Eco-tip: Drive Electric Week aims to electrify motorists

2022-09-24 06:56:16 By : Mr. Leo Shen

Skeptics ask: “How are we going to charge 35 million electric vehicles in California with an electric grid that can barely support air conditioning?"

Kent Bullard, field representative for the Electric Vehicle Advocates of Ventura County, hopes to share answers at upcoming events celebrating National Drive Electric Week, which runs Sept. 23 to Oct. 2.

“Time-of-use power rates convince EV owners to charge at night, when the grid is not overloaded,” Bullard said.

Besides, he added, many electric vehicle owners install solar panels, generating their own electricity. Some also buy backup batteries and dump energy back onto the grid during peak times, he said, storing energy when the grid has enough.

Bullard also pointed to emerging “vehicle to grid" and “vehicle to home" technology, known as V2G and V2H, respectively, that is incorporated into a charger for the Nissan Leaf and is expected to become common for other models soon.

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The bidirectional chargers enable a car’s battery to work like a backup battery for a home or the grid. After getting fully charged during off-peak times, a battery can power a home’s appliances when electricity is expensive.

Of course, even if skeptics’ questions about public policy are answered, the real challenge for realizing a vision of an electric car future depends on individuals making purchasing decisions.

Taking on the challenge of promoting electric cars to the public, Nancy Clarin, EV Coach for the Ventura County Executive Office’s sustainability division, is helping organize events for Drive Electric week.

The gatherings will include booths with information not only on environmental and economic benefits of plug-in cars, but also on available financial incentives ranging from tax breaks to lower maintenance and fuel costs.

Most traditional car shows display the newest models, meticulously restored classics or souped-up hot rods, all in impeccable condition. Crowds file past these gleaming objects of aspiration, with many wishing they could afford such excellence.

While the upcoming electric car shows will include impressive new models of aspirational cars, the gatherings will also feature cars that were affordable 10 years ago and are even more affordable now as used cars.

For example, the shows will host impressive new cars like the latest Tesla S, the Lucid Air and the Rivian Adventure pickup truck. All are hard to find for under $100,000 despite having base models intended to sell for about $20,000 less.

In contrast, cars like mine will also be included, some of which have been driven over 100,000 miles. At one of the shows, I will display my plug-in hybrid 2014 Chevy Volt, which I bought in 2017 for just $15,477. Apart from standard maintenance, the car has required no expensive repairs.

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My cost of electricity has been minimal, since solar panels at home produce more energy than I use, and I often charge free at one of the few remaining free public chargers. I also received an incentive payment of $700 from Southern California Edison for buying a used car.

Edison’s standard used car purchase or lease incentive is now $1,000 and can rise to $4,000 depending on income, location and car type.

Additionally, the recent federal “Inflation Reduction Act” provides a used-EV tax credit of either $4,000 or 30% of the auto’s price, whichever is less. The price cap for qualifying vehicles is $25,000.

The legislation also includes a $7,500 tax credit for new car purchases or leases, with requirements for American-made parts and limitations on batteries containing minerals from certain countries. In addition, the Edison new car incentive, funded in partnership with the California Air Resources Board, is $750.

For upcoming electric car shows, register to display your car and join the EV community at Driveelectricweek.org.

Upcoming EV shows in Ventura County:

David Goldstein, an environmental resource analyst with the Ventura County Public Works Agency, can be reached at 805-658-4312 or david.goldstein@ventura.org.