Featured Post

This is the Kodak Moment for the Auto Industry

Plug-In Drivers Not Missin' the Piston Electric vehicles are here to stay. Their market acceptance is currently small but growing...

Saturday, November 25, 2023

EVs for EVeryone :: Making EVs Affordable

Electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain and cheaper to "fuel" than internal combustion vehicles. From an economic perspective, the initial vehicle price is the only thing holding many consumers back from purchasing an EV. The good news is that EV prices are decreasing; albeit slower than we'd like.

Charging At Home Is Convenient (and affordable)

EV ownership is much easier if you own a home and have a garage. You install a residential EV charging station in your garage and you charge overnight (when rates are often at their lowest). Then you start out each morning with a full charge.

Depending on where you live, the cost per mile driven can be about the same as gasoline priced at $1 per gallon.

Charging away from home is often more expensive; workplace and hotel guest charging, however, is often free.

Borrow Instead of Buy

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that has an EV car-share program like "CRuSE" (Clean Rural Shared EV), you can borrow an EV for just $2 per hour. 


When you are buying, tax incentives certainly help ease that upfront cost. And now that this modern era of EVs is entering its teen years, there's a healthy and growing used EV market. 

Prices Are Dropping

However, the incentives will not be required for much longer. Battery technology keeps advancing, bringing longer ranges, faster recharge times, and (most importantly) lower prices. Later this decade, EVs will have a lower starting price than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Then with the additional lower running costs, it will be a no-brainer.

Multiple battery factories are being built today. Batteries are by far the single highest cost of EVs today. As these factories come online in 2024, battery prices will drop and EV prices will follow.

Falling prices of critical minerals will lead to a 40% drop in the cost of batteries for electric vehicles by 2025, with big implications for the pace of global EV adoption, says Goldman Sachs Research.

Consider A Used EV

If you're looking for an affordable EV today, a used one is your best bet. We recently purchased a 2016 Chevy Spark EV. It only has about 60 miles of range, but it is our runabout vehicle. The range is perfect for errands. It starts out every morning fully charged, ready for the day. 

Once You Get Here, It's Fun!

EVs are fun to drive, smooth, quiet, and peppy. When the performance, range, and size fit your needs, it's magical.


Sunday, November 5, 2023

Tesla Powerwalls and PGE VPP Rule Changes

PGE has announced a major change to their Virtual Power Plant (VPP) program called SmartBattery. 

With the old program, participating homeowners (with home batteries such as our Tesla Powerwalls) were paid $20 per month for signing up to the VPP, making our batteries available to the utility. Each time there was an event, you could opt out if you liked. If you didn't opt out, then during an event PGE would pull energy out at a max power rate of 3kW. The events were generally 3 or 4 hours and limited to a total of 9kWh of energy per participant. The events happened throughout the year with August generally the most active month.

This was a nice system because the payment rate was consistent, but that's not how the new program works. Rather than just paying for availability, the new method pays you for actual participation by the kWh. You can see the payment rate below is $1.70 per kWh.  

Electricity around here is generally rather cheap (around 11 cents per kWh), so getting paid $1.70 per kWh is quite a premium. 

The new program also has new controls that allow you to specify how much of your battery charge you allow to participate in the event. You can see below that there are options of 30%, 50%, or 80%. 

The more of your battery that's used, the more kWh you provide to the grid, the more you get paid. I think this is a better structure than paying $20 per month, even if you opt-out each time. 

Comparing Plans

How do these two compare? From a financial perspective, the first one is easy to calculate: $20 per month for 12 months is $240 per year. 

The new program is not as easy to calculate. In 2022 there were 15 events. We contributed 9kWh to each. Applying the new rules, that would be $229.50 ($1.70 * 9 kWh * 15 events). That's a little less than the $240 from the old program; however, in the new program, I have opted for the maximum participation tier. So now I could contribute up to 32kWh per event. Meaning it's possible that my batteries could earn $600 per year. 

If you're in the Portland General Electric service area and you have residential batteries, check out the SmartBattery program if you want to help keep the peaker plants turned off and you want to earn a few dollars.

If you'd like to read more, you can learn about Powerwalls here.

If you want to buy your own Powerwalls, you can use my referral link for any referral bonuses that Tesla may be offering. Disclosure: I'm long TSLA.