Letter to the Editor – If Everyone Owned an EV, Your Electric Bill Would Be $1,000 Per Month

APR 10 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 78

We constantly receive “Letters to the Editor,” most of which come in the form of spam from some far off land with an offer that’s too good to be true.  We ignore those (actually, Gmail places them in a special spot so that we never even see them), which allows us to focus on the important emails we receive from readers, fans of the site, automakers and so on.

A Letter to the Editor is Almost Never Factually Accurate

A Letter to the Editor is Almost Never Factually Accurate

However, most of our legitimate “Letters to the Editor” are well informed.

This one, sent to news outlet Reporter Herald, clearly falls outside of the “informed” category:

“There have been a number of interesting so called “fact” articles relating to electric car ownership.”

“While it is good to see technology advancing toward alternate-powered cars, let us not delude ourselves. The only way to to drive an electric car is to be the only one in town to own one. They are not efficient unless subsidized. If everyone in town owned an EV, your electric bill would a thousand dollars a month.”

That’s enough of that.

If you’d like to read the entire letter, follow the source link below.

Is it true that the general public remains so ill-informed when it comes to plug-in electric vehicles?  Have we not yet spread the word far enough?  Guess there’s more work to be done…time for us to get crackin’ some more.

Source: Reporter Herald

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78 Comments on "Letter to the Editor – If Everyone Owned an EV, Your Electric Bill Would Be $1,000 Per Month"

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By chance, was that signed Rex Tillerson?

There would be some increase, as now most of the burden of road repair, infrastructure improvement, traffic light installation, etc. etc. are paid for by various gas taxes. Why else will gas be twice as expensive in Europe compared to US? It is mostly various taxes, as the governments view cars as revenue sources. I wouldn’t be surprised if many countries subsidize electricity, as it is used by all segments of the society, and not just by car owners.

If everyone would drive an EV, many of these would then have to be borne by EV owners. May be not in electricity bill, but in some other form. Till such time, let’s just enjoy our ‘early bird’ free lunches of tax incentives and free charge-ups 🙂

Really? Then what was that $100 EV registration fee I just paid last month for?

+1

And our collection process should be based more like the German model. The weight of the vehicle and the miles driven. Heavy car, lots of miles = more road use fees paid.

The general public is basically clueless to, well, almost everything…why would EVs and electric bills be any different?

Most of my friends still view my Volt as a “novelty” electric car and little more. No matter how many times you try to describe it, they just really aren’t INTERESTED in knowing. It isn’t that they CAN’T grasp it…they just don’t care to. It is true the “car enthusiast” is a dying breed and most folks are more interested in the tech on the dashboard (i.e. can it read my text messages to me?) than they are about anything to do with it being, well, a car.

I’m sorry, what was the question again?

Huh, a lot of my friends have been interested in my C-max plug-in, and I’ve even been stopped by strangers at gas stations and super market parking lots by people who want to know about it.

My basic response to these ruminations about why people are so clueless is surprisingly laziness.
Critical thought and informing yourself takes effort. It is easier for most just to be told what to think, by politicians, news sources, radio hosts. If you listen to their arguments the first thing you note is they are not really their arguments, they are parroting some talking points, about how they are supposed to think about things.

There is a slight logic to it . . . the well if demand goes up then the laws of supply & demand mean that prices go up. But the problem with this argument in this case is that there is a massive amount of excess electricity ‘supply’ available at night. Thus, increased demand in this case would merely be serviced using the existing excess supply.

Very slight.

Logic also dictates that if the resource is not scarce, prices will fall due to more players leading to competitive, innovation and efficiency.

Just look at what happened to the prices of other items as they became more popular:

telefones, computers, cars…

Another factoid most people do not know.

An overnight shift to EV’s would increase total electricity consumption in the US (and other western countries) by around 20-25%.

When gas is $5/gallon, brace yourself for the sudden interest in plug-ins. 🙂

$4.30/gal. here and climbing…

It is only temporal due to winter-summer mixture change and the annual refineries shutdown.

I think gas prices will be pretty flat for another year. Maybe two. But $5/gallon is on the way when the Red Queen syndrome hits the frackers hard as the decline rates get them.

It is not a gasoline price problem because we are above 9 $/gallon in Europe and there are almost no EV on the streets.

It is still an EV car problem because apart from the BMW i3 that has a Rex the other ones don’t and leave you stranded after 100 miles. Of course there is the Model S but even that one doesn’t have 400 miles of range.

To have a true success for EV you need to have a sedan model with a Rex otherwise there will always be the range problem which is not a range anxiety problem but a real lack of capability due to the absence of Rex.

I really think it’s inevitable for someone like Hyundai or Tata Motors to crank out range extenders in mass quantities for ~$1500 each (Tata makes a whole car with a 38hp engine for $2500 retail). They’ll only need to do maybe 20k miles over the lifetime of the car.

Once that happens, it’ll be tough for 200-mile EVs to compete with 100-mile+REx on price or practicality.

Having said that, I think Tesla’s supercharger network will be good enough for me to consider one of their pure EVs.

Europe has very different problems with EVs. Here are the reasons why EVs don’t sell well there:
1) Many people live in ‘flats’, apartments, condos, etc. such that they don’t have private place where they can install a charger. With a home-based charger, an EV is useless. (I think this is the biggest issue.)
2) Many people with cars don’t commute with them. They bike, walk, take public transportation, etc. Their cars are more for weekend trips and EVs (with the exception of the expensive Model S) are terrible for long trips.
3) Much of Europe has great public transportation such that many people don’t have any cars at all.
4) Many countries lack incentive programs (like Germany). Countries with big incentive programs, like Norway, sell far more EVs per capita than the USA.
5)Although their gasoline is expensive, their electricity is expensive too. (Although the EVs are still hugely advantageous.)
6) Like the USA, many people just don’t know about or understand EVs and thus distrust them.

That makes sense. Thinking about it, all the things that I use the battery range for are things I could use public transit for if I lived in Europe. That’s a large fraction of my driving, so it makes sense for me. But it wouldn’t if I had good public transit.

That just sums it up.

Spec, you did a fantastic job listing the reasons Europeans are not running en-masse to car dealerships for EVs. One thing you didn’t mention is distance. With so many Americans living outside of cities by 20, 30 or 100 miles – the needs of covering that distance are different. Americans bought affordable property and established homes from the 1940s ’til today in the suburbs. Riding a bus for 30 miles each way to work on gridlocked byways is a problem. Since folks were not born in a home where the breadwinner(s) took public transportation – it is looked upon differently here. Also, it’s unfortunate that the inconveniences and even dangers of riding public transport in the USA makes a difference. Low-income, sometimes dangerously violent or mentally ill people ride the bus. Not so easy to talk someone in America who has driven a car since high school to convert to riding a conveyance in such conditions. In the end, all these reasons can be categorized as excuses but for the fact that gasoline is more inexpensive here than anywhere else except for the Middle East. It’s incredible how people get resourceful when gasoline prices skyrocket here. Suddenly people dust off… Read more »
I live in a typical U.S. city that is trying to add light rail to an existing infrastructure that built up around cars and gas stations. Taxpayers are having rate hikes thrust upon them to make these rail lines extend for 10s and 100s more miles than originally sold to them. Still, the painful process of buying land from landowners or forcing them in courts to provide space for these transportation systems takes decades. Price tags for these rails go from single digit billions to double digit billions whilst people DON’T RIDE THEM. Portland, Oregon is the largest city in the state just South of my state of Washington. They built their light rail system ( the Max ) back in the nineties and studies have shown the ridership to be very low. The Max is usually used by riders who are already in the commercial corridor instead of hopping a bus to go several blocks. I live in the suburbs and it will be five-ten years to never for our light rail system to reach my neighborhood. Today, one has to catch a city bus and travel a half hour to the light rail terminus which isn’t even finished… Read more »

Actually, if everyone owned an electric car your electric bill COULD GO DOWN. How is that possible? Well, people would be using much more electricity at night (charging their cars) such that the utility would be able to pay down their CapEx costs much faster. Therefore, the CapEx cost would drop thus allowing rates to be cheaper.

It is basically the mass manufacturing argument . . . if they are able to more fully utilize their electricity generation, transmission, and distribution equipment then the system will be more economically efficient. All that equipment that is largely idle at night would instead have paying customers.

Now mind you, in practice I kinda doubt this would happen since the utility would try to pocket as much of the extra money as possible. But the fact is that more people charging up at night would not raise rates.

PNNL did a study on this, basically for night time charging the current grid can, without upgrades, handle 42% plug-in car penetration. With smart grid charging (e.g. charging around the clock but only when there is spare capacity) it went up to about 70%.

These figures were based on the grid as it was in 2006, and since then more transmission has been built to improve the capacity of the grid to deliver energy to major cities. In addition to that, residential consumers are doing a better job at reducing their consumption, freeing up more transmission capacity for other uses (charging EVs). In 2006 we were all still mostly on traditional incandescent light bulbs. Since then, I’ve moved to CFL and now LED. I also installed new Nest thermostats that helped me improve efficiency in my AC use.

Electric utilities would have to upgrade neighborhood transformers to accommodate simultaneous overnight charging, but no major improvements are really needed.

electric-car-insider.com

+1 Average grid consumption is actually down YOY since 1950, because of ongoing efficiency gains. EnergyStar is working.

With the outstanding Cree LED bulbs on sale for less than $10, the entire nation should be converting. That could represent 10-16% total electric energy savings.

electric-car-insider.com

That should have said average growth since 1950, not average consumption. Consumption growth has been negative since 2007. Electricity sales are down about 2% from 2007 levels.

Seriously . . . with CFLS, LEDs, tablets/laptops instead of desktop computers, flat panel LCDs instead of CRTs . . . we have actually reduced a lot of electricity load while improving function. And energy star appliances too. Steven Chu was quite proud of this work at the DoE although he is still quite mad that they set-top box world is still very inefficient.

That has changed as well per settop box however the number of these devices has proliferated. I would be more concerned with the cloud infrastructure at this point. Delivering content over IP is not exactly efficient.

IP works fine. And many of the cloud companies like Google and Apple have made powering their server farms by solar and wind a big priority.

electric-car-insider.com

+1

Much better to ship bits than atoms.

The big data centers are usually pretty scrupulous about sustainable energy sources. Not sure where the NSA gets its power though.

Outstanding indeed, the new 100W equivalent pumps out 89 lumens/watt and is dimmable.

They have a 100W equivalent out now? Nice. Last time I checked it was just 75W and below equivalent. The thermal issues are very hard on those higher lumen bulbs.

“In 2006 we were all still mostly on traditional incandescent light bulbs”

Speak for yourself. During the great “California rate shock” of 2000-2001 I said “enough” and changed every bulb out of my house for CFLs. The result was about %30-%50 reduction in power use.

Awesome. I did the same. But recently I got tired of the CFLs and have moved to all LEDs. I like the instant-on, good light color (as long as you get good LED bulbs), lack of mercury (I know, not a big deal but . . ), and the dimmable aspect of the LEDs.

There is a huge movement to go from old school ELECTRIC lighting, to ELECTRONIC types; like LEDs and other wave guide based low power illumination.

For example, I recently installed an ‘energy star’ ceiling fan that came with 3 type b 40 watt incandescent bulbs. Those tiny bulbs sucked 120 watts on their own– without the fan on. That made no sense to me at all, so I switched them out for 5 watt LEDs that fit the fixture and have better illumination thats dimmer-adjustable for only 15 watts or less.

Mercury is a big deal. At least it is to the federal government. I recently dropped a tiny CFL bulb and had to clear my family from the home for hours ( we have a small home ). I went to the web to find information on cleaning up after a CFL bulb breakage and the EPA offered help – a couple paragraphs worth!

Cleanup was a small HAZMAT issue, as you have to shut off any air circulation – AC or heat – not vaccume up the debris but rather dob up the breakage with sponges and wet towels ( later to dispose of in a zip-lock plastic bag! ). Disposing of CFLs requires a special recycling center… I hardily welcome LEDs over CFLs!

I really do not want mercury reaching the lungs of my family and myself. Now I’ll wait for the response from folks who say it is such a small amount of mercury! lol

My house was all CFL in mid 2005. Now I’m 50/50 LED/CFL.

More EVs on the grid would mean a better market for late night generation. Wind farms would make more money.

More profits would lead to more investment and more investment to larger numbers of turbines on line.

More turbines would mean more inexpensive wind during peak hours (when most EVs won’t be charging).

Lower monthly electricity bills for the non-charging parts of our lives and inexpensive charging.

That’s my guess.

Certainly the amount of electricity needed would go down if everyone drove an ev.

Gas cars use more per mile than evs, due to the large amount of electricity needed during the refining process.

Unfortunately I don’t have a link to any of the sources I have found over the years (anyone know?) that state that:

more electricity is needed to refine a gallon of gas than an ev would need in order to travel the distance a smiliar sized vehicle would travel burning that gallon of gas.

So, the energy is used anyway, and then gas is burned on top of that!
No way an ev can be more polluting than an ice.

The numbers I have seen range about 6-8kWh / gallon of gasoline. A Nissan Leaf can get about 3 miles/kWh, which means that a car that gets 18-24 MPG will use the same amount of electricity as a Leaf, IN ADDITION TO the gasoline.

However, most new cars get better than 18MPG, so there is still a small net increase in electricity use for an EV.

“They are not efficient unless subsidized.”

LOL. Yes, that’s right, without the $7500 tax-credit, the MPGe efficiency of an EV will drop. So we have to keep the tax-credit in place. 🙂

He’s right. Gas-powered cars aren’t cost-efficient without the $4 BILLION in subsidies we pay each year to the oil and gas companies. Oh, that’s not what he was saying? 🙂

What’s funny is you could have made that argument at $3.

What are some common myths about EVs? Lets see… Electric cars run on heavily subsidized science stolen from your tax money. Therefore, only physicists can understand them and only Wall Street Executives can afford to own one. Only a nuclear power plant can feed an EV enough electricity. One car per power plant. The gasoline car is actually cleaner than a battery electric vehicle. Google it. 1000’s of gasoline car explosions and deaths from fires, are no big deal. But a single BEV fire means the technology is hopelessly flawed. Hydrogen is the future of vehicular transportation. So, ignore that cross country network of SuperChargers or BEVs with >250 mile range on roads now. And the lack of an interstate hydrogen network… Only antisocial treehuggers and hipsters want to “refuel” their vehicle at home, overnight. Waiting at Gas Stations while blowing off pan handlers, muggers and car jackers is all the rage. All electric vehicles are cleverly disguised golf carts. In fact, VW is going to sell an EV in the US, called a “Golf”. It’s infinitely harder to plug in an EV and recharge it, than it is to use a pump at a a petrol station. This is… Read more »

“Elon Musk is an alien.”

Well this one is true. Technically, he is a legal alien from South Africa.

I hate that word when applied to human beings.

I like it because it freaks people out. My parents are aliens as well. 🙂

My wife is an alien. (Looks at picture on desk.) Why doesn’t she have green skin and antennae?

THAT’S IT! , You’ve finally explained my wife! 🙂

He because a US citizen in 2002 so. no, he isn’t an alien.

a·li·en
ˈālyən,ˈālēən/Submit
noun: alien; plural noun: aliens
1.
a foreigner, esp. one who is not a naturalized citizen of the country where they are living.
“an illegal alien”
synonyms: foreigner, nonnative, immigrant, emigrant, émigré More

Pretty entertaining list Anon. I especially like the VW Golf. still laughing…

As a pagan sun worshiper, I approve of Anon’s post.

In addition various studies have shown that ev’s
actually stabilize the grid.

Even at a neighborhood level, many areas have plenty of distribution capacity. On the west ooast inland valley areas/NV/AZ where peak summer afternoon temps can go up to 110 deg., the average 4-ton house AC system draws about 6-7 kW and at peak, are on 90% of the time. Those neighborhood grids are designed to handle these peak loads. Late night L2 EV charging at every house when the AC’s loads plummet along with other daytime/early evening loads, would be no issue. Plus, the outside air is cooler so the transformers and conductors run cooler.

Well, one legit issue I’ve heard is that some transformers are kind of undersized in that they work fine during the day and heat up but they cool off at night when the load drops and the temps cool. But if a lot of EVs are plugged in at night, they won’t get to cool off as much since they are still under load. Thus, some local transformers may need to get upgraded.

That said, that is a trivial little upgrade that the utilities can do. And they can pay for those upgrades with all the additional electricity usage.

Nobody said it, so I will.

The letter contains a circular tautology. “if everyone owned an EV, your electric bill would be $1000”, because of subsidies. But if everyone owned an electric car, everyone would get a subsidy. Thus everyone would simply get their own money back.

Just sayin’……

You wouldn’t get anywhere near your money back because it runs through the government first, which is notoriously wastful at best and corrupt at worst.

I get your point though 😉

Of course, the same applies to oil subsidies.
The government overtaxes you, gives it to powerful oil-related types, both give you a tiny proportion of that by artificially lowering the prices of gas to far below its true cost, creating the illusion that is cheap.
Therefore the majority drive more than they should in cars much bigger than they need in a way that is extremely wastful, believing the illusion and defending it by protesting any change.

Summary: unwittingly the demand that the government continues to tax them a dollar for every ten cents they save at the pump.

The masses fight for their own abuse and ignorance.

An equal number of masses fight for the notion that government is the only obstacle to the “free-market”.

I was just entertaining myself by listening to Stephen Colbert’s top 10 most popular moments and then tuned into this. I feel like I am still in the Colbert Report #11! lol

I’m not sure who is ill-informed here, as your site is clearly incapable of writing a rebuttal to the letter even while trashing it viciously.

Vigorously, yes. Viscously? Never… 😉

Hey kettle, I’m pot. You’re black.

Most people fail to account for all of the electricity used to refine, pump, distribute and etc all of that gas they burn that they get from all those brightly lit gas stations, and electricity sucking refineries.

I’d quote actual numbers about how much electricity refineries use, but interestingly enough, the oil industry managed to change the EIA oversight regulations way back in the 1960’s so that they no longer needed to report any of that information.

It’s estimated that it takes about 7 kWh of electricity to produce one gallon of gasoline (and that’s not even counting the electricity used by brightly-lit gas stations, etc. as Nix mentioned).

Here’s the eye-opener: The average American car can drive about 25 miles on one gallon of gasoline. But, many EVs can drive AT LEAST the same distance directly on the 7 kWh that was required to produce that gallon!

But, of course, producing a gallon of gasoline requires MUCH MORE than just 7 kWh of electricity. There’s all the oil exploration and extraction, transport to refineries, other energy used in production, transportation (again!) of the refined gasoline to stations, etc.. What a amazing waste of energy to drive 25 miles!

This could be a GREAT thing to support EVs but it is really hard to verify the amount of electricity required to refine a gallon of gasoline. I think the refineries might cheat by generating their own electricity by using the crappy oil by-products to locally generate their own electricity. But I’ve never been able to get a good solid number.

Suffice to say electric refining costs, whether 3-7kwh per gallon, wound the energy math of gasoline by an additional 10-20% That’s using the eGallon, ~33kwh per gallon, metric.

The benefits of co-generation, in harvesting the heat rate, are better known among combined heat and power industrial electric users. I can see where the oil industry would want to blur the lines, but consider too, that Texas is 10% of US electric consumption, ~400TWH/yr. They tower over other states. It shouldn’t be too hard to determine watt-hours, to gallon sales of fuel. I would suspect that even with oil on sight, grid supplied electricity is cheaper.

Letter came from a BIG OIL Scum Bag trying to persuade Electric Vehicles are bad. Nice try.

I guess life would be boring if everyone thought the same.

I agree. 😉

I just wish they didn’t have their own facts. 🙂

There would be some increase, as now most of the burden of road repair, infrastructure improvement, traffic light installation, etc. etc. are paid for by various gas taxes. Why else will gas be twice as expensive in Europe compared to US? It is mostly various taxes, as the governments view cars as revenue sources. I wouldn’t be surprised if many countries subsidize electricity, as it is used by all segments of the society, and not just by car owners.

If everyone would drive an EV, many of these would then have to be borne by EV owners. May be not in electricity bill, but in some other form. Till such time, let’s just enjoy our ‘early bird’ free lunches of tax incentives and free charge-ups 🙂

Wow that’s interesting. As we already have two EVs and our electric bill has been zero since 2009. Everything powered by our 6.88KW solar array.

Driving one EV and at zero too.

The fear tactic that they are implying is non-solar users power will sky rocket based on solar users not sharing the cost of maintaining lines, plants etc. Of course no credit given for more efficient electricity being shared with the next home opposed to traveling back to the plant. No mention of the green credits for that energy either. And the power co. salivate over the opportunity to sell power in off peak hours to EV users.
Yes, our country like China and many other countries are investing in EVs with the $7500 credit. China is investing $10,000. Of course the US subsidies oil to a much higher level. Gas in Europe close to $9 and gas in the US below $4. Man the oil companies really penalize the US for using so much product…. yeah right.

The only way I could figure your “electricity” bill could ever be $1,000 bucks a month, would be if you were paying for your solar panels up front over 12 to 24 months, so you would then not have any “gas/fuel” payments for decades after that.

I had a few electric bills that were $750 before I put in solar and LED lights. Now with the FFE this month will be $27.00

$750/month? Wow. You must have a big house and cranking that AC.

I’ll bet the letter was signed by Charles and David Koch.

SHhhhh! Stop evangelizing EV’s – the more out there the lower current owner’s chance to get free charges at work and around town.

Let people addicted to gas spend their discretionary income in supporting the sheik’s economies while we spend the extra money in our pockets to enjoy life, breath better and support our local economy.

Someday the secret will be out.

Great Idea… although I like the idea of clean air.

Humm,, the big unknown here is what electric rates will be in the future, since my British owned utility here in NY State is gaming the system (they charged 20 cents/kwh in february, but then lowered it to 8 1/2 cents / kwh in march since people were calling their congressman to check into price gouging (80% increase) and blamed it on high natural gas prices when my natural gas bill’s supply cost hardly went up at all – fortunately I do *NOT* have National Grid as my Gas utility).

Southern California Edison seems to have the distinction of the worst utility in the worst state (for electric rates I mean), so if my VOLT used 12 kwh / day or 360 kwh / month at 53 cents / kwh that would be $190.80 plus whatever taxes or fees they no doubt add to THAT total.

Still, comfortably away from $1000 a month.

I hope they don’t talk about that too much, before some politician thinks its a good idea to pay $1000 a month!