The Green Electric Trifecta

see note at end of post

I wrote a year ago about what our plans were for the new house we’d bought:  Watching the Meter Run Backwards.  Well, we just completed the plan a few weeks ago:  We picked up our new EV.

The plan was to install solar photovoltaic panels.  We did that in December.  After that the heat pumps went in in January.  Then we went shopping for an electric vehicle and made our choice in May.

So, first, the solar panels.  The work was done by New York Power Solutions.  After the usual back and forth over a couple of months in scoping out the job, arranging the financing, etc., the crew came in December to install 40 panels.  The system has been working like a dream.  My post from last year referenced sending power back to the grid – and “watching the meter run backwards” as a consequence – and that’s been the result.  We have a clock on our power consumption and production from Enphase Energy, as part of the installation of the photovoltaic modules, and it can tell us all sorts of useful information.  To date the PV has produced quite a bit more than we’ve consumed.  We will get credit for the difference which will significantly offset our winter usage when the heat pumps kick in for the winter.  In the meantime, we have been paying our utility, NYSEG, only a nominal amount per month for delivery charges.

Not incidentally, our town, Pound Ridge, is part of the Westchester Power Community Choice Aggregation Program.  As such, we pay a little less than a penny and a half per KWh extra for the wind power that NYSEG has as part of its supply.

It should be noted that our photovoltaic modules were not made in China.  They were made in Singapore by an Indian-owned company, the solar subsidiary of which, REC, is headquartered in Norway.  The microinverters for the system come from an American company, Enphase, which currently has them produced in several countries, including China.  The Inflation Reduction Act, however, is giving a very big boost to Enphase’s domestic production as showcased here at their website.

The power consumption here jumped up in the winter after the heat pumps went in.  We worked with a local company, Bell Mechanical, to buy the system and install it.  We opted for a pair of heat pumps from Carrier, and they say that most of their manufacturing takes place in the US.

Note that I’m not averse to the global supply chain but I am sensitive to the very real concerns relative to how China makes so many of its products for export and the all-too-real nightmare of China’s human rights abuses against Tibetans and Uyghurs, not to mention their own people.

To get back to the heat pumps, there were already ducts for the air conditioning units, so the old units were just pulled out and the heat pumps installed in their place outside, with air handlers to match each of the two units, one in the attic and one in the basement.  The heat pumps were amazingly efficient in the cold weather, displacing all our oil-fired heat except for one day in February when the temperature was near zero.  Yes, the heat pumps use electricity, and our consumption was double our solar power production in January, February, and March, but our oil consumption was negligible.  (We are still using oil heat for hot water.)  All in all, it’s been fantastic to have the heat pumps in place.

Not incidentally, we are not big fans of air conditioning – as ‘twere.  We’ve got lots of windows in the house and good air flow so there is no big need for the AC.  However, there were a good number of guests here one Sunday recently and we did crank it on then – and it worked beautifully.

That brings us to the new electric vehicle.  It’s a Chevrolet Bolt EUV.  Great car!  The EPA/DOT site that gives you insights on fuel economy says it gets the equivalent of 115 miles per gallon, with a range of 247 miles on a full charge.  We took our first road trip recently out to the beach, 130 miles from here.  We went out and back and still had 50+ miles “in the tank.”  So the range was closer, in this case anyway, to just over 300 miles.  What boosts the range are “regenerative braking” and “one-pedal” driving.  We haven’t tried a fast charge on it yet as we haven’t had the need.  GM installed the Level 2 home charger as part of our deal.  Works great.  I won’t get into all the features of the car, but suffice it to say, it’s a nice, smooth ride; quiet; and is quite comfortable inside.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives it five out of five stars for overall safety.  As to its manufacturing, it has a US/Canadian parts content of 58%, the electric drive unit being made in Korea.  The car thus qualifies for a $7500 federal tax credit plus some from NY State.  (We will similarly get tax credits for the heat pumps as we have already for the solar system.)

This is what it looks like:

The EV revolution is upon us.  This echoes what I heard Amory Lovins say nearly 15 years ago:  “The Renewable Revolution has been won.  Sorry, if you missed it.”  Well, as we can see more and more every year, renewables are powering ahead.  As to transportation, well, some pundits used to wring their hands about “peak oil” and the fact that we’d soon be coming to a future where oil supply would diminish.  Well, guess what?  We are coming very, very soon to peak demand!  The International Energy sees “oil use for transport going into decline after 2026.”  That is down to the global surge in battery electric and fuel-cell electric vehicles, from the US to Europe to China and beyond.  Aviation and shipping are decarbonizing too.  The world is looking newer and newer all the time.  I am extremely happy to be doing my small part with our PV, heat pumps, and EV.


“Maintain” is how much of the world looks for power; “Transform” is how the world should look in order to maximize our economies and minimize our pollution. “Transform” is, for all intents and purposes, our setup in our new home: PV powering our home and going back to the grid, wind power coming in from the grid to our town and our house, heat pumps and an EV powered from our PV and the grid.

Electricity Scenarios from Reinventing Fire: Electricity

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