Xcel Energy Is Penalizing Small Businesses Which Offer Workplace Charging

Golden Real Estate is justly proud — if I say so myself — of having a Net Zero Energy office, meaning that our solar photovoltaic panels produce all the electricity needed to heat, cool and power our office as well as to the charge the five Teslas owned by our agents and me and offering free EV charging to the general public. (We have four EV charging stations at our office — two for our own use and two for the public.)

Meanwhile, Xcel Energy boasts that it is moving in the direction of 100% renewable energy and facilitating the adoption of electric vehicles. A big part of that is promoting “workplace charging.”

Xcel is right to promote workplace charging over, say, charging stations at retail stores, because cars are parked for up to 8 hours at one’s workplace — long enough to fully charge almost any EV using a standard Level 2 (240V) charging station.

So why is Xcel Energy penalizing small companies like Golden Real Estate which have already installed workplace charging stations for EVs?

As stated above, we generate all the electricity needed at our office on South Golden Road. Until this March, our monthly Xcel bill was under $11 every month — the cost of being connected to Xcel’s electric grid.

But now our Xcel bill is over $300 per month, even though we are still generating all the electricity we use. How can that be?  It’s because one day in March we drew over 30,000 watts of energy during a single 15-minute period, converting us automatically from standard “commercial” service to “demand” service. That means that in addition to the charges for electricity consumption, we are now charged for the highest amount of electricity that we draw during each month.

So our electric bill at Golden Real Estate is now over $300 per month regardless of the amount of actual electricity we consume during any particular month. To put it in numbers, we are charged about $15 per kilowatt for peak demand, and our monthly maximum draw of power is usually about 20 kilowatts.  Thus, we are charged $300 each month even though our net consumption of electricity is zero!

The only way we could draw over 25 kW of electricity at a given time is because we are charging cars at all four charging stations, something Xcel says they want to encourage.

When I communicated my dilemma to Xcel Energy, the response was to tell me that they’re introducing a new EV charging tariff later this summer. Unfortunately, the tariff requires that Xcel install the charging stations and offers nothing to those of us who were early adopters and already have charging stations in place.

Under Xcel’s proposed EV tariff, my penalty would drop to a little over $100 per month. But that’s still a $100 penalty.

The logical solution would be for Xcel to modify its commercial tariff to make the demand threshold 50 or 75 kW instead of 25 kW for forcing small businesses like us into their demand tariffs.

Now some good news.

I made these same arguments during public comments at a May 13th virtual hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) adjudicating an Xcel Energy rate case. This Monday, that ALJ published his ruling and cited my own testimony in ordering Xcel to increase its demand threshold to 50 kW.

I had made the same argument a couple years ago during public comments at a regular PUC meeting, but I got no satisfaction at that time, so I wasn’t expecting to be more successful this time, but I was.

Ironically, I had already written this column with no clue that the ruling was about to be handed down. Indeed, this column was uploaded to three Jeffco weekly newspapers Monday morning without this news.

The ALJ’s ruling has a few more steps before it is finalized.  Parties to the case can make final pleas and seek Commission reconsideration, akin to last ditch arguments, but I’m hopeful that my Xcel bill will return to $10.26/month soon.

I Have Reserved a Ford F-150 Lightning Electric PIckup

By JIM SMITH

There’s a lot to like about Ford’s electric version of their popular F-150 pickup truck, and I joined more than 50,000 others who reserved one of them on the first two days it was available for reservations.

I’m a big fan of Teslas — Rita has a Model S and I have a Model X — but I’m no fan of its long anticipated Cybertruck. I like that Ford’s EV has the same styling and functionality of the standard F-150, plus over-the-air software updates (like Tesla), and its battery can power my home in the event of a power failure. You can reserve your own at www.Ford.com. The starting price is under $40,000, so the cost after federal and state tax credits will be under $30,000. 

For a detailed article about the F-150 Lightning Pro by Green Car Reports, click here.

Saturday’s Electric Vehicle Roundup at Golden Real Estate Was a Big Success

Here’s a video Jim Smith took at 2:30 p.m. April3rd, when the parking lot at Golden Real Estate was already full. Among the cars you’ll see in this video are the Mustang Mach E, the Polestar 2 and the Jaguar I-Pace, along with the usual complement of Teslas (all 4 models), Chevy Bolts, Nissan Leafs and others. Enjoy!

Electric Vehicle Roundup Returns on April 3, Featuring Electric Mustang, Jaguar and Other Brands

You’ve probably heard of the Tesla Models S, 3, X and Y, but have you heard of the Polestar2, the Mustang Mach E, the Jaguar I-Pace, the Hyundai Kona, and the Fiat 500e? These are among the 20-plus EVs that will be in the Golden Real Estate parking lot this Saturday, April 3, from 2 to 5 pm, with the owners there to answer your questions and possibly give you a ride around the block.

It’s our annual Drive Electric Earth Day event, one of two EV roundups that we have been hosting annually since 2012 in our parking lot at 17695 S. Golden Road. The other event is Drive Electric Week, held on the first Saturday in October to coincide with the annual Metro Denver Green Homes Tour.  Both events coincide with the “Super Cruise” events held on South Golden Road the first Saturday of every month from April through October. We like to expose fans of classic cars who attend Super Cruise to electric vehicles.

By now it should be clear that an electric vehicle of some kind is in your future, so you might as well starting taking a look at what’s available. If the right vehicle isn’t being sold currently, it will probably be available within the next two years, so come and look, and find out what all the excitement is about.

Our parking lot still has a few spaces available, so if you own an EV, especially one that is not listed in the first paragraph, please register to bring it at www.DriveElectricWeek.info. You can also register there as a spectator, but it’s not required. If you do want to attend, with or without an EV, we ask that you wear a mask and allow us to apply sanitizer to your hands when you arrive.

With our parking lot reserved for EVs, other cars will need to park in the Taco Bell parking lot across the street.

We Must Face the Coming Crisis of Transportation Funding

By JIM SMITH

I’ve been driving electric cars, buying little or no gasoline, since 2012, happy to be a freeloader when it comes to the cost of building and maintaining our state and federal roads and bridges.

My first Tesla in 2014

But the adoption of electric cars is accelerating, as expected, to the point where we can’t continue to depend on gas and diesel taxes to pay for our transportation infrastructure.

Yes, I have paid a $50 registration fee each year for my EVs, but that doesn’t come close to paying my fair share of the costs, and it contributes nothing to the federal highway trust fund.

In Colorado, there is a 23-cent-per-gallon gas tax, plus an 18.4-cent federal gas tax.  Rita and I drove our three EVs a total of 16,380 miles in 2020.  If they had been fueled by gas and got 25 miles per gallon, we would have purchased 655 gallons, paying $271 in state and federal gas taxes.

Rita and Jim with their 2 Teslas

Raising the gas tax makes no sense as fewer and fewer vehicles will be consuming gas in coming years.

As much as I’d like to keep being a freeloader in this regard, I am willing to pay 1.5 cents per mile traveled on my combined state and federal tax returns instead of paying $50 in annual registration fees per vehicle.  This is referred to as a VMT (vehicle miles traveled) tax.

Critics of a VMT tax say people will lie about miles traveled, but our tax system is based on voluntary reporting, and mileage is easily audited now that cars, like Tesla, are connected to the internet.

Sign Up for Our ‘Drive Electric Earth Day’ Roundup

National Drive Electric Week 2020 at Golden Real Estate

    If you own an electric vehicle and are willing to show it off to potential EV buyers, please consider bringing it to Golden Real Estate’s parking lot on Saturday, April 3, from 2 to 5 pm for our annual Drive Electric Earth Day roundup. Register to bring your EV or to come as a spectator at www.DriveElectricWeek.info.

Big Battery-Electric Trucks Are Coming Soon

Previously I wrote about 2021 being “the year of the electric pickup.” Well, this year is also going to see the arrival of multiple box trucks, buses (including school buses), and big rigs with electric drive trains.

Rivian is already delivering on its order of 100,000 electric delivery trucks for Amazon, shown here. Nikola has an order from Republic Services for 5,000 trash trucks using the same platform as their semi tractor (below). Even Detroit Diesel, despite its name, is going to be producing a battery-electric semi tractor (also below) for its biggest customer, Freightliner.

The Tesla Semi (bottom) begins production by the end of 2021. Introduced with great fanfare in 2017, it has been field tested, I’m told, delivering trailer loads of Tesla cars to local Tesla stores. One was spotted last year at the Littleton store.

Want to keep up with EV news? Subscribe to a great weekly newsletter at www.GreenCarReports.com.

Nikola semi tractor
Detroit Diesel electric tractor schematic
Tesla Semi

2021 Will Be the ‘Year of the Electric Pickup’

The best selling vehicle in America for many years has been the Ford F-150 pick-up, so 2021 is bound to be a watershed year, given the number of electric pick-up trucks expected to hit the market — including, by the way, an electric F-150, which has been teased for at least a year.

Rivian is furthest along and will beat Tesla’s entry by several months. Rivian is simultaneously releasing an SUV and 4-door pickup, which appeal to the same demographic. The company is backed by Amazon, which has boosted Rivian’s financial situation by ordering 100,000 delivery vehicles to replace the blue Amazon vans we see every day in our neighborhoods. Some of them are already in service, but not in the Denver market. You may have seen an Amazon commercial featuring the new van.

Ford F-150 Electric

The F-150 Electric begins production this year. Tesla’s Cybertruck may be in production by year’s end but certainly in 2022.

Also coming this year (or soon) are GM’s Hummer EV, the Atlis XT, Bollinger’s B2, and more. Click here for ChargePoint’s article with specs and prices on these six trucks. Click here for InsideEVs.com’s list of all the electric trucks they are expecting in 2021 and 2022, including the above six trucks plus the Lordstown Endurance, the Chevrolet BET, Nikola Badger, Hercules Alpha, and Fisker Alaska. Nissan is reportedly considering hiring Hercules to create an electric Nissan Titan.

Tesla Cybertruck

Amazon van by Rivian – already in production and in service

GM’ Hummer EV

Atlas XT

Lordstown Endurance

Bollinger B2

Nikola Badger

Hercules Alpha

Fisker Alaska

If You Want to Buy or Sell a Solar Powered Home, Call Us

Jim Smith and the broker associates at Golden Real Estate are especially knowledgeable about solar powered and sustainably built homes, so consider us first if you are contemplating buying or selling such a home. Between us, we own every model Tesla vehicle — S, 3, X and Y — so we’re experts in electric vehicles, too. Our solar-powered office is “net zero energy,” with no gas service, and our Xcel Energy bill is $10 per month (the cost of being connected to Xcel’s grid), so we know what we’re talking about. Jim’s home is near-net zero (because he still has natural gas service), and he has a large network of friends with such homes, at least one of whom is planning to sell in 2021. Call Jim at 303-525-1851 if you’d like to talk.

Electric Cars Are Your Best Cold Weather Choice

It’s that time of year when I like to remind readers about the advantages of EVs in snow and cold weather. Here’s what you need to know.

1)  No warming up is needed. Just put the car in Drive and go! Also, the cabin will be warm within 1/2 mile because it doesn’t require an engine to warm up first. In my Tesla I can turn on the heat with my phone app a few minutes earlier so the cabin, steering wheel and seat are all warm when I get in the car. Also, when I park the car for brief periods (such as when shopping), I can leave the heater on so it’s warm when I return, .

2)  Your car will never break down, stranding you in a freezing car on the side of the road. The only time you see an EV on the side of the road is if there’s a flat tire or an accident. Stuck in a snow drift? The heater will keep you warm as long as you need, consuming only 3-5 miles of range per hour — and no carbon monoxide!

3)  Because of its low center of gravity and its typical 50/50 front/back weight distribution, an EV handles snow-covered roads really well. My all-wheel-drive Teslas handle much better than my AWD 2009 Lexus RX 400h did in snow, aided by its standard traction control and stability control.

https://www.carvana.com/vehicle/1529040Accident-free, 7-day return policy.

4)  Used EVs are your best buy. Older AWD Tesla Model S’s can be bought, undamaged and running like new, starting around $40,000. And older Tesla Models S and X come with transferrable lifetime free supercharging coast-to-coast when purchased privately instead of from Tesla.

5)  There are still federal and state tax credits and various rebates to be had. For a full list, visit www.electricforall.org/rebates-incentives.