Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Electric Vehicle Charging If You Don't Own A Home

 
Electric vehicles (EVs) have numerous advantages, but of course they must be charged. How do you charge your EV if you do not own a home? Now, by law, California apartment dwellers, home owner association (HOA) members, and commercial tenants are entitled to install charging stations. Certain sensible steps must be taken, for the benefit of all parties. This article explains EV advantages; how EVs are charged; and how to adhere to the law to install a charging station even if it is not on your own property.

Electric Vehicle Advantages

EVs are the future, and the future is here now. They offer much more efficient transportation, and provide economic, environmental, and other advantages that benefit not just the owner, but everyone.

EVs advantages include:
1. lower fuel and maintenance costs
2. reduced toxic and global warming pollutants
3. no dependence on foreign oil (be a patriot!)
4. silent, smooth, fast response and great handling
5. safety (no risk of exploding gasoline tanks)
6. direct use of clean renewable energy such as solar and wind power
7. quieter, cleaner streets
8. no dirty gasoline pumping or garage fluid leaks
9. employment of Americans while reducing trade deficits
10. (and soon) the ability to provide electrical power to your house.

Like many governments, it is U.S. policy to encourage adoption of EVs (we are aiming to put two million on the road by 2020). EVs can cost over $100,000 for incredibly fast luxury models and under $20,000 (after subsidies) for excellent do-everything models, with many more EV models available every year. Manufacturers agree EVs will soon become a substantial portion of the vehicle market.
EVs are usually set to late at night when electrical demand is low. This means that the cost of late-night electricity is also low. It also means that even if most cars were electric we still wouldn’t need a single new power plant, and we can use more and more clean renewable energy.
For the owner, the cost of EV electricity is one half to one sixth the cost of gas, saving hundreds or thousands of dollars annually. For those installing residential solar, the solar pays for itself and the owner can drive for free with lifetime savings of over a hundred thousand dollars. EVs save at least 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually, making it the single largest possible reduction in one’s carbon footprint!


Charging

EVs can charge either with common 120-volt household outlets (referred to as “Level 1” or L1), or 240-volt “charging stations” (referred to as “Level 2” or L2), or 480-volt “fast chargers”(referred to as “Level 3” or L3). While all EVs can do L1 and L2 charging, but not all EVs can do L3 charging. Complicating matters is that while one plug standard exists for L1 and L2 (known as J1772), but there are different plug standards from different manufacturers for L3 (known as Chademo, CCS, and Tesla).
EVs charging at home often uses household outlets (L1), but more typically with specifically-installed charging stations (L2). Indeed, most EV owners know that charging takes only seconds: a few seconds to plug in when arriving home in the evening, and a few seconds to unplug in the morning. Often EV owners want to schedule the time of charging to take advantage of the lowest electricity rates, and scheduling can be done through controls on the charging station or controls on the car -- and in turn, often these are managed through smart-phone apps.
Surveys demonstrate that the great majority of EV owners charge at home. Yet, sometimes charging is done at work (second most common), occasionally at public charging stations, and also occasionally at fast chargers. Interestingly, charging at work is also accomplished with either L1 or L2.
Household outlets (L1) are everywhere, and an EV charging on L1 uses about as much electricity as a toaster. Charging this way provides enough electricity in an hour for an EV to travel about 4 miles. As an example, if an EV were to be plugged in when arriving home at 8pm, and was unplugged in the morning at 8am, it would receive enough electricity to travel around 50 miles. Over 90% of American daily drivers travel fewer than 50 miles a day, and therefore in most cases L1charging is sufficient. (A gas car does not get filled up every day but EVs does get plugged in every day, so an EV always starts with a “full tank.”)
However, many people want the flexibility to charge more quickly, or to charge only when the utility has lower electricity rates, or have an EV with a large battery or often drive longer distances. Therefore, charging stations (L2) can be installed that use 240-volt electricity directly from the building’s electrical panel. Depending upon the L2 device and the EV, plugging in will provide enough electricity to travel between 20 to 60 miles per hour of charge. And, this also means that one L2 is able to charge several EVs in a day.
For those who own their own home with a parking space, in virtually all cases a charging station can be readily installed (sometimes this can be done by the owner, more often it is a quick and easy installation for an electrician). The device costs approximately $500, and the electrician can typically install it for a few hundred dollars more (and the total cost is reduced by a partial tax credit). The same is true for employers who install charging stations, but they may install either L1 or L2, and the cost may be higher if they have to install it outdoors and the electrical line has to be placed underground. In addition to employers, there are also many thousands of charging stations publically installed across the country on streets, in parking lots, and in parking garages. These public charging stations are either operated by “pay as you go” service providers (usually costing a couple of dollars per hour) or are sometimes provided without cost to attract customers.
Lastly, there are many hundreds of fast chargers that are now installed (with still more on the way): these L3 devices are typically expected to be used by those who are traveling significant distances away from home. They are often installed at places like freeway rest areas and shopping centers. L3s can provide 80-150 miles range in only about half an hour. However, the reality is that at present L3s are specific to certain areas and certain routes -- and often, these are the areas and routes that are most often used by EVs (no small coincidence).

Legislation Enabling Charging Station Installation
All vehicle owners fall into one of five categories: governments, fleets, homeowners, HOA owners, and apartment dwellers. Governments (federal, state, municipal, agency), fleets (private businesses, taxi services, delivery services), and homeowners control their properties. Consequently, they should not have any legal issues regarding installing charging stations, and do not require special protections.
For those who are HOA owners or apartment dwellers, California has recently enacted legislation that provides the right to charge an EV, and if desired to install charging stations. It should be pointed out that EV owners can often simply work out an acceptable charging arrangement without the need to go through the steps protected by the legislation. But certainly it is a positive sign for the legislature to make it a right under the law to charge an EV, and it anticipates the developing trend for more and more vehicles to be EVs.
Another interested group is employers: even if they are not EV owners themselves, they may want to provide their employers and/or customers the opportunity to charge. There is also law that now protects that group as well.
The laws to protect the EV charging rights of HOA owners, apartment dwellers, and employers are similar in many ways. It is certainly possible that these laws will act as models for legislatures across the country to enable EV charging in all states. Moreover, that such legislation exists to protect these groups will likely result in property managers and landlords becoming sensitized to the need to provide EV charging, and hopefully they will begin to proactively provide charging to stay ahead of the law and as an inducement to EV-driving tenants.
The laws are similar in many ways, including requiring the charging stations to meet applicable safety standards and applicable building and electrical codes (all commercially-available charging stations meet these standards). The laws require the EV owners to protect the property owners from harm, and to accept the costs associated with the installation and electricity costs. Also, while the laws place limits on the circumstances in which chargers can be installed, they provide for economic penalties against property owners who impermissibly try to prevent their installation.
To be sure, EV owners need to know the requirements and steps for charging station installation. Unfortunately, it is a process-heavy set of requirements: there must be a written application, plans, permits, insurance, and the opportunity for the property owner to seek more information. All of this can take months (which means that a prospective EV owner should consider all of this before buying an EV or before moving into a location that does not presently enable charging).

Basic Home Owner Association Steps:
1. If the charging station is to be installed in an area designated for the Homeowner’s
exclusive use, then apply in writing to the Association in the same manner as any
construction project and include contractor information;
2. If the charging station would be impossible or unreasonably expensive to install in the
Homeowner’s exclusive use area, then the following terms also apply:
a. Add the Association as an additional insured on $1,000,000 Homeowner liability
policy -- often Homeowners already carry such a policy)
b. Propose a method for paying for electricity
c. Accept responsibility for damage, maintenance and removal;
3. The Association must respond within 60 days.

If the Association violates this Homeowner right, it must pay up to $1000 and the Homeowner’s attorney’s fees. Of course, the Association may use the application as an opportunity to install a charging station in a common area for multiple EV owners to use. For more detail, the applicable HOA statute, Civil Code 4745, is found below.


Basic Apartment Dweller Steps:

1. First, the following conditions must be met:
a. The lease was entered into, extended or renewed after July 1, 2015
b. There is no charging for at least 10% of the parking spaces
c. Parking is provided as part of the lease
d. There are at least 5 parking spaces
e. The property is not subject to rent control;
2. Apply in writing to the landlord for the following elements:
a. Installation, maintenance, and removal
b. Explanation and acceptance of all related costs
c. Agreement to pay for electricity used;
3. Add the landlord as an additional insured on $1,000,000 general liability policy.

This apartment dweller law states that a landlord “shall” enable the installation of a charging station for an apartment dweller if all the conditions identified under the law are met. However, unlike with the Homeowners Associations law, there is no penalty or attorney’s fees built into the law for the landlord’s failure to comply. For more detail, the apartment dweller statute, Civil Code 1947.6, is found below.


Basic Commercial Tenant Steps:

1. First, the following conditions must be met:
a. The lease was entered into, extended or renewed after January 1, 2015
b. There is no charging for at least 2% of the parking spaces
c. There are at least 50 parking spaces;
2. Apply in writing to the landlord for the following elements:
a. Installation, maintenance, and removal
b. Agreement to pay for electricity used;
3. Add the landlord as an additional insured on $1,000,000 general liability policy.

This commercial tenancy law does not state that a commercial landlord “shall” enable the installation of a charging station for a commercial tenant. Moreover, unlike with the Homeowners Associations law, there is no penalty or attorney’s fees built into the law for the landlord’s failure to comply. For more detail, the commercial tenant statute, Civil Code 1952.7, is found below.


Paying For Electricity

As a practical matter, regardless of whether the issue is regarding an HOA, apartment, or commercial lease, determining how to pay for electricity may be a difficult aspect of this process. The reason for this is that often charging stations are plugged into a 240 volt electrical outlet that is directly wired to the nearest electrical panel. This means that there may be no specific meter in place that would measure how much electricity is being used.
With household outlet charging, there are simple and inexpensive energy-tracking devices (such as “Kill A Watt”) that electrical equipment is plugged into and which are then plugged into wall outlets (this is convenient if using L1 charging). However, while there are no such simple devices available for 240V, there are some that can be professionally installed, and indeed, if the charging station installation requires a new dedicated power line from the electrical panel, then such a device could be installed at the same time. Finally, the EVs themselves, and many charging stations, can report how much electricity is used. (Of course, there is a possible issue of verifying that report to the satisfaction of the building owner or property manager: sometimes a calculation, or log, or snapshot, or accounting report will suffice.)
But, calculating the cost of charging an EV requires knowing not just the amount electricity, but the cost of that electricity. Depending upon the building’s electrical rate plan, the cost of electricity could be quite cheap (typically late at night), or conversely the peak cost of electricity could be quite expensive (typically in the evening). Electricity is measured in kilowatt-hours (KWH), and the range could be from less than $.10/KWH to over $.60/KWH.
An EV travelling 12,000 miles annually (about the national average) will use around 4,000 KWH. Given all that electricity, and given the various possible rates for electricity, the cost of charging an EV can vary quite a bit. If the utility-payer (either the landlord or the EV owner) has a “time of use” electricity plan from the utility, then charging when electricity is cheapest can make a significant difference.
Because the difference in rates is based on the different times of usage, calculating the cost of the electricity used requires knowing when the EV charged as well as how much electricity it used. It is helpful to keep in mind that most all EVs using charging stations will charge late at night when rates are cheapest. Most EVs and charging stations have built-in timers, computer-based programs, and smart-phone applications that easily let the owner set the charging time: the owner parks and plugs the EV in, but it only begins charging when it is programmed to do so. The owner can work with the building manager to determine this question of when to have the timer start the charging.
Finally, there is a potential issue regarding the total capacity of the electrical panel that provides the electricity to the charging station. It is extremely unlikely that a single charging station will cause any issue or trip a circuit breaker. But, if there are multiple charging stations on the same electrical panel, and if they are all programmed to begin charging their respective EVs at the same time, then there is now a greater likelihood that a circuit breaker might trip. Therefore, if there are many EVs, it might be beneficial for the EV owners to confer with each other to determine whether they can program their EVs to charge at different times or use different electrical panels.
There is a developing solution for all of the various issues identified: businesses that handle the proper selection and installation of the charging station; determine the amount of electricity used and determining the price rate for that electricity; and if it may be an issue, some will work to ensure that multiple EVs can coordinate their activities so as not to overload the building’s electrical panel. There are also businesses that offer assistance to building owners and building managers by acting as a liaison with the EV owner, assure proper steps are taken by the EV owner, and assure payment for electricity.
Ultimately, as more EV owners exercise their right to request the opportunity to charge, both EV owners and building owners will become more familiar with their respective obligations. The utilities are starting to appreciate their role in this process, as are state and local governments, and the entire process is becoming more common, more familiar, and more stream-lined -- and, newer buildings are starting to have the electrical connectivity built in. But, because of the number of unique situations that will be encountered with existing buildings, it is important to be aware of legal duties and how all sides can work together to mutual advantage.


CALIFORNIA LAWS FOR NON-PROPERTY OWNER CHARGER INSTALLATION


FOR HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS

Civil Code Section 4745
(a) Any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of any interest in a common interest development, and any provision of a governing document, as defined in
Section 4150, that either effectively prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in an owner’s designated parking space, including, but not limited to, a deeded parking space, a parking space in an owner’s exclusive use common area, or a parking space that is specifically designated for use by a particular owner, or is in conflict with the provisions of this section is void and unenforceable.
(b)(1) This section does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on electric vehicle charging stations. However, it is the policy of the state to promote, encourage, and remove obstacles to the use of electric vehicle charging stations.
(2) For purposes of this section, “reasonable restrictions” are restrictions that do not significantly increase the cost of the station or significantly decrease its efficiency or specified performance.
(c) An electric vehicle charging station shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local authorities, and all other applicable zoning, land use, or other ordinances, or land use permits.
(d) For purposes of this section, “electric vehicle charging station” means a station that is designed in compliance with the California Building Standards Code and delivers electricity from a source outside an electric vehicle into one or more electric vehicles. An electric vehicle charging station may include several charge points simultaneously connecting several electric vehicles to the station and any related equipment needed to facilitate charging plug-in electric vehicles.
(e) If approval is required for the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station, the application for approval shall be processed and approved by the association in the same manner as an application for approval of an architectural modification to the property, and shall not be willfully avoided or delayed. The approval or denial of an application shall be in writing. If an application is not denied in writing within 60 days from the date of receipt of the application, the application shall be deemed approved, unless that delay is the result of a reasonable request for additional information.
(f) If the electric vehicle charging station is to be placed in a common area or an exclusive use common area, as designated in the common interest development’s declaration, the following provisions apply:

(1) The owner first shall obtain approval from the association to install the electric vehicle charging station and the association shall approve the installation if the owner agrees in writing to do all of the following:
(A) Comply with the association’s architectural standards for the installation of the charging station.
(B) Engage a licensed contractor to install the charging station.

(C) Within 14 days of approval, provide a certificate of insurance that names the association as an additional insured under the owner’s insurance policy in the amount set forth in paragraph (3).
(D) Pay for the electricity usage associated with the charging station.

(2) The owner and each successive owner of the charging station shall be responsible for all of the following:
(A) Costs for damage to the charging station, common area, exclusive use common area, or separate interests resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the charging station.
(B) Costs for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the charging station until it has been removed and for the restoration of the common area after removal.
(C) The cost of electricity associated with the charging station.
(D) Disclosing to prospective buyers the existence of any charging station of the owner and the related responsibilities of the owner under this section.

(3) The owner and each successive owner of the charging station, at all times, shall maintain a homeowner liability coverage policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and shall name the association as a named additional insured under the policy with a right to notice of cancellation.
(4) A homeowner shall not be required to maintain a homeowner liability coverage policy for an existing National Electrical Manufacturers Association standard alternating current power plug.

(g) Except as provided in subdivision (h), installation of an electric vehicle charging station for the exclusive use of an owner in a common area, that is not an exclusive use common area, shall be authorized by the association only if installation in the owner’s designated parking space is impossible or unreasonably expensive. In such cases, the association shall enter into a license agreement with the owner for the use of the space in a common area, and the owner shall comply with all of the requirements in subdivision (f).
(h) The association or owners may install an electric vehicle charging station in the common area for the use of all members of the association and, in that case, the association shall develop appropriate terms of use for the charging station.
(i) An association may create a new parking space where one did not previously exist to facilitate the installation of an electric vehicle charging station.
(j) An association that willfully violates this section shall be liable to the applicant or other party for actual damages, and shall pay a civil penalty to the applicant or other party in an amount not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000).
(k) In any action to enforce compliance with this section, the prevailing plaintiff shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees.


FOR APARTMENTS / MULTI-UNIT DWELLINGS

Civil Code Section 1947.6
(a) For any lease executed, extended, or renewed on and after July 1, 2015, a lessor of a dwelling shall approve a written request of a lessee to install an electric vehicle charging station at a parking space allotted for the lessee that meets the requirements of this section and complies with the lessor's procedural approval process for modification to the property.
(b) This section does not apply to residential rental properties where:
(1) Electric vehicle charging stations already exist for lessees in a ratio that is equal to or greater than 10 percent of the designated parking spaces.
(2) Parking is not provided as part of the lease agreement.
(3) A property where there are less than five parking spaces.
(4) A dwelling that is subject to the residential rent control ordinance of a public entity.
(c) For purposes of this section, "electric vehicle charging station" or "charging station" means any level of electric vehicle supply equipment station that is designed and built in compliance with Article 625 of the California Electrical Code, as it reads on the effective date of this section, and delivers electricity from a source outside an electric vehicle into a plug-in electric vehicle.
(d) A lessor shall not be obligated to provide an additional parking space to a lessee in order to accommodate an electric vehicle charging station.
(e) If the electric vehicle charging station has the effect of providing the lessee with a reserved parking space, the lessor may charge a monthly rental amount for that parking space.
(f) An electric vehicle charging station and all modifications and improvements to the property shall comply with federal, state, and local law, and all applicable zoning requirements, land use requirements, and covenants, conditions, and restrictions.
(g) A lessee's written request to make a modification to the property in order to install and use an electric vehicle charging station shall include, but is not limited to, his or her consent to enter into a written agreement that includes, but is not limited to, the following:
(1) Compliance with the lessor's requirements for the installation, use, maintenance, and removal of the charging station and installation, use, and maintenance of the infrastructure for the charging station.
(2) Compliance with the lessor's requirements for the lessee to provide a complete financial analysis and scope of work regarding the installation of the charging station and its infrastructure.
(3) A written description of how, when, and where the modifications and improvements to the property are proposed to be made consistent with those items specified in the "Permitting Checklist" of the "Zero-Emission Vehicles in California: Community Readiness Guidebook" published by the Office of Planning and Research [http://www.ca-ilg.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/zev_guidebook.pdf].
(4) Obligation of the lessee to pay the lessor all costs associated with the lessor's installation of the charging station and its infrastructure prior to any modification or improvement being made to the leased property. The costs associated with modifications and improvements shall include, but are not limited to, the cost of permits, supervision, construction, and, solely if required by the contractor, consistent with its past performance of work for the lessor, performance bonds.
(5) Obligation of the lessee to pay as part of rent for the costs associated with the electrical usage of the charging station, and cost for damage, maintenance, repair, removal, and replacement of the charging station, and modifications or improvements made to the property associated with the charging station.
(h) The lessee shall maintain in full force and effect a lessee's general liability insurance policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and shall name the lessor as a named additional insured under the policy commencing with the date of approval of construction until the lessee forfeits possession of the dwelling to the lessor.

FOR COMMERCIAL TENANT PROPERTIES

Civil Code Section 1952.7
(a) (1) Any term in a lease that is executed, renewed, or extended on or after January 1, 2015, that conveys any possessory interest in commercial property that either prohibits or unreasonably restricts the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station in a parking space associated with the commercial property, or that is otherwise in conflict with the provisions of this section, is void and unenforceable.
(2) This subdivision does not apply to provisions that impose reasonable restrictions on the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. However, it is the policy of the state to promote, encourage, and remove obstacles to the use of electric vehicle charging stations.
(3) This subdivision shall not grant the holder of a possessory interest under the lease described in paragraph (1) the right to install electric vehicle charging stations in more parking spaces than are allotted to the leaseholder in his or her lease, or, if no parking spaces are allotted, a number of parking spaces determined by multiplying the total number of parking spaces located at the commercial property by a fraction, the denominator of which is the total rentable square feet at the property, and the numerator of which is the number of total square feet rented by the leaseholder.
(4) If the installation of an electric vehicle charging station has the effect of granting the leaseholder a reserved parking space and a reserved parking space is not allotted to the leaseholder in the lease, the owner of the commercial property may charge a reasonable monthly rental amount for the parking space.
(b) This section shall not apply to any of the following:
(1) A commercial property where charging stations already exist for use by tenants in a ratio that is equal to or greater than two available parking spaces for every 100 parking spaces at the commercial property.
(2) A commercial property where there are less than 50 parking spaces.
(c) For purposes of this section:
(1) "Electric vehicle charging station" or "charging station" means a station that is designed in compliance with Article 625 of the National Electrical Code, as it reads on the effective date of this section, and delivers electricity from a source outside an electric vehicle into one or more electric vehicles.
(2) "Reasonable costs" includes, but is not limited to, costs associated with those items specified in the "Permitting Checklist" of the "Zero-Emission Vehicles in California: Community Readiness Guidebook" published by the Office of Planning and Research [http://www.ca-ilg.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/zev_guidebook.pdf].
(3) "Reasonable restrictions" or "reasonable standards" are restrictions or standards that do not significantly increase the cost of the electric vehicle charging station or its installation or significantly decrease the charging station's efficiency or specified performance.
(d) An electric vehicle charging station shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local authorities as well as all other applicable zoning, land use, or other ordinances, or land use permit requirements.
(e) If lessor approval is required for the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station, the application for approval shall not be willfully avoided or delayed. The approval or denial of an application shall be in writing.
(f) An electric vehicle charging station installed by a lessee shall satisfy the following provisions:
(1) If lessor approval is required, the lessee first shall obtain approval from the lessor to install the electric vehicle charging station and the lessor shall approve the installation if the lessee complies with the applicable provisions of the lease consistent with the provisions of this section and agrees in writing to do all of the following:
(A) Comply with the lessor's reasonable standards for the installation of the charging station.
(B) Engage a licensed contractor to install the charging station.
(C) Within 14 days of approval, provide a certificate of insurance that names the lessor as an additional insured under the lessee's insurance policy in the amount set forth in paragraph (3).
(2) The lessee shall be responsible for all of the following:
(A) Costs for damage to property and the charging station resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the charging station.
(B) Costs for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the charging station.
(C) The cost of electricity associated with the charging station.
(3) The lessee at all times, shall maintain a lessee liability coverage policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000), and shall name the lessor as a named additional insured under the policy with a right to notice of cancellation and property insurance covering any damage or destruction caused by the charging station, naming the lessor as its interests may appear.
(g) A lessor may, in its sole discretion, create a new parking space where one did not previously exist to facilitate the installation of an electric vehicle charging station, in compliance with all applicable laws.
(h) Any installation by a lessor or a lessee of an electric vehicle charging station in a common interest development
is also subject to all of the requirements of subdivision (f) of Section 4745 of the Civil Code.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Time Is Right For a Carbon Tax

The time is right for the United States to initiate a carbon tax.  Indeed, given the rate of global warming the time is well past due, but given the significant decline in the price of fossil fuel a carbon tax would not be much noticed and so the central economic argument against it can not stand.  Moreover, the tax would succeed in inhibiting the use of fossil fuels, at this time of dire need for global warming reduction.
 
A carbon tax is a dollar sum placed on carbon dioxide emissions at the producer level.  The producer decides whether to pass along the tax cost to the consumer (or absorb a reduction in profits).  The express purpose is to make carbon more expensive.  
 
However, the carbon tax is a bit of misnomer: it is NOT an actual tax, because it is intended to reduce other collected taxes, such as income taxes, on a dollar-for-dollar basis.  It is not regressive (i.e., it does not effect the poor and rich evenly) because the wealthy use more carbon and the rate of income tax adjustment enables fair offsets in income tax for each income tax bracket.  Really, a carbon tax is just a re-allocation of taxes, working simply to make pollution more expensive.
 
The United States would not be going it alone with a carbon tax.  Indeed, these have been in place in progressive countries for years.  For example, many European nations have implemented a carbon tax: Sweden has had one since 1991, it has moved progressively higher, and yet while it has significantly reduced emissions it has not had an adverse impact on its economic growth.

A carbon tax figure often mentioned is $25 per ton of carbon dioxide.  That would add about $.25 to a gallon of gasoline, about $.005 to a kilowatthour of electricity.  But again, this money is intended to be redistributed to produce a net-zero increase in federal taxes, and so it merely induces greater use of alternative energy and more efficient devices.  In that way, it is credited with domestic and international success in driving the economy forward toward ever-improving technology.

The primary argument against a carbon tax is that it would detrimentally effect the fossil-fuel economy.  However, the average cost of a barrel of oil has declined by half and with Iran returning to the market the glut of its oil will likely keep prices low for years to come.  Similarly, the price of natural gas is at historic lows with more reservoirs being regularly discovered.  With the reductions in the cost of this fossil fuel energy, the carbon tax will not be significantly noticed by the consumer.

Oil and natural gas account for the majority of all carbon dioxide emissions.  Because of the low price of these commodities, their use may expand, to the detriment of renewable energy production, to the detriment of our health (the cost of adverse health effects due carbon fuel pollution is estimated at $120 billion annually), and to the detriment of increased global warming (the cost of harm caused by global warming is estimated at $2 trillion annually).  And the estimates of the damage caused by fossil fuel pollution is only increasing as the estimates become more accurate  --  and, the cost of species extinction is incalculable.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Reclaiming Drinking Water Saves Energy And The Environment

There is a critical nexus of interests to be connected between drinking water, energy use, and the environment.  This article explores a solution that dramatically conserves each.  Moreover, it is readily technologically feasible and easily introduced into all major population centers.

There are several observations to be made regarding water, electricity, and the environment.  First, virtually every agricultural and population center on the planet uses more fresh water than is naturally replenished, and indeed some are running through reserves at such a rate that they are already running out of fresh water.  Second, the amount of energy required to extract, distribute, treat, and dispose of water    or to create fresh water from salt water    is one of the single largest sources of energy consumption.  Third, man’s abuse of natural water cycles is wreaking havoc with a tremendous number of environmental systems around the world, leading to catastrophic and likely permanent damage to these ecosystems and their flora and fauna.

I propose that in all towns, cities, and metropolitan centers, the water distribution, sewer, and water treatment systems be tied together.  The purpose would be to create and maintain a permanent closed-cycle loop system to distribute, collect, treat, and re-distribute water.  Doing so will provide ideal water quality, greatly reduce the energy required to make water available, and dramatically reduce the amount of water taken from the ecosystems that depend upon it.

Let’s be clear on three things: first, it is certain that sewage water can readily be cleaned to standards beyond those required of existing water standards    this is well-demonstrated and beyond challenge.  Second, such closed-loop systems result in stunningly large savings in electricity, which has equally stunning implications for reducing global pollution (and can thereby also reduce energy-related geopolitical friction).  Third, this is an inevitable end-game given that natural aquifers are not replenishing at the rate humans draw them down, yet given our consistent pattern of thinking only of our species over the existence of every other species we may not come to this obvious conclusion until after we have caused the extinction of incalculable other species. 

 
Reclaimed Potable Water Is Pure

Cleaning sewage water to drinking water standards may accomplished through fairly new but very well-tested technologies.  Potable (i.e., drinking) water in the U.S. must meet many standards (http://water.epa.gov/drink/contaminants).  Among the monitored pathogens and chemicals and element contaminants are these categories: 

  • Micro-organisms (ex: giardia    zero acceptable tolerance) 
  • Cleaning agents (ex: chlorine    monitored to low levels) 
  • Inorganic chemicals (ex: the heavy metal barium    may have no more than 2 MCL (Micrograms per Liter, also known as Parts Per Million (PPM)))
  • Organic chemicals (ex: the petrochemical Toluene    1 MCL)
  • Radioactive materials (ex: uranium). 
There are nearly one hundred monitored contaminants.  If all are properly monitored and treated, the resulting water will be pure.

Importantly, all testing has revealed that reclaimed drinking water is remarkably pure.  In fact, having all water flow through a single treatment facility better enables complete and consistent testing to ensure the purity of the water.  The water coming out of such treatment facilities is cleaner than the water typically pulled from our waterways and aquifers: a recent National Research Council study concluded that reclaimed potable water had contaminant risk many times lower than that found in conventional water supplies (http://www.nap.edu/catalog/13303/water-reuse-potential-for-expanding-the-nations-water-supply-through).

It is against the law to discharge untreated sewage directly into the public waterways, which is the inevitable end-point for treated sewage water.  Therefore, in all developed nations, the infrastructure to collect, treat, and discharge the sewage water already exists.   Consequently, the basic transportation infrastructure for enabling sewage water to be fully treated already exists.

 
The Key Issue Is Energy 

In order to treat the sewage, there are three basic steps.  First is primary treatment, which is the separation of heavy solids, oils and light solids, and the remaining liquids.  Next comes secondary treatment, which is the use of beneficial micro-organisms to remove biological elements.  The final stage, tertiary treatment, is typically chemical treatment and/or physical filtering. 

The energy required to perform these basic sewage treatment steps is significant.  For instance, the Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center uses 770KWH/AF (KWH = kilowatt hour, and AF = acre-foot of water, which is 325,853 gallons).  This is the amount of energy input into the treatment system.  Interestingly, there are developing technologies that actually extract some energy from some forms of treatment, and such energy harvesting systems would fit best with full water treatment systems built for reclaiming drinking water (http://www.businessinsider.com/bill-gates-sewage-water-electricity-2015-1; http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/9120/20140919/
microbes-power-waste-cleanup.htm).

In order to treat sewage water so as to make it potable turns out to require only a few additional steps and only a bit more energy.  The Silicon Valley Advanced Water Purification Center system begins with the described sewage treatment steps, and then adds the following additional processes: microfiltration (forcing the water through very fine hollow fibers);  reverse osmosis (forcing the water through membrane sheets with holes so small that a water molecule is almost the only substance that can pass through); and ultraviolet light (exposing the water to strong ultraviolet light to act as a powerful last stage disinfectant) (purewater4u.org).  The energy requirement for this system is 1600KWH/AF. 

Lastly, potable water can be created through desalination.  This process forces sea water under very high pressure through reverse osmosis filters similar to those identified above.  However, because there are far more salts and solids in sea water (that cannot be removed through any other form of treatment or filtration), the pressure required is much greater and the efforts required are much more energy intensive (and, some other steps as identified are also often still required).  Lastly, the system requires the construction of a wholly new plant, it requires long piping systems into the sea, and it results in the discharge of brine that is dangerous to local marine life.  But moreover, in addition to huge capital cost and direct environmental damage, the typical energy requirements for desalination systems is 6000-12,000 KWH/AF    many times more than the energy required for reclaimed drinking water.  (http://waterindustry.org/Water-Facts/world-water).

The critical energy comparisons are clear in comparing the energy requirement for treatment of sewage (required) versus treatment for reclaimed drinking water versus desalination treatment.  The energy requirement comparison    770 v. 1600 v. 6000-12,000KWH/AF    speaks for itself.  But simply leaving the analysis there is far from complete.  The full comparison must also include analysis of all water energy use and full environmental impact. 

It is difficult to perfectly quantify the energy required to obtain new water for each region, but reasonable estimates can be made based upon overall numbers.  In California, fully 20% of total electricity use is for transporting water (www.epa.gov/region9/waterinfrastructure/waterenergy).   California’s annual electrical energy use is about 230,000,000,000 KWH (http://energyalmanac.ca.gov/electricity/overview.html), and therefore water-transport-related electrical use was 46,000,000,000 KWH.  Even given California’s relatively low carbon footprint of 0.5LB of carbon dioxide (among other pollutants) per KWH of electricity (http://www.miloslick.com/EnergyLogger_files/State_Electricity_and_Emissions_Rates.pdf), this still amounts to 23,000,000,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually related to water transportation.  This is equivalent to the tailpipe pollution of about 2,300,000 vehicles (about one fifth of all the vehicles in California) (http://www.statista.com/statistics/196024/number-of-registered-automobiles-in-california/).  Simply stated, there is tremendous energy savings in NOT having to transport new drinking water. 

 
A Win For The Environment

As for the environmental savings, this is even more difficult to quantify, but the savings are even greater.  As a further example of environmental impact, California is struggling to avoid draining its rivers, streams, lakes, and wetlands to meet the demand for water.  A large percentage of the planet’s biological diversity is found in such waterways.  Once dried, the species that were native to those waterways are forever extincted, never to return.  (Humankind is already responsible for the planet’s sixth great mass extinction, leading to the disappearance of a potential 50% of all species.)  Also, underground water supplies have been drawn down so far that lands are subsiding; salt water is infiltrating into fresh water; and, pollution in the remaining water is rising.  The opportunity to avoid these losses should be a paramount concern.

 
… And A Win For The Economy

Lastly, there is a tremendous economic savings in avoiding water transportation.   In addition to the savings in electrical energy, multi-billion dollar projects are required to bring water to population centers.  The future costs of such projects continue to rise.  The alternative is restricting water use by individuals and businesses, including agriculture (the most water-intensive business).  Between the energy savings, the capital project costs, and the impact on business, the cost of transporting water is in the hundreds of billions of dollars.  By comparison, more robust water treatment plants take advantage of existing water infrastructure, and their costs are comparatively much lower.

 
The benefits of employing available technology to endlessly reclaim drinking water are obvious.  It will doubtless happen.  The only question is when.  Hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later, because the planet’s most pressing issues    energy and the environment    lie in the balance. 

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Hydrogen Vehicles Fail; Electric Vehicles Win

This article is inspired by a recent proposal by the California Air Resources Board to change its Zero Emissions Vehicle credit system to greatly benefit potential hydrogen vehicles at the expense of existing battery electric vehicles
(http://www.arb.ca.gov/regact/2013/zev2013/zev201315daynotice.pdf).   Analyzing both present technologies, I believe it is clearly true that hydrogen is a terrible way to go and battery electric vehicles are the only way to go.  The reasons can be stated in top-ten lists. 

(If you agree with this article, please make a public comment to discourage this possible change by cutting and pasting what I’ve written or presenting your own comment at this address:
http://www.arb.ca.gov/lispub/comm/bcsubform.php?listname=zev2013&comm_period=1.)

 

TOP TEN REASONS WHY HYDROGEN VEHICLES ARE A FAIL:

The reasons why hydrogen is a fail can be broken down into 3 general buckets:  cost, safety, and environmental damage.

1.  Hydrogen Requires A Completely New Infrastructure At Tremendous Cost.
            There is nothing that exists that is adaptable for conversion to hydrogen use.  Therefore, an entirely new infrastructure of large reservoirs, transport vehicles, fueling stations, and pipelines would have to be built.  For some elements, the technology for doing so does not even exist.  The cost for all of this  --  at a scale necessary to replace gasoline vehicles  --  is astronomical.  Each hydrogen station costs about $2,000,000: there are about 120,000 gas stations in the United States, so the cost of merely creating a hydrogen fueling station infrastructure will cost about $240 billion dollars (http://www.fool.com/investing/general/2014/04/16/the-battle-of-the-green-vehicles-electric-cars-vs.aspx).  In a world that measures everything by cost first, this is in itself a complete deal-breaker.

2.  Hydrogen Requires Very Expensive Fuel Cells.
            While hydrogen can be burned in an internal combustion engine, this is not commercially proposed because it would be a poor and expensive use of the fuel.  Instead, proponents propose using hydrogen in fuel cells.  However, the cost of fuel cells is startling.  There are several fuel cells on the market, and each is very expensive: the cost of a fuel cell that can make a sufficient amount of electricity to operate a vehicle is about $50,000 to $100,000 (http://www.iop.org/resources/topic/archive/fuel/).  Moreover, fuel cells require the use of a fair amount of platinum as a catalyst material, and so mass production of fuel cells would not reduce the cost, but instead would actually drive up the cost due to the scarcity of platinum.

3.  Hydrogen Is Inherently Very Dangerous. 
            We’ve all heard of or seen footage of the Hindenburg zeppelin exploding (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgWHbpMVQ1U).   We know that this can and has happened at hydrogen vehicle filling stations (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlyCPbmO7Ts). 
           Fundamentally, hydrogen is one of the most dangerous materials to handle as it is extremely combustible, and without scent or color and so its escape into the atmosphere is impossible to detect.  Therefore, an ignition source may be unknowingly introduced to it.  Because of its amazing combustibility, it will burn extremely quickly, with extreme heat, and therefore is extremely dangerous.  While this danger can be mitigated, it is inherent, and should rule out the use of hydrogen on the broad consumer market.

4.  Hydrogen Is Difficult To Capture.
            Hydrogen is always maintained under great pressure.  Because hydrogen atoms are the smallest element, it can escape through any small gap http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_safety).  Therefore, any possible source of escape will be found.  As life too often proves, where there is a risk, that risk will eventually manifest itself. Escaping hydrogen may result in an explosion, and at a minimum it will result in a serious threat to the environment.  The reality is that building an entire new infrastructure for hydrogen will be both extremely difficult and very costly due to these safety and environmental issues.

5.  Hydrogen Is Extremely Dangerous To The Crucial Ozone Layer.
            We depend upon the natural ozone layer in the upper atmosphere to act as a filter against ultraviolet radiation that would cause skin cancer, crop damage, and potentially increased mutation.  We have banned substances like chlorofluorocarbons that damage the ozone layer.  Yet, it has been calculated that the widespread use of hydrogen will produce dramatic damage to the ozone layer, because hydrogen acts just as chlorofluorocarbons in destroying the ozone layer (http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CDAQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.caltech.edu%2Fcontent%2Fhydrogen-economy-might-impactearths-stratosphere-study-shows&ei=uo-BU_mtHMbeoAT_hICgCg&usg=AFQjCNFiGWBoGqqea3VTBuwBJ_SxdKBcaw&sig2=aemYZPiXluYS8DBgDiHlsw&bvm=bv.67720277,d.cGU).  Obviously, it would be tremendously foolhardy to risk inducing such environmental damage.

6.  Fuel Cells Produce Water Vapor Which Is A Green House Gas.
            In addition to producing electricity from hydrogen gas, fuel cells produce a considerable amount of water vapor.  If many cars used fuel cells, then there would be a great deal of water vapor released into the atmosphere.  While benign from an immediate health perspective, this water vapor traps the sun’s energy, meaning that it is a green house gas, and it would act to further warm the planet(http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/the_green_lantern/2008/01/is_global_warming_caused_by_water_vapor.html).   So if part of the thinking for hydrogen is to reduce global warming, this is one more reason it is a bad plan.

7.   Hydrogen From Fossil Fuel Is Inefficient And Produces Green House Gas.
            Hydrogen gas does not exist by itself in nature.  Instead, due to its ionically charged nature, it is virtually always bound to or within other materials.  Therefore, it takes energy to strip the hydrogen away from other materials.  Commercially, hydrogen is typically produced by stripping hydrogen from methane gas, where it is bound with carbon.  Stripping it is a process requiring in part a great deal of steam  --  which, of course, requires a great deal of energy to produce.  This reformation process is about 80% efficient.  Moreover, the process results in the release of carbon dioxide, which is the primary culprit in global warming (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_production).
            Finally, consider that methane is extracted through the process of fracking (hydraulic fracturing of rock), which sadly results in the tremendous uncontained release of methane (a greenhouse gas over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide) and the deadly polluting of water tables  --  and, it is now recognized to be the cause of many earthquakes (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fracking-would-emit-methane/; http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2014/01/05/22190011-oil-and-gas-drilling-pollutes-well-water-states-confirm?lite; http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/03/does-fracking-cause-earthquakes-wastewater-dewatering). 

8.  Hydrogen From Water Is Very Inefficient.
            The other significant way to produce hydrogen is by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen (electrolysis).  However, this electrolysis process is about 70% efficient (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrolysis_of_water#Thermodynamics).  Because this process is so inefficient, it is rarely used.

9.  Fuel Cells Are Only 50% Efficient (Resulting In Approximately 33% Total Efficiency).
            Fuel cell efficiency is only about 50% efficient (http://auto.howstuffworks.com/fuel-efficiency/fuel-saving-devices/energy-efficiency-ratio-hydrogen-fuel-cell1.htm).  By comparison, most gasoline engines are about 30% efficient.  Clearly, while a bit better, fuel cells are not remarkable.  Moreover, because the creation of the hydrogen gas was through a process that was between about 70% to 80% efficient, and then used in a fuel cell that is about 50% efficient, the actual efficiency for the whole system is only about 33%.  Then, the electricity produced by the cell must be stored in a battery and then used in an electrical motor, and while these components are very efficient (total efficiency of nearly 90%), the total system efficiency is still reduced to about 30%.  This overall efficiency for hydrogen is clearly no better than that of a car burning gasoline.

10.  Hydrogen Will Require Extreme Taxpayer Outlays To Support It.
            Given the extreme cost for the vehicles due to fuel cell expense and the extreme cost for the infrastructure due to the need to create something technically very difficult and entirely new and difficult to properly determine, it will require a huge bet on hydrogen to get a broad consumer system up and running.  This means a government policy to require taxpayer money to be spent on hydrogen, in the hundreds of billions of dollars.  While fossil fuels have received hundreds of billions in subsidies, this should not mean that we have to repeat the same costly mistake.  The best policy is to remove all economic policies that require spending substantial money  --  that way, the money does not need to come out of the taxpayer’s pocket and government can reduce its own requirements.

 
 
TOP TEN REASONS WHY ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE A WIN:

The reasons why electric vehicles are a win can be broken down into 3 general buckets:  low cost, environmental protection, and safety.

1.  Electric Vehicle Total Cost Of Ownership Is Lower Than Other Vehicles.
            It has been well-studied that the total cost of ownership of electric vehicles is already better than those of conventional cars (http://www.plugincars.com/total-cost-ownership-cheaper-electric-cars-study-proves-127503.html).  I will note that these analyses do not even include the use of home solar, which brings the cost of fuel down to pennies per mile  --  or, effectively, free, given the savings and reinvestment of those savings (http://jungreislaw.blogspot.com/2012/06/year-of-electric-energy-numbers-pv-ev.html?utm_source=BP_recent).  Obviously, this makes electric vehicles vastly less expensive than hydrogen  --  or, gasoline, which has a host of subsidies that support it (http://jungreislaw.blogspot.com/2012/05/this-is-about-virtues-of-electric.html?utm_source=BP_recent).

2.  Electric Vehicles Approach 90% Efficiency In The Use Of Electricity.
            Electric vehicles use electricity without doing anything more than storing it and using it to run a motor that turns the wheels.  There is no conversion loss, transmission loss, and little heat loss, and the result is nearly 90% efficiency in the use of electrical energy (about three times better than conventional or hydrogen vehicles) (http://www.teslamotors.com/goelectric/efficiency).  It is without argument that electricity is vastly more efficient than hydrogen: note that all the work in the use of hydrogen is really work toward the use of electricity, as all the hydrogen vehicle does is take (inefficiently) created hydrogen to (inefficiently) convert into electricity  --  the whole point of a hydrogen car is to get it to run on electricity!  Understood this way, it is clear that hydrogen is a foolish choice.

3.  Electric Vehicle Infrastructure For Widespread Adoption Already Exists.
            Electric cars recharge using the electrical grid, which obviously already exists.  While there is some cost in creating public charging stations, about 90% of all charging is done at home or at a place of employment (http://www.sfgate.com/business/article/Most-electric-vehicle-drivers-charge-them-at-home-4999799.php).  In these locations the electricity is already present  and usually no work or only a small amount of work  is required to install a charging station (which only cost a few hundred dollars) (and in many situations, charging stations aren’t even needed as regular electrical outlets can charge the cars).  Further, most of the cost of creating public charging is absorbed by the businesses that install the charging stations, and so little public money is needed.  Lastly, even if over 70% of cars and trucks were electric, the existing grid would be sufficient to handle the charging without need for any major cost outlays (http://www.tbrpc.org/getready/files/E3%20GRTB%20Presentation_091710.pdf).

4.  Electric Vehicles Are The Cleanest Form Of Transportation.
            Electric vehicles do not produce emissions.  Of course, the electricity must come from somewhere.  If the electricity comes from the grid, then the amount of pollution depends upon the cleanliness of the grid.  But, regardless of the fuel used for grid power stations (typically natural gas or coal), electric vehicles are still cleaner (even if the electricity were from 100% coal, electric vehicles are still cleaner than gas cars (http://www.cartalk.com/content/dirty-power-clean-cars-even-coal-evs-are-cleaner).  Further, each year there is less and less coal powering the national electrical grid (this year it’s down below 40% (http://www.eia.gov/electricity).  Finally, here is an amazing fact: more electricity is needed to make the gas for a gas car to drive 100 miles than the amount of electricity an electric car needs to drive 100 miles, because there is so much electricity used in the pumping, transportation, and refining of petroleum (not to mention unbelievable amounts of fresh water) (http://www.solarfeeds.com/did-you-know-gas-cars-use-more-electricity-than-evs/). 

5.  Electric Vehicles Can Directly Utilize Renewable Energy And Improve The Grid.
            If the electricity comes from renewable energy such as solar, wind, or geothermal, then electric vehicles are essentially 100% pollution-free.   And, many homeowners can effectively do this on their own by putting solar on their roof (indeed, a survey found that about 40% of electric vehicles owners do just that) (http://energycenter.org/sites/default/files/docs/nav/policy/research-and-reports/California%20Plug-in%20Electric%20Vehicle%20Owner%20Survey%20Report-July%202012.pdf).  It is also true that more and more renewable energy is being used on the grid, and so in effect electric vehicles will pollute less and less over time.
            Electric vehicles benefit the grid by charging at night, often when power plants are in effect simply idling and creating electricity that would otherwise go to waste.  Further, the fact that electric vehicles charge at night enables the use of more wind power, which is often generated at night and therefore these turbines would be less likely to be built without nighttime electric vehicle charging demand.  Lastly, in the near future it is expected that electric vehicles will bring greater efficiency to the grid and encourage more renewable energy by being able to store renewable energy, acting as electrical load levelers to smooth grid operations and helping grid managers balance electrical loads.  All of these things will enable a cleaner environment.

6.  Electric Vehicles Are The Safest Form Of Personal Transportation.
            Electric vehicles can not explode.  The battery on an electric vehicle might possibly burn if badly physically damaged, but the nature of the location of batteries underneath the car and their protective shielding makes this possibility extremely unlikely.  If a battery pack were to burn, it would necessarily take several minutes to get going.  Despite hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles on the road and hundreds of millions of miles driven, there have only been literally a handful of incidents of a battery burning, and there have never been any injuries caused by a battery burning.  Also, there have been no incidents of anyone having been injured in charging an electric vehicle.  To put all this into perspective, consider that in the United States 10% of all fires are vehicle fires (over 150,000 a year) and annually these vehicle fires result in hundreds of people being burnt to death (http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/vehicles).

7.  Electric Vehicle Development Is Improving At A Terrific Rate.
            Electric vehicles require only 4 major components: a motor, a motor controller, a battery, and a charger.  These components have dramatically improved in the past decade (for example, you can now buy an electric vehicle that will travel about 300 miles and recharge in less than an hour).  Further, there is reason to believe they will continue to dramatically improve.  Consider the battery: battery energy storage has improved incredibly in the past decade, going from lead batteries (one of the heaviest metals) to lithium (the lightest metal), improving in energy storage about 1000% in that time.  There are tremendous discoveries being made almost daily in research facilities, and the expectation is that batteries will continue to dramatically improve in energy density, life span, charge and discharge quickness, and cost (http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1074183_how-much-and-how-fast-will-electric-car-battery-costs-fall).)  Similarly, there are regular improvements in the other components, despite that their use of electricity is already about 90% efficient.  Therefore, it can be expected that electric vehicles that can drive all day and charge with tremendous speed and cost even less and last the life of the vehicle will likely be available in just a few years.  Finally, electric vehicles are also improving in other ways, such as offering wireless charging (not only will the owner never have to go to a filling station again, they won’t even have to plug the car in).  It is also worth noting that electric vehicles have a better inherent ability to readily be autonomously operated, which is anticipated to be the future of all vehicles.

8.  Electric Vehicles Are Patriotic.
            First, the three best-selling plug-in vehicles are each made in the United States (Tesla; Nissan Leaf; Chevy Volt).  Second, it is necessarily the case that electric vehicle energy is created here in the United States.  Third, electric vehicles readily use renewable energy, which is also necessarily created here in the United States.  It is heartening that mainstream voices (despite that others, including those in the national security field, have been saying this for decades) are finally recognizing the virtues of electric vehicles for these reasons (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/04/02/bill-oreilly-fox-news-tesla/7225615/).

9.  Electric Vehicle Public Acceptance Is Already Being Achieved At Great Speed.
            There are approximately 200,000 electric vehicles in the United States (about half of all the world’s electric vehicles): about 90% of these have been sold in just the past three years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_electric_vehicles_in_the_United_States).  This remarkable increase in electric vehicle sales is obvious demonstration of the increasing acceptance of electric vehicles.  The prediction is that electric vehicles will sell in the millions in the coming years (http://evtc.fsec.ucf.edu/reports/EVTC-RR-01-14.pdf).  Electric vehicles are clearly the replacement for gasoline vehicles, and consumers are proving these predictions to be true.

10. Electric Vehicle Sales Competition Reduces The Need To Use Taxpayer Money.
            Presently, electric vehicles receive federal tax credits and sometimes state rebates.  However, the cost of these incentives is dwarfed by the cost of subsidies and other government policies that enable gasoline and are poised to support hydrogen.  Given the better economics of electric vehicles, and given their natural compatibility with the commonplace electric grid (as well as compatibility with home renewable energy), there is no need for additional incentives.  To the contrary, given the many tens of billions of dollars that have propped up gasoline sales (http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/the-real-deal-on-u.s.-subsidies-fossils-72b-renewable-energys-12b), and that have now been proposed to support hydrogen, the following proposal seems to make the most sense. 
            Stop all policies, incentives, credits, rebates, supports, absorbed costs, etc: make everything cost what it really costs.  If this were to take place, three things would happen: first, some things would cost the consumer a bit more (ex: electricity), and some things would cost the consumer a lot more (ex: gasoline).  Second, the amount of money that consumers pay in taxes to the federal government (money that is then disbursed in subsidies, etc.) would dramatically decline.  Third, we would find that the environmentally smart things to do  --  conserve energy, use renewable energy, reduce the consumption of fossil fuels  --  would all suddenly be the single most cost-effective thing to do and this will result in a cleaner environment which will consequently save money down the road that would otherwise have to be spent dealing with global warming.  In short, the smartest thing to do is also the cheapest, safest, and most environmentally-protective thing to do as well.  However, here is the likely fly in the ointment: the smart thing to do will require less politics, and therefore it may be difficult for politicians themselves to accomplish as they will have less power and less opportunity to help their friends who paid to get them elected.  Therefore, the most helpful thing you can do is pay attention to the politicians who seek your vote, and elect only those who understand and will implement this solution, and not simply perpetuate the existing system.