1,000 Miles w an EV: Better than anticipated!
Six weeks ago, I managed to convince my wife that we should get an Electric Vehicle (our only car), while not having a driveway or reliable way to charge it. As you can probably tell from my earlier posts, I was pretty nervous about how (or if!) this was going to work. But here we are…1,000 miles in and I can confidently say…HELL YA! No regrets, no need to go back. We are living the future!
Since I started blogging about electrifying my transportation, I have — surprisingly — been able to fully charge my car’s battery at “home” (eg with a 50 ft extension cord dangling out the second story window to street parking!) multiple times. Now, while this has added about an extra 200 kWh to my electricity consumption, it has also been surprisingly easy from the logistics perspective (e.g. where, what account do I need, do I have time to leave it there…). I have even had a couple of conversations with neighbors to negotiate which street parking spot I can have…and one visit from the fire department (who said there was nothing wrong with what I was doing but that they had to come because a neighbor called it in!).
My electrical bill is on a mid-month cycle, but as you can see from the screenshot, even at the SAME TIME I got a solar+battery installation (Dec bill cycle), adding an electric vehicle (without dedicated charging) has still meant extra electricity usage the last two months. Even looking at it in the year-over-year perspective, I have added ~170 kWh from a year ago (on par with the 200+ kWh I have charged from the house, even with solar).
Much of the cost of electricity in the US comes down to the intricate tariffs that your utility controls along with a dizzying array of fixed charges, and unfortunately there is no generalizing across much of anything. For example, currently, I find myself on a tiered rate structure (PG&E E-1). Electricity costs the same no matter what the time of day, but as I use more in the month, the cost per unit goes up in a tiered fashion. This makes the EV a challenge, as it bumps me to a higher cost tier by using it. From November to December, as I increased the amount of my electricity usage by 58%, the cost went up even faster (73%).
But dang, this bill is complicated! I had to dig deeper to see what is really going on. I assumed I was paying about $0.20/kWh for electricity, based on what PG&E reports. And if I just look at what PG&E says, that is pretty close. However, I live in a CCA area (Community Choice Aggregation). This means that the generation of my electricity is controlled by a local nonprofit (CCA), but we still have to pay PG&E for the transmission and distribution costs of the service (about 2/3+ of the total). The CCA is able to source cleaner electricity at lower costs, but PG&E still eats up the majority of the cost. The bill consists of the PG&E portion, which has a discount for the generation portion, and a bunch of fixed fees, and then the generation portion from the CCA. In the case of my mid-January bill, PG&E charges $110 of the $144 total for 530 kWh electricity (eg $44 went to the generation of the electricity).
The key deceiving part of the PG&E interface, though, is that it pretends it is the only thing that exists. So when I went through and calculated my cost per kWh, it was right about $0.20/kwh, where I thought it should be. But when I factor back in the cost of generation, it is actually all the way up to $0.30/kwh! As you can imagine, a 50% jump in what I am calculating as my cost per unit for charging the car is pretty crushing. It throws all my stats off on the post where I have been tracking over 200 kWh of charging.
In synthesis, I am averaging about 10 miles/dollar of charging. And, while my records aren’t complete, I am fairly confident in the cost of about 900 miles of driving being ~$75. And at the car’s reported 4.1 miles/kWh and my home-plug charging of $0.30/kWh, that holds up pretty close (there was one paid charging in there I don’t have details on). This comes out to 13.7 miles/dollar….so now the challenge of converting to some fossil-based car equivalent. If we assume $3.25/gallon of gas prevalent locally, then that is over 45 mpg (about 70% higher than the average fuel economy of a US vehicle!). And even if we use the national average of gas prices, the car’s mgp would still be over 30 mpg, which I still beat the national average!
So, in redux, I am having fun, feeling good, and saving money, despite all the complexities! Get an EV, embrace the future! You may just enjoy doing it :). And if you have questions, please leave a comment or question!