bunch of malarkey.
 

turbobrick240

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If you build the house right you shouldn't need a heater at all.
Easier said than done- in Maine at least. With our winters it's always good to have a back up heat source. We may not have had power in the last big ice storm, but at least we were warm!
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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They've been building passivhaus designed homes in Germany for 20 years with no heating systems. Air to air exchanger to keep the air clean and dehumidified. Adequate warmth is provided by occupants and appliances.

Check out these guys: https://thegohome.us Houses may only have a tiny bit of electric baseboard for occasional use. And they're in Maine.
 

jackbombay

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No some people buy trucks because they need them for their work. Like my SIL, who works for a general contractor.
Some people buy trucks because it makes their hobies easier. I'm in that catagory. Makes doing landscaping, hauling the bikes and bike gear, and camping gear around much easier. Yes, I've done it in the JSW.
Some people buy trucks becasue tehy view it as a status symbol or just like teh ability to be able to step up into a vehicle and not have to fight their way out of it.
My 17 Ram 1500 Ecodiesel gets as good as or better mileage than many cars on the road. I was driving my daughter's mini Buick SUV this last week. She gets the same mileage I do in 3 times the vehicle.
Most truck sales are based on emotion, "I feel safe", and not based on need.

I've build two homes for myself, I actually did %90+ of the work, by myself, I built the first one using a 1984 Volvo 245 to haul materials with a trailer, and I built the second one with my 2003 TDI.

I use trucks for work, but we actually use them, F450 with a mini-ex on the flat bed and a skid steer on the trailer. The flip side of that coin is the parking lot at the local ski resort here, so, so many single occupancy low efficiency full sized trucks drive up there every day, my Jetta looks like a smart car in that parking lot.


If you build the house right you shouldn't need a heater at all.
Northern Rockies say different.

The second house I built has an attached green house with a concrete Trombe wall between it and the garage, on sunny days in the winter with a high around 0* F the living space will get up to 70, on sunny spring days like today, the living space will get up to 75* or more, its nice to open the doors and get a cross breeze on days like today without wasting any energy on heat.

With no heat on in the building in the middle of winter it maintains 50-55*F, It is super insulated with a passive solar design, as is the first house I built. An argument could be made that 50* is "warm enough" and you don't need heat, but there aren't many people that are happy living in a house that is 50*.

It's also illegal to build a home here without a heat source that can run without human input.

On the bright side, neither house I built has AC, simply no need for it here with overnight lows in the low 50's even in the middle of summer.
 

turbobrick240

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That's cool, they are just 20 minutes east from here. My house is a similar design to the red farmhouse. I'm not really a fan of the no eaves or overhangs look though. My daylight basement will basically be like an earth sheltered home. I went a little overboard and built all of the formwork from lumber I milled and did the pour (from trucks) with a buddy helping. It's pretty stressful when you've got four trucks stacked up waiting to unload. Wooden forms require quite a bit more care. Not sure I'd go that route again. Turned out awesome though.
 

jackbombay

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It's pretty stressful when you've got four trucks stacked up waiting to unload.
So much for the 90 minute rule! 90 minute rule is largely BS anyway though.

How'd you end up with 40 yards sitting on site getting hot? Issues with the first truck? Bad scheduling with the plant? Or did the plant blow it?
 

jackbombay

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I'm not really a fan of the no eaves or overhangs look though. .
Its also incorrect design with regards to passive solar, eave length needs to be determined by roof pitch window height and latitude. No eaves gives you solar gain when you don't need it, and also drops all the rain water/snow/snowmelt right along the edge of your building.
 

turbobrick240

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The plant blew it. I told them to stagger the trucks 15 minutes apart, and they all showed up together. It was fortunate that the weather was cool. I can't imagine how upset I'd have been if the forms had blown apart in the haste to unload.
 

gulfcoastguy

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One thing I learned is that panels on a south facing roof really help keep a building cool in summer. Makes sense, but I hadn't previously thought about it.
I just put on a white metal reflective roof and upgraded the heat pump to 17 SEER. The power bill has dropped in half and seldom exceeds a $100.00. Add to that the fact that my south facing roof is 3 miles from the hurricane prone Gulf of Mexico and I can't make the math work to put panels up.
 

ericy

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Tom, those "hidden costs" as you call them are going to vary by power company. For example, my power company allows the meter to run backwards, so I have a 1:1 credit for power generated in excess of demand at that moment. I can use those credits for up to 1 year. After that I get approximately 10% of the company's current retail cost for power as a credit. Not a lot.

That's how it is for us in Delaware except for that last bit. There are times that we generate more than we use, and if a the end of the month we have a net credit, the bill is just a minimal fee and there is a running tally of the net excess kWh that we generated. In the fall the days get shorter, and we start running the heat more, so we eventually use up the credit. For about 7 months of the year, our electric bill is just that nominal fee.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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Sounds exactly like what Eversource does. I show credits, never not used them within a year, so I've never been reimbursed. Depending on how hot the previous summer was (A/C use), I may get a small bill in February or March. Otherwise it's zero. Last summer wasn't that hot so I got through this year without a bill.
 

Lightflyer1

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When I checked into solar last the electric companies here have a transfer charge that you end up paying no mater what. The generating credits won't pay for it either. No matter what you end up getting a bill for nearly $100 just to take care of the transfer charges and tax. You will never have a zero bill for a total anyway. Just for the energy used only.
 

ToxicDoc

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When I checked into solar last the electric companies here have a transfer charge that you end up paying no mater what. The generating credits won't pay for it either. No matter what you end up getting a bill for nearly $100 just to take care of the transfer charges and tax. You will never have a zero bill for a total anyway. Just for the energy used only.
If you want to pay zero to the company for power you're going to have to store your power and just be disconnected from the grid. That really raises the costs.
 

Lightflyer1

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Just saying it makes it harder to justify the costs as payback time is much longer and the bill never really goes away. If I have to disconnect from the grid I would rather move to an off the grid location and build a much more sustainable house. Much easier to do now that I am getting ready for retirement and don't have work/kids to consider any more. The Tesla power wall estimate and info I got was very interesting in this regard.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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If you want to pay zero to the company for power you're going to have to store your power and just be disconnected from the grid. That really raises the costs.
As noted above, this depends on the power company. My bill has been zero for the last 15 months, and I've paid a total of about $75 in the last two years.

If my power company eliminated net metering I'd get a Powerwall (or similar) to store the power generated during the day to use at night. And if I wanted to invest in a diesel generator instead of the expensive to operate propane one I have now, I could go off the grid altogether. But net metering is a huge bargain.

We have power failures fairly often, despite being in a populated suburban area. In the 25 years I've lived here power reliability has gotten worse, not better. I think it's because financially strapped companies have shortcut tree maintenance and equipment replacements. Trees fall on wires, transformers blow. Also, we've had changes in weather patterns that seem to bring a lot more wind storms than in the past. That, in combination with big, second growth pine trees, is a recipe for bringing down power lines.

If I ran the house off a powerwall all the time and recharged it either from solar, the grid, or the generator (when needed) the generator could run a lot less often. But at this point the cost and complexity isn't worth it. The future? You never know.
 

turbobrick240

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Off grid real estate is amazingly cheap around here. I feel like that will be changing soon as more people realize that they can be comfortable off the grid without tremendous expense. Net metering is definitely great for encouraging the adoption of renewable energy. Our last blowhard governor did everything he could to discourage clean energy- including scrapping net metering. I was stoked when the current governor reinstituted net metering very quickly after taking office. I say vote the bums out if your local politicians have an anti-renewable agenda.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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The real dilemma with going totally off access is internet. I'm hoping that 5G is good enough to replace cable, but I'm not holding out a lot of hope for that. Cell service at my home is still spotty: without WiFi calling I'd have trouble using my phone here. And I need reasonable connection speeds to work from home. Living remotely enough to not have cable access may still be a problem for me, as well as others.
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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Just received my March electric bill:


I'll continue to accumulate credits into the summer, and may deplete them some when running the pool and A/C, and could run out in December-February depending on how hot the summer was and how often the panels are snow-covered in winter.
 

oilhammer

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There are just too many to list....
So, to put that in context, how large is your house? How many occupants? How is it heated? And at what temp is it kept? Cooking? Hot water? Water supply? Laundry?
 
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IndigoBlueWagon

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House is 3,300 square feet. Two occupants (stupid, I know, house size made more sense when there were six occupants), heat and hot water are oil, cooking and clothes dryer are propane. Electric is for well pump, heat circulation, lighting, small appliances, refrigerator, central A/C, and pool filter. 6 kW panels on a south-facing garage roof.

When we had the solar panels installed we also had MassSave do an energy audit (required to get the state rebate) and they added 8" of cellulose insulation to the 6" fiberglass that was in the attic, gasketed all the doors, foam sealed foundation air leaks, replaced lightbulbs with LEDs, at a nominal cost. The switch to LEDs alone dropped our electric consumption by about 25%. Incandescent lights take a lot of energy.
 

kjclow

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Yes, they take a lot of energy and produce a lot of heat. If you're going to save power in the South, you learn to sit in the dark with the AC running all summer. Just kidding but I don't think I have any non-LED lights left in the house except the bulb in the stove.
 

oilhammer

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There are just too many to list....
Heating oil, that's what I figured. Our all electric house would not be so electric friendly. While it is only half the size, there are three humans, two of which are there most of the time. My son's needs require at minimum three loads of laundry per day (shout out to Maytag, our Neptune W&D celebrated their second completed decade this past Fall... an amazing feat given what they do).

Water heater, electric. Well pump, electric. My wife is a great cook... all with electric, although I do occasionally use the Weber outside. We have no pool (flyover state rednecks like me go camping and swim in lakes and creeks ;) ).

So yeah, your electric bill does look fantastic at only $55, but it doesn't tell the whole story of your household energy use.

I do admit, I have a lot of unnecessary phantom loads... I have night lights all over, because in the country at night, it is DARK, and we cannot see to walk across the room. They are mostly LED, but given the cost to purchase them, and then they really do not last as long as they claim, I think I'd just as soon have the old cheapo light bulbs. I also almost always have a computer powered up for something or another, despite having no internet. Although it does go in sleep mode so it probably doesn't use *that* much.

The biggest saver for me will be the switch to geothermal, but that is still frightfully expensive. My dad has it, it works great and is very cheap to operate... but the ROI is still 10-15 years, and as he found out when selling his last place, it didn't seem to add as much value as you'd think it would have. I blame the real estate industry's ignorance on that more than anything. You'd think being able to heat and cool a [big] house year round for not much more electricity than it takes to run a refrigerator would be a good selling point. :rolleyes:
 

IndigoBlueWagon

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That's not a bill. That shows I accumulated a $55 credit in March. Had $7 remaining for the Feb bill, using credits generated in the fall. Comparisons are a little difficult because my energy generation is captured on a monthly basis, and I get my bill mid-month, but I generated about 413 kWh on average for February/March of 2018. According to the bill I accumulated 255 kWh in credit, meaning I used 158 kWh, assuming last year's and this year's weather are relatively equal. I actually think this year has had more sun.

Since I can't see how much of the credit goes to fixed costs like transmission and fees, it's hard to see what my cost would have been without solar. Historically my electric bills were in the $115-125 range in winter, and in the $200-250 range in summer. Now they're effectively zero. So in round numbers you could say I'm saving about $2,000 annually in electric charges, plus getting $1,200 or so in checks for carbon credits. That's why spending $$ on solar worked for me.
 

Tin Man

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Yes, but what is the initial investment and fixed running costs of maintenance?
 

Tin Man

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Yes, but what is the initial investment and fixed running costs of maintenance?
 
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