October 25, 2010

More Resistance to Change....

"The oil, coal and utility industries have collectively spent $500 million just since the beginning of 2009 to lobby against legislation to address climate change and to defeat candidates, like Mr. Hill, who support it, according to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a left-leaning advocacy group in Washington.

Their message appears to have fallen on receptive ears. Of the 20 Republican Senate candidates in contested races, 19 question the science of global warming and oppose any comprehensive legislation to deal with it, according to a National Journal survey. "


"BP and several other big European companies are funding the midterm election campaigns of Tea Party favourites who deny the existence of global warming or oppose Barack Obama's energy agenda, the Guardian has learned.

An analysis of campaign finance by Climate Action Network Europe (Cane) found nearly 80% of campaign donations from a number of major European firms were directed towards senators who blocked action on climate change. These included incumbents who have been embraced by the Tea Party such as Jim DeMint, a Republican from South Carolina, and the notorious climate change denier James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma.

The report, released tomorrow, used information on the Open Secrets.org database to track what it called a co-ordinated attempt by some of Europe's biggest polluters to influence the US midterms. It said: "The European companies are funding almost exclusively Senate candidates who have been outspoken in their opposition to comprehensive climate policy in the US and candidates who actively deny the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and is caused by people."


October 15, 2010

Are Electric Vehicles cost effective?

Yes. Here's a Leaf price comparison:

First, you have to decide whether you're looking at out of pocket costs, or trying to look at underlying "real" costs. If we look at market prices paid by buyers, we have to include the credit. If we want to look at actual system-wide costs, we have to include external costs like pollution, supply security, etc. For our purposes today, let's look at out of pocket prices.

2nd, you have to decide what vehicle to compare it to. Here's what Wired magazine says:

"A nicely appointed five-door, five-passenger compact—equivalent to, say, a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla. But it’s electric, so it’s fairly torquey—the measly 107-horsepower motor hustles like it’s got double the ponies up to 40 mph. The ride is soft but surprisingly sure-footed thanks to a 600-pound air-cooled battery under the floorboard."


So, a comparable vehicle would be a Corolla at minimum. Other useful analyses might be: comparison with a Prius, which Consumer Reports tells us is cost competitive with a comparable car; and overall affordability, which might need a comparison with the average US vehicle.

3rd, you have to do your cost calculations.

Now, the average driver drives about 13,000 miles per year in the US. Total Vehicle Miles Traveled is 2,982,532,000 http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/ohim/tvtw/tvtpage.cfm and total number of vehicles is 238,314,692 http://www.bts.gov/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_11.html for an average of 12,515 miles per year. The current price is before taxes is $2.29 - with taxes, that's about $2.80 http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/pet/PET_PRI_ALLMG_A_EPM0_PTC_CPGAL_A.htm . The Corolla gets about 30 MPG per http://www.toyota.com/corolla/trims-prices.html , so the Corolla costs about $1,168 per year for fuel.

The Leaf should use about .25kWh per mile, and night time power should cost about $.055/kWh ( The average retail rate for power in the US is $.11 (the coasts have more expensive power), and night time rates should be about 50% of that (often it is much lower, occasionally wholesale rates even go negative)), for an annual cost of $172.

Other factors: less maintenance, due to a much simpler drive train and the elimination of many support systems, fluids, belts, etc, etc. An important example: brake costs will be much lower, due to regenerative braking.

Insurance costs? Insurance costs are based on many things, including theft rates, collision rates, repair costs, anti-theft system and owner behavior. A taxi owner I just interviewed told me that a Prius would cost him 40% more than the usual Crown Vic-type workhorse, but that insurance would cost no more. BTW, the extra cost of the Prius is paid for in 10 months by the fuel savings... The Prius might be a guide: anyone seen a good source?

A Corolla, financed over 10 years, would cost $23,991 ($16,850 XLE, 7% interest) + 11,680 gas costs for $35,671.

A Leaf, financed over 10 years, would cost $35,993 ($32,780 minus $7,500 rebate, 7% interest) + 1,720 gas costs for $35,714.

So, a conservative comparison gives out of pocket costs which are almost identical. Other comparisons would look even better: including state rebates (CA-$5K, TN-$2K, GA-$5k?); comparing to a more expensive Corolla; to the average US vehicle; to a Prius; or using real costs (eliminating the rebate and including the external cost of oil).

In countries like Israel or Denmark, the Leaf will be a 1st car, supported by Better Place. OTOH, I don't expect Better Place to have a big impact on the US soon. On the 3rd hand, it's worth noting that: they are trying, in places like San Francisco; many places (e.g., Tennessee!) are installing charging stations on critical paths, and that a relatively small number can make a disproportionate difference; and the Leaf has a clever built-in app that finds efficient routes and charging stations.

October 7, 2010

Even more resistance to change

"What has Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California incensed is the fact that two Texas oil companies with two refineries each in California are financing a campaign to roll back California’s landmark laws to slow global warming and promote clean energy innovation, because it would require the refiners to install new emission-control tools. "

“It is very clear that the oil companies from outside the state that are trying to take out A.B. 32, and trying to take out our environmental laws, have no interest in suspending it, but just to get rid of it,” Governor Schwarzenegger said at an energy forum ... They’re not interested in our environment; they are only interested in greed and filling their pockets with more money.

“And they are very deceptive when they say they want to go and create more jobs in California,” the governor added. “Since when has [an] oil company ever been interested in jobs? Let’s be honest. If they really are interested in jobs, they would want to protect A.B. 32, because actually it’s green technology that is creating the most jobs right now in California, 10 times more than any other sector.”

No, this is not about jobs. As ThinkProgress.org, a progressive research center, reported: Two Texas oil companies, Valero and Tesoro, “have led the charge against the landmark climate law, along with Koch Industries, the giant oil conglomerate owned by right-wing megafunders Charles and David Koch. Koch recently donated $1 million to the effort and has been supporting front groups involved in the campaign.”