Helen Villines 12:30 p.m., Dec. 12
SDG&E Gets Special Treatment of Billing for Electric Vehicle Recharging
According to Onell Soto in this morning's distinguished daily paper, San Diego Gas and Electric Company will bill electric car owners separately from their residential usage for overnight recharging. California's Public Utility Commission has allegedly approved experimental rates to encourage the first 1000 Nissan Leaf customers to recharge during off-peak hours.
Until the advent of electrical vehicles, fueling automotive transportation has been an oil company monopoly. SDG&E spokesperson Art Larson was quoted saying ”The objective of the [experimental rate] study is to better understand Leaf owner's changing habits and the impact of this behavior on the grid.”
Something that SDG&E cannot measure is the total number Leaf and other electrical vehicle owners who chose to use off-grid electrical production for partial or complete recharging.
Soto revealed that the University of San Diego has started work on 1.23 megawatts of solar electricity generation to be provided by AMSOLAR. An AMSOLAR public relations spokesperson informs me that USD is the first of several university AMSOLAR solar projects, and that the total cost will be about $100 million for 20 megawatts at several campuses nationwide. AMSOLAR will then sell electricity to USD at a rate less than that charged by SDG&E. An anecdotal assessment of USD student demographics indicates that USD students would be likely electric vehicle drivers.
San Diego residential Leaf customers could generate just under half a kilowatt of off-grid electricity with an investment of around $2500 in free-standing solar panels. Half a kilowatt is enough to power two energy-efficient refrigerators or 30 CFL table lamps. No recharging numbers for the Leaf are currently available.
By using free-standing solar panels, residential off-grid solar panels do not require Federal Energy Regulatory Commission certification as Qualifying Facilities (FERC QF). FERC QF qualification is necessary before residential customers with grid-connected solar panels receive reimbursement from SDG&E for excess residential solar-generated electricity sent into the power grid. Currently, any excess solar power is now taken by SDG&E from customers for free to be immediately resold at retail market rates to other SDG&E customers. The City of San Diego raised permit rates this year on grid-connected solar panels as home improvement projects.
Soto further indicated that SDG&E will be buying alternatively-generated electricity from a Palm Springs wind farm, in part to meet a state mandate of 20% generation from alternative energy sources. Among California's three big investor owned utilities, SDG&E ranks third in alternative generation and is well below the state mandate.