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Below is the full transcript from the Solarize Santa Barbara – Home Solar, Electric Vehicles, and Battery Systems webinar. It is sectioned by slide so you can easily follow along with the slide presentation.

Welcome

April Price, Community Environmental Council: All right. Good afternoon. My name is April Price with the Community Environmental Council. 

Thank you so much for joining us today for our webinar, I’m going to have to read the title here at “Home Solar Electric Vehicles and Battery Systems: Affordable Options For Your Lifestyle.” I’m sure you can imagine with a webinar title that long, we have quite a bit to get through. And we look forward to spending the next hour together. Joining me on this webinar is my colleague, Michael Chiacos, from the Community Environmental Council. Hi Michael. And we also have a local EV and solar owner, Jeff Phillips.

All right. So hi, Jeff.

So here’s what we have to look forward to. I’m gonna do a really quick intro to CEC and then we’ll dive into our electric vehicles 101 and Mike will be covering that material, and he is an electric vehicle expert. Then we’ll jump into the solar aspect of our program and get into our Solarize Santa Barbara program. And then next, we’ll get into batteries.  We will finish up with hearing from Jeff and his experience as both an EV owner and a solar system owner. And then we’ll end up with some Q &A. So that’ll be what’s happening on the screen with video. But while we’re talking, there’s resources that you can use right away. We have installer partners from our vetted solar companies online that can address any of your questions about solar and energy storage. And we also have my colleague, Aubrey Baker. You can also answer questions about the program. And you can throw your EV questions in there as well. But Michael and Jeff will get to also.

Alright, so many of you are probably fairly familiar with the Community Environmental Council. We are a regional nonprofit that is just celebrating our 50th anniversary – our 50th birthday. And we’re focused on regional solutions to climate change. Listed along the bottom, there are our five initiatives. And this is a special one, this is sort of a crossover event. We’ll be focusing not only on going solar, but also driving clean. And I think I see you at home, I think I see that you didn’t even drive anywhere today, and you’re eating some nice sustainable food. So you’re covering all of our bases and bonus points for you.

What Brings You Here?

In addition to bonus points, we are curious as to what brought you to our webinar today. We have a few questions. Iris want to launch those?

We really want to make sure that we’re speaking correctly to our audience. So let us know whether you are already an EV driver. Or, you know, you’re looking into your options for leasing or purchasing. And really what you’re interested in solar and battery systems as well. We’ll be talking about, you know, lots of things today and want to make sure that we address your needs.

So give them just another minute here.

Okay, I think we can go ahead and wrap that up. Okay, fantastic. We have quite a spread here.

We have some EV drives. About 25% of you already drive an electric vehicle. And then we have another quarter that are looking to purchase. And then a spread here of other folks that are interested in learning about EVs for solar, about 50% of you are interested in adding solar wonderful, and we have about 10% that are interested in adding a battery system to your home. So great. I think we’ll cover all of those needs.

Okay, and so we’re ready to jump into the electric vehicles. Michael, you want to take it away?

Why EVs?

Michael Chiacos, Community Environmental Council: Great. Thank you April and thank you to all the participants that are joining us. Looks like we have about 128 participants and more joining in every minute.

My name is Michael Chiacos. I’m CEC’s Director of Energy and Climate Programs. And I’ve also been an electric vehicle and solar owner since 2013. So electric vehicles are one of my favorite topics. They’re very important.

So why electric vehicles? Well, really driving is a huge impact, it’s really the largest environmental impact that most of us make each day. And electric vehicles, our solution for a lot of those impacts, they’re incredibly energy efficient.

You see this fuel sticker that says 119 miles per gallon equivalent? Well, electric vehicles are about three times more efficient than a gasoline engine. And if you think about it, it’s very intuitive. With an electric vehicle, you don’t have as much noise, you don’t have that pollution, you don’t really even have the heat or vibration. All of that is wasted energy that isn’t wasted in an electric vehicle. They also produce zero tailpipe emissions, very clean. That’s why the air pollution control districts are some of our main partners with a lot of the EV readiness activities that we do. As well as they also reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 75 to 100%. The 75% is just plugging into Edison’s or P&G’s grid. And then if you choose 100%, renewable or carbon free alternative through your utility or go solar, then you could really truly be Zero Mission driving.

And the important thing also is that our grid is actually getting cleaner. So California has a goal of 100% clean and renewable power by 2045 and our grid will just get cleaner and cleaner. So an EV will actually get cleaner as it ages. Whereas oil actually gets dirtier as it ages. The oil is getting dirtier with fracking and cyclic steam clean to get the hard to reach oil tar sands. So definitely driving an electric vehicle gets cleaner as the years go on. And then there’s the potential to drive on sunshine, which we’ll talk about a lot more when we get to the solar part. Next.

But it’s not just the environmental aspects. It’s also a huge amount of savings on money, as well as really fun to drive. And everyone who gets an electric vehicle for the first time and you hit the accelerator, you realize, wow, this is like a spaceship like torque, you can see the torque curve here. You can also fuel them very inexpensively, we’ll talk in a minute about different rates through Edison that can be less than $1.40 or so per gallon. Or you can power your array, your vehicle with your solar array and not have to pay for fuel anymore after it’s paid off like my system is. Then also reduced maintenance. You don’t have to take your car in for an oil change and a lot of the maintenance on an electric vehicle. And in fact Alameda County did a cost study and found it was about half the cents per mile.

Transportation Emissions

And then overall just with transportation emissions, and then we’ll get to the electric vehicles. Transportation is about half of the carbon emissions in California. You can see it says 41% here over on the overall state emissions. But a big portion of those industrial emissions you see are from actually producing and refining oil as well.

Driving is really one of the largest environmental impacts we make. We’ve heard about environmental impacts from say, eating a cheeseburger or making an iPhone. You can see these are equivalent to about 10 miles of driving a regular vehicle or 200 miles to make an iPhone or a long flight can really use a lot of carbon – almost 4000 miles worth. But by switching to an electric vehicle, it can be really the lion’s share of your emissions every year.

EV Sales are Increasing

So EV sales are really increasing. There’s about 730,000 that have been sold in California. At the beginning of this year, about 9% of new vehicle sales. We’re really the leading state. But globally, Europe and China are also adding a lot of electric vehicles. California has a goal of 5 million by 2030. And here on the Central Coast we already have about 21,000 electric vehicles and are adding around 400 per month.

Used Electric Vehicles $5k-10k

Now we’re going to talk about some of the different vehicles, starting with the most affordable used electric vehicles and then going up to the new ones. It’s pretty amazing how affordable used electric vehicles these are typically five to nine years old and can be purchased now for five to $10,000.

These electric vehicles like in the top left and going clockwise, Fiat 500, the Nissan Leaf, the Ford Focus Electric, the VW Golf electric. These are all some of the first generation of electric vehicles. They’re maybe more appropriate for a two car household because they do have limited battery range, maybe 70 to 100 miles. And so you probably wouldn’t want one for your primary car. But for a second car in your household, you can do most of your errands and running around town, a lot of people can put a large portion of their miles on this very affordable electric vehicle, that also gets over 100 miles per gallon equivalent and could save you a lot of money on fuel.

$10k-15k Range

Next, a little more expensive are the used plug in hybrids. These vehicles have both electric batteries. So for the first 20 to 50 miles, you’ll drive all electric, and then a gasoline engine kicks in, and you can take them on a road trip longer trip and still get hybrid-like gas mileage, usually in the 40s to 50 miles per gallon. These are a great option for a one car household or someone who does a lot of road trips and is concerned about being able to have a gasoline backup.

I personally had a Chevy Volt for six years starting in 2012. And really enjoyed the plug in hybrid and then recently went to a larger battery electric vehicle.

New EV/PHEV $20-40k+

These are the new electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, after incentives they can be most of them are 20 to $40,000, although they can get more expensive. Many of these pure electric vehicles that are on here actually have a range of over 200 miles. They could be appropriate for a one car household or a primary car. You could take them on road trips.

We have in the top right, the Chevy Volt Electric as over 250 mile range. The Nissan Leaf is next going clockwise, and has either 150 or over 200 miles of range. The 150 mile version could actually be purchased for around $20,000. After the incentives that we’re going to be talking about, that’s probably the most affordable electric vehicle.

In the bottom left, the blue one, we have the Toyota Prime Prius, which is a plug in hybrid. And then we have three vehicles from Tesla. The one in the top left, the Tesla Model three, can actually be purchased after incentives for about $35,000 here in California, which is pretty amazing, because that’s actually less expensive than the average new car, which is about $38,000. And it just really shows how far electric vehicles have come in the last decade. I have a Tesla Model three and this summer, my wife and I took her on a road trip all the way up to Utah – drove 2500 miles over about 12 days. You can be in very remote places and national parks and doing fast charging along the way. And it really worked great so now you can even use them for adventure vehicles.

EVs Coming 2020/2021

These are the new electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids, after incentives they can be most of them are 20 to $40,000, although they can get more expensive. Many of these pure electric vehicles that are on here actually have a range of over 200 miles. They could be appropriate for a one car household or a primary car. You could take them on road trips.

We have in the top right, the Chevy Volt Electric as over 250 mile range. The Nissan Leaf is next going clockwise, and has either 150 or over 200 miles of range. The 150 mile version could actually be purchased for around $20,000. After the incentives that we’re going to be talking about, that’s probably the most affordable electric vehicle.

In the bottom left, the blue one, we have the Toyota Prime Prius, which is a plug in hybrid. And then we have three vehicles from Tesla. The one in the top left, the Tesla Model three, can actually be purchased after incentives for about $35,000 here in California, which is pretty amazing, because that’s actually less expensive than the average new car, which is about $38,000. And it just really shows how far electric vehicles have come in the last decade. I have a Tesla Model three and this summer, my wife and I took her on a road trip all the way up to Utah – drove 2500 miles over about 12 days. You can be in very remote places and national parks and doing fast charging along the way. And it really worked great so now you can even use them for adventure vehicles.

Hybrid Fuel Cell Vehicles

I also want to talk a little bit about hydrogen fuel cells – they are another alternative to an electric vehicle. There are three hydrogen fuel cell vehicles that are on the market through Hyundai, Toyota and Honda. They do have a higher range than electric vehicles and faster refueling. You can’t fill them up at home, though, you have to go to some of the hydrogen stations. There’s now 41 across California including one in Santa Barbara and another in Thousand Oaks, many in LA and the Bay Area. They’re a little more expensive around $50,000, but they also offer great leases that often include the fuel. So it could be an affordable option for someone who drives a lot and doesn’t have access to home charging.

There’s been a little over 8000 sold in California and they are an electric vehicle zero emissions but they’re less efficient than an electric car because you have to make the hydrogen. So you can see the efficiencies of a little more than half of the electric vehicle.

Incentives

Some of the incentives that you can get: the first one is a federal tax credit and this is up to $7,500. Tesla and GM have actually hit their limits, so you can’t get the tax credit. But with all the other manufacturers you can. You have to have this much tax liability on your current year tax return. And if you do purchase the vehicle maybe you could change your withholdings so that you can get the money back sooner rather than waiting for next year on your taxes.

There’s also a utility rebate of $1,000. Unlike the federal tax credit, this can be taken on a new or a used vehicle. A really great option if you’re going to buy one of those very affordable used electric vehicles and get 1000 bucks back from Edison.

There’s also a California rebate, you can see the numbers here most people get that $2,000 rebate for an electric vehicle. If you are low to moderate income, you can receive an extra $2,500. So that’d be $4,500 for an EV for a family of four that’s making under $77,000. And then there’s also the Clean Vehicle Assistance Program for a family of four making under $104,000. This could be just a $5,000 grant for electric vehicle plug in hybrid or a hybrid. So definitely worth looking into that program. You can learn a lot more about incentives and all these different programs at our regional EV readiness website, electricdrive805.org. And this presentation will be sent to all of you after so that you’ll be able to really peruse these resources. 

Types of Charging

There’s three basic types of charging: level one, two and three. Level one is just a regular outlet. There’s probably dozens in your house. Many people already have one of these in their driveway or garage and you can use that to trickle charge your electric vehicle. You only get about three to five miles per hour and a lot of people are like why would I want to do that? That’s really slow, but what most EV drivers do is charge up overnight. So you just plug in your car and if you drive less than 50 miles a day, definitely if you have a plug in hybrid, a level one might be a very affordable and easy option for you. You could literally use the charger that comes with the car like that one in the picture and plug it into an outlet that you already have or one that you can very affordably add with an electrician. I used a level one charger for about six years with my plug in hybrid and it worked out great.

Level two: most EVs get 20 to 30 miles per hour. And these are what many of the public stations are like. You see the picture on the left? There’s over 1000 public EV charging stations now throughout the Central Coast; Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo counties.  Plentiful charging out there. More workplaces are putting in chargers but primarily people would charge at home if you have access to home charging.

The third type of charging is fast charging. There’s about 172 of these chargers throughout our region.

For many of the electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf on top there are 50 kilowatt DC fast chargers that will give you about 60 miles in 20 or 30 minutes. So this allows someone to , you know, if they live in Santa Barbara, to make a little longer trip to you say Thousand Oaks or Los Angeles and back in their short range EV. The real affordable ones we talked about. For someone with a longer range battery, a two or 300 mile EV, they could use these chargers to do more extended trips. Then there’s also super fast chargers which can go up to 350 kilowatts or the superchargers through Tesla 250 kilowatts, which are very abundant throughout the country. Now, the Tesla supercharger can charge up to 1000 miles per hour.

When you go on a road trip, you start out with a full charge and after driving a couple hundred miles you might stop for a half hour lunch break and charge up to full or 80 percent again and then drive another hundred or 200 miles, stop for a bathroom break, reach your destination after six or seven hours of driving, and it’s very similar experiences driving a gasoline vehicle.

Time-of-Use Rates = Low Cost Fuel

You can get very affordable time of use rates through Edison. So this is the TOUD prime rate that you can get on and you can see 19 out of the 24 hours of the day you can charge for what is the equivalent of around $1.40 per gallon. So charge up overnight or charge up during the day, particularly if you have your solar. You just want to avoid that 4 to 9pm period of charging your vehicle. For a typical house, a car could be an equivalent load as the entire house and all the things in it. So by using one of these rates, you can shift most of your usage to those 19 hours when you get very affordable electricity.

ElectricDrive805

Your resource: electricdrive805.org. It’s a website that we put together with the air pollution control districts of interest in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and a couple other partners. You can learn so much about driving electric vehicles at this website. So please bookmark it and use it for your EV journey.

Challenges/Drawbacks

Just wrapping up, you know, a lot of the challenges or the drawbacks that I hear from people that are thinking about electric vehicles is that they’re scared about the longer recharge time and it really is just a different mindset. You charge at night while you’re sleeping, or many people who don’t have access to charging at home might be able to charge at work. UCSB in the county of Santa Barbara and other large employers have lots of charging stations now. And it’s actually more convenient, particularly if you have access to charging at home, rather than, you know, finding a gas station every week or two and spending 10 minutes, 55 minutes fueling up. You just get home, spend 20 seconds charging your car, might even only be once or twice a week. And it’s very convenient. And then going on a road trip, as I explained, you have to stop in certain places. But it’s pretty easy to do.

Limited range is another issue that I hear people frequently talk about and it’s really not an issue at all for a plug-in hybrid because you have that gasoline backup and in the hybrid backup for battery electric vehicles, for those early short range ones with under 100 miles, they might work best for the two car household. They’re very affordable. The longer range battery electric vehicles, though, the limited range is not as big of a concern, as I mentioned in taking that road trip to Utah. And one of my friends drove a Chevy Volt last year from Seattle to Santa Barbara to attend my wedding. So people are making these longer trips and all different types of electric cars now.

Another thing is about the cost. And as you’ve seen, these are less expensive than many gas cars now. You can get a Nissan Leaf for a similar price to a Toyota Corolla. Very affordable and  cheaper fuelling as well as maintenance costs.

Great Value Proposition

Really, I want to just encourage you that if you’re thinking about an electric vehicle to really consider it: they’re fun to drive, they can be very affordable and many of the leases are around $200 a month with zero down after putting the California rebate in a down payment.

Right now is actually a wonderful time to buy an electric vehicle or lease one because the sales are down for all vehicles. And so if you are in the position to get into an EV, you can get a great deal through the manufacturers. They have a total cost of ownership that’s much lower. Especially if you go solar, which April’s going to talk about next. I went solar about seven years ago and my solar arrays totally paid off. It was about $7,000 at the time. And now I can drive for the next 20-25 years for free in my electric vehicle. And it’s a really great feeling to just have that solar on my roof that’s providing energy for my house and my car. You reduce greenhouse gas emissions incredibly and there’s a lot more public charging infrastructure for going on longer trips, road trips. It’s really fun to be driving an electric vehicle and to be part of the solution. I really hope that you’ll consider one for your next vehicle purchase next.

Best Resources

These four resources are some of the best ones to start with. Our website, which we talked about, and then plug-in cars has reviews and information about all the 40 electric vehicles that are on the market, everything from small sedans to SUVs, and even a minivan. Plugshare is where all the charging stations are. And then the last one is where there’s current lease offers that are compared and ranked and updated every month.

I’ll pass it on to April now.

Home Solar

April Price, CEC: Okay, thanks. Great job, Michael. Michael comes back to well, when we used to work in the office, quite regularly on Mondays with lots of stories of his weekend adventures. And I always say you did that in an EV? And he says, yeah! It’s so great to hear his experience.

You might still be wondering why we decided to tie all these things together. I’ll be talking about solar. But oftentimes, when I talk to people about going solar in their community, they say, you know, I would love to go solar, but my electric bill is so low that it just doesn’t really make sense for me. The more that we’ve worked in this space, the more we’ve realized that the real synergy is between driving an electric vehicle and adding solar to your home, so even if your electric bill is currently quite low, if you decide to get rid of your gas powered vehicle and opt for an EV, suddenly, the investment really makes sense.

Alright, so to jump into solar here, I’ll be walking you through some basic solar technologies and our Solarize Santa Barbara program, which so far has helped just over 800 homeowners go solar.

Benefits of Solar

I think you’re probably pretty familiar with the benefits of going solar. I definitely want to encourage folks in our community to use renewable energy. But something that might not be as obvious is the fact that adding a solar system to your home is very likely to increase the value of your home. There was a study done about five years back by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab that showed that homes with solar so sold for about $15,000 more than comparable homes in the market without solar. So, you might end up investing $15,000, or maybe significantly less, in a solar system, but you really are looking to recoup that investment, when you do decide to sell your home.

Example: $167/month bill

You’re also looking to start saving money right away. This is an example of a customer who’s considering going solar. I didn’t put the price tag up here, but the price for this solar system, after rebates, and tax credits is about $13,000. This is just a warm up to the idea here, that you’re going to save a lot of money. Again, this customer before going solar is currently spending about $167 a month on electricity, and after solar can really look forward to spending about $30 a month on electricity. With that $13,000 burning a hole in your pocket, you might be thinking through other household investments that you’d like to make. And I know there’s a lot of decisions out there. But when you’re really looking at the ROI, and using your money wisely, this 25 year savings of close to $70,000 really make solar a fantastic investment.

All right, another benefit of going solar, in addition to the immediate savings, is hedging against the increasing electricity rates, the rising electricity rates that we see all across the country really, but also historically, as these rates have gone up over time, and we expect them to. By adding solar electricity to your home, you’re basically just reducing your demand on the grid, and therefore reducing the amount of grid electricity that you’re going to need to purchase.

How Solar Works

Alright, so to walk you through just a general idea of what a solar system is comprised of. I’m sure we’re all used to strolling around with our face masks on in our neighborhoods, and looking up and seeing beautiful solar panels shining on the roof. That’s, of course, the most obvious part of the solar system. But there’s another very important component to the system, and that is the inverter. That is the component that changes the direct current that the solar system produces to the alternating current or AC power that our appliances use at home. I know it’s a flashback to high school science class.

Inverters

There are a few different options for inverters. And I’d like you to be familiar with that if you’re investing in a solar system.

Traditionally, you’re looking at something called a string inverter, and a string inverter is just one centralized box that will probably be mounted inside your garage and that will be the component that does that change from DC to AC. There’s nothing the matter with a centralized string inverter, um, but they typically do have shorter warranties. And if you do happen to have any shading and all on your solar system, the shading on one panel will decrease the power production of all of the panels that are connected in series, if you do have a string inverter so the industry has come up with two ways to address that challenge of shading, and they’re listed here on your screen, so you have the micro inverter and the power optimizer. And at the end of the day, you’re going to have very similar results from both of these solutions.

A micro inverter is simply small inverters mounted on the back of each of your solar panels that also allow you to keep track of the power production of each panel, both of these solutions actually do so. But the shading of one panel with a micro inverter won’t affect the output of the other people’s. Some similarly, power optimizers have a component on each panel that addresses those shading concerns. So through our solarize Santa Barbara program, which I’ll get into shortly, you will have options for either one of these technologies. And each of these have a 25 year warranty associated with them.

Net Energy Metering: NEM

Alright, so you’ll also, we have our solar panels inverter, you also going to maintain your connection to the electricity grid. And that’s an important thing to think about here. Because the electricity grid is your friend, when you go solar, it allows you to get credit for each kilowatt hour that your system produces that you don’t need right away. So let’s say it’s a beautiful, sunny, not smokey day, although it looks like the solar production is decent today. But let’s say your solar system is producing quite a bit, but you’re out on vacation. And so each of those kilowatt hours is sent back onto the grid, and you’re getting a monetary value for each kilowatt hour, based on what you would have paid for a kilowatt hour at the time of production. I know this is a little bit confusing. This idea is called net energy metering.

And so to walk you through an example here, and this is a customer that has solar, and let’s just walk through their day here. So um, first of all, as Michael introduced, this customer is on a time of use rate, which means that electricity has a different price tag depending on what time of day it is purchased, or as a solar customer it is produced. So for instance, there are on peak times, in this case, that on peak is the most expensive time 56 cents off peak, which is in the middle of the day. And then super well, super off peak. Yeah is later in the evening.

So let’s walk through this customer’s day. And you can see it’s midnight here. And this person is using a lot of power. So you just sat through a great presentation, Evie 101, what’s going on here? That’s right, this person is charging their electric vehicle. And so they’re using quite a bit of electricity from the grid. But it’s super off peak time. So it’s fairly affordable.

Now you can see your, I’m sorry, it’s kind of light on your screen. But at nine o’clock in the morning, the sun comes out, and the solar system kicks in. So that’s why these bars are below the zero axis here. And so these kilowatt hours are being sent back onto the grid because the homeowner doesn’t need those kilowatt hours at that time. So as are sent onto the grid there, this homeowner is getting credits based on the price of electricity. So these credits here are worth close to 32 cents per kilowatt hour. And then later in the afternoon, you’re getting higher, higher value credits. And you can see here the customer starts using more electricity from the grid in the evening.

So this is a great economic case here, even though clearly this customer is using more kilowatt hours. And they are banking, it’s not a problem because they’re banking higher value kilowatt hours than they’re using. And those banked kilowatt hours are gone or banked credits are going to roll over day to day and month to month. So that’s not something that you need to manage. It’ll happen automatically.

Right, it’s I know, I’m discussing some things that can get confusing. reminder, if you do have any, any questions. We have some solar experts online that can address your questions, just go ahead and type them into the chat.

All right, and this is what a solar demand curve might look like if you don’t have solar. So really minimal usage at night, banking those credits during the day, and in the evening using quite a bit more power from the grid.

Common Concerns with Solar

So CEC has been really trying to support folks in our community in going solar for quite a while. And throughout this work, we continue to run into the same concerns from people in our community.

So who do I work with? How do I know if I’m buying the right? equipment? How much should it cost? And how do I pay for it?

CEC's Solarize Santa Barbara

So that is a great introduction to our solarized Santa Barbara program. As I mentioned before, this is a program designed to make it easier and more affordable for you to add solar to your home.

And it’s a limited time program currently available to residents of Southern Santa Barbara County, until the end of October. So that would simply mean that you would sign a contract by that point. But I’ll get into those details.

Problems & Solutions of Solar

But how does this program address these issues? So the installer partners that are answering your wonderful questions on our chat right now, weren’t just selected randomly. It was a very thorough vetting process. We put together a committee of folks that have expertise in solar, in finance, in general contracting, and we invited the solar community to apply to work with our program. So this committee really made sure that we at CEC, on behalf of you, the customer, was working with folks that had excellent customer reviews, and was using excellent products, and was performing well financially, because we want these companies to be around to service your equipment. If and very unlikely chance you need them too.

As I mentioned, selecting the right panel was a big part of this process. I’ll tell you the panel shortly, but they’ll have great warranties, we’re looking at 25 year production warranties. And of course, with any Solar System install, you do have that 10 year workmanship warranty as well.

We also really were looking for great prices for you. So we sat down and negotiated with these installers to make sure that you were getting a great deal.

And we’re also here to provide solar coaching along the way. And so either in comparing different bids or thinking through is this an apples to apples proposal that I’m getting here. We’re really helping you think about financing or other payment options.

Goals of Solarize Santa Barbara

I think I’ve gone over this. And we really just want to make it easy for residents of Southern Santa Barbara County to go solar, and to do so in a way that supports our local economy.

Installer Partners

So I’m, I introduced the fact that these folks are online chatting away to help you now. But we’re very grateful to be working with three wonderful local solar companies. Brighton, solar, California, Solar Electric, and Sun Pacific solar. And so each of these companies does have slightly different offerings. But again, all of their products and services were vetted by our committee.

Who is Eligible for Solarize?

So in order to be eligible you do, as I mentioned, you have a geographic scope for this program, and you need a place to put your solar.

So you want to make sure that your roof is in fairly good repair before adding a solar system to it. And definitely the re-roofing process and preparing for solar is something that goes really well together. If you are, you know, just at that point where you need to replace your roof. And you also want to think of course about your sun access. So a south facing unshaded roof is going to get you the most kilowatt hours. And that’s a good thing. Um, but a west facing roof can also be a great option, especially as I mentioned with time use pricing and those kilowatt hours that are produced later in the day being of the highest value and your net energy metering. Okay, so south or west, sometimes there are some east facing you can have east and west facing on the same house that can be okay. But don’t let anyone talk you into a north facing solar array. And I did mention that this is a limited time offer. Basically we set up a sale for you and we hope that it’s a good fit for you.

Credits and Incentives

All right, whether or not you go solar through the solar array, Santa Barbara program. There are some great initiatives or incentives here. There’s a federal tax credit that Most people that I’ve talked to can take advantage of and that is going down in 2021. So currently, you’re able to save 26% of your investments in the form of getting that money back in a federal tax credit. So definitely think about this timeline, and certainly looking ahead to 2022. With that incentive disappearing.

Cost of Solar: Example

All right, so I will share an example here with you. So this is a system, an example system that might be purchased through the solarized Santa Barbara program. So this is a four and a half kilowatt system. So that’s 4500 watts. And the installed cost could be about $15,000. You’re looking at a generous tax credit, at the end of the day spending about $11,000. And do want to be transparent that CEC does receive a payment from the installer partners for each system. That’s all but that’s never something that you will see on your bill. And so four and a half kilowatts might be a new language for you. And this applies to roughly $125 a month bill.

Panel Options

All right. And as I mentioned, there are several options for vetted panels here. And so this might seem like kind of an overwhelming list. But each of our solar installers has two options that they’ll talk through with you. And they’re both good options. So why might you choose one over the other?

Well, some of these panels can create more energy in a smaller space. So if you are really looking to get a lot of electricity out of a relatively small roof space, then you might opt for a more efficient panel, which will be more expensive than the lower efficiency panel.

And there’s optimizer and microinverter options. And again, our equipment through the program has 25 year warranties for and what does that mean? That means that if you’re 25, each of these solar panels is guaranteed to have a certain level of power production. And those are manufacturer warranties.

Financing Options: Loan payments can be lower than your SCE bill

All right. So it’s a great deal, but it’s still a chunk of change to come up with. So I’m thinking through how you might want to pay for this, a lot of people that I talked to do opt for secure loans, and so he locked loans. But there is another option that’s really improved on the market. And so these are unsecured solar loans. And these are options that the solar installers can speak to you about specifically for your proposals. But really, some really decent options out there at 2.99 APR over a 12 year loan.

So I’ve seen folks that sign up for these loans that from day one start saving on their monthly payments, because their electricity bill drops significantly, and their payments on their loans are lower than their previous electricity payment. So great way to start.

What about leases?

I’d also like to make sure that everyone out there is familiar with this idea of power purchase agreements. And if anyone had anyone come to their home and say Knock, knock, I want to go solar for free. Well, it’s quite common. And these solar sales people are not lying to you, but they are selling you something specific.

They’re selling you something in the industry that’s called a PPA or power purchase agreement, but also referred to as a lease. And in that agreement, you don’t pay anything upfront, that’s true. But you’re going to enter into a contract with a solar company saying that you’re going to purchase all of the kilowatt hours that the solar system produces, usually for about 20 years. So it’s just important to be very careful in reviewing these proposals and these options, because in some cases, you can certainly save maybe about 20% on your electricity bill. But you want to make sure that the escalator associated with the kilowatt hour price is reasonable. And and honestly in many cases, you’re going to save more money if you’re able to finance or definitely purchase a front end system.

Batteries: potential benefits

Okay, for you folks out there that were interested in batteries but maybe fell asleep. Wake up. So batteries, a lot of people are interested in batteries, and of course, fires and the public power safety shut offs big deal. Um, so the clearest benefit of adding a battery to your solar system is you will have power when the grid goes down. Unfortunately, if you just add a solar system and the grid goes down, you will not have access to power. So, again, do you add battery to your solar system, you or your very own micro grid, and that’s exciting.

This idea of load shifting is also a benefit of batteries. Basically, you’re able to store your solar power during the day and then use that solar power, the same kilowatt hours in the evening, instead of purchasing power from the grid. And this has, I have carbon benefits here, but it’s really greenhouse gas benefits. And because there’s still gas powered electricity on the grid that you won’t need to purchase, because you’re creating your own electricity.

You’re also really benefiting the regional grid. And there’s been a lot of interest locally and whether or not we need to build another gas fired power plant. And just at the end of the day, reducing the demand on the grid, when the grid is most stressed is a good thing for you, and a good thing for our community. From a financial perspective, if you’re also eligible for that 26% federal tax credit with a battery.

Solarize Batteries: load shifting batteries

So through the solarize batteries, we have four of these load shifting batteries. Again, these are batteries that are going to get charged up every day with your solar. And then probably discharge, as I mentioned, to give you those load shifting benefits of avoiding purchasing the most expensive electricity on the grid that also has the highest greenhouse gas impacts.

So we have our Sonnen system, the Tesla Powerwall, LG Chem, and Sun-powered. Now I’m not going to get into the real details about all of these batteries. But the various companies that we’re working with can really give you a lot of information, I will tell you that all of these batteries have 10 year warranties, but you might pay attention to the fact that the 10 year warranties are slightly different. You want to look at what the 10 year warranty means. For instance, in some cases, a 10 year warranty will say the battery will be functioning at least 70% of its capacity of how it should be functioning as compared to another percentage. So you might want to pay attention to that.

Batteries: how much will they cost?

And certainly batteries are an investment. I’ll give you an example of a Tesla Powerwall, though I would like to be honest here that Tesla Powerwalls are running into some supply issues and you might not be able to access them before the end of the year, simply due to the demand, the supply and demand chain. But you’re looking at an upfront cost for this one of about $15,000. And at the end of the day, about $11,000 investment.

Battery Considerations

So really, when you’re thinking about getting a battery, you want to think about what do you really need when the grid goes down? And what are your critical loads? You’ll also want to think about where you want to put the battery because some batteries are better suited to be outside or better suited to be inside. But some can be put outside. And you’ll also want to think through whether or not you already have solar because there are certain batteries that are designed to be installed with certain inverters. And so I gave you a list of batteries, and those are all available for new installs. But your existing install might dictate the type of battery that would be best suited for your home.

EV + PV = Zero Emissions Driving

Okay, thank you for your patience there. And I want to introduce someone who has lived this already. Jeff Phillips is a member of our community that has been driving electric and charging his car at home for a while now. So Jeff, take it away.

Case Study: Jeff Phillips

Jeff Phillips, Solar and EV owner: Well, thank you, April. I’m just here today to tell my story. And, you know, I always wanted to go solar on my own home, but it just never made economic sense. I didn’t have a big electric bill and it just didn’t add up. But for me, electric vehicles are what really changed that.

And going back to 2012, almost 10 years ago now, when a group of us were having dinner together, including Michael, who just presented in this webinar, and Michael mentioned that Nissan at the time had a $200 per month lease offer on the Nissan Leaf.

At the time, I was driving a Ford Escape Hybrid for my primary vehicle, and that carried a car payment of $475 a month. And I drove it to Ventura every day. And you know, even though for an SUV, it was a good gas mileage vehicle, I was still spending over $300 a month in gas. If you add our small electricity bill of $30 a month to that, that was $805 for the combined vehicle plus gas, plus electricity that I paid per month.

So, you know, I thought, well, geez, I could pay for that Nissan Leaf lease just with the money I spend on gas alone per month. I’ve got nothing to lose, I might as well try that.

And I didn’t totally believe that it could really be that cheap, but I went to the Nissan dealership the next day. And sure enough, I walked out with $199 per month, three year lease on a brand new, purely electric vehicle. And that was kind of amazing and wonderful. And now that I had electricity load, I added a 3.3 kilowatt rooftop solar system that was financed for about $300 a month. That brought the total for my new electric car plus solar electricity to $560 a month. So in a surprising and rapid series of events, I eliminated my gasoline use entirely and added a brand new electric vehicle with rooftop solar, all the while dropping my monthly car plus energy costs from $805 a month to $560 a month, a savings of over $200.

And since then, that worked out so well, after the three year lease was up on that Nissan Leaf, I purchased a Tesla Model S. And that worked out so well. After a few years of that we replaced my wife’s Toyota Prius with Tesla Model Three.

And you know, it’s just overall been a wonderful experience. It’s been economically affordable. And I will never go back to an internal combustion vehicle. And I certainly don’t miss trips to the gas station at all. Thank you.

April Price, CEC:  Thanks, Jeff. I’ve also been impressed with this picture that you shared with me. Um, what’s going on here? It’s amazing.

Jeff Phillips, Solar and EV owner: Well, you know, I’m an outdoor recreationionalist and have a lot of outdoor activities that require a lot of gear. And I’m not typically the luxury sedan type of owner, but that’s what was available at the time. And so it turns out, you can actually add a lot of accessories to make a vehicle like this.

Pretty handy.

And I drive this car out to Wyoming every summer with all kinds of gear, as you can see, inside and on top of the car, and it works just great for that.

April Price, CEC: Thanks so much for sharing your story, Jeff, really appreciate it.

Jeff Phillips, Solar and EV Owner: Thank you.

Questions?

April Price, CEC: We have about just five more minutes left. So I know that Michael and Jeff were happy to answer some of your questions.

Great questions coming through on our Q & A. Let’s see. Can either of you speak to how much your electricity bill increases when you charge your EV overnight?

Michael Chiacos, CEC: I can answer that one.

It really depends on how much you drive of course. Typically if someone had a gasoline bill of maybe $100 a month then they may spend $30 or $40 on electricity. It depends on what time you charge your vehicle and how many miles you put on it but generally driving off peak is around a third or half the cost of gas prices and definitely more stable as well. Gas prices are pretty low right now but you know, they may go back up to $4 a gallon.

April Price, CEC: Yeah. Great.

Then there’s definitely some interest in our chat…I think it’s always kind of nerve wracking to think through buying a used car. Can you help us think through buying a used EV and whether that’s any different from buying any used car?

Michael Chiacos, CEC: Yeah, one of my friends recently bought a used Nissan Leaf and I saw on the chat that there’s some people in the webinar that also bought used electric vehicles. I think one of the most important things to know is that EVs typically have much lower maintenance costs, but a lot of people are very concerned about the battery and how long the battery is going to last. Most of them are warrantied for eight years and 100,000 miles and so you may be able to pick up a used EV with 50,000 miles and it still has plenty of warranty on it. If you can get that car for five or $10,000 you may save that much on gas before the warranty period.

Honestly the Nissan, the oldest Nissan Leafs, have had some issues with battery problems. Typically the ones that were in Arizona, so you might want to look for a car that was a local car rather than one that was brought in from another place. You can also do an assessment on the battery to see how healthy it is. But in general the used electric vehicles are so affordable now that if you do have a warranty on the battery you could drive it significantly.

With a plug in hybrid, a used one, you don’t have those issues with the battery. If it does degrade a little bit it’s because you still have the gasoline engine and typically with used batteries like any appliance, although they’re more robust than a phone battery, you may notice with a used EV, a decline, maybe 10% – 20% range of your battery. That could be one of the larger impacts – you just don’t have as much range, which would be fine for the around town driving. I think purchasing a used electric vehicle or if you’re curious about it, but not wanting to jump in all the way, leasing an electric vehicle for three years is a really easy way to just try the technology but not be locked into it, as well as with all the incentives it can be quite affordable, as Jeff mentioned. My mom and many other people have leased electric vehicles for under 200 a month.

April Price, CEC: Very inspiring. We talked through the idea of charging your car at home. What about for folks that are renting? Have you had any case studies where there are good solutions for folks that want to charge at home if they’re renting?

Michael Chiacos, CEC: Yeah, renting can definitely be more difficult for EV ownership and that’s why our EV collaborative is really working on getting more workplace charging stations as well as charging stations at multifamily properties installed. So there’s a lot of newer apartments in Goleta now that have a charging station. Some of them have dozens of charging stations. You know, people that work at UCSB, or for the county can charge at work. Those are some alternate places that you can charge.

If you’re interested in a Tesla vehicle and rent, there are superchargers in Goleta right now and  they’re probably going to be building one in Santa Barbara as well. So you could just go to the supercharger once a week, depending on how much you drive.

I think we’re kind of in the second generation of electric vehicles, and they’re just going to continue to get longer range and more charging infrastructure. I think it will be easier and easier for renters or people who don’t have access to charging at home to be able to charge up their vehicles.

April Price, CEC: Great. Well, thanks, Michael. We are running short on time here and I want to respect everyone’s time.

Next Step

Certainly for next steps, go ahead and sign up at solarizesb.org. If you are interested in getting some quotes through the Solarize program, again, I mentioned the program offers solar array or solar coaching. My colleagues and I are happy to answer your direct questions about solar. And ultimately, we’ll be putting you in touch with these vetted installers who will get you appropriate quotes for your home.

Again, there’s resources here for drive electric, and as Michael mentioned, we will be sending this slide deck out to all of our attendees.

Thank You!

I would like to thank on behalf of all of our program partners, and of course, all of our CEC staff, and the installers that joined us.

Thank you very much for joining us today. And keep your questions coming via email or phone and look forward to helping you take care.

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