The million-mile battery is coming. Here’s why it matters

by David Ferris, E&E News


  • Tesla, General Motors, and Contemporary Amperex Technology are attempting to make car batteries that can last one million miles
  • The batteries have been tested in labs, but have not been manufactured and tested
  • Electric vehicles could hypothetically last forever with the advent of this ultra-long range battery
  • However, many factors such as temperature, frequent charging, and age all still play a role in how well the battery lasts over time
  • EV’s last much longer than traditional combustion engine vehicles and require less maintenance
  • Long-range vehicles could be utilized most by ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft since cars used in this industry face more servicing needs
  • Batteries could be utilized to shift renewable energy from one part of the day to another

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign calls for investments and bold policies to support clean mobility, including a phase-out of all gas-powered vehicles.

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Washington State looks to a ban on new gas vehicles

by Danny Westneat, Seattle Times


The idea of banning new gas cars, formerly seen as too aggressive and radical, is picking up steam in Washington state:

  • Ten Washington legislators introduced House Bill 2515, which aims to ban the registration of any new gas-powered passenger or light-duty trucks, starting ten years from now, in 2030
  • The bill excludes emergency vehicles and equipment over 10,000 lbs
  • HB 2515  allows the reselling of older model gas powered vehicles in 2030 and after

Transitioning from internal combustion engine cars to electric vehicles is a key component of The Climate Center’s sustainable mobility work.

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GM CEO Mary Barra

GM and Honda unveil electric self-driving car with no steering wheel or pedals

by Matt McFarland, CNN Business, January 22, 2020


  • GM and Honda have engineered a new 6-seat electric vehicle, the Origin, that drives itself
  • The self-driving car isn’t for sale but is rather available for rides through a ride-share app
  • The six-seat electric vehicle has no steering wheel, brake or accelerator pedals, windshield wipers or rearview mirror. Its doors slide rather than swing open. There’s no obvious front or back, like a typical car.
  • The new car will need additional approval from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration due to its unique car components

Electric vehicles that offer ride-sharing through carpools are an important part of sustainable mobility.

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Rivian gets $1.3 billion investment in electric truck venture

by Peter Eavis, NY Times

Rivian, an electric-vehicle start-up that has drawn an impressive roster of backers, announced Monday that it had received a $1.3 billion investment led by T. Rowe Price, the mutual fund company.

It was the fourth investment in Rivian this year and the company’s largest funding round so far. Amazon and Ford Motor, which were already Rivian investors, also took part in the latest round.

The funding is a vote of confidence in Rivian, which expects to start delivering a truck and a sport utility vehicle next year. But it also underscores the company’s need for capital. Investments in the company in 2019 have raised $2.85 billion.

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Buddy Burch talks of personal experience with electric vehicle

by Buddy Burch, CCP

A few weeks ago, I finally took the plunge and purchased my first electric vehicle (EV). I had begun to seriously consider the switch at the end of 2017 when I moved back to Santa Rosa and started working at The Climate Center. My first assignment was to produce a survey of global actions being taken to phase out internal combustion engine vehicles. After spending months on this topic, my conscience cried for an EV.

The reason I jumped in and purchased my Nissan Leaf at Jim Bone Nissan of Santa Rosa was Sonoma Clean Power’s Drive EV rebate program. I’m currently applying to grad school, so there were several factors at play for me. Obviously, I wanted to reduce my emissions on the road. At the same time, I’m looking at the cost of school for two years for a master’s degree, and I’m still paying off some student loans from undergrad. All of that said, I’ve been working for a few years, I’ve saved some money, and now was possibly the best time for me to invest in something that would last me through (and past) grad school. The rebate (and finding out that I could have a reasonable monthly payment after spending some time developing my credit score) was the tipping point in making the investment affordable.

I wanted to write this blog post to encourage younger people to really weigh the options about the purchases we make as we enter adulthood. While I cannot stress enough that we live in a system that does not favor climate-friendly choices, making them inconvenient or unaffordable, we should still try to make decisions that reduce our carbon footprint and get us closer to mitigating climate change. Even more important, we must demand climate mitigation solutions from our leaders at every level through elections and policy campaigns so that green technologies become the most affordable and available. Policies can change the cars we drive and the health of our planet.

As EV sales explode, Sonoma County is a model for ramping up incentives

by Doron Amiran, CCP

The growth of EVs is exploding worldwide. With Over 4 million EVs sold to date, the question is not will combustion cars go the way of the landline, but when. A recent report by Bloomberg Financial shows that while the first million EVs took over 5 years to sell, the 4th million took only six months. Six months!

This tells us that we are clearly moving up the “hockey stick” of the growth curve, and EV ownership is shifting from tech-savvy innovators, to true early adopters. It is only a matter of time before we see a mass replacement of combustion cars. After all, why drive a more expensive, more polluting, and more prone-to-breakdown combustion car when there is a better car out there?

Here in Sonoma County we can see this every day on our roads, as Nissan Leafs and Tesla Model 3s, among others, become increasingly common. As we approach our goal of 10,000 EVs on the road in Sonoma County by 2020, 100,000 by 2030, and 100% EV sales soon after that, there are a variety of rebates, incentives and tools available to Sonoma and Mendocino County residents who want to enjoy the benefits of clean, cheap and almost maintenance-free electric cars.

Especially alluring is the third and final iteration of Sonoma Clean Power’s Drive Evergreen program, which provides local residents with thousands of dollars in discounts and rebates, on top of State and Federal dollars, to make new and used EVs available at the lowest possible cost. There are a wide variety of vehicles available under the program, including minivans and SUVs, as well as regular cars. The program runs through November 15th.

If you still have questions, or want to find out more about EVs in general, The Climate Center, together with our local partners at the Regional Climate Protection  Authority, is pleased to announce the launch of a new tool that has all the answers. EV 101, housed on the Sonoma Clean Power website, is designed to put all the info you need in one simple and comprehensive location. Click here to get your questions answered, then go get an EV. Once you have enjoyed the low cost and incredible performance of an EV, you will wonder, as we do, why are we still burning gas at all?


Tesla powerpack to enable large scale sustainable energy to south Australia

by The Tesla Team, Tesla

Last September, a 50-year storm damaged critical infrastructure in the state of South Australia, causing a state-wide blackout and leaving 1.7 million residents without electricity. Further blackouts occurred in the heat of the Australian summer in early 2017. In response, the South Australian Government as a leader in renewable energy, looked for a sustainable solution to ensure energy security for all residents, now and into the future, calling for expressions of interest to deploy grid-scale energy storage options with at least 100 megawatts (MW) of capacity.

This week, through a competitive bidding process, Tesla was selected to provide a 100 MW/129 MWh Powerpack system to be paired with global renewable energy provider Neoen’s Hornsdale Wind Farm near Jamestown, South Australia. Tesla was awarded the entire energy storage system component of the project.

Tesla Powerpack will charge using renewable energy from the Hornsdale Wind Farm and then deliver electricity during peak hours to help maintain the reliable operation of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure. The Tesla Powerpack system will further transform the state’s movement towards renewable energy and see an advancement of a resilient and modern grid.

Upon completion by December 2017, this system will be the largest lithium-ion battery storage project in the world and will provide enough power for more than 30,000 homes, approximately equal to the amount of homes that lost power during the blackout period.

Working in close collaboration with the South Australian Government and Neoen, this grid scale energy storage project is not only sustainable, but will help solve power shortages, reduce intermittencies, and manage summertime peak load to improve the reliability of South Australia’s electrical infrastructure.

In addition, Tesla’s Powerwall is now being installed for residential customers across Australia and ramping up quickly. The same technology that can help stabilize the South Australian grid can also be used by homeowners to collect energy during the day so it is stored and made available day and night, providing uninterrupted power even if the grid goes down.

Tesla is proud to be part of South Australia’s renewable energy future, and we expect this project will provide a model for future deployments around the world that will help significantly accelerate the adoption of sustainable energy.


California’s big three utilities submit proposals to increase access to EV infrastructure

by Tom Ewing,

January 20 was an important day for transportation electrification in California. That was the deadline for the state’s three major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to submit applications for major upgrades to electric transportation infrastructure. California’s Senate Bill 350 (2015) requires the IOUs to establish programs that will increase “access to the use of electricity as a transportation fuel.”

Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison provide about three quarters of California’s electricity supply. Applications from the smaller IOUs – Liberty Utilities, Bear Valley Electric and PacifiCorp – are due June 30.

Last September, California’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued a lengthy document, written by Commissioner Carla Peterman, describing what the IOU applications should contain. This complex document cross-references multiple energy and transportation programs, from reducing petroleum use to stimulating innovation and competition. In something of an understatement, Commissioner Peterman wrote that “the electric utilities will need to think outside of the box on how they can provide electricity to fuel vehicles, integrate and maximize the use of renewable energy, and accelerate the adoption of transportation electrification in order to achieve the multiple objectives outlined by SB 350.”

Peterman lists some priorities:

  • Light-duty vehicles: New projects need “to be different” from existing pilot projects, which, the IOUs are cautioned, should not just be scaled up until results are checked.
  • Rates: Shifting costs among ratepayer classes may not be a viable solution.
  • Environmental justice and benefits within disadvantaged communities.
  • Leveraging resources: Transit electrification, for example, can provide neighborhood air-quality benefits and draw upon “other funding sources.” Or, plans for ports and freight may be a good starting point because single owners control many vehicles.
  • Vehicle-to-grid communication interface (VGI): Applications should reference program compliance with the ISO/IEC 15118 VGI Standard; or plans must justify alternative approaches.

So, what did the three IOUs propose to jump-start big shifts in private sector transportation investments?

Each utility’s application has two core sets of ideas: “priority review” programs and “standard review” programs.

The priority programs are relatively quick and easy. However, they are deliberately limited by the PUC: each priority project must cost less than $4 million and, altogether, cannot total more than $20 million for each utility. Allowing “priority” projects is important, though, because PUC’s review will likely take all of 2017. Priority projects can at least get some actual work started relatively quickly. But importantly, priority projects are not viewed as hefty enough to fulfill the requirements of SB 350. Those more substantive ideas are within the “standard review” category.

Priority projects

SCE proposes six priority projects, totaling $19.45 million, including rebates for residents to install EV charging infrastructure, an EV rideshare reward and electrifying freight equipment at the Port of Long Beach.

PG&E and SDG&E suggest similar proposals: electrifying airport ground equipment, charging infrastructure for electric delivery vehicles and a rate (fee) to encourage rideshare drivers and services to use EVs. PG&E would spend $20 million, SDG&E $18.2 million.

Priority projects will undergo PUC review – they are not shoo-ins. But they won’t receive the same extensive scrutiny as the “standard review” projects.

Standard review

Here’s a brief summary of the IOUs’ big-picture ideas. The PUC will closely evaluate whether they present the kinds of programs and investments that will start an unstoppable demand for electricity as a transportation fuel.

San Diego Gas & Electric

SDG&E proposes to spend $226 million, over five years, for 90,000 in-home Level 2 (L2) charging stations, paying for installation and maintenance, although there is a cost cap. The offer is paired with a customer requirement to sign up for a residential “grid integrated rate,” a combination designed to promote renewable energy development and efficient grid operations and to save money. (High-energy programs present technical challenges, so the reference to “efficient grid operations” is important.) At least 20% of installations would be set aside for disadvantaged communities.

SDG&E expects the L2 program will increase EV demand and lead to “market expansion opportunities for all market participants.” The program would remove “a significant barrier to more rapid EV market growth: lack of consumer confidence in convenient and cost-effective charging.” The utility believes the plan provides the environmental, safety, equal access and grid management benefits consistent with SB 350.

Pacific Gas & Electric

In northern California, PG&E seeks two major programs. One proposes $22 million in rebates to help purchase DC fast chargers in disadvantaged communities.

The second would build out PG&E’s FleetReady program, which provides “make-ready infrastructure to support the accelerated electrification of non-light-duty electric vehicles,” e.g. trucks, commuter and school buses, forklifts and other off-road commercial vehicles. “Make-ready” is a California utility term for certain electrical equipment, usually including distribution infrastructure (wires/cables/utility poles) linked to a transformer and then through a meter to the panel and conduit. Make-ready is a substantive commitment, prepping a customer’s site for the final vehicle charging equipment.

PG&E proposes spending $210 million on FleetReady, possibly totaling 700 installations over five years. A final number depends on demand, location and the actual costs at a specific site. Success also depends on customer commitments – which are significant. Fleet impact is variable, too. PG&E estimates that by 2022, new EV work vehicles might number between 800 and 8,000.

Southern California Edison

SCE’s standard review program includes two parts. First, the utility would build and own charging infrastructure for medium-, heavy-duty and non-road vehicles, thereby supporting electrification for transit and freight. And SCE would provide rebates for similar projects at private sector sites.

The second part is a proposed new “rate design” to promote EV adoption. This would establish three new, optional commercial rate schedules for different customer demands. The rates would use up-to-date time-of-use periods for accurate “price signals” reflecting grid conditions. For the first five years, SCE would not assess monthly demand charges. Customers would just pay “volumetric energy charges.” After five years, demand charges would be phased in.

SCE writes that its standard review program costs would total $554 million. The charging infrastructure accounts for all of that sum (which is not clearly broken out in the application). No costs are listed for the intellectual work of designing new rates.

Although rates always deserve a close look, the utilities are not looking for major rate increases to pay for their EV programs, at least as rates are presented within their applications. Indeed, some initial rates appear to fall even as the programs are adopted. One utility spokesperson said that residential monthly costs will increase by about $0.28/month to pay for its electrification programs.

The next steps

The utilities suggest a schedule that the PUC might follow to approve the plans. The last quarter of 2017 is the common target date, but the PUC sets its own schedule. Citizen and ratepayer intervention would add time. Program implementation likely won’t start before 2018, although some priority projects, once approved, could start sooner.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the applications leave open the vehicle-to-grid interface (VGI) issue. VGI is referenced in supporting documents. All of the utilities seek a working group for VGI solutions “for the many diverse use cases for charging all types of EVs.”

All of the application documents are available via the California PUC’s web site.