Our Blog has Moved!

By Tyrel on September 30, 2015

We have renamed our blog to “Driving Solar” and have moved it to its own domain: http://driving.solar/

All the content here has been copied to that site, and all new posts will be on there. We hope you like the new name and look.

Washington Law: Pay for Energy You Generate?

By Tyrel on May 3, 2015

Residential solar power in Washington State is made possible primarily by a policy known as net metering. Net metering allows an electric utility’s customer to push excess energy into the grid and get credited for it at the same rate that they would pay for power they use from the grid. For example, if one sunny day in April, I produced 80 kWh but only used 60 kWh, then at the end of the day a net credit of 20 kWh would be on my account, which I could use the next day which might be cloudy.

In particular, the key aspect of this that makes solar work well in Washington is that all of the excess energy I generate in late spring, all summer, and early fall, can be used in the winter. That’s when my production is low and I need more energy to heat the house (with a heat pump).

However, net metering can lead to a problematic situation. If a particular household has more solar (or other energy generation) than they need to cover their annual usage, they would end up building a larger and larger credit with the utility. Theoretically, there are at least two options for what can be done with this excess energy: Either the utility can pay the customer for it (perhaps at a wholesale rate), or the utility can throw away the credit from time to time.

Washington State law says that this credit shall be thrown away:

On April 30th of each calendar year, any remaining unused kilowatt-hour credit accumulated during the previous year shall be granted to the electric utility, without any compensation to the customer-generator.” – RCW 80.60.030(5)

In general I am fine with this policy, although it’d be neat if people could be paid some for the power. The problem I have with it is the second and third words: “April 30th”.

When this law was written, not very many people in Washington State had solar panels. It was much more expensive and the panels were not as efficient as today’s. Those families that did have solar were probably not over-producing, so it was unlikely anyone had great data on how solar would work out. They picked April 30th because it was perceived as being about the end of the rainy season, when customers would be finished using their prior accumulated net metering credit and would be just about to start producing large amounts of power for the new year.

Unfortunately, they were wrong.

Solar production in April is relatively high. The sun has moved fairly high in the sky (the equinox is around March 21st, remember) and the dreary clouds of winter have parted. It’s not as good as July, but there are some very nice days in April every year, which add up quickly. This can be seen in my solar production:

Average Solar Production, by Month

Average Solar Production, by Month

My solar array is ideally positioned, facing directly south and titled at 30 degrees, for maximum production in our area. However it is not large enough to meet all of our energy needs. From April through September we generate more than we need, then starting in late October we start using the bank of energy we accumulated. The bank runs out around the end of December or beginning of January.

However, our bank balance is reset to zero on April 30th, because of the law cited above. As a result, on April 30th of every year, our electric utility is getting some free power from us. The actual amount varies from year to year, but has been around 300 kWh, which equates to about $30 worth of power. This isn’t a huge amount of money, but the side effects are not only that am I giving it to the utility for free, but also I then have a lower balance on my power bank, which means the following January I then have to pay for another 300 kWh of energy. It’s pretty sad to have to pay for energy that I produced for myself.

If, instead, the bank reset were to happen instead at the end of March, then the amount of power lost would be small or zero, depending on the year, as we usually haven’t started accumulating a bank by that point.

Actual Energy Bank Comparison with March Reset

Actual Energy Bank Comparison with March Reset

Since the intent of this law is to deal with the situation where a customer produced more energy than they use, it seems unfair that it would affect those of us who under-produce as well and cause us to have to pay for the energy that we produced ourselves.

March 31st also turns out to be the ideal date to reset the energy bank for someone who produces exactly what they use, as well. If my production were slightly higher, the graphs would look like this:


Energy Bank Comparison w/Ideal Production, March Reset

Here you can see that resetting the energy bank at the end of March is nearly perfect. But resetting at the end of April results in the loss of 500 kWh of energy credit, which then results in the customer having to pay for 500 kWh of energy in February and March, even though they generated enough for themselves the prior April.

What can we do about this?

At least one utility, Puget Sound Energy, has expressed that it would be good to change this date. At the January 2015 meeting of Solar Washington, Jake Wade, PSE’s Net Metering Program Manager, acknowledged that April 30th is probably too late in the year. In 2014, 413 (approx. 20%) of their net metering customers had a balance that was thrown out on April 30th, totaling 202,000 kWh of energy. Mr. Wade suggested moving the date to the end of March should fix this. That’s what prompted me to do my analysis that you see above.

Unfortunately, we can’t just ask our utilities to change the date to March 31st, because the April 30th date is actually in the state law.  As a result, changing these two words from “April 30th” to “March 31st” will require action by the state legislature. If you live in Washington, I encourage you to write to or call your legislators and tell them about this. You can link to this blog post if you want to provide evidence for why the date should be moved.

You can find your legislators and write to them here: Find Your Legislator.

You can also support potential legislation like this by contributing to Solar Installers of Washington, a group of local solar installers who work with the legislature to develop new legislation in support of solar in Washington state.

Annual Solar Update – 2014

By Tyrel on October 23, 2014

As of the beginning of October, it has now been a full year since our first solar array came online. I decided that it would be appropriate to start writing annual reports for our solar array, and this seems like a good time to start!

Monthly Solar Production vs Prediected for Phase 1's First Year

Monthly Solar Production vs Predicted for Phase 1’s First Year

The original 6.0 kW array first came online on the morning of October 4th, 2013. At that time, my predictions using the then-latest software from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, indicated that we would produce 6,759 kWh in an average year. Since then the NREL has released new software which updated this prediction to 7,299 kWh. However, our actual production on the original array for October 4, 2013 through October 3, 2014, was 7,493 kWh, which is higher than both predictions, and also far higher than our installer’s predictions.

Phase 2 Production vs Predicted through October 2014

Phase 2 Production vs Predicted through October 2014

The second array, rated at 6.2 kW, came online on March 26th, 2014. Through October 3rd, it had produced 5,784 kWh. For comparison, during the same time period the first array produced 5,439 kWh.

Monthly Predicted vs Actual Total Solar Production

Monthly Predicted vs Actual Total Solar Production

Comparing this to the month-by-month predictions from the NREL, this puts us at about 101% of predicted overall. Over this same time period, since both arrays have been online, we have used about 3,800 kWh less than we produced. This gives us a nice bank of power to start consuming as the days get cooler and we run the heat pump more and more, and the sun is out less and less. So overall, things are going well!

If any interesting solar-related events happen over the next year, I will post here, but otherwise I’ll post again next October with another annual update!

1,500 Mile Road Trip Completed

By Tyrel on September 12, 2014

After just over 1,500 miles driving from the Canadian border to California and back in a 100% electric Nissan LEAF, we have arrived safely back home.

Our road-tripping LEAF is back home in the garage with its sibling.

Our road-tripping LEAF is back home in the garage with its sibling.

Our actual route (some portions hidden for privacy).

Our actual route (some portions hidden for privacy). Click to enlarge.

We ended up coming home a day early because Trish came down with a stomach virus on Tuesday. We kept thinking it would go away, but it did not after a couple days, so we decided to shoot for home.

This change in our plan resulted in a single day drive on Thursday of 275 miles, which is much longer than we planned to go on any day for this trip. Because Trish wasn’t feeling well and we had to stop anyway, we used each quick charger long the way, even if we didn’t really need to. For the most part we would arrive with about 40% charge and put it up to around 80%, then continue. We successfully completed a total of seven quick charges that day without any negative impact to the car. Battery health was at 100.25% when we reached home the following afternoon. I may write more about this particular leg of the trip in a separate blog post, as the details may be of interest to some of our readers.

For our entire trip, we used 30 different charging stations and a few campground RV outlets while we camped, for a total of 48 charging sessions (most of which were fairly short). We kept our battery charged up: our lowest battery level was 29%. This is a testament to the high number of available charging stations in Oregon and also my personal level of comfort.

In total we used 325.7 kWh of energy for this voyage, and went 1,508 miles. The cost of our charging was $25.71. This comes from $19.99 for a monthly subscription to the West Coast Electric Highway (which we pay every month anyway), plus $0.89 for a short Level 2 charge we did while shopping, and $4.83 for a quick charge at a Blink Network charger. So our cost per mile for fuel was 1.7 cents. If we had taken a typical gas car which got 30 mpg, assuming gas prices of $4.00/gallon, it would have cost us about $200, or 13 cents per mile.

By the way, while we were gone, our solar array at home produced 756 kWh, more than twice the power we actually used on our trip.

We visited a number of towns and cities we’d never visited before. Every place we visited is a place that we would not have visited (and spent money at) if there were not charging stations to get there, as both of our cars are electric. I will be writing another blog post later detailing how much money we spent in each of these cities and towns. I hope that this will help officials in those areas can get an idea of how much money would not have come to their municipality if they didn’t have electric vehicle charging stations, and help officials in other areas justify the costs of putting charging stations in their communities.

I will also be posting later about how the tracking at ZEroadtrip.com worked and how you might be able to use this functionality to track your own trips in the future.

Then we’ll start thinking about our next trip!

Charging on the Go

By Tyrel on September 8, 2014

Traveling hundreds of miles from home in an electric car that has an EPA rated range of 84 miles generally isn’t very hard, but that can depend on a few different factors. Several people have asked about how we’ve accomplished this on our trip.

Our Nissan LEAFs can be charged in three ways. The most common (the way we charge at home) is called Level 2 charging. This uses a 208-to-240-volt circuit, and the LEAF (model years 2013 and newer) can pull up to 6.6 kilowatts (kW), allowing it to charge the battery from empty in about 5 hours. All new electric vehicles support charging at Level 2 using a connector called SAE J-1772. There are tens of thousands of Level 2 charging stations throughout the country.

DC Quick Charge port on a Nissan LEAF

DC Quick Charge port on a Nissan LEAF

The second is called a Direct Current Quick Charger (DCQC). These chargers can charge the car from empty to 80% charge in about 30 minutes; although we’re rarely completely empty when we arrive, so typically we spend about 20 minutes at each charger. The connector used on the LEAF for this is called CHAdeMO. Another type of connector now emerging is called the SAE J-1772 Combination Charging System (CCS), called “Combo” by most of us.

The third charging method is called Level 1. This is what we get when we plug our vehicle into a standard 110-120 volt wall outlet like you have all around your home. Because these outlets are typically rated for a constant draw of 12 amps (or 15 amps instantaneous), the charger that comes with the car will only draw 12 amps through this method, which results in a draw of 1.4 kW or less. It would take the car approximately 20 hours to charge from empty to full using this method.

Luckily, for the majority of our 1,500 mile road trip, we are able to utilizing DC Quick Chargers, although we have also used Level 2 and Level 1 charging along the way.

Charging on the West Coast Electric Highway. Ridgefield, WA.

Charging on the West Coast Electric Highway. Ridgefield, WA.

Most of the quick chargers we’ve used are part of a network of chargers called the West Coast Electric Highway. These chargers, built and operated by AeroVironment, are placed at businesses along major highways in Washington and Oregon. California was supposed to participate but has not yet built any chargers on the network as of this writing. This is why when we reached the California border, we immediately turned around. Washington has about twelve chargers on the network, and Oregon has about 43.

Because these AeroVironment quick chargers are placed near highways, and they don’t take very long to use, they facilitate long-distance travel in a Nissan LEAF (and a couple other electric car models). They are typically placed every 20 to 40 miles, which makes it easy to hop from one to the next, or even skip every other charger.

Major metropolitan areas, including the areas around Seattle-Tacoma, Portland, and Salem, do not include any chargers on the West Coast Electric Highway, because a company called ECOtality was given an exclusive government contract to build quick chargers in these areas. Unfortunately, ECOtality, which operated the Blink Network, did not fulfill its obligations to place all the chargers in these areas, and then filed for bankruptcy, leaving the Blink Network in disarray, and making it difficult to travel in these areas.

Blink Network has since been purchased by another company and they have restored service to the majority of the chargers in these areas. However, they still haven’t built the additional chargers required by their government contract, which would allow for easy travel through the area.

As a result of this, and other factors, when traveling through the Seattle-Tacoma area we depended instead on chargers located at Nissan dealerships. In the Portland area, we charged at a charger operated by Portland State University for research purposes.

Celebration while charging at Magic Nissan, north of Seattle

Celebration while charging at Magic Nissan, north of Seattle

We could have relied on these quick chargers for the entirety of our travels. However, we chose to also do some Level 2 and Level 1 charging in order to save time and to reach one of our goals.

When we were in downtown Seattle and downtown Portland, we used Level 2 charging because we had stopped to either shop (Seattle) or visit (Portland) and didn’t actually need much charge to get to the next quick charger. We also did this in Centralia, WA. Along the very southern end of the Oregon coast, there are no quick chargers, so we used a Level 2 charger to be able to get to the California border and back.

At our campsites, we’ve used either Level 2 or Level 1 charging where possible. Ahead of our trip, we purchased a couple things to make this possible.

The LEAF comes with a Level 1 charging adapter (called an EVSE, Electric Vehicle Servicing Unit). We sent our unit to a company called EVSE Upgrade. This company replaces the internal electronics of the unit so that it can also support Level 2 charging, and faster Level 1 charging. The stock unit will support Level 1 up to 12 amps, as I stated before. The upgraded unit will support Level 1 up to 16 amps, and Level 2 up to 24 amps. We also purchased an adapter from them that will allow us to plug in to the outlets at campgrounds (NEMA 14-50).

Plugged in to a TT-30 outlet at a camp site

Plugged in to a TT-30 outlet at a camp site

Some of our campgrounds have had a plug called a TT-30, which provides up to 30 amps of 110-120 volt service. We have an adapter from TT-30 to the standard outlet and set the EVSE to the maximum of 16 amps to charge with this. Others have the 14-50 so we can charge at the full rate supported by the EVSE, 24 amps. A couple of the camp sites have had no power at all.

Charging at camp allows us to start off the following day with a full charge. Some days this allows us to cruise around and explore the area. Other days it allows us to skip a quick charger along the route, in order to get to our next stop faster.

Electricity is easy to find if needed, and having lots of options for charging also means that if any emergency situation should come up, we would be better prepared to deal with it. However, so far we haven’t found ourselves with less than even 25% charge, so we’re far from experiencing such an emergency situation.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Zero Emission Road Trip – Update 2 – Hello, California!

By Tyrel on September 7, 2014

Hello, California!

Welcome to California!

We made it from Canada to California in a 100% electric Nissan LEAF.

We had originally planned on entering California and immediately turning back via Interstate 5. However, as mentioned in my last blog entry, we decided we didn’t want to subject ourselves and our dog to the heat wave currently going on in that area. So we instead diverted to the coast of Oregon. We intended to travel a bit down the coast and just explore what there was to see. We didn’t intend, necessarily, to actually drive to California via this route, since the charging infrastructure peters out some distance from the border (and doesn’t exist at all in California).

On Thursday morning we left our campsite at Pine Meadows Campground, outside of Cottage Grove. We first drove back north to Eugene / Springfield to do some shopping. We decided that the blankets we had weren’t sufficient for the cold nights and we needed some new sleeping bags instead. Having acquired those, we then headed back south and then out toward the coast.

After a couple hours of driving and a few short stops to charge and walk the dog, we finally found ourselves on the Oregon coast, in the town of Reedsport. Another quick charge there and we headed south to Coos Bay, which turned out to be a pretty nice small city. We were delighted to see that their new fire station and visitor center had large solar arrays on their roofs. The woman manning the visitor center was not as impressed, unfortunately.

We stayed the night in a hotel there, then headed south down the Oregon coast. We had reservations for camping at Humbug Mountain State Park for two nights. It’s much nicer to camp at the same place for two nights as we don’t have to take down and set up the tent so much, and we get time to explore the surrounding area. Which was our intent on Saturday — we thought we might check out the beach and maybe the neighboring cities.

However, it turns out that one of the followers of our adventure, and fellow LEAF owner, Matt Williams, and his wife Kristen, lived just outside of the town to our south, Gold Beach. We communicated with them and concluded that if we wanted to, we could top off our charge level at their house, then easily make it to the California border and back, which would allow us to satisfy one of the original stated goals of the trip. The other stated goal, driving 1,500 miles total on the trip, is very likely to happen as well, but we’ll have to wait a few more days to see that!

Matt & Kristen were incredibly helpful with offering their charger, advise (e.g. on the terrain between their place and the California border), and letting us stick around and visit for a while. It’s great to be able to find people like them on our travels.

The majority of the remainder of our trip will be spent slowly traveling up the Oregon coast, seeing the sights. We’ll be in no hurry, spending two nights in a couple locations, as our intent is to enjoy the coast, not to race back home as quickly as possible! We probably won’t be posting to social media much unless we get some nice photogenic shots of the car, or other EV-specific things come up to talk about. The live tracker at ZEroadtrip.com will continue to run, though, and we’d love to meet up with you along the way!

Campsite for Friday and Saturday nights.

Campsite for Friday and Saturday nights.

1,500 Mile Road Trip – Progress Update 1

By Tyrel on September 3, 2014

Send-off at Magic Nissan

Send-off at Magic Nissan. Photo by Erik Petersen.

First of all, I would like to apologize for not writing earlier. After each of the first two days, we were both very tired after lots of driving and visiting with folks along the way. Also, we didn’t have any connectivity the first night so I couldn’t post anyway.

Our Path After 3 Days

Our Path After 3 Days

Over 700 people have been regularly checking our live map at ZEroadtrip.com, along with 175 followers on our Facebook page and 76 followers on Twitter. I hope that the stuff we post is interesting to you all!

Starting last weekend, we drove the short 17 miles from the Canadian border in Lynden, WA to Bellingham, WA, near our home. Then, Monday morning, we left our home and resumed the journey south.

Three days into our journey, we’ve now traveled 466 miles (750 km). We have used 112.4 kWh of energy. Along the way we were greeted by about a dozen people at Magic Nissan of Everett, several staff and one local LEAF owner at Bill Korum’s Puyallup Nissan, long-time LEAF owner David Laur outside of Olympia, several LEAF owners at Electric Avenue in Portland, and a couple LEAF owners just outside of Albany, OR. It has been really great to see people along the way, to share our knowledge and also to learn from them.

One frequent question from other LEAF owners we encounter in person and via social media is for technical information on how the ZEroadtrip.com site works. I will write another blog post at a later date about this. I do hope to some day make this functionality available to everyone.

Sometimes we forget to post on Facebook & Twitter for a while, and as I noted we haven’t blogged much either. This trip is first and foremost our family vacation, so our personal priorities come first. We’re doing this trip for fun. We appreciate all of you who are following along with is and will continue to communicate, but just keep in mind that it may not be particularly frequent due to these facts.

Along the same lines, this morning we made a personal choice to change the plan for our trip. Instead of following Interstate 5 down to the California border, we are going to divert directly to the Oregon coast on Thursday. We’ve added a couple additional stops along the coast so that we end up going back up the coast on the same original timeline. The primary reason for this choice was that the weather forecast calls for temperatures in the mid 90s F (mid 30s C), which is warmer than either of us would be anywhere near comfortable. It will be about 20 degrees F (10 degrees C) cooler on the coast, so we’ll be much happier there. And a family vacation is much more fun if we’re happy.

Those of you who were expecting us in the areas of Grants Pass, Medford, and Ashland, we apologize for this change. Hopefully next time we come down it won’t be as hot and we’ll be able to come down and visit.

So we will be driving from Cottage Grove to Reedsport on Thursday. This isn’t a very long drive so we have no concerns. We’ll stay in a hotel in Reedsport Thursday night, then head down to Port Orford the next day, where we’ll spend two nights at Humbug Mountain State Park. We may travel further south during this time, possibly to the California border, but that’s still undetermined. After that we’ll head back up to Reedsport to resume our original plan.

Campsite at Pine Meadows Campground, Cottage Grove, OR

Campsite at Pine Meadows Campground, Cottage Grove, OR

Zero-Emission Road Trip Starts Monday!

By Tyrel on August 31, 2014

Our car is easy to spot!

Our car is easy to spot!

Tomorrow, September 1st, 2014, we start our 1,500-mile road trip in our 100% electric Nissan LEAF from Canada to California. We encourage everyone to Like us on Facebook, Follow @ZEroadtrip on Twitter, and especially watch our live map at ZEroadtrip.com.

On Saturday we did a quick drive from the Canadian border to Bellingham, WA, where we live, so that on Monday we can just start off from home and head south, and also to test that the live map was working properly. This drive was 17 miles and used 3.9 kWh of electricity. Unfortunately the road that lets you get to the border crossing easily when you don’t intend to cross the border, has been “closed to thru traffic”, so we weren’t able to actually get to the border crossing. Instead we started out on Boundary Road, which is separated only by a shallow ditch from 0 Avenue, on the Canadian side of the border.

Our recorded route from Saturday.

Our recorded route from Saturday.

Here’s the tentative plan for Monday. Keep an eye on our live data, and Twitter or Facebook, as the plan is likely to change depending on lineups at chargers and such.

Hopefully we can leave home around 8am. We’ll be charging in Burlington around 9am, and at Magic Nissan of Everett around 10am. At Magic Nissan we’ll try to have a bit of a “launch party” for our trip, so anyone in the area is encouraged to show up and hang out with us before we head south.

After Magic Nissan, we’ll charge at Whole Foods in Seattle, probably around 11:30am or noon. We’ve been invited to then charge at Bill Korum’s Puyallup Nissan, which will probably happen around 1pm.

After that, we’ll be charging at the West Coast Electric Highway chargers in Tumwater and Centralia, before arriving at our campsite at Seaquest State Park, near Castle Rock. We may also charge using the charger at Castle Rock, depending on how hot our battery pack is getting. If it’s too hot we might wait until Tuesday morning to charge, or use a trickle charger at our campsite. Along the way we may stop to see the Mima Mounds National Area Preserve if the weather is cool (as we’ll have to leave the dog in the car).

Let us know by commenting here, on Facebook, or Twitter, if you’d like to meet up anywhere along our route.

2014 Zero-Emission Road Trip

By Tyrel on August 20, 2014

Trip route map. Campsites are marked with the date we'll be at each (e.g. "1, 12" means we'll be camping there the night of the 1st and 12th of September).

Trip route map. Click to zoom. Campsites are marked with the night(s) we’ll be at each.

On September 1st, Trish and I will depart our home in Bellingham, WA, near the Canadian border, and begin our 1,500+ mile journey south to the California border, and back, in a 100% electric Nissan LEAF. And you’ll be able to track us live!

This is not a race, it is just an opportunity for us to take time away from the daily grind, explore a small corner of the world, and show that it can be done in a LEAF. We’ll be camping almost every night. After we completed a similar trip last year, we decided it had to be done again, since it was so much fun!

New for this year, I have developed a web site that will display our live location, battery charge level, and more. We encourage you to load up the site and follow along on our journey! It will automatically update our position once per minute while we’re driving, assuming we have adequate cellular signal. Check it out at ZEroadtrip.com.

The general route starts by going down I-5 from Bellingham, WA to the California border. Near the California border, on Saturday, September 6th, we will be showing our car at the Southern Oregon Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Show in Ashland! We’re sure to encounter a lot of great people there. Then we will head back up a bit and over to the Oregon Coast. We’ll follow the coast up to Astoria, and finally head back home via I-5.

We will also post regular updates to Twitter @ZEroadtrip or you can Like us on Facebook, and we will write daily blog posts here as well. Blog posts may be posted a day late in some cases depending on where we can find an Internet connection.

If you are interested in meeting up with us somewhere along our journey, you can comment below or tweet @ZEroadtrip and we’ll be in touch. Or, track us on the map and meet us at a charging station! We’ll be stopping at every one on the map, even if we don’t need it. We’ll be driving a silver 2013 Nissan LEAF SL (on the right on the photo below).

Our two Nissan LEAFs in front of our solar array.

Our two Nissan LEAFs in front of our solar array.

Solar Performance Update & News (July 2014)

By Tyrel on July 28, 2014

It has now been quite a while since we’ve completed our second solar array. Things have been going GREAT so I thought it would be good to share exactly how great it’s been going.

First of all, on July 19th we had a gathering of electric vehicles at our house, and we parked them all in front of the array. It was a very rainy day, at first, but later on it cleared up so that we could get a great photo.

Thirteen 100% electric vehicles parked in front of our solar array. July 19, 2014. Photo by Steve Coram.

Thirteen 100% electric vehicles parked in front of our solar array. July 19, 2014. Photo by Steve Coram.

We had three Tesla Model Ss, nine Nissan LEAFs, and a converted Scion xB. It turned out to be a good party with lots of interesting discussions and great food. About half the attendees had come up from the Seattle area, and half had come down from British Columbia.

The rain that day reduced our production quite a bit, but overall we’ve been having much better performance than predicted. For example, for the month of June, our total predicted production was 1,612 kWh, but we produced 1,820 kWh. In fact, we have over-produced every single month except for December, by an average of 112.6%. You can see our performance for every month in this graph:

Solar Performance vs Predicted as of July 2014

Solar Performance vs Predicted as of July 2014

This writing is on July 28th so the graph includes extrapolated performance through the end of July. There’s also a huge jump in April due to Phase 2 coming online on March 25th.

As of the end of July 27th, we have banked a total of 2,312 kWh with the utility. According to the predictions, we’ll continue banking additional power through September, after which we will begin using up the banked power. We’ll probably have enough banked power to last us at least through mid January, after which we’ll be pulling some from the utility again (though not a lot, as we’ll be picking up production again around that time).

In the coming months we’ll be getting our check from the utility for our Washington State production credit. This will help cover the loan payments we’ve been making thus far, and allow us to pay down the loans a little bit as well. After that, the next big benefit will come next tax season, when we’ll get the remainder of our 30% tax credit for Phase 1, and probably all of our credit for Phase 2.

In the meantime, we are planning to take another EV road trip down through Oregon this year. We’re hoping to actually enter California this time (though we won’t go far there), and possibly visit Central Oregon as well, where many quick chargers were recently deployed. More on that once we’ve figured out our plans.

By the way, we are looking for another EV-owning couple to come along with us (in your own car). We prefer no kids, but otherwise don’t really have any requirements. If you’re interested in coming, let me know!