San Diego County leads the nation in Solar PV and EV adoption.
As a ten year practitioner of both EV driving & Solar PV renewable energy generation, and nine years as a San Diego County Planning Commissioner leading on complex energy and transportation issues, allow me to share some of my "lessons learned" and insights with you.
110,000 solar PV systems in the SDG&E service area are also EV ready fueling stations.
Transportation and our utilities generate over 90% of our emissions in the U.S.. In larger cities with dense populations like San Diego California, transportation counts for greater than 50% of total emissions.
95% of emissions in San Diego come from transportation and utility sources.
How are these two emission giants reacting to the challenge of lowering emissions?
Their actions not words, is a mixture of good and bad, with the “white hat” belonging to the utilities and the “black hat” belonging to the transportation providers with the exception of Tesla.
What is clear when you view this recent 2016 US Energy Information Administration chart is that utilities have "answered the call" they have already lowered their carbon emissions to 1990 levels and are on a steep descending path of emission reductions to well below 40% of the 1990 levels by 2030. At the same time transportation emissions continue to climb upward.
For the first time in 40 years, transportation is now a larger source of emissions than the utilities.
Source information here
Utilities have embraced cleaner burning natural gas plants replacing dirtier coal & oil, and are investing heavily in renewable energy plants. Renewable energy plants now make up the majority of new power-plant generation coming on the grid in the U.S. and here in San Diego, our utility SDG&E leads the nation at 43% renewable energy content. Regulators, legislators, environmental activist, the Sierra Club, utility watchdogs & the utilities all deserve our praise for this transition.
Natural gas is being slowly relegated from a “base load” supply to a “peaker” role to augment the intermittency issues of the renewables. In just a few short decades with the advancement of battery technology, utilities will replace natural gas peaker plants with energy storage of all types including battery. This is already happening in San Diego County with SDG&E recently installing the worlds largest battery storage system in Escondido California.
Unfortunately, the transportation sector has not embraced the same forces of change and available technology. They are heading "zoom zoom" in a very wrong direction.
There is an emerging understanding that our utilities paradoxically, hold the key to solutions for transportation emissions in the form or far less expensive electricity as compared to gasoline.
EV's represent a new load for our utilities, with new local renewable energy plants creating new local jobs... and forgive my passion here... a retention of our dollars in our own communities, with jobs for our own citizens and an end to the exportation of our hard earned dollars via the local gas pump to obscenely enrich foreign countries, mainly in the Middle East, while our communities suffer. (Rant over)
In 2014-2015, Julie and I, documented our personal and private life with Inside Ev's, chronicling the one year journey of our home with our two BMW i3's plugged into the sun. We continue the zero emission lifestyle today and we succeeded in demonstrating you can live and drive on sunshine. Here are three main lessons gleaned from that very special year:
1. It's far cheaper to drive on electricity than gasoline.
This enriches your family budget and lowers your family emissions substantially. Most of the savings come from the efficiency of the electric motor. You can achieve the majority of saving with grid electricity however investing in a solar PV energy plant gives you the greatest savings. Either way, you create local jobs and invest in your own communities instead of exporting your money.
Our actual experience in 2014-2015
2. For the same amount of electricity, reductions in emissions are 400% greater in transportation than in buildings.
The effectiveness of measures to reduce emissions are just as important as knowing the source of emissions.
When you supply a kilowatt of renewable electricity, replacing the current grid mix of utility electricity to a building in San Diego County you save .6 lbs. of emissions per kWh. When you supply a kilowatt at the current utility grid mix to transportation you save 2.4 lbs. of emission per kWh. This is a 400% greater emission reduction for the same unit of electricity.
Transportation is both the greatest source and has the greatest yield in emission reductions across the nation.
3. It's cheaper to save energy than it is to make energy.
100% renewable energy goals leap frog over the energy loading order which begins with efficiency and demand management for both buildings and transportation.
Utilities are ripe targets for bashing as behemoth regulated monopolies. Nobody ever likes to pay a high utility bill, yet we all demand more renewable energy. As the popular saying goes,
"The devil you know is better than the devil you don't."
In San Diego County, our utility SDG&E deserves praise. We are leading the way in Solar PV with 110,000 energy entrepreneurs installing solar PV on the SDG&E grid, we are leading the way in EV adoption with favorable EV electricity rates. We are leading the way at 43% renewable energy mix (far greater than the 33% required by 2020) and we are leading the way with energy choice where each customer can order up to 100% renewable energy. We are strengthening our economy with local jobs creating local renewable power plants and we are investing in the future of energy both in generation and storage. We are adapting and leading the nation and we are prospering as a region working regionally together.
San Diego is an energy model to the U.S. If there was ever a case to celebrate success and all its partners including SDG&E, It's San Diego. In San Diego, we are charting a clean and robust economic course towards the future with a firm rudder in the water, full speed ahead, steady as she goes.