Purchasing Electric Vehicles with a Solar Home
Interested in a renewable upgrade for both your home and vehicle? In this week’s article we break down the top things to consider when planning to invest in the solar and electric car combo. Many homeowners do not have the capital to afford both a new solar system and a new car at the same time. However, there is a way to plan for the future when designing your home’s new solar system. It is important to account for increased usage, as well as the rate schedule you will be put on as an EV customer. Here are some things to consider to maximize your total investment from both products.
Projected Energy Consumption
It is important to do thorough research on the vehicle you plan to buy ahead of time. This can help accurately project what size solar system you need. Know the car’s EPA rating; a statistic used to demonstrate the impact of EV ownership. For this example, we will use the newest model of Solar Negotiator’s company vehicle: the 2017 Chevy Volt. Since some electric cars have the fueling capabilities of both gas and electric charge, they are given multiple ratings. We are interested in the EPA or MPGe (miles per gallon equivalent), for this specific car it is 31 kWh/100 miles. We use this to calculate how much additional energy you will be using per day to charge your car. Let’s say you’re an average Joe and you commute roughly 30 miles to and from work each day. Simply multiply 30 miles times your car’s EPA rating of 31 kWh (31 kWh/100 miles x 40 miles) = 12.4 kWh). Now that you have the kilowatt-hours used per day you can estimate how much energy you’ll be using to charge your electric car annually (12.4 kWh per day x 360 days amounts to about 4,464 kWh per year.). You will likely have your sales consultant calculate this for you, but at least have a rough idea of what lies ahead if you plan on purchasing an electric car as a solar customer.
Maximum Offset Allowance
There is a current grey area when it comes to solar consultants sizing a system larger than 110% of your current usage. In the past, this has created problems for solar companies quoting customers interested in electric vehicles. You’re definitely going to be using more than 10% more energy to charge your car’s battery. In our previous example, Customer A was using 4,464 kWh per year to charge their electric car. The average Solar Negotiator customer uses about 9,000 kWh per year. Charging their EV alone would make up nearly half of their entire monthly energy consumption. They would need a 150% offset to makeup for this new addition and keep their monthly bills low. Fortunately, there are ways to get larger systems approved. This is often accomplished by reasonably projecting future consumption. Our sales team has always done their best to assist our clients and their needs, including those interested in purchasing electric vehicles.
EV Rate Schedule
One of the best things about having the solar and electric car duo is taking advantage of the rate schedule. PG&E currently offers two electric vehicle rate plans for residential customers. “EV-A combines your vehicle’s electricity costs with those of your residence. EV-B involves the installation of another meter, which separates your vehicle’s electricity costs from those of your home”(pge.com). These EV rate schedules are available to all residents with electric cars, with or without solar. However, solar customers will notice that not only have they built their system to offset their current usage, but that they will now likely be paying much less per kilowatt than before the switch. Consumers have been known to save anywhere from 30-50% of their monthly cost in energy when switching and it has a minimal effect on your daily usage patterns. This is due to a lower rate charged per tier, and a small change in peak/off-peak hours.
Government Tax Incentives
In addition to the savings you’ll see each month in your bill and on the road, you can take advantage of different federal tax credits. The investment tax credit (ITC) enables you to recoup 30% of your overall solar expense. This was first put in place in 2006 by the federal government and SEIA advocated its multi-year extension just two years ago, early in 2015. Unfortunately, this credit will begin to decrease in 2020 before disappearing all together for residential solar projects in 2022.
Several years ago, a clean energy program was also put into place for electric vehicles concerning the federal tax credit. All electric cars, whether fully electric or plug-in hybrid, purchased after 2010 to be eligible for an income tax credit of up to $7,500. “The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle. State and/or local incentives may also apply”(fueleconomy.org).