Monday, May 18, 2009

Problems Today, Test Drive Tomorrow, It's all good!

Just a quick progress report from Carlsbad Ca.

It's been an interesting few days here with our utility. At issue is that we were one of the first neighborhoods to underground our utilities in the early 70's. The process back then was called direct burial and the cable was called sita. The expected life of the cable was 30 years or around the year 2000.

Well they quickly found out that it was wrong way to do things and beginning in the late 70's they started to do under grounding of the utilities by putting a 4" pipe or conduit under the road which would allow them to "fish" new service through the conduit instead of having to trench open the whole road to get to the transformer on the other side of the street.

So back to our house, the utility said sure you can have the car and charging station, all you need to do is trench across the road and upgrade our direct burial sita (past its life expectency) to conduit. And don't worry the cost with traffic control and all included would be around 25k.

After they picked me up off the floor and put the heart defibrillator away, I regained consciousness and started to have a reasoned conversation with them. Their concern of course is that the cable would not handle the extra amperage. I asked them to look at my usage the past 18 months and their response was classic! Sir, you have no usage just the minimum bill, $3.85 for a meter and .17 a day for the service.

So the utility is fine with my car, and realizes I am on an SDG&E ev2TOU rate structure and Net metering :) which means I will be charging at night between 12am and 6am when the juice is super off peak and 1/2 the cost. During the day our strain on the sita cable is in the reverse direction supplying power to them at more than double the cost compared to night.

So my story ends well thanks to solar and an efficient home and a utility that was willing to work with their customer. Contracts are signed and installation of the wall box is around the corner.

It does illuminate an issue with electric cars and that is the fragile and often antiquated infrastructure that in many case cannot handle 220volt 40 amp service.

For mass adoption, this will need to be figured out. I think the utilities are looking at the electric car as their next big customer so hopefully both sides, the car companies and the utilities, can ease the transition for the homeowner so we can do no less than change our motive power to electric in our transportation system.

Tomorrow, I get to drive the Mini-E for the first time! I am very excited and looking forward to how the actual experience compares to the countless reviews I have read.

The fruit is always out on the end of the limb, the important decision is which limb is strong enough to climb out on!

Thanks BMW/Mini for blazing the trail. Tomorrow is going to be a blast.


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