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California approves $768M for electric vehicles (sfchronicle.com)
286 points by prostoalex 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 246 comments



we have an overabundance of "green" energy here in California, yet energy prices are through the roof, we are looking at potential, rolling blackouts this summer, and we have to sell excess power to other states each month. why? well none of that green energy is connected to the public grid. with the wealth of energy, consumer prices should be zero. only that's not the goal of energy companies as they're all profit driven companies. meanwhile the CPUC is a corrupt as they come and haven't done anything to lighten the consumer's burden. that Clean PowerSF program? not voluntary in the sense you can opt out of it. you can choose how much more money you will be charged each month with that money going to produce clean energy. see the problem? they want us to pay for energy we can't even use and are hiding behind this clean energy program. as usual the consumer is getting hosed.


> we have an overabundance of "green" energy here in California, yet energy prices are through the roof, we are looking at potential, rolling blackouts this summer, and we have to sell excess power to other states each month. why?

You're absolutely right.

Here in Marin county, you can opt in to using renewable energy, which my wife and I have. The public renewable utility rate is significantly cheaper than the standard PG&E rate. However, I am forced to pay more than the actual cost that the public renewable utility charges, because -- due to California state law -- my electric bill comes from PG&E, who -- despite not making the electricity -- has responsibility to charge the consumer. Of course, PG&E charges a 'convenience and distribution' fee that eradicates the difference in pricing between the renewable resource and their own electricity. Note that, if I opt in to using PG&E generated electricity, they kindly 'waive' the fee. Thus, despite the renewables being cheaper, I do not get the benefit as the consumer.

I have contacted my state senator and representative, and they sent me back a form e-mail about how they are 'standing' up to PG&E. Give me a break.... this is something that is easily legislated.


> PG&E, who -- despite not making the electricity -- has responsibility to charge the consumer. Of course, PG&E charges a 'convenience and distribution' fee

I understand your frustration that the amount of the fee cancels out the cheaper cost of renewables in your case, but providing local distribution has a cost (maintenance of poles, wires, etc) over and above the actual energy generation cost, so there will always be a fee for this, unless you figure out a way to get the renewables to your house without the local distributor (and assuming that you don't put solar/batteries on your house).

Also, there is a cost (for storage, load dispatching, frequency regulation, etc) to turning the variability of renewables into the steady stream of available power that consumers expect.

Again, it's possible even including the cost of all of these necessary services, the renewables should still be cheaper than the non-renewables, but it's never going to be zero.


This all makes sense, but why then is the "standard" (coal-fired?) electricity the same price as the "renewable" electricity? Why does the utility "waive" the distribution fee?

In fact, passing it on to the consumer as an option doesn't make any sense to me. The utility negotiates bulk price and averages it out for consumers. If anything the conversation with the utility should be entirely about matching behavior to supply and/or dynamic pricing, and not at all about renewable vs non-renewable voltage.


Mostly because of the historical way the business model worked - the portion of your bill that varies based on energy usage is all out of proportion to the portion of the cost to the energy company that comes from varies based on energy usage. Basically, the electric companies' business model is like the cell phone companies' - build infrastructure, charge by usage - which means that low-cost energy sources, especially out of PG&E's control, are disastrous for their business model. It's a serious problem I've heard a lot of talk about in renewable energy policy circles, and the generally accepted idea of a functional market structure in this new world is to have a grid company, which charges only that distribution fee, and a generation company, which charges you for the cost of generation.

But we're not there yet, so PG&E needs to find ways to not lose money on the grid hookup for customers who buy cheap forms of energy (or are, godforbid, energy-neutral with relation to the grid).


Grid companies are tricky because there’s no market there. It is almost the textbook definition of a natural monopoly.

You’re either hooked up or you’re not. Or you run multiple “grids” somehow which seems more economically wasteful and is legislatively tricky in terms of rights (to run lines, overhead or underfoot).

It seems like the cost of maintaining poles and transformers goes up a lot every year...

How to keep them honest?

It seems like you would have to regulate to the point of ($pure distribution company) being essentially a government enterprise in all but name.


Yes. I mean, for those reasons, PG&E is already a highly-regulated natural monopoly; they just happen to bundle in the more normal generation market with the naturally-monopolist grid market. (Which is part of what makes their lobbying work so problematic, since they're so regulated that they're almost a government branch themselves.)

Splitting the company into a 1) a government or quasi-government enterprise to handle the parts not suitable to the market, and 2) a much-less-regulated company handling the more market-amenable activities, could give the system as a whole a lot more of the efficiencies of a market system.


And if you don't do it right things can get all screwed up in a hurry. California tried to do this with some really bad rules (power companies must by power in an unregulated spot market but sell into a regulated market for some number of years) in 2000 and ended up with the bankruptcy of PG&E, rolling blackouts, $40 billion lost by the state of California due to manipulated inflated prices, and the only successful recall of a California Governor in history. [1] for the gory details.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_electricity_crisis


Yeah, designing a market is hard and needs professional economists involved, not just politicians riddled with conflicts of interest and taking all their information from lobbyists.


I think the post I answered was referring to PGE's Solar Choice program, which I agree is not a good deal for a consumer.

But it's marketed specifically as a program where you pay a premium to fund the greening of the grid [1][2]. It actually states that you will pay a premium for this plan.

1. https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/solar-and-vehicles/opt...

2. https://www.sfgate.com/business/article/PG-E-s-eco-friendly-...


I am not referring to PGE's solar choice program. Marin county runs its own green energy, independent of PG&E. PG&E owns the wires. I get it costs money to run the wires. However, it is wrong to waive the fee for those using PG&E services. It's anti-competitive and bad for the state.


[flagged]


No, but I did work for a bit on simulating renewable energy integration into the grid. That's where I learned about things like storage, load dispatching, frequency regulation, and local power distribution.


People like you commenting in threads like this are the reason I keep coming back to HN. Thanks for your insights.


This crosses into personal attack and also breaks the site rule against insinuating astroturfing without evidence.

Could you please (re-)read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and not do this again?


Sorry. Won't happen again.


Appreciated!


That's because solar usage has created a "duck curve" I would imagine it would be even more unfair to make normal energy users pay for that: https://youtu.be/YYLzss58CLs


And the use of air conditioning is what causes the annual peak (which is what the transmission and distribution systems are built to serve). Is it unfair for people who don't have air conditioning (or live in more temperate areas) to pay a premium so that others can have air conditioning?

This is why California is moving to Time of Use rates (TOU) in late 2019/2020 (depending how they push off the date due to IT challenges).


Nope, you can smooth that out by moving power east to west. 1000 miles is ~two time zones and has minimal transmission costs. Get their solar in the morning and give them some solar in the evening and you can kill off one bump at each end. Continental US is 4 time zones wide so you only have a morning bump on the east coast and an evening bump on the west coast to deal with. Extra cheap wind capacity in the middle of the US can provide power for either bump.

It's really more about corruption than anything else. PG&E still charges vastly increased rates in California despite huge drops in wind and solar prices.


>Nope, you can smooth that out by moving power east to west. 1000 miles is ~two time zones and has minimal transmission costs.

That is probably a bit more complex and a bit harder than you are implying. Attempts to interconnect the main grids are large projects that take many years to do. The Tres Amigas SuperStation is an attempt to unite the Eastern Interconnection, Western Interconnection) and the Texas Interconnection). First announced in 2008. It will carry 5 GW of power which seems like a lot until you consider that the US uses about 4,000 terawatt hours per year,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tres_Amigas_SuperStation

>...It's really more about corruption than anything else. PG&E still charges vastly increased rates in California despite huge drops in wind and solar prices.

PG&E gets maybe 10% of their power from solar, Much of that power they have to pay the RETAIL rate for since rooftop solar is heavily subsidized - of course it is going to have to increase what it charges other people.


There's really nothing special there. Grid operators balance generation and demand, and need to continually update their models. E.g., generate less during midday and more in the late afternoon. It's a hard job sure. That's why we hire experts to do it.

The problem is that utilities want it both ways. They want to charge you peak usage despite the fact that "peak" generation is actually becoming one of the cheapest times for power.

If they allowed free-market pricing in that power they could easily find a use for "curtailment" -- people would crank their ACs or charge their cars if the price kWh dropped below a certain point.


Here in CA, you have three components to your bill: generation, transmission, and distribution. Adjusted for inflation, generation costs are going down (where true competition exists), while the transmission and distribution costs are going up.

More information: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshuarhodes/2018/04/30/no-wind...


I have an acquaintance that works a PG&E, and he said something to the effect that the infrastructure cost for the electric grid is what actually costs money, and the actual generation cost is relatively negligible.

The customer cost structure although is inverted based on generation, and not on grid fees. He also talked about how the CA govt uses them as a subsidy funding source and that can create a state where PG&E is close to insolvency sometimes.

He also talked about the utility death spiral: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/this-is-what-th...


> The customer cost structure although is inverted based on generation, and not on grid fees. He also talked about how the CA govt uses them as a subsidy funding source and that can create a state where PG&E is close to insolvency sometimes.

PG&E has expended large sums on lobbying, particularly against expansion of public power companies into areas PG&E currently serves.

Presumably your friend would explain this has PG&E charitably protecting it's opportunity to lose money, but I think that doesn't quite reflect the reality.


Precisely the opposite. The issue is that this distorted cost structure really doesn't work in a market where there's cost competition on the generation side and customers are being exposed to that competition, as PG&E's cost doesn't go down by nearly as much as customer's bills when cheaper energy sources are used.

Their distortion of public policy through lobbying is a bad thing, but their incentives are actually pretty understandable given the wacko market structure.


> The issue is that this distorted cost structure really doesn't work in a market where there's cost competition on the generation side and customers are being exposed to that competition, as PG&E's cost doesn't go down by nearly as much as customer's bills when cheaper energy sources are used.

That doesn't explain why, if the market is regulated in such a way that PG&E is losing money serving customers to the point of near insolvency, they spend large amounts of money fighting the transfer of those money-losing customers to expansion of municipal utilities.


So far as I can tell from quick reading, PG&E's lobbying is focused on:

1. Pushing liability for disasters (natural and artificial) from the company onto customers and taxpayers.

2. Getting regulators to allow them to lower the safety margins on their infrastructure (a major cause behind the San Bruno explosion).

3. Fighting Community Choice Aggregation programs, which sound most similar to what you describe.

CCA programs are not as you described - they would not remove PG&E from the electricity market in cities. Rather, they allow cities to generate or purchase their own electricity and deliver it over PG&E grids. As I described, this takes away PG&E's major revenue stream (per-kWh rates) while leaving them with their fixed cost (grid maintenance).


> Fighting Community Choice Aggregation programs, which sound most similar to what you describe.

No, I'm taking about campaign spending (lobbying was imprecise) against things like the recent move to expand SMUD service area into West Sacramento. (Not the only recent proposed public utility expansionart they've opposed, but the one I'm most familiar with.)


Well yeah. As long as they can fight off these changes that fuck up their business model, they're still profitable.


Utilities will have to come to the realization that they will transition into small scale ISO/grid operator roles vs monopolies that get a guaranteed return on generation and transmission.


In theory, if you can pair generation and consumption more locally (such as a solar roof powering the car sitting under it), transmission costs can drop as well.

In the small scale, producing infrastructure that can bill your meter going both ways only increases the cost.

But in the large scale, not having to build and maintain more high-power distribution towers across hundreds of miles of difficult to access terrain decreases cost.


I'm a layman, but renewables only seem to me to make that worse, not better.

You can't plop down a coal plant in a city, but you still have some freedom to choose its location, and you can scale it to the needs of the local area and just burn as much as you need. Meanwhile, solar and wind might go way down for a whole day or more, and so you need to ship energy from where it's being generated.


Renewables do make for more intermittent supplies of power. However EVs have the potential to smooth that out. Charging speeds across a city can float somewhat with available power and most consumers will not care or even notice.

At some point those cars can actually be part of the grid's storage capacity, if the infrastructure is built to allow the car to put some of it's capacity back onto the grid during low availability. EV drivers willing to have 20% of their battery be drained when they need to drive can get paid a small amount for leaving their vehicle plugged in while not in use.


* generation, transmission, and distribution*

For those of us not in this space, what's the difference between transmission and distribution?


Generalizing/simplifying: Transmission is long distance - high voltage, think steel towers with wires.

Distribution is from a local transformer (substation) where high voltage gets turned to lower voltage (12 kV) and then sent via utility poles to your home. Near your home there will be a utility pole with a transformer that brings the voltage down to 110. You share that transformer with a handful of neighbors.


Your answer is good. To add to it, the large "transmission" grid usually covers extremely high voltage lines: 115 kV, 138kV, 230kV, 345kV, 500kV, 765kV and up. It is managed by both utilities and RTO/ISO organizations that manage large sections like air-traffic controllers. Distribution is typically below ~100kV and is really more in the 11kV range and managed by the utilities almost exclusively. Building new transmission lines can be ~$1 billion projects.


With all due respect, but it seems apparent that you are not familiar with how electric distribution utilities work, especially in a deregulated state like California, how CAISO and its market mechanisms work, or how CPUC works.

If you are a reader that is not well-versed in how the grid works, please disregard the parent's comment.

I work in this space. I view this noisemaking as harmful to the public as they likely do not fully understand how the electricity delivery system (the grid) works, and this only serves to infuriate them and increase distrust.


With no actual details to back up your rather rude accusations against the GP, I'm not sure how useful this mini-rant really is... Care to lay some education on us instead of just hand-waving in a smarter-than-you manner?


To be honest, the GP's post itself reads like a rant and actually does not back up any of its claims. So while I agree that this post did not add value, neither did the GP.

Funny thing with utilities. They are a sort of commons, yet always regarded as evil until proven innocent.


Most utilities are effectively monopolies. Evil comes with the territory.


And yet, how many utility poles and wires do you want in front of your house? I don't think we really want anything other than a monopoly doing our distribution.

It would be much better for the perception if there were a clean split in the business of the utilities where the distribution monopoly does just distribution and nothing else. But I'm not sure if that would actually solve any real problems.


They're regulated no?

I'm a bit confuse here. I thought utilities are regulated what is the reasoning for them being evil?

Yeah they're natural monopolies but they also regulated. I get that Enron mess California over but they got caught. What shady things that the electric companies in California are doing?


The post above yours is actually correct. I didn't read it as rude either although maybe a little dismissive. If you work in this space, you quickly realize just how complex everything is as the electric grid is the largest most complex machine on planet earth. The legal, economic, regulatory, and engineering aspects of it go pretty deep.

Utilities typically own generation plants as well as the high voltage transmission lines that transport electricity to consumers which then have their voltage lowered (think of a transformer as a device that lowers pressure) before going over smaller distribution lines into your house. Long ago, competition was fierce, so utilities went to the government and asked to be regulated. This caused forced consolidation and they began to effectively serve as monopolies and make a modest return on investment each year. In those days demand was fairly easy to forecast. The utility would make sure they always had enough generation online plus some extra to cover any emergencies like a unit tripping offline. The grid worked like this for decades and costs were fairly cheap. If the utility needed to build a new nuclear plant (example) they would have to go to the state commission and get them to approve raising the rates. Now, although rates were fairly cheap, there was a push to deregulate things. In theory, markets are less efficient in some ways, but more in others such as incentivizing new and more efficient technology. Remember the regulated utility doesn't make any more money by doing research and risking new technology.

With deregulation, we moved to the RTO/ISO model where lots of utilities band together and work with an RTO/ISO. The RTO/ISO chooses which units run via optimization. It wants to find a way to serve all the customers in the region, plus provide backup power, and do it very cheaply. Remember how the utility has to keep extra units online in case one trips? By banding together into what is known as a "pool" you can save lots of money as far fewer units need to be online as backup. The RTO/ISO does this as well. It also knows the cost of each unit and chooses the cheapest ones. This is slowly forcing more costly fossil fuels to retire as they simply aren't as economical. This causes an issue as even though wind/solar is awesome, it isn't as reliable as a massive coal plant with months of fuel waiting to be used. Making sure there are no blackouts is VERY important to grid operators. The industry is scrambling to address these issues as fast as possible, but it is a tough issue. Deregulation is a weird word as utilities are still regulated, but there are now market forces coupled into it as well helping push progress forwards. I hope that helps a bit!


I used to aim people at "PJM 101"[1], which is PJM's tutorial on how the power grid really works. But they put it behind a login for a while. I asked them why. Now, it's out from behind the login.

But now it's in Adobe Captivate, which is apparently what Adobe has convinced some former Flash users to use. Doesn't work in Firefox and tries to get me to install Chrome. Useful info, though. Explains clearly what a power grid does every day.

[1] http://pjm.com/Globals/Training/Courses/ol-pjm-101.aspx


I'm no electrical engineer, or Californian, but are you describing a situation like:

Old System- Centrilised generation distributed over a wide network.

New System - Decentralised Generation, distributed over a wide network.

Without knowing any specifics, wouldn't this increase the expected traffic through the network from something like O(N) to no. consumers to something like O(N^2)? With an associated increase in required infrastructure and maintenance costs? Could be quite expensive.


Electricity prices are fucky all over the place and the general theme is there's more profit to be made in export rather than domestic consumption, which can result in ridiculous economies where energy is being exported at top dollar and imported at bottom dollar.

The math is supposed to work out but, like you said, basically the overabundance of "green" energy doesn't do anything for domestic energy markets. It is implicitly earmarked for export consumption rather than domestic consumption. Energy managers get to reap the benefits twice, with both domestic and export prices remaining high rather than domestic prices continuously falling as supply comes online.

The same song gets played out all over, throw carbon credits into the mix and things can get pretty silly pretty quickly.


I think that we we get for thinking Potemkin markets for electricity will magically solve problems instead of just create more ones. So instead of having issues due to political considerations you also have private players gaming the system.


Here's a great article that talks in depth about this issue. The key point seems to be that CPUC approved a lot more natural gas power plants than required and have to let the Utility companies operate them.

http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-fi-electricity-solar/


can you provide a citation on the potential rolling blackouts this summer?


Anecdotally, I have never faced a rolling blackout in 10 years of living here. And we generate excess energy, so would be surprised if this happens.


I don’t think they’ve happened since Enron was manipulating the market, right?


Correct. Gov Davis made a series of expensive moves which rendered the manipulations ineffective. Enron was caught overextended in the wrong direction when the market shifted which directly lead to the end of Enron.


> Anecdotally, I have never faced a rolling blackout in 10 years of living here.

There hasn't been a Stage 3 emergency (with potential rolling blackouts) since 2001, and nothing worse than Stage 1 (and only two of those) since 2007.


[flagged]


When did users on this forum get so lazy they can't provide a citation when making potentially bogus claims? The burden of proof should always be on the person making a claim, not the person reading it.


Rolling blackouts in the summer in California have been in the news perennially.


Yeah, isolated blackouts from a transformer explosion maybe, but not the demand-based blackouts from 2000-2001.

In fact, California is now a model for other western states on how to fix your energy grid:

https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/08/scorc...


Only if they've changed the definition of the word "perennially".


Doing a simple search only shows bogus data; rather than directly calling out the poster it's a bit more polite to ask them how they came to make that statement.


Here's the report from the FERC: https://www.ferc.gov/market-oversight/reports-analyses/mkt-v...

relevant parts: “In Southern California, lower-than-average hydro generation may create challenges as natural gas-fired generation, the replacement for hydro production shortfalls in past years, may be limited due to reduced gas storage capacity and local pipeline outages in the region."

"Limited operations at Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility, plus state rule changes reducing the rate at which natural gas may be injected and withdrawn from storage, may complicate pipeline operations."

the sky isn't falling.

(the Daily Caller is a right-wing rag - Ann Coulter is a columnist, for chrissakes)


Blackouts aren't mentioned once in that document. In fact, it looks likes someones slide notes in PDF form.


exactly, FERC is the horse's mouth that that alarmist was posting about. The down-votes are mystifying since I provided utterly relevant data and observation about the source of the controversy. Guess its as likely to be progressives with poor reading comprehension as coal-staters upset I rained on their propaganda.


> that Clean PowerSF program? not voluntary in the sense you can opt out of it.

It's opt-in-by-default for new accounts as they're rolling it out neighborhood by neighborhood, but you can still opt-out of it.


Just because there is a lot of green energy doesn't mean that everything is peachy. California also does a fair amount of importing as well during parts of the day with low solar. Also, just because you have solar doesn't mean everything is ok. The grid dispatcher in California (CAISO) has to make sure reliable power is available 24/7 for consumers and industry. This can be very challenging due to solar which is behind the meter (makes it difficult to forecast load) and can disappear quickly leaving you in a lurch. Vox has a pretty good video on YouTube on the infamous "duck curve" that you should watch. Essentially, you have a ton of behind the meter solar during the midday that suddenly disappears during the end of the day. It is difficult to forecast for this. You have to have other non-renewable baseload (gas, nuclear, coal, or maybe renewable like hydro)online to take the place of solar when it goes away....you're essentially paying for reliability in that case. Battery storage would work too in place of fossil fuels, but you would need a LOT of it, and we're not quite there.

The economic dispatch that CAISO runs optimizes for the cheapest dispatch to meet load and reserves like the other north American grid operators like ERCOT, PJM...etc. That is essentially the market driving things along with CPUC decisions. If you're unhappy with how California is treating renewables know that California is on the bleeding edge in this area where more has changed in the past 10 years than the previous 80.


PG&E and the other utilities largely ignored a lot of grid maintenance prior to ~2000. As a result, not much was spent on maintenance and prices were pretty stable. The past ~20 years, stuff started breaking and they have had to put a lot more money into maintaining the grid. This cost gets pushed onto customers in the form of higher rates. Plus, energy demand has largely flattened, so the maintenance costs cannot be offset by selling more power.


Electric cars should solve the "flattening demand" problem, but that will require expanding the grid to cover a lot more parking lots, particularly for apartment/condo residents.


> we have an overabundance of "green" energy here in California, yet energy prices are through the roof

I find Slicon Valley Power's prices to be reasonable. But they only serve a very tiny fraction of the population (Santa Clara, basically).If they can do it, it means the problem lies elsewhere.


They are the best power company. Very reliable, cheap, and you can opt to pay more for green power. They are owned by the city of Santa Clara.


California is like a third world country. I used to work in Santa Monica in this beautiful extremely expensive office complex and yet we would have power outages on a regular basis. It is funny in a way, because it is so sad, that this supposed "high tech center" can't even manage to keep the electricity on or pave the roads.


The great thing about the consistently increasing price of natural gas generated electricity is that it makes the off grid green energy alternatives that much more attractive.

Your best bet will eventually be to just go off grid by installing solar on your roof and use it all up during the day by either using it (laundry, dishwashing in the morning, heat/cool the house to the ideal temperature in the late afternoon before you get home - i.e. thermal battery) or storing it.


> The programs unanimously approved Thursday by the California Public Utilities Commission focus on creating the infrastructure to support charging stations particularly for electric trucks and buses, in contrast to previous expenditures, which have focused more on cars.

Interesting that they're focusing on these high-utilization vehicles, you'd have thought that a percentage of bus transport and a percentage of freight or delivery transport would already fit the right profile for electric vehicles. For instance UPS or DHL must have some routes which have a lot of deliveries in a small area, in the centre of towns or cities, which are stop start for deliveries and for traffic. Using electric vehicles under those circumstances seems like an open goal.


They do. But why would they pay for charging stations when they can get the tax payer to cover it for them and keep all the profits to themselves?


I was looking recently at a report about the costs of running electric buses, and it seems to be on the edge of profitable at the moment, which is why private investment isn't piling in.

It does seem like the right place to make a public investment, though, that will be one of the first areas where electric vehicles will be the hard-nosed cheapest option.

Especially given the money will presumably go in part to public institutions like schools, which can potentially reduce bills, certainly in the long-run.


Even if the buses are not strictly profitable, buses are usually diesel powered and probably contribute quite a bit to smog-forming emissions. So electric buses have the benefit of removing (or relocating) those emissions, which is a public benefit.


why is relocating smog and all of the industrial waste associated with the production of a new bus and bus batteries a "public benefit"? Diesel engines last a long time, as do bus bodies, I don't have first hand experience managing a fleet but I'd be very interested to know how the pollution stacks up--is generating, transmitting, distributing, and storing the power, with all the losses incurred, along side making the batteries, which I assume wouldn't last that long in a fleet vehicle, really that much better than just burning diesel?

I need to see a spreadsheet or something.


California doesn’t get much if it’s energy from coal anyways, utility generation is fairly clean. Not as clean as Washington, which has a lot more hydro, but close.


I drive a EV with a range > 200 miles. Utility-customer funded chargers strike me as a solution tomorrow for a problem of yesterday -- limited EV range.


I don't know what this means. I have an EV also and the biggest barrier to EV adoption is charging infrastructure. I have a charger at home, but realize that many more people live in apartments and condos that require that infrastructure. Further, there are days when I forget to charge, and would really benefit from a quick 40-50 mile charging at a public location. Charging infrastructure is definitely a necessity.


Pardon the pun, but I agree the current lack of charging infrastructure is an "inconvenient truth" for many EV owners (or would-be owners). For those of us that live in apartments/condos/townhouses where residents don't have a dedicated garage, figuring out the charging is the hardest part. From personal experience: some newer apartments have charging stations installed, but there's typically only ~3 of them in a building of 200-300+ residents, so if >3 people buy an EV, they have to play charging musical chairs. For condos and townhouses, there's the trouble of figuring out how to install a 220V outlet and run a charging cable to your car in a way that people won't trip over it. While charging at other locations can be an option, it's also pretty annoying to have to wait around a grocery store or parking lot (or some other random location) for at least 2-3hrs for your car to charge. It sucks because I want an EV, but without having a convenient spot to charge it, it feels like running around with an iPhone5 when they first came out desperately looking for a lightning cable.


What the parent thread suggests is that if you EV range continues to increase, access to convenient charging becomes less relevant.

I think the parallel here is to cell phones.

If you cell phone battery sucks, you're probably carrying around a portable charger, and a usb+wall charger.

However if your phone normally goes ~2 days without a charge then you can simply charge nightly at home without carrying a portable battery and/or cable + wall plug everywhere you go.


the range can be as high as it wants, if you're living in an apartment without access to a personal charger you need public infrastructure because at some point you'll need to charge your car somewhere.


And if your apartment doesn't have a washer and dryer, at some point you'll need clean clothes. My point is why should I subsidize your charger?


Because electric cars provide positive externalities for a city such as reduced pollution. Which is an especially big issue in densely populated cities.

Vehicle emissions contributes to as much as 50k premature deaths each year, tax dollars have been spent on worse things.

http://news.mit.edu/2013/study-air-pollution-causes-200000-e...


I understand and agree with these facts. And as a society we can choose to either increase the cost of the negative externality (like the vehicle emissions), or decrease the cost of the positive externality (emission-free vehicles). However, in this case, the "apartment" example is a transfer of wealth from people who have access to chargers (homes, apartments which chargers, workplaces with chargers) to people who don't have such access. Sure, HN has a San Francisco bias in its readership, but some places apartment owners compete for tenants. And to differentiate themselves, they'll add chargers.


It does not matter if your EV has 300 miles of range. Unless you want to be limited to a radius half of your max range. Otherwise, you need chargers wherever you need to go, as I assume you would like to do more than one way trips.

There are far too few chargers, specially outside the bay area (and even in the Bay, considering the number of cars already in the streets). EV will be more convenient than ICEs when you have both high range + charger availability.


I won't go somewhere with my EV unless I can get back without charging or there are 2 DC fast-chargers at different installation sites in the area I'm going. 2 chargers in the same parking lot are more likely to be 'down' for the same maintenance issue simultaneously. I still find DC fast-chargers are unreliable compared to gas pumps and there are far fewer of them. Though I will say the Evgo chargers at Whole-Foods/Amazon have been great.

About 1/3 of the time I'm doing this, I end up waiting in line for 20-45 minutes behind someone else anyway before I can start charging. I imagine this will only worsen if more infrastructure isn't built.

My wife and I have 2 vehicles, and only one is EV largely because of this issue. There are too many places I can't go with an EV without significant risk of being stranded. Stranded in this case may mean waiting 4 hours to charge up at the more common Level-2 chargers.


It's for this very reason that we've got a Model 3 arriving soon. It wasn't until I looked a bit more into the charging infrastructure that I realized that today's non-Tesla electric vehicles are effectively commuter/errand cars only. Without truly fast supercharging-style charge rates, you can't really take other electrics on a roadtrip.

Some people might consider 1-2 45min supercharging stops between SF and San Diego to be too much to tolerate, but wait until you tell them they've got to wait 3 or 4+ hours at a chargepoint station instead -- especially given that the charging infra isn't as tightly coupled to the in-car experience (maps, realtime charger info, etc).

I don't feel like I can trust random public chargers to exist and be available. Even at work, where we have 14 chargepoint chargers, they're all taken by 9am. I'm sure if I got plugged in (hah!) to the correct slack groups I'd be able to figure out when I can shuffle my car in, but realistically, you can only rely on home charging today.


I drove a Model X 75D down to San Diego and back before buying one. 1 - 2 45 minute supercharging stops is not even remotely the reality. Rated miles don't mean anything with the Grapevine and heavy traffic. Expect 5 stops if you want to get there with more than 20% battery.

1. Gustine (https://www.tesla.com/findus?v=2&search=North%20America&boun...)

2. Kettleman City (https://www.tesla.com/findus?v=2&search=North%20America&boun...)

3. Tejon Ranch (https://www.tesla.com/findus?v=2&search=North%20America&boun...)

4. Burbank (https://www.tesla.com/findus?v=2&search=North%20America&boun...)

5. Temecula (https://www.tesla.com/findus?v=2&search=North%20America&boun...)


I reviewed the Google location history for this and I was driving about 100 miles between stops, admittedly conservatively, but trying to stop with at least 20% battery. As a side note, I found that often Supercharging was not at the 200+ mi/hr rate if the station was heavily used (perhaps obviously). But, if you're planning on doing the trip end to end, expect it to take more than 30 minutes to get back the 100 miles to the next charger.


That is pretty conservative, which, of course, makes sense (especially when you're not used to the car; we have a destination charger available at a resort we often go to and it'll be a LONG time before I'm comfortable going somewhere and trusting that the ONE charger will work).

Of course, the model X is also sort of a worst case scenario because it's the least efficient car they sell.

IIRC my parents stopped 3x from Peninsula to San Diego (well, okay, north county) in their S 75d. But they didn't start with a full charge either, and on top of that, typical users only charge to 80-90% on a regular basis, and only cram it full for roadtrips. They could definitely make it in 2.

With a LR Model 3 you could definitely do the drive in 1 stop but it depends on the exact location; IIRC Atascadero is a little too close to SF and Buellton is a little too close to SD. On the other hand, with the proliferation of superchargers, the increasing number of options makes it a bit easier to YOLO it and then stop short even if it means a stop for a quick charge only 20-50mi from your destination.


I don't think you're being truthful here. EVs actually do better in stop and go traffic than driving flat out at 75 mph, because of the lack of wind resistance and the ability to do regenerative braking.

The Model X 75D has 237 miles range. At 504 miles total trip time, you should have had to make exactly 2 stops along the way. 5 would be completely unnecessary.


That first sentence crosses into personal incivility and so breaks the site guidelines. Please edit such swipes out of your comments here. They degrade discussion and provoke worse.

The rest of your comment is fine. If something doesn't add up or make sense, you can always express that without accusing someone of lying; for example, by asking a simple question.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


> EVs actually do better in stop and go traffic than driving flat out at 75 mph, because of the lack of wind resistance and the ability to do regenerative braking.

This may not be true for Teslas. Most EVs and hybrids will increase their regenerative braking when the brake pedal is pressed, and use mixed braking at slow speeds and hard stops. Teslas, however, maintain a constant rate of regeneration when not accelerating, and apply the mechanical brakes when the brake pedal is pressed, without increasing regeneration. Thus, Teslas waste most of their energy as heat when not driven in one-pedal mode.

My Camry Hybrid has a "CHG" section on the lower "tachometer", where the needle dips when I press the brake pedal. Braking carefully to a full stop from freeway speeds regenerates enough energy to maintain 35-40 mph for 10-15 miles. Often I can get above the estimated 40mpg (sometimes over 50mpg) in stop-and-go freeway traffic, rolling along on battery, only using the engine for a few seconds to occasionally sharply accelerate.

The Model 3's abysmal (and recently improved) stopping distance may have something to do with this. Many EV enthusiasts tout the reduced stopping distance benefit of mixed braking. However, Teslas do not currently perform this sort of mixed braking, so they miss out on this benefit. Could it be a software update away?


I rarely ever touch the brake pedal on my Tesla M3, except once the car has reached almost a complete stop.

Unless you're braking hard for an unexpected stop, one pedal driving can easily slow you from 75mph down to almost 0 on a freeway off ramp (and recover that kinetic energy as charge).


I've driven a Tesla many times in stop-and-go: one-pedal is not hard to do nearly 100% of the time. No heat waste, and the energy graph shows lower than usual usage per mile.


How quickly do Teslas come to a stop from 60mph in one-pedal mode? Do you often use the brake pedal when coming to a full stop on the freeway?


"Being truthful"? Shall I send you my Google location history? The most bizarre accusation I've ever heard.

Also I'd be shocked if anyone got the rated miles but you're definitely not going to get the rated miles up the Grapevine.


What's the Grapevine? You're basically claiming your Tesla got half the rated mileage with no proof. I'm sure thousands of Tesla owners would dispute the accuracy of this claim.


The Grapevine is a mountainous area between Los Angeles and the central valley. Would imagine the elevation and turns could seriously affect battery life but not sure how much.

Makes me wonder if a solar panel hood/roof would help any.


You don't know the geography of the drive but you have very strong opinions on what actually happened. Classic Hacker News nowadays. Let me know when you own a Tesla and drive it down to 5% battery.


I own a Model 3 long range, and have put about 2500 miles on it so far. I've always gotten pretty close to the estimated range. Even on extreme hills like Shoreline Highway heading to Agate state park beach, I didn't notice anything excessive.

Remember, hills require more energy to climb, but you regain the energy on descent which is captured by regenerative braking. It's not 100%, but it's efficient enough that it doesn't make a significant difference. And, again, driving 20 mph through some switchback curves is a hell of a lot less wind resistance than driving 75mph on the freeway.

I still say you need some evidence to back up the claim that you got less than half the rated range on a Tesla. You better believe the media would be all over it if that were true.


The Grapevine is a mountain pass from the Central Valley to LA County, approximately 20 miles long, with rolling hills, that goes up to 4100 feet of elevation gain. (But note that common usage is to refer specifically to a 5 1/2 mile stretch that is the steepest.)

You're absolutely going to not get the rated battery life there.


Meh. Even in my turbocharged car, I get virtually the same mileage in the mountains going from sea level to over 8000 feet and back down vs what I get on a wide open freeway, and that's WITHOUT regen.

Obviously if you only go up but not down that's a different story, but mountainous driving is not nearly so hard on range if it's a net of 0.


Perhaps you could also explain what the "Grapevine" is?


> EVs actually do better in stop and go traffic than driving flat out at 75 mph

Is that necessarily true? The 75D has a curb weight of 5,140 pounds, which would require a fair amount of energy to get moving from a standing stop. While aerodynamic drag would certainly tax the powertrain to maintain 75 MPH (op didn’t specify anyway), one would expect the overall range at such speeds to be greater than in stop-and-go traffic. Or are regenerative brakes really that efficient at recapturing energy?


https://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/Find.do?action=sbs&id=39842&...

Looking up published mileage of say a Tesla X, Nissan Leaf, Chevy Bolt, and Toyota Prius, all but the X have better city mileage than highway mileage (but the X is 86 MPGe city vs 89 highway, so even then it's only 3% difference).

That's the neat thing about electrics and hybrids -- the "you get better highway mileage" intuition gets flipped by regenerative braking.


The DC fast-chargers are pretty good for me. I drive an 3y old Leaf with 85mi range, so I get an 80% charge in about 20 minutes though, which is hardly a big deal. It'll take me 5-10 to gas up as is, and usually the chargers are somewhere I can grab a coffee or whatnot while it's going.


Well, two things:

1. I assume you're probably only using 60 or maybe 70mi, tops, of that range -- so you're talking minimum charging 3-4x as often as you'd be filling up with a gas car. (yes, I recognize that you probably change at home most of the time; of course, the shorter the range the more likely it is that you'll need to charge 'on the road' rather than at home)

2. What do you mean by DC fast-charge? In researching ChargePoint (I just became a member), it looks like most stations are 220v and something like 20a; even the ones that have higher current feeds are typically split in half if 2 cars are using it. I agree, 20 minutes to charge is hardly an unreasonable amount of time, considering how rarely one should have to charge away from home. But on a roadtrip, again, 20mins every hour starts adding up really fast.

Generally, though, I think people should spend less time worrying about day-to-day charging time (as opposed to roadtrip charging time), because they ignore fuelling time of gas cars. Let's say you spend 5 minutes a week filling up your gas car. That's 4 1/3 hours per year filling up (assuming we ignore any special trips made to the gas station. Thankfully we live across the street from one, but it's still not unusual to hop in the car after dinner and spend 10min driving to get gas to prepare for a trip the next day just to have one less thing to do in the morning, for example). Vs with an electric car where your charging time is effectively 0 if you plug it in at home every night or once a week or whatever. Then, of course, on a roadtrip, the times are flipped; do a thousand miles and you might only spend 15-20mins fuelling a gas car but maybe 2h charging an electric (depending on charge rate, again.. this is more supercharger speed we're talking about).

My father (long since retired) actually loves the charging breaks with his Model S on roadtrips; 1-2x 45min stops along the way from San Diego to Phoenix, or San Diego to SF, for example. He likes relaxing, stretching, chatting with other owners, .. feels in less of a hurry to race to his destination, etc. I'm sure a lot of this is down to the novelty factor and justifying one's purchase, but I also get it-- it's just a different way of thinking.


NO, with an electric car your charging time is probably higher. The difference is every night you spend and extra minute connecting the cable, and in the morning a minute disconnecting it. This adds up quicker than you realize, but since it is part of your daily habit you don't think about it.

The 10 minutes I spend filling my fuel tank every other week (including time to get there, it is on my route home but I have to cross a stoplight I normally turn right at) is ultimately less time that you spend charging your electric car.

Of course I fill my tank as part of a different errand, not a fill the tank now to be ready for the morning. This does change the calculation somewhat. I also don't know exactly how long it takes you to plug in and unplug that cable, if you normally park such that you walk past the charging port, and you just toss the cable wherever when done this can be much quicker. If your car door is next to your house door, but have to walk to the other side of the car, and then as a neat freak you carefully coils the cable up it will be longer.


1 minute (or at least 30 seconds for each plug/unplug) is reasonable; you're right that it's certainly not 0.

But if you're filling every other week you either have a massive 25-35 gallon tank, or you don't drive much. And if you're not driving much, you're probably not charging much, either :)

If I had a Leaf or eGolf I'd probably want to charge every day regardless; with something with 200-300 miles range, it certainly wouldn't be a daily thing.


I get 45mpg, and I typically put 11-12 gallons in at fill. My commute to work is 23 miles each way, so a Leaf would have to be charged every day (newer Leafs would last longer).

If I got a 200-300 mile range I'd set the battery charge to max life and charge daily, which I understand is the way to have the battery last the longest.


It seriously takes me 2 seconds tops to plug or unplug. That's zero as far as getting in the way of my life. And it isn't necessary to do this every day either.


Have you actually timed it? I guarantee it takes you more than 2 seconds to grab the plug off the hook and plug it in. How much longer I can't say though, it is case by case.


EVgo has CHAdeMO (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CHAdeMO) chargers which are direct DC, not AC converted to DC before input to battery so much higher charge rates. Superchargers are also direct DC.


> It'll take me 5-10 to gas up as is

Surely it doesn't take more than 2-3 mins to fill a car with petrol/diesel? Certainly don't think it's ever taken me any longer than that, unless I'm on a big journey and I need a break.


5-10 minutes seems pretty reasonable to me, if it includes a little bit of time for getting to/from the gas station.


I imagine a live charger status network/app would be a good thing to have.


That exists, but also is unreliable. I've seen chargers that believe they are operational but the card reader is broken for example, so there is no way to authenticate.

There is a DC fast-charger at a walgreens not far from where I live that is broken 90% of the time (*not scientific) and always reports available online.


It sure doesn't sound like you're driving an EV with a 300 mile range, which is what this thread started talking about.


And if you should receive a call that a member of your family was in an accident and at the hospital in critical condition... "Sure ok I'll be there this evening."


This is a false dichotomy. One's own vehicle is far from one's only mode of transportation.


This is really dependent on where you are. Where I live in Mountain View you're absolutely right. Where my dad lives 20 minutes from a paved road in the middle of California with no cell service, his truck is quite literally his only mode of transportation. Of course these are extremes, but most people live somewhere in the middle. Owning an EV will never be less limiting than owning an ICE vehicle. Whether it's an acceptable trade off will always be an individual decision.


>> Owning an EV will never be less limiting than owning an ICE vehicle.

Never may be too strong a word. Electricity is likely to continue flowing to more locations for longer than petrol stations will continue to get restocked.


EVs are more infrastructure dependent, though. Much easier to store a little emergency gas than electricity.


For those with the means yes. Not everyone can afford an Uber/Lyft across town or state.

My EV can get me to the airport and with a bit of charging only just get me home. A ride share is $40+ off peak. Public transit isn't an option. If I lived further out in the suburbs such a trip wouldn't be possible without more prolonged charging.

You might balk at dropping $40+ spontaneously but a lot of people don't. I remember working a salaried position and still not being able to afford a spontaneous invitation to lunch with coworkers and I have never in my life been in financial trouble.

EVs might be practical in a dense Urban setting with access to Public transit but the further you are from urban centers the less practical it becomes exponentially.


If my wife's in the hospital I'll find the cash for a taxi.

The fact that EVs are practical in dense urban settings is great since those have the largest air quality problems that can be addressed by the centralized (or green) power generation that EVs utilize.


Plugin hybrids exist and cover both the use case of commuting on electric and gas for long trips. They aren't zero emissions then but for regular use they are close to it.


According to: http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tsip/hpms/hpmslibrary/prd/prd2010.p...

California has 172,138 miles of maintained roads, 63,856 if we don't include "Local" roads.

There are certainly many stretches of road in the state that could use charging stations in order to be accessible by EV.


My solution would be self-driving battery extension packs that are placed on the side of the road and can follow/recharge (like Aerial refueling) an EV that needs an extension without any halting of the car needed.


I think this is a bit far fetched, but I like the idea of something similar. Have rental stations with trailer hitch gas generators that I can pull along for longer rides. Turns every EV into a Chevy Volt.


Doesn't need to be a gas generator (a hard sell for an EV die-hard), what about trailer-pulled battery packs? The car would need a small tow hitch and a J-plug, chademo, CCS, or similar plug in the back. Pick up a fresh battery at a U-Haul, and drop it off in your destination town.

Or would the weight be more than a (future model) Leaf could easily be designed to pull?


No clue. The value of stealing that trailer goes up a lot more though if it's a stack of high density batteries.

The gas range extender though means that you can take your EV on a road trip and refuel in a matter of minutes. Overnight you charge, but during the day, you fill up along the way.


That's an interesting idea. Someone could get a subscription of $30/month for unlimited access to portalable batteries. Along the route if the car runs low just pick one up at a convicent location, put it in the back and keep on driving. Once the car is charged simply return the portable battery at another drop off location.


A better solution would be a modular battery that slides out on a rolling platform. Pull up to battery station, roll out old battery, roll in new battery. Drive.


That would be super cool.

Or maybe highways could have electric cables that the cars could latch onto and recharge with on long trips.


Maybe ten years ago I watched Bob Kennedy Jr or 3 or something talk about having battery swap stations instead of charging stations. Seemed interesting but I don't know much about batteries!


Although great in theory, I can see two major obstacles to adopting that:

1) Essentially requires a standard battery form factor. Tesla alone already has between 8 and 13 batteries (not bothering to check if e.g. the Model S 60 is the same as the Model X 60). Throw in other manufactures and any future Tesla sizes and this becomes infeasible pretty quickly as your "gas station" begins to look like a warehouse.

2) Warranty. When you're swapping out the most expensive part of the car several times a week, what happens when you get a dud? Is it covered by Tesla's warranty, the swap service, or are you just screwed?

Or, what if I trade in my 8 year old essentially depleted battery for a brand new one? Obviously I should pay some sort of "upgrade" fee, but tracking that will be a headache.


If the charging station (or network) refuses to again swap a battery that they have recently swapped into your car, why would anyone use it?

I get that switching in $10,000 of hardware is kind of a big thing, but the question is like asking about how can I be sure every station has real gasoline (which hey, with ethanol, they don't!).


Only one of these matters, and it matters a lot.

Gogoro is doing quite well with scooters, because the battery pod is small enough to swap by hand.


Better Place was a startup that bet on this model. It didn't work out in their case, which is not to say it's necessarily a bad model.

https://www.fastcompany.com/3028159/a-broken-place-better-pl...


The battery swap thing I think is based on the idea that to be successful electric cars have to be an exact match of gasoline one.

I think battery swap doesn't make sense for passenger cars because as the guy said once you hit 200 miles of range charging isn't an issue. And having to stop and charge for an hour and a half every three hours on a long distance trip isn't the end of the world. Especially since you could roll those into lunch and dinner stops.

But likely makes some sense for large trucks.


There's a drive I've been doing since I was a kid. Back then with fewer passing lanes and kids in the car, it always took about 6 hours. As passing lanes got added, it got so the trip was about 5 hours with careful stops. Recently speed limits got bumped up 5 MPH along the route and now it's an easy 5 hours.

The hour sure matters to me, I hate being in the "travel" part of a trip like that.


I am a proponent of battery swaps. But I use the term MPU - Modular Power Unit. They have a standard interface and standard sizes. They follow the principle of encapsulation - I don't know what is the tech inside, but I now that it exposes a given voltage and amperage. Neither battery companies nor car companies would on their own pursue such a strategy even though all would benefit. Portable electronics ony took off because batteries were standardized and became cheap. The same must eventually happen with large batteries. And just like small 3V and 10V batteries, there will be perhaps a half dozen different standard sizes. Some will be small enough to lift by hand (if you have strong hands) while others will be on racks (but built up from smaller MPUs). You don't have to swap your battery - they could be recharged in place. Standards will foster competition and innovation.


Tesla entertained this for a while. The investments in building relatively costly (initial+maintenance) swapping stations plus the capital tied in replacement batteries makes this option less attractive when you compare to their supercharger station.


The problem with that is uneven wear.

Unless the battery isn't owned by you, it won't work as well.


For trucks one could easily see trucking companies just leasing batteries from Truck Stops. Where the truck driver stops, picks up a fully charged battery and then drops it off at another truck stop 300 miles later. Rinse lather repeat all the way from New Jersey to Utah.

Compressed gas cylinders sort of work this way. When you 'refill' a cylinder you just swap the empty one for a full one. You can even swap different sizes as needed. Which might also be useful for trucks.


That is what Gogoro does (successfully, I think) in Taiwan with its electric scooters.


Are they public chargers? Or at they at school bus depots, and so on?


"The utility will also spend $236.3 million on infrastructure and rebates to support electric trucks, buses and other medium or heavy-duty vehicles. Southern California Edison will spend up to $342.6 million on similar efforts."

So, mostly corporate welfare.

"place an emphasis on installing charging stations in disadvantaged communities or in facilities — such as ports — that tend to be located near low-income neighborhoods."

But they are going to dispense the corporate welfare in the general vicinity of poor people, so the poor people can get some vicarious enjoyment out of watching people who are already rich eat a free lunch.


Taking a step back from the fact that this is "Green energy", and all the usual virtue signaling associated with it nowadays.

From a pure economic point of view, this is literally tax-money that will help the top 10% buy EVs more easily (because the other 90% cannot afford anything else than traditional vehicles). It is literally subsidizing a lifestyle on Tax Money.

If this made sense economically, people would buy EVs without the need for state and federal subsidies.


If all externalities of traditional vehicles would be captured in their price you'd be right.


You make a good point on this. And this is why in a lot of countries Gas and taxes on car are way higher than in the US, to account for the invisible cost of global pollution.


Read the article. This isn't going towards buying EVs, it's going towards installing a public network of charging stations. Wealthy or not, you won't buy an EV if you can't charge it.

It also explicitly places an emphasis on placing stations in disadvantaged communities, and focuses on heavy duty vehicles including buses. This is not primarily putting in Tesla charging stations.


Nope. That's 137M going directly to home owners.

> San Diego Gas & Electric Co. will provide rebates for as many as 60,000 customers to install home charging stations and offer installation services, for a total of $136.9 million.


I read the article, thanks. How is this any different? Does the government subsidize the installation of Gas station at every corner on tax-money?

The point I'm making is that I would like to see EVs succeeding without the need for the governement to step in. With the governement stepping in, they are essentially giving free money to people that don't need it in the first place.


And those EVs will enter the second hand market in 3-5 years, and the 10% will buy a different EV.


Aaaaand... you lost me at "virtue signaling". You make a pretty solid point, but the smug right-wing terminology hurts it, because now I know you have a bias and might be against this on principle, rather than because of the point you are trying to make.

Using "virtue signaling" is the "virtue signaling" of the right.


Would you support the same tax bill if it was subsidizing something less hype such as... nuclear energy?

The wording "virtue signaling" is indeed not the best in this context, but what I was trying to say is that because green energy is so hyped right now, this bill is riding on that positive wave to the point where the economical hard questions that should be asked for any government subsidies are not always asked correctly (or overlooked more easily).


> Would you support the same tax bill if it was subsidizing something less hype such as... nuclear energy?

Absolutely! Anything that'd move us a step away from oil and it's constant cost in human life would be a step in the right direction.

> what I was trying to say is that because green energy is so hyped right now...

To be fair, green energy is hyped right now because it's one of the fastest growing job sectors. There's a reason China is betting big on it. California is trying to ride that wave (or rather, stay on that wave) and see how far it'll take us. Tesla alone employs some ~30k people, while the whole coal industry in the US employs ~50k. Why wouldn't California want to encourage companies looking to build "green energy" solutions to bring their job openings here?

Like everything else, this is a bet. I guess we'll know whether it pays off in a few years.


Apparently in a break from the usual, they've at least determined where they will get new revenue to pay for this.


Don’t we still need a standard supercharging plug for electric vehicles?


Tesla does it's own thing, everyone else is pretty much consolidated on CCS (with ChaDeMo thrown in there as an alternative port).

Most fast charging stations have both major standards, and Tesla owners (like Mac owners) gotta dongle.


> 230 direct-current fast-charging stations, which can add 50 to 70 miles of range to a car’s battery in 20 minutes

Not quite a supercharger, but not too shabby. Faster than my Level 2 home charger.


We have an L3 DC-Fast charger at my work - I take my 110mi range Ford Focus EV from 10% to 95% in 30m.

From near-zero I can get enough to drive home (40mi) in 20m.


With $210 million for medium and heavy-duty vehicle chargers, whatever they choose may become the de-facto standard.


So the money comes from utility customers? That seems amazingly fiscally regressive, especially for California.

At least early on, the main beneficiaries of this will be affluent people. That is hard to avoid when you're trying to incentivize a new technology (early adopters usually tend to be wealthier, for obvious reasons), but at least they could have funded this from general state revenue.

But instead they seem to want to get the money from utility customers. That seems like one of the most regressive forms of "taxation" imaginable... pretty much everyone uses electricity, and while bigger households use more, the multiplier will certainly be much smaller than the one for income.

Then there are industrial and commercial customers, for sure, but it seems equally misguided to specifically increase the burden on productive activity (rather than, say, on investment income, whose taxation would contribute to the general revenue).


Most CA utilities have low income programs[1]. On top of that, most rate plans are 'progressive' in that they charge more the more you use[2].

[1]https://www.pge.com/care [2] https://www.pge.com/en_US/residential/rate-plans/rate-plan-o...


This is a continuation of policies that only benefit homeowners to the detriment of everyone else. Homeowners in California have a stranglehold on all levels of government.

This money could have funded public transport which would have had a similar outcome and benefited more low and middle income people.


There are 11,502,870 in California. That's $67 per household. That's a night out for the wife and I. I guess it depends on how many chargers we get for this price. I suspect they will be clustered around political hotspots and I'm out in the 'burbs, so I'll never see one unless I drive into the city.

Man, I'm shocked by how ambivalent I am to this. There must be some political backstory I'm missing. Somebody's nephew 7 years ago started working on something, that guy has since moved out of state, and it's surely tied up with his tax attorney representing someone involved in a secondary suit related to Vinod Khosla's gate across the path to Martin's Beach.


Out in the 'burbs people have their own garage where they can install a charger--problem solved.

Meanwhile, an electric car is still laughably impractical for anyone living in an apartment.


Some apartment blocks have parking spaces with charger stations. I don't see why that couldn't become more commonplace?


It totally can and should! However, I’m looking at electric cars right now and I can’t justify them because of how much it would restrict my apartment searching.


Housing complexes with more than a few units are required to allow the install of an EV charger (At least in California and Illinois).


I think your math is a bit off. 11.5 million what? There's only 369,300 electric cars in CA currently. That's about $2k per car being invested.

Plus, this isn't the limit of the charging infrastructure spend. It's just a one-off budget approval. There can (and will!) be more invested.

I think a billion dollar investment in something like this is a great start.


Households maybe? Though the numbers I see for that are a hair over 12 million.


oh, sorry, yes, households.


yeah I don't understand what this number refers to either. Population? But there are 39.5 million people here?


The 'burbs are pretty much the reason charging infrastructure has to exist, isn't it? It's not like you're living on a farm.


Count me as someone excited for this. I was literally just sitting in line at a charger at Whole Foods yesterday thinking about how silly it is to have public transportation infrastructure reliant on corporate subsidies. We need massive public spending on EV infrastructure for it to be at a point where regular people will switch over.


One takeaway I saw from another article was that of the ~31M cars on the road in CA, 390,000 of them are EVs (slightly higher number than the one cited in this article). Either way, I'm fairly impressed that 1% of all cars in CA are already electric.


Once you work out what the EVs look like (it's more than just Leafs and Teslas), you see them everywhere. 1% becomes more believable with each new model that you find out about.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_modern_production_plug... take a look, you wouldn't give some of these a second glance. You have to look at the badging in a lot of cases.


The link includes many plug-in hybrids where charging wouldn't be an efficient use of time. If you're on a road trip in a Chrysler Pacifica (33mi electric range), would you bother to charge it at your destination?


I just wish they would have a standard for charging, they got multiple versions for levels 1,2,3 and Asian, American and Tesla.

We finally force mobile phone manufacturers to use USB standard, and now cars are all over the place.

Crazy to have Tesla only charging spots.


> We finally force mobile phone manufacturers to use USB standard,

You can thank the European Commission for that one.


Pretty much every EV uses the same port for level 1 and 2. Tesla has a DC fast charging port that comes with an adapter to fit the standard level 1 and 2.

I don't see the problem. I own both a BMW i3 and a Tesla Model 3, and I can charge both with any public Chargepoint charger. The BMW i3 even supports level 3 DC fast charging just like the Tesla, although I don't believe Tesla will let you use their Supercharger network for a non-Tesla vehicle.


Did they get rid of the hydrogen station scheme, or is that still in the bill?


This didn't come from the legislature. Approved by the CPUC yesterday morning. No H2 as part of this. You can watch it here: http://www.adminmonitor.com/ca/cpuc/voting_meeting/201805312...


They have $768M and this is the best they can come up with when it comes to improving the state? Fuck, use that money and build the hyperloop like you should have, so we can race the slow as fuck bullet train the state decided to agree to spend billions on; only to find out that they received an overly optimistic bid.


This is a mitigation required because of the terrible housing situation in California. If normal people could afford to buy a home, they could install chargers themselves and this massive public construction effort would be unnecessary.


California is a large state, the problems you're referring to are pretty local to relatively few specific city centers. I think it's at least a little disingenuous to claim the "terrible housing situation" is state-wide, it isn't.


The problem is there aren’t enough homes. Price is a reflection of that. Santa Clara County has about a 10 day inventory last time I checked.


Neat

Now who do I have to nag to get laws passed compelling landlords to install charging infrastructure for tenants?

This is my main barrier to replacing my antique with an EV; most of the rentals I'm likely to occupy will not have access to charging.


California AB 2565, "Rental property: electric vehicle charging stations", passed in 2014, requires landlords approve all written requests from tenants to install EV charging stations (at the tenant's expense, with some reasonable caveats).


If a YC company hooked an Arduino with a charging meter mechanism and did some Square/Stripe integration and then deployed them to apartments such that it was an additional source of revenue for the landlord similar to a coin operated washer, there is the potential for some serious adoption.



That's a step in the right direction, but at the tenants expense?

CA should give the rental property owners an economic incentive to preemptively install the infrastructure. It's a very real barrier to adoption when you can't assume your next apartment will be able to charge your car immediately upon move-in.


My apartment doesn't provide me free gas for my car either. They don't even have a gas pump on-site! I asked them about it and they said "uh sure, if you want to pay for it". Absolutely ridiculous. Unbelievable.


Your apartment doesn't provide you with free electricity either, and nothing in my comment implied the electricity should be free.

Your apartment does provide you with a minimum standard of infrastructure to run electrical appliances however, and it's not ridiculous or unbelievable for you to expect it.

I think what you're missing is EVs have turned the automobile into another consumer electronics appliance. It's an oversized smartphone on wheels, surveillance features and all.


Everyone has a fridge. Everyone uses one. Everyone has a stove, and everyone uses one. Everyone uses electricity and natural gas, sure. How many Americans have EVs?

My apartment doesn't provide a hookup for my MIG/TIG welder, and I'd be hard pressed to say whether more people own welders or EVs. Besides, more people drive gas powered cars, and like you conveniently ignored, very few apartments provide on-site gas pumps either.


You're ignoring the glaringly obvious practical difference between already ubiquitous electricity service and gasoline.

How many Americans have EVs is largely irrelevant. We're talking about California, and the figure of interest would be current and future California tenants having personal automobiles. This is about faciliating a future of widespread EV adoption in California.

If tenants can reliably expect @home charging, even if it's just at a relatively low-current overnight pace, it turns the EV ownership story into substantially better than ICE vehicles.

You're arguing as if we shouldn't be exceeding the quality and convenience of the existing ICE vehicle ownership experience. The whole point is EVs enable a better situation because electricity isn't gasoline, and you can (and already do) have it dispensed out of your outlets at home.

Without taking advantage of this difference, unless we get EVs that can charge in a matter of minutes at the "pump", I'm afraid they won't substantially displace ICEs.


So you're saying that the EV is an essential appliance like a refrigerator or a stove? That would be quite a change in POV from the usual advocacy against individual car ownership at all.


Not quite, but I am suggesting if a rental property facilitates vehicle ownership in the form of parking/garage space, it should include EV charging capabilities to facilitate widespread adoption.

Are you saying that since there's an agenda to reduce vehicle ownership altogether we shouldn't reduce barriers to EV ownership? That will only result in more ICE vehicle ownership, which is an absolute disaster from a climate change environmental crisis mode perspective.

A significant factor with vehicles is they have a long servicable lifetime. Every year we drag on with people buying ICE vehicles instead of EVs is followed by decades of those additional ICE vehicles burning fossil fuels.

Do you think we can achieve accessible alternative transportation solutions sooner than we can get hookups installed in all the already electrified rentals for EVs already available on the market? I don't think so.


PG&E has two EV-specific rate plans: EV-A and EV-B. EV-B requires a dedicated meter so you can add it to your account and be billed for however much you use.

The problem is it costs $500 for the meter plus labor (add another $1k for the charger and labor to hook the charger to the meter).

So, we can discuss who is best incentivized to cover the fixed installation costs, but the "free gas" argument is irrelevant -- you just add the dedicated meter to your account.


Even better than home chargers are workplace chargers, especially in California.

We're getting enough solar on the grid that every spring we choose not to generate massive amounts of otherwise free electricity during the day.

Rather than having stationary grid storage, dumping that the cars of people who are at work will provide a huge amount of grid flexibility.

I'm not a huge fan of parking requirements in code, but it's a simple addition to require chargers for X% of the spots. The second part of the challenge is getting payment structures in place.

Ideally utilities would be pushing forward with their own scheme so that charging would go directly to your usual utility bill. That way there's no middleman taking an extra 30% - 100% cut on the cost of the electricity, it reuses a convenient billing channel, and it also lets the utility start to do demand response to manage their oversupply of renewables.

But utilities are both too short-sighted and boneheaded to realize that this could be a major win for them. They ought to be paying more attention because increased efficiency is decreasing demand for prior electricity loads.


My building just approved 10 (because that's all they can handle powerwise). Those 10 were on a first come first serve, for those willing to pay the $10,000 install fee.


How many charging stations would you expect? One for each parking spot?


We need something along these lines if we're being realistic about all the privately owned vehicles becoming electric.

It's a major investment in infrastructure, this is the reality of EVs.

I don't know how street parking gets handled at all, it almost requires wireless charging through the asphalt activated by simply parking over it.

edit:

At least until car batteries can be recharged as quickly as a gas tank is filled, then this is largely a non-issue. We're not there yet are we?


A quick search reveals that ~35-50% of California's electricity comes from Natural Gas. Basically EVs in California are methane powered ICEs by proxy. I find it quite annoying that government keep subsidizing EVs when the infrastructure to make them actually environmentally friendly is not in place.

The only place owning an EV is actually environmentally friendly in North America is Quebec since 95% is generated by Hydro.


Seriously, all electricity could come from burning arsenic, and it would still not matter.

There are a few things in play here:

1. Big power plants are WAY more efficient than wherever tiny thing you have under the hood, I don't care if it is a V8. 2. Power plants are usually located away from population centers. This means less health problems in the population. 3. Once you replace the power plants, the ENTIRE CAR FLEET gets an automatic update. It is easier to replace power plants, than to replace hundreds of millions of cars. 4. Electric car engines are incredibly efficient. 5. All those cars idling in traffic jams are not helping anyone. 6. 30% != 100%. It does not follow that they are all "methane powered". By your own admission, 30% are. 7. You are not burning fuel trying to extract, refine and transport fuels. Electricity transportation is everywhere and doesn't require trucks or pipelines. 8. EVs don't require oil changes. This is another big pollution source that's often not remembered.


> It is easier to replace power plants, than to replace hundreds of millions of cars.

Then why not use this money to replace them. If it's so easy then the effects will be felt sooner and will be enjoyed by everyone not just people looking to buy a new car.


We need to do both and generation side doesn't need help.

Coal plants (the most polluting) are shutting down and being replaced by natural gas, wind and solar simply due to cost of wind and solar dropping rapidly.

Those costs will continue to drop and economics will get even better in the (relatively near) future.

Vox often covers that topic, see e.g. https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/19/164944..., https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/4/10/1721444..., https://www.vox.com/2018/5/30/17408602/solar-wind-energy-ren..., https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2018/5/18/1735973...


California also now requires solar panels on new homes. The electric generation mix will only get cleaner over time. A car purchased today will likely still be on the road until 2029; what percentage of its power will be from gas versus renewables in 2029? I think you need to think a bit more long-term.


We don’t even need to think long term—EVs (even charged with fossil power) are already cleaner than gas cars in most cases:

https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-an...

And—to your point—they get cleaner every year.


I like the union of concerned scientists, but the study that they cite on this is hot garbage, and they should be ashamed.

https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/life...

a few quotes from the pdf

"For this analysis we expected the midsize and full-size BEV to need only one lithium-ion battery pack over its lifetime." of 179,000 miles

"Excluded from the life cycle assessments are the global warming emissions from building the infrastructure (such as factories and industrial equipment) required to do all of the processing and assembling, and the emissions from transportation of raw materials for manufacturing."

"we had limited data on the actual composition of the vehicle models"

"Comparing our results with other battery literature(. . .), the emissions (kilograms of CO2 per kilogram of battery weight) depend on the battery chemistry. These estimates are on the lower end of the spectrum for battery-production global warming emissions because they derive from process-level analyses. The alternative approach—top-down methods, which refer to how the battery production energy is assessed— results in higher estimates because the scope of the assessment is large"

and especially relevant to your point and the article you linked, which reads, "the extra emissions from making an 80-mile range EV (compared to a similar gasoline car) are about 15% higher"

from quoted report "for this study we assumed a lifetime of 179,000 miles, both for gasoline and long-range battery-electric vehicles, based on the National Household Travel Survey (FHWA 2009) data for the first 15 years of a vehicle’s lifetime. However, we posited an exception for the 84-mile-range BEV and comparable gasoline car—that total mileage would be 135,000—75 percent of the mileage of the 265-mile-range BEV. This difference is due to “range limitations” of a car with a more modest-sized battery: its driver would likely be unwilling to drive long distances very often, given the frequent need for stopping to “fill up” "

And then there is the whole mystery meat of the supply chain that produce all of the components, which don't seemed to be very shrewdly represented if at all. There is a lot more CO2 produced than just extraction>refinement. I'm really not confident in scientists ability to gauge the resource consumption of industry.


Cars generally charge overnight when solar is no longer available.


That's not a major problem long-term IMO. Solar power can be stored at home or at grid-level, charging can be scheduled to coincide with daylight hours before/after work, EV batteries are getting bigger every year so they need to be charged less often (which means more flexibility with what time they're charged), overnight also coincides with low-consumption hours for the grid which has its own benefits, V2G and V2V even allow parked electric cars to potentially become solar storage batteries for a smart grid and other neat things in the more distant future.


This is just a round about way of accomplishing the same goal. There are much better clean energy investments that will have payoff sooner and will benefit more people, not just those than can shell out tens of thousands of dollars for roof solar and a power pack.


It's expensive right now because demand is low. When everyone is buying solar, I'm sure the price will drop even further. This could still happen in parallel with any other clean energy investments as well.

There aren't that many clean energy options available to the end consumer right now, other than solar. You could have a wind turbine which could run day/night, but they're just not as cheap per watt, and has far fewer competitors on the market making that stuff.


For charging at home, yes. (But that's complemented by wind, which often blows strongest at night.)

If you install workplace chargers, though, you can charge at peak solar production.


Yes, and baseline power plants will be burning fuel no matter what. Might as well put them to some use.


Or the money could be invested in power storage making those baseline plants obsolete.


Plenty of wind at night...


Except that EVs are uniquely situated to get cleaner after they are purchased. That's already occurring, so an EV purchased in 2013 is currently cleaner per mile than it was when it was purchased [1]. You could make a weaker argument that that might apply to FCEVs. Whereas all ICE vehicles usually need to be replaced en masse to improve emissions.

[1] https://insideevs.com/us-ev-emissions/


I've never understood this argument. It completely ignores the locality of pollution effects. In an ideal world, the entire grid would be powered by renewables, yes, but I would still prefer that the cars whizzing by my face every day produce no emissions even if the power plant 50 miles away does.


Investment in (much needed) public transit does the same and tends to benefit low income people not those that have $30K to spend on a new car.


What about not buying a new car? My wife bought a pretty decent one for 5k.

But public transportation is better of course. Make it electric while you are at it.


I'm not convinced of your conclusion as even though you started by presenting data you leap to a conclusion without a process inbetween. The assumptions in your final statements are:

- More than 50% of the energy source in EVs being renewable is irrelevant towards being environmentally friendly when being compared to 0% in conventional - Renewable energy as a fraction of overall energy in California is not projected to rise in the next 5 years - An EV using electrically from a powerplant has the same overall fuel efficiency as a conventional vehicle using fuel locally.

The first two are most assuredly false assumptions at a glance, the final one I'm not aware of. I'm not saying your conclusion is right or wrong just that I don't buy we need 100% renewable electricity for EVs to make environmental sense.


He also doesn't mention that vehicles will tend to charge overnight, and at that point the amount of electricity from fossil fuels is a lot lower.

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=16851#tabs_S....

As wind generation expands with falling costs, particularly offshore, that's likely to fall significantly within the lifetime of a vehicle bought today.

Also even if the carbon emissions are the same, there is a large benefit in shifting particulate matter and NOx pollution out of cities.


> I find it quite annoying that government keep subsidizing EVs when the infrastructure to make them actually environmentally friendly is not in place.

Why? It shifts air pollution out of urban centers.


This is completely incorrect. The four-stroke engine a car might get 30-35% efficiency whereas a combined-cycle natural gas powerplant can get 60% efficiency.

On top of that, natural gas burns very cleanly compared to gasoline or diesel.


Not true, Texas wind. 75k EV miles already. To clarify, you can choose your energy source (at least choose who gets the money for your consumption).


Centralized natural gas production is cleaner than driving around a gas or diesel power plant.

You shouldn't be upset about solving several problems in parallel.


California is on track to generate more that 50% of energy via renewable sources by 2025. CA today generates 0% from coal.


Hydro is something that depends on geography. Not all places have steady source for hydro power. Nor can you scale it up. Many environmentalists also complain about hydro power impacting fish.


>Basically EVs in California are methane powered ICEs by proxy.

The difference is, the ICE I buy today pollutes more every year (due to wear) until it leaves service. There is no way to upgrade it or decrease its impact.

The EV I buy today might not be a lot better, but as new plants and solar come online, it pollutes less as time goes on. This will almost certainly be the case in practice.

EV is the right choice for most vehicles.


>The only place owning an EV is actually environmentally friendly in North America is Quebec since 95% is generated by Hydro.

A quick check on the DOE website shows 95% of power generated in Washington is 0 CO2. And we export it to neighboring states.

Not to mention, power generation has benefits of scale. One stationary 10,000hp engine is more efficient than 10,000 mobile 1hp engines.


My bad this first tab here [1] shows a large consumption of NG but this is apparently not used for electricity generation (tab 3)

[1] https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=WA#tabs-1


> The only place owning an EV is actually environmentally friendly

Even if I buy the fact that your EV car is only equally efficient, you are changing distributed pollution of cars which is very difficult to mitigate into point source pollution at the production plant which is far easier to mitigate.

In addition, the moment your car is in stop-and-go traffic at 5mph, electric becomes a huge win. An ICE is probably idling even when not moving (that is changing somewhat in newer cars as they can start and stop the engine quite a bit quicker) while an EV (even hybrid) is effectively dividing by zero when not actually rolling (no consumption at all).


Having your vehicle's energy come from an efficient natural gas plant is much more preferable than burning gasoline and spewing PM 2.5 into city centers.


What about Ontario's Nuclear/Hydro?

But more to the point, you are right for the moment in that the source of electricity in California is 35~50% Natural Gas, but that source/dependance will most likely change. There's no reason why provisioning for this outcome is a bad idea. Especially since switching to EV has other benefits than simply not burning Fossil Fuels.


Government massively subsidizes the oil industry all the time.

If you have more EVs running, there is more incentive to upgrade the power generation structure, because it produces more environmental benefit.

Also, come on, the minority of generation comes from gas, but you are calling it "methane powered ICs by proxy". That looks like extremely motivated reasoning (to put it charitably).


> Government massively subsidizes the oil industry all the time.

Not true. Even if it were true most of the oil industry is losing money hand over fist.

But not as fast as the phony baloney "renewable" industry is, even with its insane subsidies.

People can't wrap their heads around the fact that sane estimates of the energy supply of the future do not support cars. People will be walking and biking and riding buses. The future is a place with far fewer cars.


> North America is Quebec

Or Washington, or Oregon.

Or some point in the near future as the grid transitions to cleaner generation options.


This is my point put the money into a cleaner grid. Make the near future NOW! This benefits all citizens not just those that want buy a car.


With the efficiency loss for electricity factored in are they more or less environmentally friendly than regular vehicles today?


Well, fuel also has an efficiency loss. You have to transport it. In most cases, this requires trucks. They are less efficient the farther they have to go.


What does rooftop solar penetration look like? What sort of crossover exists between these two consumers?




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