Capitol Letters: Impact: Longmont

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By Alphonse Lalauze (1872-1936) – Wikimedia. Photo attribution here.

CHARGE!

Okay, no. Not that kind of Charge!

But last month Impact: Longmont told us that that one way for Colorado to achieve the 53% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions it needs by the year 2030 involves reducing total vehicle tailpipe emissions by 1/3. Neglecting fuel efficiency improvements, we would need to replace 1/3 of the internal combustion engines (ICE cars) on the road today with Electric Vehicles to do that. Maybe. Sort of. On the back of the envelope.

Ten years is a long time to look into the future. With any luck at all, fewer people will be driving by then. Public and multi-modal transit could take off. Or Autonomous Vehicles (AVs) could make super-efficient ride sharing a reality, and many fewer cars could provide the same number of trips. On the other hand, maybe AVs won’t be ready for prime time, and conventional predictions that the number of private autos on the road will continue to increase are correct.

But let’s assume that by 2030 there will be at least 33% fewer ICE cars on the road than there are today, and that an EV like those sold today will replace each one. In 2017, the latest year for which data is available, Colorado had 5,260,000 active vehicle registrations. We can neglect the (so far) small fraction of those that already use an alternative fuel. So that means Colorado would have 1.7 million new EVs in use by 2030.

Is that plausible? Coloradans purchased almost 200,000 new cars and trucks in 2017. If all the vehicles purchased from 2020 through 2030 were EVs, then that would mean 2 million EVs. Nobody is projecting EVs to gain market share that fast, but we’ve got a climate emergency going on here. Perhaps we should start acting like it. So let’s do a little thought experiment and say they do. Let’s say that at some point we get smart and outlaw the sale of ICE cars, and we end up with 1.7 million EVs on the road by 2030 instead of dirty emitting vehicles. What will it take to charge all those silent runners?

Today, an EV on a level 2 charger draws 30-40 amps and requires 3.5 hours for a full charge. Longmont’s electrical wiring guidelines say that the average single-family dwelling is set up for between 100 and 200 amps intensity of service. Another rule of thumb for estimating electricity consumption is that an EV equals half a house. (Most of the time, your house isn’t drawing anywhere near its rated amperage!)

What happens, a few years in the future, when the owners of the 6 EVs on your block head out to the garage after supper and plug their cars into Level 2 chargers all at once?

RLSMedia. Click for attribution.

Ok, not this, we hope.  Your utility company and electrician probably did their jobs well. But suddenly doubling the demand for electricity on one suburban block can never be a good thing.

Fortunately, even if, like in Longmont, the smart city is a dream for the future (NEAR future!) there’s a solution at hand.

Juice Box, to the Rescue!

(Click here. You get it.)

This is a JuiceBox Pro WiFi-enabled Level 2 Charger. You can get a crazy-good deal on one through your friendly public utility at efficiencyworksstore.com. It works with every fully battery-powered electric vehicle except Tesla. That Elon Musk, what a free spirit. Channeling Steve Jobs, thinks he doesn’t have to be compatible to win. If you drive a Tesla, you’re probably too cool to need a break on your electric bill anyway.

But if you charge your Leaf or your Bolt with a JuiceBox Pro, not only do you get the fastest available Level 2 charging right at home, sometime in the near future, you can get, and give, lots of other swell benefits, too. For one thing, the JuiceBox communicates with an app on your phone (naturally!) so that you can schedule charging, monitor the charge on your vehicle, and stop charging wherever you happen to be. That’s pretty cool all by itself. Especially if your utility has demand-based pricing of electricity. You can start and stop charging based on signals from the electric company alerting you to an increase or drop in the price of a kilowatt!

But even better, if your electric provider supports it, you can be part of the JuiceNet. Then your JuiceBox communicates and negotiates with the other JuiceBoxes trying to charge when you are. You can set policies about how much of a charge you need by what time, and the JuiceNet will balance all the charging requests in your neighborhood so that the demand doesn’t spike, but every vehicle gets the charge it needs. Isn’t technology wonderful? In some areas, you can even earn credits on your electric bill as a reward for letting the JuiceNet decide when to charge your vehicle! Lower your bills, and avoid transformer explosions, too. Such a deal!

Back to Reality

What? You think this isn’t reality? Listen here to Auntie M! Climate change is real! It’s an emergency. Planetary heating is in danger of running away from us. Don’t you even THINK about spending more of your hard-earned money on products that perpetuate the burning of fossil fuels! Your next car must be electric. Or a bicycle. Your new air conditioner must be a heat pump! And you need to get used to the idea of letting the internet manage your consumption, because that’s gonna be the only way we get out of this mess. (More about that next month!)

But here’s some local reality.

You can buy and use a JuiceBox today with your EV. The phone app will work no matter where you live. If you live in the PRPA service area, you can order it here, and it really is a good deal. But PRPA/LPC does not support the JuiceNet. Yet.

Here’s the thing: we want to. Our own Platte River Power Authority is running a pilot program now to learn about EV drivers’ charging habits. When you buy your JuiceBox, you can sign up for it! There’s nothing to it. You just give PRPA permission to passively monitor when you connect your car to the JuiceBox. With the data they collect, they will learn what they need to know to keep our electric power reliable as EV adoption rates soar in the very near future. So if you’re driving an EV, or thinking about investing in one (they never wear out), give some thought to buying it a JuiceBox. You’ll both be glad you did it.

And the more people sign up for the pilot program, the sooner it will make sense for PRPA to begin participating in JuiceNet. Not only will you reap the benefits of being a JuiceNet member, but so will your town. It will help keep your electric bills low – and everyone else’s too. It’s your civic duty!

This is not a commercial, by the way. It’s more of a public service announcement. I don’t get a spiff on every JuiceBox sold, or anything like that. I just want to leave your grandchildren a nice planet to live on.

One More Thing…

Remember those wild numbers up at the beginning of this column? 1.7 million EVs in Colorado by 2030? Well, today, there are about 20,000 electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles on the road in Colorado. And according to the market research firm Energias, the Compounded Annual Growth Rate of EV adoption is expected to be about 24% over the next five years. If that adoption rate holds over 10 years, that would mean that by 2030 there will only be 200,000 EVs on the road. That’s just not a strong enough adoption rate to reduce transportation-related emissions by 1/3 by 2030. We’ll have to find another way to meet our GHG reduction goals. (More about that pretty soon.)

Or we can start buying more EVs. You know, they really have terrific acceleration compared to ICE cars. Must go faster…

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