% I would label this newsitem as EV-ignorant. I think it could have been
worse, with more errors, incorrect assumptions, and misleading factoids, if
the writer had made the effort. After you read it, note the writer's
information sources: a local AK Ford dealership (who are notorious for not
liking plugins), a local AK utility rep makes statements without any EV
*The biggest item I take away from this piece, is Ford killing their pih
] which is sad as N. American regions with challenging weather conditions
and limited public EVSE infrastructure are a good market for pih (Canadians
have proven this true).
-Bottom line (IMO): Ford's abandonment of their Energi pih smells like a
cut& run, so Ford can chase after China market profits. %
Electric vehicles raise more questions than answers
November 13, 2017 Ben Boettger benjamin.boettger @peninsulaclrion.com
Though electric cars are finding enthusiastic users in Alaska’s Southeast,
how they would perform on the Kenai Peninsula is largely a speculative
To date, the local peak of electric car popularity may have come when
managers of the Kenai’s Kendall Ford dealership, formerly Stanley Ford,
added several models of hybrid and electric Ford vehicles to its stock.
Kendall Ford salesman Dave Bartelmay, who was with Stanley at the time, led
a talk on electric vehicles at HEA’s Energy Technology Workshops on
Electric vehicles are becoming popular in Southeast Alaska communities like
Juneau — which, according to radio station KTOO [
], has an estimated 100 electric vehicles, 10 charging stations, and an
advocacy group [
] encouraging electric car-friendly infrastructure. One encouragement for
electric cars in Southeast is an abundance of cheap hydro-electricity.
For many on the peninsula, however, electric vehicles seem less practical
than in the more compact towns of the southeast, which lack long roads
between them. The road distance between Homer and Anchorage is about 223
miles — roughly the range of a high-end electric car. Recharging an electric
car can take from 30 minutes to 12 hours, leaving a hypothetical electric
driver across the Kenai Peninsula with a potentially long wait time after
making the trip.
One of the electric vehicles that Stanley Ford offered, the Ford Fusion
Energi, fills an empty battery in 2.5 hours from a special 240-volt charger,
or in 7 hours from a standard home outlet. A usual practice for electric
drivers is to leave cars plugged in overnight.
The absence of public charging stations on the Kenai Peninsula was one
factor that discouraged buyers from driving off any of Stanley Ford’s
electric stock, Bartelmay said. The former managers of Stanley Ford planned
to back up their electric offering by installing the peninsula’s first such
station on their lot, Bartelmay said, though this never happened — Stanley
Ford was soon after bought by Kendall, whose leadership scrapped the
electric car plans.
Though Stanley Ford gave away an electric vehicle as a prize in a golf
tournament — to an owner who remains happy with it, Bartlmay said — most of
Kendall Ford’s electric cars are now in the fleet of Kenai’s Budget Car
Rentals. By the time many left the lot, Bartelmay said, “nobody ever even
cracked the door.”
Consumers nationwide have also shown disinterest in the vehicles Stanley
Ford offered. Due to declining sales, Ford recently stopped production of
the Energi and plans to stop the C-Max Hybrid by mid-2018.
Smoothing electrical demand
Though the local costs of owning an electric car are unknown, the rapidly
advancing state-of-the-art may make them more attractive in the future. From
a utility’s perspective, a large number of electric cars on the peninsula
would create new electrical demand, meaning both new revenue and new
problems. If electric vehicles become commonplace on the peninsula,
technological changes to HEA’s grid could come with them.
“If there’s a huge spike in demand for electric vehicles, we as an electric
utility might be in a bit of a pickle,” said HEA project engineer Brad
Zubeck. “If the technology changes and all of the sudden an electric vehicle
market booms, we could be looking at different ways to meet demand.”
Zubeck said that plugging in and charging 140 electric cars at once would
put about a megawatt of electrical load on HEA’s system, which generates
about 80 percent of its power with natural gas-fired turbines.
“To put that in perspective, our peak load is now about 68 megawatts during
any given day,” Zubeck said. “It fluctuates a bit throughout the day — at
nightime loads are low, and everybody wakes up in the morning and plugs
things in, and we see a big spike. All day long, 24-7, there’s somebody at
the throttle. Every time you flip a light switch on the load goes up, and
somebody’s got to push the gas on our gas turbines out there to meet the
demand. It’s automated, but we monitor that 24-7.”
HEA Director Ed Oberts — one of the cooperative’s nine member-elected
] who was present at an electric vehicle discussion during the workshop —
said that if the new demand of charging vehicles were coordinated through
centrally-controlled grid systems, they could help could stabilize the
demand-spikes that decrease the efficiency (thus increasing the cost) of
Similar to the way cars get lower fuel mileage with stop-and-start town
driving than at a steady speed on a highway, gas turbines are less efficient
when they have to be throttled up and down to meet a fluctuating demand.
Low-efficiency periods cut into HEA’s revenue and may lead it to run at a
loss at times when revenue from their power generation is below the cost of
natural gas fuel.
To avoid this inefficient climbing through peaks and valleys, utilities seek
consistent sources of demand with a regular need for specific amounts of
power at specific times, such as industrial or commercial buildings — or
hypothetically, a community of electric vehicle users who will all leave
their cars plugged in to charge overnight.
Emerging “smart grid” technologies could allow a utility to track this power
use in real time, and — if the owners agreed — to control which car chargers
turned on when, smoothing out a demand that would otherwise spike and
plummet as drivers plug in their cars at random times of the night.
“So we would have a lot of controls to manage that load, and by managing
that load, we’d keep generation assets in their sweet spot, to generate as
much power as we can at the lowest cost,” Oberts said.
As an alternative to this technology, the utility could incentivize electric
vehicle owners to charge at night by setting lower rates than in the
higher-demand day. Oberts said that HEA’s board of directors has discussed
setting time-of-day rates — used by several other utilities in the Lower 48
— but hasn’t made any definite move to do so.
Cheaper than gasoline?
A persistent audience question was the cost of charging an electric car — is
it likely to be cheaper than a tank of gasoline?
Though the presenters didn’t have a definite answer, Zubeck said that based
on calculations he’d done last year, an electric car driven every day and
charged from an empty battery every night would cost about $2,500 to $4,500
per year. A 2017 study by the American Automobile Association [
] estimated that fueling a gasoline vehicle costs about $1,500 annually,
though costs vary widely based on distances driven, local fuel cost, and the
fuel efficiency of specific vehicles.
“That’s with the technology, the battery capacities we have today, and with
our local energy prices,” Zubek said. “A lot of variables could change and
affect what it would cost to own an electric vehicle.”
[© Peninsula Clarion © 2017]
GM to Idle Volt Production
Oct 13, 2017 Citing demand and oversupply issues, General Motors is idling
the factory making four different car models, including the Chevrolet Volt
plug-in hybrid ...
Ford Maps Out Its Fitness Plan, Mobility Push And EV Future
Oct 4, 2017 ... moving production of the next-generation Focus small car ...
an internal team named ‘Team Edison’ to study and develop fully electric
cars. It will be separate from Ford's other electrification efforts, which
include hybrid and plug-in hybrid offerings ... Simplify and Modernize
...There are 35,000 different configurations of the current generation Ford
Fusion. The automaker plans to reduce that to 96 ... Ford has already made a
tenfold reduction to the number of orderable combinations in the
next-generation Escape from 2,302 to 228 ...
Ford Starting New Team Edison To Develop EVs
Oct 3, 2017 It will operate separately from Ford's hybrid and plug-in
hybrid teams. ... quicker decisions” on EV production as demand increases
and technology advances ...
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