Empowering Western NC and Upstate SC with Solar Since 1995

Electric Vehicle enthusiasts gathered in Raleigh on Wednesday, March 13 to celebrate the release of NC’s PEV Roadmap (among them our own James Ward, who sent back the awesome shot of the Fisker Karma’s solar electric roof reflecting the sunshine and his own smiling face, above) andlocal readiness plans from regions across the State. (The “Plugging in from Mountains to Sea” Initiative has advanced the shift to electric vehicles by leaps and bounds, thanks to the NC PEV Taskforce and funding from the US Department of Energy.

The roadmap focuses on Vehicles, Infrastructure, Incentives and Economic Development, Education and Outreach, and Policies, Codes & Standards, and works to pave a smoother road to the adoption of electric vehicles.  Milestones are being realized; records from the NC Department of Motor Vehicles revealed more than 700 PEVs are registered in North Carolina as of August 2012, and estimates from the Electric Power Research Institute indicate there will be more than 750,000 PEVs on the road by 2030!

We’re very excited about this shift for fairly obvious reasons, but to put it in the simplest terms, the ability to drive on sunshine is pretty exciting. Electric vehicles can be charged by electricity that is generated through clean energy technologies, and solar photovoltaics (pv) is an ideal match. A recent survey of PEV owners found that a third of the group already own or plan to install a pv sytem at their home. Our residential spotlight on Dan Flye and his family, above, serves as an example of this. (Since we installed the Flye’s system, we’ve done two more for Tesla owners, and calculate that we have at least 6 PV-EV customers that we are aware of.)

In terms of fuel economy, and comparing electric vehicles to gasoline-powered internal combustion engines, EVs can deliver considerable savings. The report states that charging an electric car costs three to five cents per mile. In contrast, fueling a gasoline car that has a fuel economy of 27.5 mpg costs about 14 cents per mile. If you drive 15,000 miles per year, you could save $1,300 to $1,600 per year in fuel costs annually by driving a PEV in all-electric mode instead of driving a conventional gasoline car. For those who invest in a solar system to generate their own power, the numbers get really interesting. Dave Erb, who has worked on developing electric and hybrid electric vehicles for more than two decades, and is a faculty member of UNC Asheville’s Mechatronics Engineering Program, recently inquired about the current price of an installed pv system per watt, and responded with some incredible calculations “At $4.00 / watt before incentives and $1.00 / watt from SunSense, using PV to power a Leaf in NC is equivalent to buying gas for a Prius at $0.77 per gallon, or for a Camry at about $0.42 per gallon.  (In his calculations, Dave’s pv costs were accounted for in a 4% 30-year mortgage. The SunSense incentive is being reduced to $.50/watt, so these figures will change.) What’s more, he adds, is “this is keeping money in our communities.”

Erika Schneider, our Outreach Coordinator, has been an active member of Asheville’s EV Committee, and Sundance is recognized as a contributing stakeholder in the Greater Asheville PEV Readiness Plan.  Her passion for EVs kick- started in our   March 2011 newsletter, with a PV-EV campaign and a focus on the Clean Vehicle Coalition. In March 2012, we celebrated Brightfields solar-charging stations that were installed in Asheville.  It is gratifying to share this progress in this March’s newsletter just two years later.  While we’re still in low gear, we are moving down the road to cleaner transportation. With a roadmap in place, things will be gearing up fast!

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