Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Gas Prices Up, Solar Prices Down.

Gas Prices Up, Solar Prices Down. This is a pattern you can expect to continue. In the words of a famous Men’s Warehouse Tailor:
“I guarantee it”

Gasoline prices will rise now that we have passed peak oil, pushed higher by 3 billion new consumers in China, India and the Middle East, pushed higher by increasing governmental regulations and the public’s desire for cleaner less polluted air. Billions of new consumers hunger for the same quality of life and quantity of consumption as 600 million Americans and Europeans. A quality of life fueled by the energy dense miracle of prehistoric composition, oil.

Decreasing supply, a five fold increase in consumption, a stricter regulatory environment… you can draw your own conclusion on what the price of gasoline will be in the future, say nothing about inflation.

Solar P.V. prices are dropping (have been dropping since their begining in the 50’s.) Currently in Southern California a residential installation will run about $3.75 to $4.25 per kw of Solar P.V. net cost. A 5kw P.V. system will net cost the owner between $18,000 and $22,000. Each kw of solar P.V. will produce 1600KWH of annual energy in Southern California, more on that later.

I have driven 24,000 miles in the past 19 months in Mini-E #183. An electric car driven by electrons produced 100% by solar energy. I consider it nothing short of amazing, incredibly fun to drive, it has transformed my life and my energy, transportation beliefs.

My Mini-E drives 3.5 miles per KWH. Using the national average of 12,000 mile a year, I need to generate 3500 KWH a year to “fuel” the Mini-E. This requires a 2.2 kw Solar P.V. system, (remember the 1600kwh per year?) however because of my TOU (time of use) rate structure, I get paid 29 cents a KWH during the peak hour when I am producing electricity and I get charged at night a cost of 14 cents per KWH. This is essentially 2 for the price of one. To make a long story short based on our SDG&E TOU rate structure and actual experience over two years, a system that is 1.65 KWH that generates 2640 peak hour KWH will provide 3500KWH of off peak electricity.

About the graphs:

The Solar P.V. chart is my actual cost, adding an additional inverter in year 15. I choose 25 years as that is the warranted period of the solar PV system. It will degrade slightly over that time this is true, but it will also provide electricity far past it’s 25 year warranty. All the charts depict 12,000 miles of driving. The gas charts use the U.S. fleet average for cars of 20mpg with the first year cost of fuel at $3.50 a gallon for 600 gallons. Your mileage or annual driving numbers may be much higher or lower but that is the fleet average. Electricity prices vary far more than gasoline so make sure to check out your own unique situation.

The gas charts are at 5% and 7.5% annual increase. The past 25 years gas has increased at 3.5% this would be about $84,000 in total cost. What do you think gas prices will do? 5% to 7.5% is my best guess.

I have driven for 32 years and up until the Mini-E, I purchased gas. It is my conclusion that the electric car is already cheaper than the gas car to own and operate for many areas of our country that are renewable energy based such as the Pacific Northwest, or for those such as I, that produce their own energy. I also believe that the electric car if adopted in mass quantities can clean our air and end our dependence on foreign oil.

Of special note is that the total cost of the solar P.V. system required to drive an electric car 12,000 miles a year for over 25 years, is less than the cost of buying gasoline for four years for a gasoline powered car.

Again, in the words of the Men’s Warehouse tailor, You will be buying fuel for your car for the next 25 years “I guarantee it”

The question is what type of fuel will you buy for what type of car?

Solar is $0.35 cents a gallon fixed in price forever.

It's a new world America!


Monday, December 13, 2010

There is safety in the status quo.

There is safety in the status quo.

As a driver of an electric vehicle, Mini-E #183 powered by renewable solar power for the past 18 months and 23,000 miles I enjoy greatly and many times find humorous, reading the many pundits writing and perspectives written about the electric car.

I divide the writings into three (general I admit) camps. The Preachers, the Practitioners and the Protesters.

The preachers are noble, hopeful, and imagine a more perfect world, a healthier planet, embracing an emerging technology that can lead us to the promise land of energy independence, renewable energy, and pollution free air. A more perfect world that can lead us away from war and dependence. The preachers at times, overlook practical roadblocks, real problems and market limitations in the message of a noble good. The preachers have very seldom produced a product in the marketplace meaningful to the real world.

The practitioners want to go beyond theory and the preacher, and put into practice the future. In this case the electric car.

They are the bleeding edge (there is a reason they call it the bleeding edge) early adopters willing and financially able to take part in the new electric mobility world. Similar to those who manufacture or purchase the first $3000 cell phone, the first $5000 computer, the first $15,000 plasma television, the first $200,000 ride into space and the first electric car.

The goal of the practitioner is to experience the new world and prove to themselves, either pass or fail, on the technology they embrace. They are inquisitive by nature, entrepreneurial by craft, they are motivated by many varied factors but united in the experience of discovery, of being pioneers, of imagining and creation of the future.

They are equally ably to reject technology that does not deliver on the promise, solution or intent as promised by the manufacture to the early adopter. Failure is not a final destination to the practitioner but rather a road traveled, a calculation on the path to the future.

The protesters are protectors of the status quo. They warn against perceived whimsical flights of fancy into the new world, they warn against the new and unproven, they decry changes to the structure to a society comfortable to them. They rail against government support of the new enterprise while ignoring the government support of companies of existing enterprise. They are assured by the performance of the current, they are rooted into today and what works for them.
They take comfort as shepherds of the docile.

The protesters have never advanced the cause of humanity through any endeavor in the history of mankind. They take pleasure in proving wrong the preachers and advocating to the malleable heard, the perils and dangers of the practitioners and the preachers.
There is safety in the status quo as the vast majority of the population lie here within.

Your interested in an electric car. So who's writing to believe?

I will let the reader answer that question themselves.

I end this writing by quoting in part “Security” written by Hunter S. Thompson (1955).

"A man is to be pitied who lacked the courage to accept the challenge of freedom and depart from the cushion of security and see life as it is instead of living it second-hand. Life has by-passed this man and he has watched from a secure place, afraid to seek anything better What has he done except to sit and wait for the tomorrow which never comes?

Turn back the pages of history and see the men who have shaped the destiny of the world. Security was never theirs, but they lived rather than existed. Where would the world be if all men had sought security and not taken risks or gambled with their lives on the chance that, if they won, life would be different and richer? It is from the bystanders (who are in the vast majority) that we receive the propaganda that life is not worth living, that life is drudgery, that the ambitions of youth must he laid aside for a life which is but a painful wait for death. These are the ones who squeeze what excitement they can from life out of the imaginations and experiences of others through books and movies.

These are the insignificant and forgotten men who preach conformity because it is all they know. These are the men who dream at night of what could have been, but who wake at dawn to take their places at the now-familiar rut and to merely exist through another day. For them, the romance of life is long dead and they are forced to go through the years on a treadmill, cursing their existence, yet afraid to die because of the unknown which faces them after death. They lacked the only true courage: the kind which enables men to face the unknown regardless of the consequences.

As an afterthought, it seems hardly proper to write of life without once mentioning happiness; so we shall let the reader answer this question for himself: who is the happier man, he who has braved the storm of life and lived or he who has stayed securely on shore and merely existed?”


Mini-E #183

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mini-E California Cruising...

Zipping around in the cold California sunshine.
Mini-E #183 now has 22,500 miles on the odo.

Status: Incredibly fun, extremely reliable, cheap to drive, and I still occasionally burst out in spontaneous laughter, I am literally driving on sunshine with no emissions from the power source or the car for less than 50 cents a gallon. Best car in 32 years of driving.

Anxieties: Lots of them.
Giving Mini-E# 183 back to BMW, waiting for the Active-E, waiting for the Megacity, waiting for a plug in hybrid SUV with the first 40 miles electric, (are you listening BMW?) watching the San Diego Chargers play football, dry turkey on Thanksgiving.

Hopey Changey: I "hope" the 2010 “Tea Party” realizes that the original Tea Party of 1773 was made up of American Patriots of all political beliefs unified in freedom and liberty, not just “repackaged right wing republicans.” That the “Al Gores” of the world stop preying on fear and stop playing the American public for political fools and realize the world is not going to end anytime soon. Nice "change" on Ethanol, Al,

That 2011 brings new cars, new motive power and cleaner air.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Electric Cars, A Stadium and A Declaration.

click on the picture to go to the Eagles 100% sustainable stadium website.

Welcome NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles to the renewable energy sustainability party!

Rush Limbaugh , George Will, and others pundits made comfortable by the status quo, have attacked General Motors and the Chevy Volt, They now have a new target. They can focus their “quills and shrills” at another American icon, the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles.

They must be thinking how un-American that the Philadelphia Eagles seek energy independence and seek to provide clean renewable energy via wind/solar and cogeneration spurred on by U.S. policy.

Will and Rush the wealthy happy “Revisionist Tea Party” scribes, write wrongly about American companies, American cars, American people and no doubt in the near future, American Football.

I would suggest that EV Drivers, renewable energy providers, GM, and the NFL, who seek to end the taxing of Americans to pay for war cost on far away lands, who seek to end the enriching of foreign nations to protect our national weakness and dependency on oil, reflect the true values and intentions of the Boston Tea Party.

The parallels are remarkable.

The Tea party took place in Philadelphia, New York and Boston with American Patriots refusing to pay the illegitimate taxes imposed by the British, to pay for the costly price incurred by the British in the French and Indian wars concluding in 1763. The British miscalculated that American Colonists who loved their tea as a dependent staple of early American life, would choose to pay the tax as opposed to not having their tea.

In Boston the ships would not leave harbor without collecting their duty. On December 16th 1773, Tea from three ships was dumped into the harbor.

How wonderful that in the same Philadelphia, the NFL Eagles wrote their Declaration of Energy Independence on November 18th 2010.

As a conservation minded American, I would not suggest dumping the oil from three ships into the Boston harbor on December 16th 2010 in protest, as the environmental disaster would be unacceptable.

I would suggest however that both Rush Limbaugh and George Will, like the British, have miscalculated the American Patriots of 2010 who "need" their oil as a staple of American life, and would choose to “pay the tax” thus strengthen foreign countries economically, weaken and make more dependent the USA, and pollute our country as opposed to not having their oil.

We can, are, have and will become energy independent in this country. We will reclaim our Independence. We can do that by buying and producing clean domestic energy instead of importing oil and paying the “tea/oil tax” for wars afar.

Deep breath, “You can make your own fuel at home” cheaper and cleaner than buying it from the gas station.

Our cost to do that for our electric car a BMW Mini-E is $0.45 cents in solar electricity to drive the equivalent of a gallon of gas which is 25 miles. Said another way. Our cost to drive electric, 15,000 miles a year for 25 years will be $10,000. To drive a gasoline powered car the same distance and years would cost $85,000 for the gasoline.

We have been shouting from the rooftops to get America to open its ears to a path to energy independence and a cleaner environment. Now we can shout from the roof top of an NFL Stadium.

The Philadelphia Eagles have issued their Declaration of Energy Independence.

The Eagles soon to play in an energy independent stadium will give a National platform, on National TV, every football Sunday to renewable energy, and by extension (cord) the electric car.

That voice will be far more important and wide reaching than Will or Rush.

Like the Philadelphia Eagles, we have choices on how we power our buildings and how we power our cars. We can do both with clean renewable energy provided domestically. It's now our choice.

Throw the oil overboard

Welcome to the real “ Tea Party” and congratulations to the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles!

Peder Norby

Norby is a San Diego County planning commissioner. He and his wife, Julie, were awarded the 2007 SANDEE Award from the California Center for Sustainable Energy for the home they built in Carlsbad. They have driven 22,000 miles in an electric car powered by solar energy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The “Noise” about the Mini-E

We humans are sensory creatures, what we know of our world is collected via our sight, smell, taste, touch and hearing.

For the electric car, our Mini-E, most of the "noise" conversation has been centered on the fact that we are very tuned into car noise. If there is a lack of noise from the car, that constitutes a hazard that needs to be mitigated by the addition of ( hard to believe it ) noise. We rely on our hearing as much as we do our vision in collision avoidance.

Imagine a deer in the forest listening for danger.

We rely on our hearing as we do all five of our senses in all aspects of our life. A lack of noise can be a detriment as in the case of low speed pedestrian safety, or it can be an improvement.

What does the electric car bring us in terms of improving our quality of life? A whole bunch is the answer.

1. Managing the noise in a shopping district is huge. If you're a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or a café customer enjoying an alfresco dining experience on an outdoor patio, a lower decibel level will greatly improve that experience. The quieter our “mainstreets” the more enjoyable-thus profitable-thus valuable they are. At low speeds up to 70% of the noise is from the drivetrain. It’s one of the reasons walking streets and malls are so popular is that they eliminate the largest noisemaker, the automobile. Imagine your favorite "go to spot" with the quietness of electric cars around you.

2. A typical town development pattern in a residential neighborhood consist of less expensive apartments or attached housing near the prime arterial and largest intersections. The further away from the traffic you go the more into the more expensive custom home neighborhood you get ebven though it's less conveiniant.


One of the biggest reasons is noise. The lower priced homes have more noise associated with them and the higher price homes less noise. If you remove the noise penalty and share traffic loads equally in a grid pattern, town development patterns would revert to basic principles of neighborhood quality instead of design principles centered on mitigating car noise. Imagine your home or apartment and the quietness of a neighborhood filled with electric cars.

3. “They live next to the freeway” That is seldom a compliment for a location of a home. My guess would be a home adjacent to the freeway would have a 30% lower cost than the same home one mile away in the same town. The main reasons? Noise pollution and emissions pollution.

According to the American Lung associations 2010 State of our Air Quality Report, it is unhealthy to live near a freeway. (Like I needed to tell you that) At freeway speeds half of the noise is from the motor and half is from road noise and wind. But imagine reducing the noise by 50% what an improvement that would be for those living next to a freeway. Imagine reducing the tailpipe emissions by 100% what an improvement that would be. To the extent we make our transportation quieter and emission free will be the extent that we reduce the penalty for living next to a freeway, It might even be healthy to do so in a few short decades.

4. We seek solace in nature, Central Park in New York, or the Rocky Mountains in the west. In this escape to nature we seek all of her gifts to our senses including quiet. Nothing tops a camping trip to a remote desert or mountain campsite where we can listen to the sounds of nature. Our conversations with each other are more meaningful, our nerves are soothed, and our spirits lifted by the experience. To the extent that we reduce the noise in our day to day world, we will increase our enjoyment of living and working there. Imagine your urban jungle populated by the quietness of electric cars.

5. Generally, luxury cars are quieter and they are more expensive. Why? In part because they spend a lot of money on sound dampening strategies to keep the noise of their motor and transmission away from the passenger cabin, thus a more enjoyable driving experiance. Imagine your car interior having the same quietness of electric cars.

Driving the Mini-E for 17 months, being able to hear the birds around our lagoon as I drive by the water, hearing a conversation of a couple as I wait for a light, and having a chat with my wife in the passenger seat is pretty amazing. The silence as I drive around is a huge improvements in my life. I think this is one of the reasons I and others love driving the Mini-E so much. I had a neighbor approach me a few months ago and say “do you know how much better it would be if all cars were as quiet as yours”

There are lots more reasons why the quietness of our electric cars will improve our day to day lives, The past several months the focus has been on the problem of no sound with the electric car. The benefits are far greater.

I’m interested in hearing from you some of your experiences as EV drivers and what ways you think the quietness of the electric car can improve a persons sensory experience.

I look forward to “hearing” from you

Mini-E #183, 21,000 miles


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Zero Energy Home Overview

Click on the chart to enlarge and as your reading the chart remember, if we had no electric car our savings would be about $700 a year greater.

Many folks have asked exactly what is a zero energy home?

It is not a home that uses no energy.

A zero energy home is simply one that use less energy than it produces. This is accomplished 75% by conservation and efficiencies and 25% by generation of electricity.

We prepared this chart including our utility bills for a recent tour of the home.

Living in a zero energy home and driving on sunshine need not be a great sacrifice.

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."
Frank Lloyd Wright

The not so fun, but very important part of being a field test driver for BMW.

About 600 drivers in the Los Angeles, New York/New Jersey, a bit later, Berlin, London and now France and China are field testing the BMW Mini-E Electric Car.

This is phase one of a three phase roll out of the future BMW Megacity car scheduled to arrive in 2012-13. This is a methodical multi nation undertaking of both machine and driver behavior and habits, infrastructure challenges with many housing types, varying climates and differing cultural attitudes from around the world.

While I am sure that much data is being held as intellectual property by BMW, other data points and the experience in general is being shared with the world and other drivers and manufacturers.

It is worth remembering that the driving and experience is being done in real world conditions with individual drivers from all walks of life who are sharing their stories warts and all, and not by a closed group of employees or contractors with NDAs.

In short BMW is putting forth an amazing global effort , trusting their intentions with the grip of the steering wheel in our hands, producing extremely valuable information. Some results contradicting commonly and firmly held beliefs regarding the heretofore alleged poor performance, practicality and range anxiety involving electric propulsion.

It’s with great imagination, adventure, driving fun and now a growing pride and confidence of sorts, that I have been a ”lab rat” for this large scale field trial of the electric car. It continues to be an amazing journey that has profoundly changed my view of our transportation future.

I am the driver of Mini-E #183, and have driven the past 16 months and 21,000 miles in an aggressive, sporty and carefree manor on electrons provided by the rays of the sun. Literally driving on sunshine, laughing my way down the interstate in a state of utter disbelief of what I am actually doing, driving on sunshine. If I can hardly believe it and I am doing it, I can only imagine what the many skeptics never shy of opining are thinking!

Last Monday, October 11th, BMW called and said they wanted the car for a little poking and prodding, the past week or so they have had the car back at headquarters in Oxnard going through the systems, motor and battery of #183 collecting data on the car after 20,000 miles. No doubt analyzing the electric motor, control software and each battery cell to see how they are holding up at 21K.

That’s the not so fun, but very important part of being a field test driver for BMW. This is my 4th service (they look at the car every 5000 miles) but my first time away from the car for more than a day.

It is a field test and BMW needs to understand how the car progresses through its lifespan in detail, so they can asses and improve if needed minor and major systems on the future Megacity car. During this several day period of time I am driving a loaner Nissan Altima.

While a fun and capable car, I detest driving it! I hate watching the meter go down to empty, I have had to put $75 in gas in the car, it is nowhere near as fast or sporty to drive, it makes shifiting and engine rpm sounds that are foreign and for the first time in almost a year and a half I find myself once again at gas stations. My garage has that old gas/combustion smell back.

It just plain sucks. It just plain sucks big time.

Looking forward to getting the Mini-E back, look forward to the phase two BMW 1 series Active E, Look forward to driving electric the rest of my life, look forward to cleaner and healthier San Diego County in the near future.

Mini-E #183, 21,000 miles.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Defining the True Value of Electric Mobility

As consumers, we tend to make our car buying decisions looking through the lens of personal economics. How much does it cost, how much will it save, what will it cost to replace. A dollar to dollar comparison.

As a preface to the discussion of the value of electric mobility let me suggest to you three names, Donald Trump. John Muir, Martin Luther King.

Who’s the most successful? Who has more value? Answer quickly. Now read on.

Clearly, the heft, the longevity, and the enormousness of the accomplishments of John Muir and Martin Luther King, one with the National Park system as his legacy, one with a National Holiday in his honor, are of far greater value and successfulness as measured by our collective history. If we measure by a “snapshot” of life today, in individual terms, one perhaps could conclude that Donald Trump is the most successful due to his omni-presence and personal wealth.

This exercise brings to light two key points on balancing our choices at this critical juncture in the history of transportation.

1. We define value first on individual influences and secondarily on societal goals.
2. We define value first on “current snapshots” and secondarily on long term benefit.

We simply need to change.

The principles of balance must equally apply to our individual desires and our national desires. It must apply equally as a long term remedy and in our daily lives.

If we are to have a successful transportation revolution to electric mobility we must not prioritize the immediacy and the individuality of a decision over societal impacts and long term benefit. We must concern ourselves with the future, and future generations, we must plan with a long lens in balance with our personal desire and day to day living.

The True Value of Electric Mobility. Consider these facts:

From our Military,

Fossil fuel is the No. 1 thing we import to Afghanistan, Fossil fuel accounts for 30 percent to 80 percent of the load in convoys into Afghanistan, bringing costs as well as death. While the military buys gas for just over $1 a gallon, getting that gallon to some forward operating bases costs $400 a gallon.

“Studies are establishing a strong relationship between fuel consumption and casualty rates due to fuel convoy protection." Source: Army Environmental Policy Institute.

How do we put a value on the cost of a soldier’s life transporting or protecting a fuel convoy struck by an improvised explosive devise? Our military is leading the way in solar energy deployment and the purchase and research of electric mobility.

The value is not monetary, it is soldiers lives and a more mobile fighting force.

Our Nation,

In 2010. America is sad to say, a very dependent nation, importing nearly 70% of its transportation fuel to quench our super sized insatiable thirst for gasoline.

The United State of America is far afield from our founding fathers vision and declaration of Independence. Far afield from our founding fathers vision of an active and informed populace, self reliant, self governing, self aware and mutually involved for a greater union. We are today sadly a very apathetic and uninformed “Dependent Nation.”

We can shed this dependency without war. We can regain independence. We can wean ourselves of the imported drug, oil, that is slowly wounding the health of our nation and exporting the wealth of our nation. We observe the obscene wealth of oil producing nations fed by our consumption and purchase of their oil, while we willingly weaken our own country.

This is not a dependency forced on us by an oppressive nation or king. It is a dependency of our own choices and our consumption.

We can recover, we can prosper. We can do this if we can comprehend the value of Electric Mobility and domestic production of the battery, car, electricity, and yes, in the near term oil and natural gas required during the transition. If we can understand and participate in free trade not dependent trade.

The value is not monetary, it is our national independence and prosperity as a nation.

Our Health,

Burning oil in a combustion chamber and then exhausting that oil out of a tailpipe causes 60% of particulate pollution and almost 70% of the CO2 emmissions in our major urban cities. Our transportation fleet is our gross polluter.

According to the American Lung Association The State of the Air 2010 report shows that over 175 million people—roughly 58 percent of America suffer pollution levels that are too often dangerous to breathe. Unhealthy air remains a threat to the lives and health of millions of people in the United States, despite great progress. Even as the nation explores the complex challenges of global warming and energy, air pollution lingers as a widespread and dangerous reality.

In our County of San Diego 3,001,072 population. 70,082 suffer from Pediatric Asthma. 188,661 from Adult Asthma, 95,863 from Bronchitis, 34,760 from Emphysema, all at great risk due to and in part because of particulate pollution.

The American Lung association goes on to identify living next to a freeway as a health risk. Long term exposure to air pollution—especially from highway traffic—harms women, even while in their 50s. Exposure to particle pollution appears to increase women’s risk of lower lung function, developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and dying prematurely.

Busy highways are high risk zones. Pollution from heavy highway traffic contributes to higher risks for heart attack, allergies, premature births and the death of infants around the time they are born. New studies looking at the impact of traffic pollution, even in cities with generally “cleaner” air, expanded the concern over the health effects of chronic exposure to exhaust from heavy traffic.

Now if you don’t believe the American Lung Association, try porting the exhaust of your car to the inside of your cabin and then you can have direct first hand knowledge of the health risk of particulate and Co2 pollution. (please don’t try this as it may result in injury or death, I was just making a second hand pollution point)

The value is not monetary, it is our own health and health of our loved ones and our community.

As Americans, we love our automobiles and I am no different. I’m not suggesting that you forego personal economics or the desirability or attractiveness of a car that gets your blood racing, I am suggesting that you factor in the true cost and the true value of Electric Mobility. A transportation option that offers many values that go far beyond the cost and the basic economics of an auto purchase decision.

Electric mobility can be less expensive, cleaner, healthier, and provide independence for a person and a nation.

That certainly is the case for our family.

Peder Norby
Mini-E # 183. 20,250 miles of sunshine powered electric driving

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Solarbrating the Electric Car.

This week two major milestones passed at our home and with our car.

We solarbrated with 100 friends the occasion with an Electric Car Solarbration. I believe that within a few short decades many if not most will be holding similar solarbrations across a much cleaner nation.

Mini-E # 183 clocked 20,000 on the ODO Monday on the way home from work, and our Solar PV system just passed the 25 million watts of energy produced threshold today.

For 2.5 years we have been powering our 3500 sq ft home, a 3br, 2bath 1200 sq ft guest house, a vineyard operation, a 450 sq ft temperature controlled wine cellar completely with solar power. 16 months ago we added the Mini-E to the mix and ordered an additional 2kw of solar to power that as well.

The savings in power for the house is $350 a month, the saving on gasoline for the car is $150 a month. The savings in total is $6,000 a year. This was replaced by a new annual utility bill of between -$300 to +300. This is the total bill for a house and guest house occupied by 6 people and a car driven 15,000 miles a year.

Click on bill to enlarge

Our two systems totaling 7.5KW cost $30,000 plus a few thousands for efficiency upgrades such as CCFL’s and LED lights. In just a little over 5 short years, the system is paid off using no new money, only the saving of not paying the utility and gasoline.

From then on we live and drive on free and emission free sunshine. That will save us over $120,000 (with inflation $200,000) in energy cost and gasoline for the next 25 years.

In our urban centers such as San Diego, 60% of manmade particulate pollution is from our transportation fleet, 11% from our homes. Nearly 70% of our Co2 is from our transportation fleet and again 11% from our homes. The PV+EV solution eliminates both sources of pollution and will clean our air if adopted broadly.

Cleaner air, saving money, regaining our self reliance and independence. This is a combo that works. I hope we are smart enough to manufacture in the US. My fear is that cheap oil will keep us hooked to the drug while other countries dominate the machines and jobs of the future.

20,000 miles of smiles :)

Mini-E #183 is the best car, most fun car, I have ever driven.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Impromptu Mini-E meet up in Carlsbad on Saturday September 18th

Greetings Mini-E Pioneers!

Julie and I invite you down (both 1 year pioneers and 2 year pioneers) south to Carlsbad for a great Saturday and potential long weekend for those of you with a free schedule.

Here is the plan.

Thursday the 16th is The Encinitas Classic Car Show, this is an epic event in downtown Encinitas and if you’re game you can display your Mini-E along with mine at the event. That night there will approx 500 cars with many of them woodies in downtown Encinitas.

Saturday the 18th is Wavecrest Woodies. This is the worlds largest collections of woodies, many traveling here from the east coast and some shipped from around the globe. It is a spectacular site and a free event.

Saturday after The Wavecrest show at 4pm we will have a meet-up at our home in Carlsbad. Julie and I will be bar-b-Q-ing and we will be drinking our estate wine from our vineyard. We will also be explaining our zero energy home and what techniques and strategies we used to build it.

During the whole time from Thursday until Sunday you may use our charger at the home and we have a city charger in Encinitas by appointment. So you can have a long weekend in San Diego County with your Mini-E with access to charging.

Lodging is available very inexpensively ($65 a night at various motels) or expensively ($500 a night at Avaira or La Costa resorts )

We have a guest room at the house and Julie and I will open that up to one person or couple, free of charge who would like to stay the whole weekend beginning on Thursday night or just Saturday night.

First come first serve.

Hope you can join us, whether one or 20 we will have a great time.

Peder & Julie

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Chargers, here they come!

In my role as the Hwy 101 Coordinator for the city of Encinitas, I assisted Encinitas as they became part of the Field Trial with two Mini-E's. they had great success with the cars but unfortunately the fleet users had to return the cars.

It was instructional for our fleet guys and gals to have these for a year and determine that they really work great, especially in a city that is 7 miles by 10 miles with a fleet of a 100 vehicles that never leave the city. They were a bit impractical for the city with no storage in the back but next iterations of the electric car will deal with that shortcoming.

Encinitas continues its efforts in Solar PV and the electric car. Being in the San Diego Metro area, we are slated to receive many public chargers. The first series of meetings for commercial property owners interested in EV chargers has been scheduled with Encinitas as a host city.

Below is text from the brochure posted above.

Mini-E #183 19,100 miles.

Come join us for one of the
following short meetings to
explain how your business
can get involved in the largest
Electric Vehicle Project in
U.S. history !!

The EV Project is made possible by a $115 million stimulus grant from the Department of Energy.
The project will deploy nearly 15,000 electric vehicle chargers around the country, including over 1,500 commercial units for public charging in the
San Diego Region. These charging stations will be
installed in conjunction with the release of the first
of many electric cars to hit the market...the Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt.

Informational meetings for
Business and Property Owners

Meetings will be held in 6 convenient locations throughout the county: (light refreshments will be served)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

How many light bulbs does it take to plug in an electric car?

I’m having a blast driving Mini-E # 183 now in my 14th month with almost 19,000 miles on the odometer.
The car has been rock solid with no mechanical problems and the fun factor of driving the little electric pocket rocket continues every time I fasten the seatbelt. Overnight trips are becoming common to favorite hotels and destinations where charging infrastructure exist. Gas cars are starting to resemble the steam locomotives of the late 1800s.

So I got to thinking last night, how many light bulbs does it take to plug in an electric car?

Think for a moment of the power required to move a 3,000lbs car like the Mini-E, or Nissan Leaf through the urban and suburban jungles of the big city for 12,000 miles a year. Freeways, parkways city streets and parking lots, all traveled in the normal course of a year’s driving for most Americans.

If powered by traditional gasoline engines we could all do the math fairly easily. For a 20mpg car it would burn 600 gallons of gasoline weighing 4,800lbs costing $1,800 a year. For a 30mpg car it would burn 400 gallons of gas weighing 3,200lbs costing $1,200 a year.

For most typical drivers, that car in your garage ignites, explodes, burns and exhausts its way through 4,800lbs of refined gasoline (most of it imported) every year in order to power the car for 12,000 miles.

Simple (or incredibly complex) enough so far.

But how about the electric car?

Driving around Newport Beach the other night at 0- dark hour and seeing all the light bulbs on in storefronts, art galleries, light poles, signage, and parking lots and just about everywhere, I thought to myself, those light bulbs run on the same octane as my electric car. I wonder how many light bulbs does it take to plug in an electric car? Or more accurately stated, How many light bulbs will the electric power needed to drive my Mini-E for 12,000 miles illuminate?

The answer I came up with was shocking! Please double check my math and tell me I’m wrong because even I don’t believe it!

Drining Mini-E #183 for 12,000 miles requires the same energy to Illuminate exactly four standard 100 watt light bulbs for a year. Or stated another way, it takes four light bulbs to plug in an electric car.
Four light bulbs!

The math works like this,

Four 100 watt light bulbs illuminated for 24 hours would use 9.6 kwhs of electricity. This multiplied by 365 days a year equals 3,504kwhs a year to illuminate those four light bulbs.
The Mini-E gets 3.5 miles per kwh. 3.5 miles multiplied by the same 3,504kwh used by the four lightbulbs equals 12,264 miles. For the Nissan Leaf which gets 4 miles per KWH the miles climb to just over 14,000 miles.

If 100 watt light bulbs were just illuminated for 1hour a day the power needed to drive an electric car 12,000 miles a year would equal the electricity used by 96 light bulbs.
Four, 100 watt light bulbs illuminated for the year, or 96, 100 watt lightbulbs illuminated for one hour a day for a year.

Think how many billions of high wattage incandescent bulbs that we are shifting to CFL and LED lighting saving 70% to 80% in energy usage.

Lighting Four light bulbs uses the same power as driving an electric car for 12,000 miles.

The future is indeed getting brighter, and much cleaner.
Oh, and the answer is zero, Light bulbs don't plug in electric cars.
Ha Ha!

Mini-E #183, 18,875 miles.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The “Snake” drives Mini-E #183

If you don’t know who I’m talking about, stop reading.

I had the great honor of meeting a childhood hero of mine tonight a real automotive pioneer and four time NHRA championship winner. American and International Motorsports Hall of Famer, The “Snake” Don Prudhomme.

This is the way it went down.

I walked into our Rotary club meeting in Carlsbad, and three friends were around the “Snake” One of them introduces me and says to Don “Peder’s a pioneer car guy too, he drives an electric mini BMW.” Don’s eyes lights up and he says “No shit, is it here ?" (sorry for swearing) I say “yes it’s out in the parking lot.” “Don says “Can I drive it?” Peder’s eyes light up! I say “No shit! (sorry for swearing) Hell yes you can drive it.”

Don and I go for a 10 minute spin in Mini-E #183 with Don behind the wheel (sorry Mini-E overlords) I’m in the passenger seat with an automotive god driving my Mini-E! He has a little fun with it loves the torque and the instant acceleration, He talks about 100ths of a second and racing . He loves the regen and instant throttle response. He’s smiling ear to ear! He’s hugely impressed. We get back to the Rotary club and the prez is pissed because I drove away with the program.

I could care less. I am in car guy nirvana!

I used to race Hot Wheels with the Snake and Mongoose. I used to build Revelle models with Testers Glue and paints of the Snake and Mongoose. I used to watch drag racing with the Snake and Mongoose. I used to beg my dad to take me to the races to watch the Snake and Mongoose.
Two gear head car guys loving a drive in the Mini-E. Sweeeeeeeet!

We drive by the old location of the Carlsbad Drag Strip (now a business park) off of Palomar airport road where Don used to drag, He pulls a U turn, chirps the tires a bit steps on it until about 70 mph, and we drive back the one mile to the Rotary meeting place on Palomar Airport Road.

He tells me “I’m pushing the envelope of cars.” I know what he means. I tell him "BMW is pushing the envelope and I'm just a driver", he says "So was I "

Don’s top speed was 307 MPH. I’ll settle for 70.

Top question of the night was what was the biggest technical improvement in drag racing?
His answer was safety. He buried a lot of his fellow drivers in the 70s, some right here in Carlsbad. He credited Don "Big Daddy" Garlits with moving the engine from in front of the driver to the rear of the driver as the biggest technical change in drag racing that saved the most lives.

I’m in a dream, It just gets better and better being a Mini-E driver.



Leviton is in the "EVSE" house, always has been.

Here’s a little secret for you that I as a Mini-E driver with 18,000 miles will gladly share.

Public charging stations and range anxiety are way over-rated and over-hyped. Not to say that we won’t need public charging stations, we will need them and they will primarily be along transportation corridors for longer distant travel. We also need them emotionally as sort of a security blanket to sooth our apprehensions and transition to a more limited range. A security blanket that is reassuring but serves little other purpose.

Pundits, analysts, government and the E-car media are all gushing stories and programs around public charging stations.

The Secret?

I have publicly charged my Mini-E exactly 4 times in 14 months, I have plugged it in 400 times with my home charging. Even imagining a world with abundant charging stations that were free to use, for the most part I would not use them as the range of the Mini-E gets the job done for all my trips returning home to it’s charging cocoon and with no effort or worry is ready for me when I wake up with 100% charge. Talk about a sweet dream! I could see myself maybe once every two months needing a public charger for a longer trip.

Public charging will at best represent a small 20% of the charging marketplace. Immediately from there, the percentages will begin to decline as battery prices go down and range goes up.
The big market and the one that is flying under the radar screen?

Home charging.
Home charging will represent 80% of the marketplace and will grow from a market size of a few hundred chargers today to eventually 100 million chargers in a few short decades representing 1/3 of our nations fleet that will have a plug to plug into a home charger.
Leviton , a quiet giant has been working hard the past few years and is now entering that home charging space.

You may or may not be familiar with Leviton, but its products are in over 90% of us households and it’s manufacturing, distribution, sales, and brand loyalty from the electricians that will be installing your home station, position the company perfectly in the home charging space.
As an EV driver I had the honor of a few friendly visits with Mini-E #183 to Leviton’s facility in Southern California during the development of the EVSE and I wish them great success with their EVSE rollout.
PR Releases below.

Mini-E #183, 18,000 trouble free sunshine powered miles.

Press Release
PR Contact:
Pamela Winikoff
631 812-6155

Leviton Announces Residential Charging Stations for Electric Vehicle Market
Leviton introduces Evr-Green™ line of electric vehicle supply equipment

Melville, New York, July 20, 2010 – Leviton today announced its entry into the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) market with a full portfolio of residential charging products. The Leviton Evr-Green™ line of EVSEs includes Level 1 and Level 2 residential charging stations. The product line will debut at the Plug-In 2010 Conference and Exposition in San Jose, California on July 26-29, 2010 in Leviton booth #310.

Leviton has developed an industry-first plug-in prewire system for the Level 2 EVSEs.
According to Mike Mattei, vice president and general manager for Leviton’s Commercial and Industrial Division, “As part of Leviton’s commitment to creating a sustainable future, we now offer a complete solution to EV charging. Leviton provides the charging stations as well as installation by certified contractors and extensive customer service. Evr-Green chargers comply with all industry standards, are backed by the industry’s only ten-year warranty, and are compatible with all the major EV manufacturers.”
The Evr-Green Level 1 portable cord set empowers consumers to charge their EV anywhere a standard outlet is available. Leviton also has developed a unique receptacle for EV owners to plug in their Level 1 cord set. In addition, Leviton’s Level 2 residential charging stations range from 16 Amp to 32 Amp charging levels. Both Level 1 and 2 EVSEs have SAE J1772™ connectors that are compatible with all North American plug in vehicles. Leviton will also provide a wide range of “smart” options and features for their residential products.

About Leviton
Leviton Manufacturing Company is the largest privately held global provider of electrical wiring devices, data center connectivity solutions and lighting energy management systems. Founded at the turn of the 20th century in America, Leviton has grown to become one of the preeminent leaders in the electrical industry. Today Leviton's product portfolio consists of over 25,000 devices and systems used in homes, businesses and industry. Proven to be a smart choice, nine out of ten homes throughout North America have Leviton products installed in them. Builders, electrical contractors and other industry professionals rank Leviton products #1 in brand preference. To request more information about Leviton’s Evr-Green portfolio, please visit For more information, contact Leviton Manufacturing, 201 North Service Rd., Melville, NY, 11747,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

A simple 4th of July message.

Our forefathers founded a Union of States, a nation of independent, self reliant free people. On this Independence day we are reminded of that with patriotic gatherings and fireworks.

On this Independence day we are also sadly reminded that we are today, more so than ever, dependent on foreign lands and kings for oil, for energy. We continue to choose to bespoil our country's natural treasures and increasingly give away our independence and wealth to foreign lands and kings. It is not our Presidents or our Congresses that are to blame. It is "We the People" that choose to do that. We get angry at our President and at Corporations, but we blindly ignore our own use of oil. We the people.

Let us face honestly our great challenges with new opportunities, with imagination and creativity with independence, self reliance and better choices.

God bless those that have served this country and those that have sacrificed their life for our great nation. Their oath to this country's independence was eternal.
The least we can do is make better choices for our nations independence.

Happy Independence Day!

Peder Norby

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Currency And Civic Value of Electric Vehicle Public Charging

Civic restoration, civic planning and environmental design have been my profession and my avocation for the past three decades. As a person engaged professionally in this arena, it is the most inspirational of times as America rediscovers its history in its older downtowns and older neighborhoods full of culture, uniqueness, identity and diversity, and looks to the future with changes in the way we power our homes and our cars. There is a strong connection between the two.

As a Mini-E driver for the past year racking up 17,000 miles and counting, The electric driving experience has been very rewarding both in terms of the performance and pleasures of the Mini-E, as well as experience and insights gained from the field trial, some posted on these pages in previous posts.

My views on the charging of electric cars in general are as follows: 75% of all charging will be done at the place of residence. 15% of charging will be at “Point B” commonly known as the workplace. The remaining 10% of charging will be done at public charging stations.
Focusing in on the 10% of public charging stations, I believe the most valuable of these will be along transportation corridors and destination locations.

A destination location is generally described as a place that pulls from a three hour drive time demographic. The least valuable of the public charging stations will be the local or regional destinations within a one hour drive time such as libraries, big box stores, neighborhood commercial centers etc.

It is my view that as the adoption rate of electric vehicles escalates the number if not the percentage of public charging stations along the transportation corridors and destination locations will grow exponentially and the “in city” charging stations will struggle and become less relevant in the future as the EV and PHEV range increases.

It is with certainty I can say two things.

1. That the role of the gas station today serving 100% of our gasoline car, will be greatly diminished by orders of magnitude with the adoption of electric cars
2. Americans will still travel by car and will still explore this great country in the family drive vacation.

This past weekend, my wife and I, celebrating our anniversary, took a trip in the Mini-E to Newport Beach. We selected this destination location because of the public Mini-E charging station at South Coast Plaza.

Here’s what that trip looked like.

We drove 65 miles on the freeway to South Coast Plaza (SCP), plugged in Mini-E #183 which was at 35% SOC at 11:30am and then went to a restaurant in the SCP to watch the U.S. play Ghana (we lost unfortunately.) After lunch we shopped at Nordstrom’s buying three shirts, Macy’s for home goods, and then the Bang and Olufsen store for our entertainment system.

We left SCP at 3pm fully charged and drove the short distance to the Newport Bay Marriot where we settled into our room and caught a few hours of sunshine by the pool. We dined at Mastro’s with a very special bottle of wine celebrating our Anniversary.

The next morning it was off to Laguna beach for lunch and art shopping at local galleries and the Sawdust Festival. We left Laguna at 4pm and arrived home at 5:30 pm, concluding our trip with about 20 miles of range left. The total miles driven on the overnight trip was 165 miles.

Here’s what that trip looks like in currency.

$55 for lunch, Bloody Mary’s, Beer, tips and taxes at the restaurant.
$150 at Macy’s
$130 at Nordstrom’s
$0 at the B&O store (widow shopping to add to our system one day.)
$220 for the hotel, parking and drinks by the pool.
$500 at Mastro’s for dinner and wine (an indulgence)
$100 in Laguna Beach for parking, lunch, Starbucks, Sawdust Festival and art pieces
$1450 for a painting (a gift to each other on our Anniversary)

Total: $2455 on merchants, restaurateurs, lodging, parking authorities and taxes.
All this economic stimulus because of an electric vehicle charging station and $2.00 worth of free electricity provided by SCP.

Our trip destination was determined by the availability of a public charging station and a great location. Multiply this currency experience by 700 others that will potentially use the same charging station in the near future (2 a day)

That is the currency and civic value of electric vehicle public charging.

Thank you South Coast Plaza, Newport Beach and Laguna, we had a blast! We hope you enjoy the money we left behind.
Mini-E #183

Monday, June 21, 2010

You can live and drive on sunshine :)

Sharing our most recent June 2010 utility bill.
Even with the worst "June Gloom" I can remember along the Carlsbad Coast, we were still under $28 and change for the month.

Our annual true up should be around $-100 due to the higher summer rates (6 months beginning on May 1st) that SDG@E pays for our solar energy.

That's for a home, guest home, and the Mini-E at 16,000 miles a year.
The Mini-E remains the single best car I have driven in 32 years, and the only one I can power by sunshine :)

We're "crusin" to Newport Beach this weekend for a long weekend vacation with the Mini-E and hope to charge at the South Coast Plaza Mall as well as a fellow Mini-E driver's home.


Monday, May 24, 2010

How sad is this?

AP picture of a Heron dying in oil. 5/24/2010

There is a much better way and it's not that hard to do.

Our home is called Herons House so the picture above strikes close to the heart.

The ethos statement of our home was written in 2005.

"We are blessed and we are grateful. We live in America, in one of the most beautiful parts of earth. We are chasing a dream...we are flying...

Up and down the coast, searching, downward looking, in estuaries and lagoons for a high perch to nest. A home is found, an old nest of years perhaps decades, overlooking the lagoon. It will provide a good beginning…. perfect for the Herons.

Julie and I are building our home, reusing an old house on a large lot as a good beginning, perched above the lagoon and Pacific Ocean. Like the Herons, we will walk lightly on earth, using the resources provided to us by nature, in harmony and partnership with our environment, with each other.

The Herons' House. Our house. "

In the construction of our home and the choice to drive an electric BMW Mini-E powered by solar PV, we hope we have remained true to those words. We live in a very sensitive habitat with Herons and birds of all manor on our land and in our lagoon.

I have rescued a Pelican, wrapped up in fishing line while kayaking,

We have Herons visiting and flying by hourly

It is a paradise similar to the marsh lands of the gulf coast. I can't imagine the picture of the dying Heron being our lagoon.

Living and driving on electrons powered by renewable energy can end this madness of repetitive environmental disaster.

I will never buy a gasoline car as long as I live.

There is a much much better way to do this.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Peder wants to go racing!

I'm Ready to Race!

Finally, some video of the Mini-E driving in a way that I like to drive. ( sometimes )

Below is a the entire video of the Mini-E race and their sub 10 minute run at Nürburgring.

Now I know the first driver was a pro but there was visible moisture and less than ideal conditions. Tomorrow a Prince of a driver, HRH Leopold, and well trained at that, will take Nürburgring on and see if he can beat the time. Of course he can!

I will humble submit that someone with 14,500 miles of seat time in the machine, that used to be a damn good go kart driver winning most of his races can do even better!

Just refer to my bloodline as Red, White and Blue blood!

Fly me to Germany BMW, I'm ready to race!

Man I love this car!


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Oil is not stupid, we are.

A departure from blogging about Mini-E #183 to tell a related story. It is about my awakening to living with the earth and renewable energy.

For nearly 15 years I owned a summerhouse on the Danish island of Rømø. Rømø is on the west coast of Denmark, near the border with Germany.

"You can see Germany from my Kitchen window" to paraphrase a famous quote from a certain U.S. female politician.

The German island of Sylt lies a few hundred meters south of Rømø and yes you can see it from the island.

The summerhouse was constructed of rock from the island, had a thatched roof made from the wheat stalks that grow in the northern part on the island, and was situated on a few aces of beautiful natural lingberry fields on the leeward side of the island. The windward side is 8 miles of beach and wind.


In the late 1980's, early 90's all of the island residents (about 8,000 of us) as well as others on the mainland and other Danish islands were polled to find out if they would support a 20% higher utility cost to build an offshore wind farm. To to be self reliant and ween Denmark, once 100% dependent on imported energy, off imported energy. The carrot was that once built the energy cost would be level with no or little increases in the future.

The poll was 80% in favor.

A few years later, the first off shore wind farm in the world was built just a few kilometers north of Rømø. A decade later and after much environmental analysis, Horns Reef two was built.

Here is a video of Horns Reef one.

Today the Horn's Reef project, about 15 miles offshore, provides power to over 300,000 Danish houses. Denmark is 100% energy independent, with renewable wind energy approaching 30% of it's total portfolio. The Danes found oil and wind in the North Sea. The Danes are seeking to have 50% of their total energy from wind, bio fuels and other renewable's by 2030. They lead the world in wind high tech with nearly 50% of the worlds windmills and have created 100,000+ jobs in the global wind energy biz.

If Horns Reef should ever suffer a catastrophic failure, with 100% certainty I can say that the pollution of the entire west coast of Denmark would not happen.

Shifting gears a bit, (which you don't do in the Mini-E) and bringing it back locally at the home owner level .

Remembering that vote on that Danish island over a decade ago, we decided to "vote" with our own home and pocket book by installing a solar P.V. system to use a renewable resource that is abundant in our part of the world, sunshine. Our home produces 100% of our energy requirements with renewable and non polluting solar energy for our home and cars.

It's not that hard to do America!

Frank Lloyd Wright said:

"Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you."

Nature won't, government and big oil most certainly and repeatedly will.

Nothing could be more Republican, Democratic, Libertarian or Green, than a country or a citizen that produces their own energy, is self reliant, less expensive, and environmentally cleaner than we are today.

We are too smart to behave in this stupid way.

In the words of a Saudi oil minister, "the Stone Age did not end for lack of stones"

My thoughts and prayers to those in the gulf states and on the coastline as they deal with this unprecedented failure and violation of their lives, livelihood and will being.

It truly makes me ill as I know, I know and live, a better way forward.

With much sadness and anger,

Peder Norby

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day, living and driving on sunshine.

Happy Earth Day, living and driving on sunshine.

You can live in a home and drive a car powered by sunshine. In our case we live in 3300 sq ft home with a 1000 sq ft guest house and drive a BMW Mini-E 16,000 miles a year.

All powered by sunshine via a 7.5 kw Sunpower solar PV system :)

We have a net metering agreement with SDG&E that allows us to pay once a year for the energy for our home. For the 2010 year we estimate our total energy use will be between 0 and $100. There is an outside chance we could be below zero but it's a rainy year so I think not.

In the early part of the year, January through March, we use more energy than we produce and we have a bill. In the mid part of the year from mid March to October we generate more energy than we use and we have a credit each month for 6 months. In November and December we again use more than we generate and we have a bill. At the end of the year we are essentially energy neutral or net zero.

In actuality the home produces far more energy than it consumes because it is also supplying 3500kwh, the equivalent of $2000 of gasoline annually to power the Mini-E.

This is our most current bill and you can see that we started at 70304 and ended at 70297. a -5 KWH usage for the month. The normal SDG&E bill does not give you credit for generation so the top lines of -270 and -75 show 0 when in reality you get paid for that at the higher peak rates.

This is the net metering bill that you keep track of the year with. It comes together with the normal bill above. You can see in January and February we had a bill of $102.42 and $65.49 and then in March we dipped below zero and have a credit of $-11.72 and a total KWH usage of -5

From now until October we will have a credit each month. In May the summer rate structure begins which is far better for us as far as getting paid for solar production and we will have credits around $40 to $60 per month. The below chart is an approximation of how our year looks.

The Solar PV system is now two years old with the new "gas station" addition 8 months ago. We have generated almost 20 megawatts of energy with a value of $8500 in electricity and gasoline. This represents around 35% of the total system cost ($26,000) and puts our break even point at around 6 years, less if electricity rates or gas rates spike. Less if you fiqure the HELOC loan interest is deductible off your taxes and the sdge bill is not.

Remember, this is 6 years of the same payments you are already making to SDG&E and you local gas station, it's not a new payment.

How can anyone afford not to do solar.
Cheers and Happy Earth Day!


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

All this has me thinking. What would I really like for my future car?

Mini-E #183 is in the shop for a few days (3rd scheduled service at 14,000 miles) no real problems just a data download and I have them looking at a tweak here and there.

I’m driving a pearl white Cooper S for the next few days and it’s a pretty stark difference than #183. On the whole; the car stumbles, rumbles, roars and “paddles” as in shifting, its way up and down the 6 gears. I already miss the jet engine smooth and super quiet acceleration and regen-deceleration of the Mini-E, sans gears, oil, and transmission. I dread going to the gas station.

On the likes, I love the sunroof, it’s fun playing with the paddles, the car is a little lighter in the corners but not drastically so, and I really like being able to turn on the sport mode and turn off the DSC for a little fun on appropriate roads.

I am an enthusiast driver.

All this got me thinking. What would I really like for my future car? ... if I were king.

I’m in a two car family, have a 20 mile round trip commute, and my wife is perfectly happy in the Ford Escape, she prefers sitting up a bit as compared to a lower seating position. That pretty much gives me a wide playing field as to my desires and choices for a car.

I am an enthusiast driver, so here is the car for Peder.

I hope you're listening reading this BMW/Mini.

I love the Mini! Best, most fun car I have had in my 32 years of driving!

So it begins with a Mini. Strip every last thing from the car much like the Porsche Boxter Spyder. No air (the tops down), no heat (I’ll wear a sweater) no radio, (I will take an integrated I-Phone charging dock,) just a bikini top to keep most of the wetness out on the occasional rainy day. No power windows or door locks, the most basic and lightest materials used inside the car and if your can spare a little extra carbon fiber, on the body panels and seats as well. No rear seat, but a bigger cargo area than the Mini-E and a greatly reduced in size and weight dashboard.

I’ll keep all the airbags thank you.

Give me the same 205 horsepower electric motor as in the Mini-E, the new 2nd gen batteries like in the Active-E. I only want 25kwh, not 35khw of batteries but I want them spaced in the front and back like the Active E for optimum weight. I want to be able to select the DSC off or on, and I want the suspension to be able to handle the horsepower and torque so no need to detune the controller/motor at take-off. I’m fine with the top speed governed at 95. Lastly an integrated aero kit and a j1772 connector.

That’s my dream car, A Mini-E “Peder Spyder Special”

2250 pounds of open air driving.
A 0-60 time in the low to mid 5 second range,
Range of around 90-100 miles with less batts (thanks to the lightness and aero of the car)

That is something to dream about. That is my ultimate car. Until then, I’m looking forward to getting Mini-E #183 back from the shop to continue this most excellent adventure.

#183 driving on sunshine

Monday, April 5, 2010

E-RV “HomeE” #183 An earth shaking camping experience!

What an incredible 3 days camping with Mini-E #183. The Mini-E can hold all the needed gear as you can see in the picture. The Mini-E is far more than just an urban commuter car. With campgrounds and soon an electric charging infrastructure in place there will be no limits to what you can do or where you can go.

First a beautiful 90 mile drive out to Borrego Springs, The drive involved an elevation change of 4800 ft. (nearly a mile straight up) from sea level to the peak of the mountains back close to sea level at Borrego. Most of the drive was at around 50 to 60 mph on back twisty roads that the Mini E just loved. We arrived with 15 miles left on the range indicator. The next morning after a full charge the range indicator showed 107 miles.

Speaking of charging,

We thought we were going to recharge at 110 volt 12 amp which would take 28 hours to recharge. But we found a better way!

The first night we charged at our camp site, the electrical box had two twenty amp breakers tied to a 30 amp plug and a normal 110 receptacle. First we tried the supplied cable to the normal 110 outlet with the setting on the Mini-E at 12 amps. The meter turned slowly but this worked fine and we would have no problem charging to full over the next two days.

We then tried a 30 amp RV pigtail we purchased and used the 32 amp charger setting.
We were surprised that the 110 cable supplied with the Mini-E could handle the 32 amp setting without tripping but it did. The meter was flying and we were able to fully charge #183 in just over 8 hours. This is three times as fast as at the 12 amp setting and meant that we could drive like crazy the next day!

The next day it was out and about in the beautiful Anza Borrego Desert. The flower season is spectacular and we drove 93 miles around the desert and to the Salton Sea, we also hiked several miles all over the desert. We returned to the camp site in the early afternoon and we were sitting by the pool, when the big 7.2 earthquake centered about 80 miles away hit!

The shaking was intense and lasted for a solid minute, water lapped over the pool as the earth shifted under our feet. Buildings creaked and Julie leapt out of the way of the pool shade structure she was laying under as it swayed and creaked as well. Everyone was OK and Borrego had a few broken windows and water pipes along with boulder strewn roads but no major damage.

That evening we decided to try and charge #183 at the next site over, This only had a 30amp breaker and a 30amp receptacle. Even though the car was set to 32 amps this also worked just fine and the car was fully charged, charging from 1pm to 9pm.

This morning it began to sprinkle in the desert and Julie and I decided to pack up and head home. Same trip in reverse except this time we had rain, a very strong headwind and 40% temps but the Mini-E handled the 90 miles and grade changes no problem, we arrived home with 6 miles on the range indicator.

The Mini-E is a super fun camping vehicle and works great at RV sites with plug ins. Julie and I had so much fun we are planning a longer 10 day trip up the coast of California this summer using the same 32 amp 8 hour charging strategy as we hopscotch and recharge nightly.

We had a blast!


1 Six person tent
2 Sleeping bags
1 King size air mattress
2 Pillows
1 Two burner stove
2 Bottles of propane
2 Folding chairs
1 Duffle bag of cloths
1 Duffle bag of cooking gear and utensils
1 Lantern
1 Flashlight
1 First Aid Kit
1 Digital camera & bag
1 Air mattress pump
1 Bag of food products

For most of the food & beverage supply we shopped out in the desert after making camp.