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Gas guzzlers, EVs and the Need for Speed

Tue Sep 28, 2010 7:12 am

From: http://www.intelligentutility.com/artic ... need-speed

Among other things, the article mentions SDG&E's EV TOU pilot program looking to sign up 1,000 participants.

Gas guzzlers, EVs and the need for speed
I get charged up when I talk about fast cars

Kate Rowland | Sep 28, 2010

Maybe it's just because I like the idea, if not the price. And maybe it's because my imagination's been captured by the thought of pitting a electric Tesla Roadster Sport, with its instant torque that "blows the doors off nearly every car in its class," against my gasoline-guzzling favorite, the Ferrari 599 GTO, the fastest street Ferrari ever built. (Click the links, compare the pictures. You'd be hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two as they blew by you ... except for the noise, or, in the case of the Tesla, the lack thereof.)

But there are differences. A closer look, and the aficionado will note that the Tesla's body is built by Lotus (the builder of my all-time favorite collector vehicles ... but that's another story for another time).

In zero-to-60, off-the-dime speed, they're similar. The Tesla Roadster Sport can hit 60 miles per hour (mph) in 3.7 seconds. The Ferrari 599 GTO takes 3.35 seconds.

But beyond that, we're comparing apples to oranges. The only similarity is that they're both FAST. Top speed for the Tesla: 125 mph. The Ferrari: a mind-blowing 208 mph.

In a long-distance race, though, the Tesla would lose, hands down. The Ferrari's faster, and its 27.7-gallon fuel tank will carry it farther than the 245 miles (under best conditions) that the Tesla can travel before needing a full recharge.

And then there's the price tag. The 2010 Ferrari 599 GTO was $460,000, and the 2011 model costs close to $400,000. The Tesla Roadster Sport is cheap in comparison, for those with a big bank balance and the need for speed, at $129,000.

But here's the environmental kicker: The Tesla is emissions-free, while the Ferrari produces 411.0 grams per kilometer in carbon dioxide emissions. (I'm not talking about carbon footprints for creating electricity versus the refining of oil for gasoline, I'm just looking emissions while driving.)

My point in the addressing the above is that you can always spend a lot of money on a cool, fast car. But it doesn't have to gobble gas to fulfill your need for speed.or coolness. (Tesla Roadsters are becoming cult status items both within Hollywood and further afield.) And Tesla's making a major jump from niche e-vehicle into the mainstream, with Toyota and Daimler, who both now hold shares in Tesla, buying batteries and control technology from the California company for their own electric vehicle lines.

And the electric utilities aren't sitting around, waiting for the storm. As but one example of many, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), expecting an influx of electric vehicles within its coverage area, this summer had its proposed residential time-of-use rates for plug-in electric vehicle charging (for a 1,000-vehicle pilot project) approved by the California Public Utilities Commission.

It's an interesting project, and I heard more about it earlier this month in San Jose at the Smart Grid International conference. SDG&E has been tasked by California regulators "to enable and facilitate the rapid growth of electric transportation while ensuring the safe, reliable and efficient integration with the grid." Creating an excellent customer experience and building consumer confidence is a large part of that role, as well.

The pilot is trying to answer three specific questions:

1) Will greater time-of-use price variations drive more charging activity to off-peak periods?
2) Will enabling technology help drive charging activity to off peak? Why? (Convenience? Monetary savings?)
3) Will daily travel needs trump the impact of time-of-use pricing? And does lifestyle make time-of-use pricing irrelevant?

There is one caveat to the study, which is scheduled to start in January 2011: SDG&E is looking for 1,000 participants within its service area. As of this month, there are 30 electric vehicle owners in the San Diego area who are already on time-of-use pricing, and all but one of them is on a whole-house time-of-use rate (the remaining EV owner installed a second meter in order to obtain SDG&E's electric vehicle rate). Others have signed up for the pilot, but the utility is looking for more participants.

And in Spokane, Washington, Avista Utilities has anted up three electric vehicle charging stations throughout city. One is, appropriately, at Avista headquarters, the second is at City Hall, and the third sits outside the famous Steam Plant Grill (which, in its previous incarnation, was Spokane's steam plant, constructed to produce steam heat and electrical power for downtown Spokane in 1915 . but that's another story, as well).

At the moment, the respective property owners pay the electric bill for vehicles charging there. We were at the Steam Plant Grill for dinner last week, where we discovered the charging station pictured above, tucked in near the restaurant's front door. I felt as though I was truly glimpsing the future ... and I felt a little bit guilty for stopping to take a photo, and then driving off in our gas-powered Suzuki.

Where do you think we're headed with EVs? Let's talk about it. I'm particularly interested in hearing about other utility projects, as well as your opinions about gas vs. EV, and all the changes it's bound to bring. (And if you want to talk about Lotuses and pedal-to-the-metal, I'm ready to take on all comers.)

Kate Rowland
Intelligent Utility magazine

Twitter: @katerowland2
Khun Yodrak
2013 SL

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