Editorial: Charging Ahead

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been around for over a decade, but they still represent less than 3% of registered vehicles in California. Governor Newsom has announced that 100% of light duty vehicles will be zero emission vehicles (EVs and hydrogen fueled) by 2035.


Although EV sales have been slow the last 2 years, there are indications that the market is improving as more choices of EV vehicles are available (68 different models are on sale in California now. The California Energy Commission reported that there were 395 EVs in the 92014 Zip code in 2018. That number is increasing rapidly with the Tesla 3 model one of the most popular vehicles in California; 130 EV sales were reported in our zip code in 2020.


What does this mean for Del Mar? We have two factors that reduce the environmental impact of buying an EV. The first is the fact that our electricity supply from SDG&E is currently less than 40% renewable, so charging your car with dirty energy defeats the goal of zero emissions. Yes, your car may have zero emissions, but your power plants have plenty. You can eliminate this problem if you have rooftop solar panels and can charge your car while the sun is shining. That brings us to the second problem in Del Mar; trees. Trees are great for the environment and for community character. However, if trees shade your roof, you may not have enough sunshine to make solar panels feasible. This leaves the options of charging at work or putting your charging system on a timer so your car charges at “super off-peak” rates (currently, midnight to 6 am weekdays).


Help is on the way. When the Clean Energy Alliance (CEA) launches service in May or June of the year, you will have the option of choosing 100% renewal energy at a very small price premium (about $2/month on a $100 billing). This choice will allow you to reap the full environmental benefits of zero-emission cars (and soon light trucks) because no dirty energy will be involved in home charging. And you don’t have to cut down your trees to install solar panels for this benefit. So you get the dual benefits of clean energy and trees that sequester carbon dioxide.


If you already have solar panels installed, you are in even better shape. SDG&E prohibits net metering customers from opting for their Ecochoice 100% renewable option. Not so for CEA customers; you can get more for any excess energy you put back on the grid (e.g., 6 cents/kWh for CEA versus 2-4 cents from SDG&E) and still choose the 100% renewable option for any power you draw from the grid. These are smart choices that come with having local control of CEA rates and policies.