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How Much Do You Pay For Electricity - And How Green Is It?

How Much Do You Pay For Electricity - And How Green Is It?

This post is inspired by a couple of other recent threads. In one, Red Sage noted that the EPA puts the average cost of electricity in the US at 13 cents per kWh. But what about special non-peak rates for electric car owners? And costs in other countries? And what % of your electricity is produced with renewable, non-polluting sources?

For example a major producer in California, PG&E (Pacific Gas & Electric), has special overnight EV rates as low as 5½ ¢ kWh rate (this is from a PG&E publication. I am not on the grid. Someone who is may wish to confirm that claim). PG&E also offers a one-time $500 "Clean Fuel" rebate check to the owner of an eligible plug-in vehicle.

PG&E claims that 50% of its electricity produced is free from greenhouse gas emissions, and has a target of 33% being produced from renewable sources by 2020.

kuntznicolas | 30 april 2017

In Québec, i pay taxes includes all time 5,152 cents per Kwh and when temperature is below -12C 30,14 cents per kwh and all electricity is hydro electricity. So for my house I take per year ~16300kwh and it cost ~1100 $can

Red Sage ca us | 30 april 2017

The tricky part is that for too many there is the stated amount per kWh they are assessed for the electricity itself, but beyond that are other fees and taxes that together raise their actual cost per kWh used.

Tarla's Driver | 30 april 2017

I'm at $0.189333/kWh in Massachusetts. We have solar, so we only used 60kWh last month. It's rather unpredictable, depending on how much our panels generate and how much of our charging is at free public chargers. Of course, our solar power is quite green. Massachusetts is about to close its last coal plant, but it's still dominated by gas, but solar and other renewables are growing, so overall we're doing pretty well.

tstolz | 30 april 2017

In Alberta our variable costs are 8 cents (USD) per KWh for power and distribution for our dirty coal grid. In my case I pay an extra .02 cents for wind ... so .10 cents (USD),

Once you factor in the fixed costs including service size fee, admin, line-losses, etc ... my bill works out to about 14 cents / kWh (USD)

gavinfaulkner | 30 april 2017

18c per kWh or thereabouts. In NZ 80-90% of electricity is produced by renewable means so overall its pretty green. I have put a 1kW of PV panels in the back yard to capture enough energy to run the refrigerator and power my computer, a lamp and induction cooktop.

Its not how much it costs or where it comes from necessarily. But what you do with it. I have turned off the hot water cylinder entirely. Charge a USB/battery powered camping water pump/shower thing for my showers at home and shower at the gym every other day. I boil all my water and heat most of my meals using the portable induction cooktop hooked up to the solar batteries. I never use the oven. Other than what they might be using at the gym for heating, I don't use much in the way of fossil fuels for heating and I'm glad for it. (Clearly I don't have a family)

I do what I can to minimise my environmental footprint but not without undue hardship. I think I strike a good balance.

dd.micsol | 30 april 2017

With solar and wind-I live off grid completely with massive battery backup.
So to answer your question-completely green.

stevenmaifert | 30 april 2017

Our electricity comes in various shades of green, but even the dirtiest sector of the grid produces fewer pollutants, mile for mile, than the internal combustion engine.

Garyeop | 30 april 2017

@dd.micsol. How much does your off grid power cost? Please include everything like maintenance.

melinda.v | 30 april 2017

In Vancouver WA my rate $.0804/kWh around the clock and comes from a nearby hydroelectric dam. So not expensive, no need to pay attention to time of use and the only choice is nonpolluting.

Frank99 | 30 april 2017

I have an extreme time-of-use plan - with all the assorted taxes, fees, adjustments, surcharges, services, etc correctly apportioned, I paid $0.39 for noon-7PM electricity, and $0.044 for 7 PM-Noon electricity this month. Prices go up in the summer, and down in the winter. Needless to say, my Model 3 will be charged between 7PM and noon. So far, I manage to keep my off-peak consumption around 80% of my total consumption.

In Phoenix, our electricity is about 20% coal, 40% gas, and 40% non-CO2 generating - nuclear (24%), Hydro (6%), other renewable (10%). So, a bit cleaner than the national average, but nothing like the PNW. Data taken from https://oaspub.epa.gov/powpro/ept_pack.charts

dd.micsol | 1 mei 2017

Given my 23 yrs off grid I've paid 4k in battery replacements-just the cells and not the housing. I use about 8kw a day on average. High IT demand on my electricity-9 servers, 15 computers, 5 laptops, 3 cisco switches, etc.
But I don't have to worry about the grid and the only thing I have is satellite internet/tv. Power company said it was too expensive to run wires up to my house since no one lives within 5 miles of me. I'm on my own and love it.
All my power is green and I recycled those battery packs exchanged. I can sometimes generate enough electricity in 1 hr in a thunderstorm to last 2 days. Wind pwr is incredible especially when it is fast. On cloudy days I use wind most of the time. On sunny days - solar 25kw system. If I have a breezy day like yesterday-I generated over 100kw-can't even store it all. I'm looking to replace my waterwheel turbine. It burned up with the ice melt this year. I always have power. No worries. Because I use it for the business it didn't cost me personally anything. but it cost the business 100k to install all this stuff originally.

Ehninger1212 | 1 mei 2017

I am paying $0.07 per kWh and according to EPA website my region is cleaner than the national average. Mostly gas and nuclear. I wish Texas would do better than that. Houston is a crap hole when it comes to being green.

stevenmaifert | 1 mei 2017

EaglesPDX - I'm talking total pollutants, not just CO2.

Fredbob711 | 1 mei 2017

Around St. Louis we pay about $0.12 / kWh and 82% of MIssouri's electricity comes from Coal-fired plants... so not very clean at all.

Red Sage ca us | 1 mei 2017

Fredbob711: Would it cost less to 'import' electricity from Texas?

topher | 1 mei 2017

"Would it cost less to 'import' electricity from Texas?"

No.

High voltage lines are very expensive, and transmission losses would add significantly to the cost.

Thank you kindly.

Tarla's Driver | 1 mei 2017

The electricity grid in Texas is mostly isolated from the rest of the country. That's one reason electricity gets so cheap at night there--they can't export the excess wind power. Adding new transmission lines to better connect the grids would increase prices in Texas and lower prices elsewhere, at least at night when Texas is overproducing.

M3forMe | 1 mei 2017

For me in Sacramento with SMUD the time of use rate is 7pm-9pm $0.1485 kWh, 9pm-9am $0.0866 kWh ($0.0716 kWh for EV owners). I do have solar panels to cover 98% of our usage without the Model 3 since I don’t have an EV yet.

Or we can choose the flat rate: Oct-May $0.1128 per kWh and Jun-Sep $0.1291 per kWh

Fredbob711 | 2 mei 2017

The more I hear about power utilities in other states, it seems like Missouri is stuck in some weird time bubble from decades ago. Ameren Missouri has a time-of-use program, but it's a 'pilot' program. It's hard to tell how long it's been a pilot program because their documentation on it looks like it was created on a typewriter.

www.ameren.com/-/media/missouri-site/Files/Rates/UECSheet54Rate1MRES.pdf

I think they've got one small scale solar power plant (5.7 MW) in the area with no mention of any concrete plans to add more. Directly from their website...

'It is important to recognize that renewable energy resources alone will not meet our customers’ energy needs. Most renewables, including wind and solar, do not provide a steady supply of power and require back up generation and connectivity to the grid when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.

Looking ahead, responsible energy policies in the area of renewable generation must be implemented to ensure that we can continue to deliver dependable power to all of our customers at a fair price. '

gregcropper | 2 mei 2017

I know I used about 220 kWh last month. In a year's time my electric bill adds up to about $600. I don't have solar panels on my roof and I'm not paying to charge my car, as I don't own an electric car yet.

My local utility company recently converted their last coal-fired power plant over to natural gas. They have been building solar panels all over the city, but I really don't know what percentage of my power comes from renewable sources.

Red Sage ca us | 2 mei 2017

Fredbob711: That sounds like it was written by someone who has been paid in a numbered offshore account to make sure the future outlook for renewables of any sort to be portrayed in as bleak a manner as possible. Lemme guess... Missouri is a place where bright sunshine and high winds are a rarity. Right? (That sound you hear is me, rolling my eyes.)

darlin | 2 mei 2017

.07 and it is fully from renewables.

Fredbob711 | 2 mei 2017

@Red
Well obviously, I mean we just had 3 straight days of rain so based on that dataset we obviously don't get any sunny days at all. And I definitely didn't ride my bike in 20 mile an hour winds recently (not my best idea... if that event had in fact occurred).

On a side note, a while ago I was looking at solar panels for my house (ended up not being at all economical because my power use was so low) and the solar company informed me that Ameren requires they install a relay that cuts your solar panels off in the event the grid goes down. Now that makes sense, they don't want you feeding power into lines that their guys may be working on getting back up. However, what they told me is it didn't even allow the panels to power your own house while the grid was down, is this common? Seemed asinine to me at the time.

Frank99 | 2 mei 2017

My understanding is that they're OK with an approved manual switch - if you go out and throw the big switch from "Grid" to "Off-Grid", physically disconnecting your house. What they're not OK with is automated switches, because the 1 in a million failure of the automated switch causes a lineman to go up in smoke.

Red Sage ca us | 3 mei 2017

Fredbob711: Yes, it is common, and definitely asinine.

The problem is that if you live within city/town limits, you are typically required by statute to have your home connected to the grid in order to receive a Certificate of Occupancy. Without a grid connection, your house is considered 'unlivable' by law. This comes from towns just using off-the-shelf language that they add to their charter upon incorporation or when signing monopolistic contracts granting/ceding (seeding?) carte blanche sales of electricity to a particular vendor. The city must pay fines to the power company for every home that is occupied, but not on the grid. So the city in return pulls the CoO for any house that goes off-grid. That means you are not allowed to be off-grid if your home is within city limits. And that's why your solar panels cannot just power your house, with battery backup, and nothing else. It is also why, once solar panels and battery backup became viable options, the laws were modified in many places so that ALL (or most, if you have battery backup) the power from the solar panels goes to the grid as a mandate. Just having a separate panel from the pole that only powers the porch light does not satisfy the 'must be connected to the grid' restriction, unfortunately. But yeah, they expect you to throw the manual switch if your power goes out to cut off the grid connection from the solar panels. Sure. As if you will always be home when the power goes out. Right. (Well, the switch would be in an accessible position, so that utility workers could turn it off if you were not home.)

topher | 3 mei 2017

"However, what they told me is it didn't even allow the panels to power your own house while the grid was down, is this common?"

There are technical reasons for this (not insurmountable). Many inverters get their AC sin waveform from the existing grid power. This make coordination simple, but means that there is no way to create that sin wave without the grid signal. Other inverters include a waveform generator, and can be used to produce power for the house when the grid is down. Such inverters are obviously more expensive, in general. Of course, that is only after the system has been (automatically) disconnected from the grid.

Legal issues are another thing entirely, but the picture Red Sage gives above is by no means universal.

Thank you kindly.

Coastal Cruiser. | 3 mei 2017

Red sage said: "... That means you are not allowed to be off-grid if your home is within city limits."

These regulations can stretch beyond the city to the county as well. Sprawling Los Angeles County has such a law, and it is apparently being used, along with a number of other rarely enforced codes, in a most corrupt manner. There have been numerous stories over the past few years of people living in the remote Mojave high desert suddenly being invaded by SWAT teams demanding they bring their remote dwelling up to code, including connecting to the grid.

The impetus to suddenly go after desert dwellers whose nearest neighbor can be a 1/2 mile away or more seems to be rooted in corrupt politicians discovering a new revenue source (either fines, or the property being abandoned due the owner's inability to afford the upgrades).

thecommonsenseshow.com/2014/01/06/agenda-21-swat-teams-are-seizing-private-property/

Red Sage ca us | 3 mei 2017

Coastal_Cruiser: Aw, man! That sucks! It reminds me of the highway robbery that occurs in multiple States where state troopers, safety police, highway patrol, or sheriff's department officers and deputies are allowed to do a 'seizure' of property at any traffic stop, often without any form of 'reasonable suspicion' at all. I think it is called either 'asset forfeiture' or 'civil forfeiture' most often.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/investigative/2014/09/06/stop-and-seize

From my point of view, there should be nothing more 'American' than being self sufficient. Mandating reliance and dependence upon utilities when you have a viable solution of your own is not particularly fair. But, it is the presumption that there 'must be something wrong with you' or that 'you must be trying to hide something' if you just want to be left the [FLOCK] alone that is at issue here. Any form of independent thought is associated with being a terrorist, or criminal, or extremist, or fundamentalist, or cultist, or socialist these days. And supposedly, it is for 'the better good' for such individuals to be investigated and questioned -- and robbed.

Tarla's Driver | 3 mei 2017

When we did our solar panels, they said we couldn't have power when the grid was down without installing batteries. I suppose in theory we could do a very tiny (cheap) battery solution to have power when the sun is up without the grid. I suspect one issue that hasn't been raised is having clean power to your house as demand shifts regardless of the solar output. Batteries solve that problem. Without batteries, you would have to have the power drop out if the voltage drops below some threshold (105V, perhaps), but then you might get a ping-pong effect where it keeps going on and then off again, which is very bad for your electronics. What I would really like is to have it drop out circuit by circuit until it can keep the power stable in the 110 to 120V range, but then I would need some sort of smart breaker box, and at that point, I'm probably spending enough that I might as well just buy a Powerwall.

Badbot | 4 mei 2017

my power is not green at all, more of a bright blue white

topher | 5 mei 2017

" they said we couldn't have power when the grid was down without installing batteries. "

Technology moves on. This is now possible (or rather, available).

"I suppose in theory we could do a very tiny (cheap) battery solution to have power when the sun is up without the grid."

The problem isn't the actual presence of the battery, but rather the presence of a DC -> AC converter. Battery systems require such a converter, grid-tie do not (but can use one when the grid is down).

Thank you kindly

Peter.martin | 5 mei 2017

Ontario, Canada here. We have time of use rates so exact numbers will be different depend on when your usage is. On my last bill if I did an average cost on all the electricity I used it would be 17.2 cents per kWh. That includes all the charges - electricity, delivery, taxes etc. The cost to charge an EV would be usually overnight which is off peak so the cost per kWh for that would be lower. Probably about 14.5 cents per kWh when everything is added in. Ontario's grid is pretty clean emissions wise. Coal was phased out a few years ago and only 10 percent of electricity was produced by natural gas. The rest was mostly Nuclear and Hydro with some wind, solar and other sources. I have solar panels that is grid connected that supplies all the electricity the house and current EV (Leaf) uses in a year.

Coastal Cruiser. | 5 mei 2017

topher said: "The problem isn't the actual presence of the battery, but rather the presence of a DC -> AC converter. Battery systems require such a converter, grid-tie do not (but can use one when the grid is down)."

Friend topher, may I respectfully make some corrections to your assertion? Grid-tie inverters absolutely do convert DC (from the solar panels) to AC. The system would not work w/o that DC to AC conversion.

What makes a grid-tie inverter unique is that is has extra circuitry to measure the 'phase' of the grid AC and then match the AC it is producing from the panels. The wave form of rising and falling Alternating Current from the inverter MUST match the wave form of the grid, or bad things will happen. Put another way, the voltage and frequency (i.e. 60Hz in America) must match the grid before the inverter will turn on.

On a smaller point, while it is common to refer to "converting" DC to AC, the devices that do so are called inverters, not converters. "Converters" are a class of devices that convert AC to DC (common is motor homes).

Cheers
cc

Red Sage ca us | 5 mei 2017

So... The intermediate term is 'transform', then? Thus...

AC Converts to DC
DC Inverts to AC

And each is the function of Transformation?

Coastal Cruiser. | 5 mei 2017

Yeah RS, but only as "part of a complete breakfast". Meaning, transformers can be used in both INverters and CONverters to do the job of raising or lowering the AC voltage. For example a converter can use a transformer to step 120VAC down to the 12 volts needed for, say, an RV. But it's still AC at that point. Then the AC is rectified (often with big fat diodes) to DC.

So transformation really is about stepping AC voltage up or down. Other electronics do the actual conversions. Diodes, capacitors, and supporting electronics do AC to DC conversion. I think they use an oscillator circuit to go from DC to AC.

That;s a simplified explanation, and be advised that engineers have found a way around transformers using electronics. For example there are "transformer-less" inverters out there. I don't understand how they do that, but such inverters weigh a lot less!

cc

(I'm not an electrical engineer, but I play one on internet forums)

Red Sage ca us | 5 mei 2017

Ah. OK. So the point is 'Rectification' as opposed to 'Transformation'. Thanks.

One of these years I'll take the time to read those electrical books my buddy SGLS left lying around when he finished school. ;-)

Coastal Cruiser. | 5 mei 2017

For AC to DC, yes. For this solar stuff they need a circuit to 'pulse' the DC from the panels, thus creating spurts of voltage spikes, which is what alternating current is. AC voltage is never steady, it is always rising an falling.

And of course that rising and falling voltage/current is what creates magnetic fields. Thus the natural application for AC motors in electric cars.

And by the way, transformers work on the basis of "induction", whereby current flowing in one coil inducts a current to flow in an adjacent coil. Sound familiar?

It's all remarkably simple. And we all know that simple things are reliable things. You know, in the 1st quarter conference call the other day, someone referred to the goal of Tesla service as being akin to the Maytag repairman. I'm sure you remember those commercials. It was explained to me one time that the reason Maytag washers were so dependable is that they had VERY FEW PARTS.

Less things to break. Sound familiar? LOL.

EaglesPDX | 6 mei 2017

Fueleconomy.gov notes that average power costs for at TS in the US are $650.

Red Sage ca us | 6 mei 2017

Coastal_Cruiser: Yes. Very familiar. I suppose Maytag product designers knew what they were doing, when they decided to design those machines around an electric drive motor instead of an internal combustion engine... Oh, wait... :-D

[ YouTube -- v=pCs8B-TlylY ]

Coastal Cruiser. | 6 mei 2017

Hilarious commercial. Reminds that if I were king, the first thing I would do is outlaw those damn gas powered blowers! People used to use a broom you know! Instead of waking up the neighborhood for them to watch while you blew all your leaves into their yard you used to have to sweep the leaves and dust into a .... a ... you know .... a dust pan.

Yeah bit I'm recalling now that it was EM who used the Maytag analogy during the call. I always get my analogies and metaphors mixed up, but the Maytag example was actually was spot on. I think as a full fledged analogy you could say:

From a reliability perspective, the Tesla brand is to automobiles what the Maytag brand is to washing machines.

Red Sage ca us | 6 mei 2017

I for one, am very happy that more and more 'power tools' are going to full battery electric.

[ YouTube -- AFPRvfNW-Qs ]

[ YouTube -- aLzUOfnaiKM ]

[ YouTube -- Qs1xq2hLdtA ]

topher | 7 mei 2017

@cruiser

Yup. I mangled that explanation pretty badly. Thanks for cleaning up after my mess.

Thank you kindly.

EaglesPDX | 11 mei 2017

Pacific Power has a calculator for how much it will cost you to use sustainable energy. Its "Blue Sky Habitat" program.

Typical cost for OR for 15,000 miles at 3.4 miles per kWh (367 kWh, 1,250 miles a month) IN ADDITION TO the regular per kWh charge. That would have your EV running on sustainable electricity. It's a little tricky in OR and PNW in general due to them calling hydro a sustainable energy source. While it doesn't create GHG it just kills the rivers and there is no way to exclude it from the "sustainable" source.

Basic Charge - Single Phase $ 9.50
Solar Meter Charge $ 10.00
Delivery Charge 889 kwh 0.044330 $ 39.51
Supply Energy Charge Block 1 for 28 day(s) 889 kWh 0.0559900 $ 49.71
Blue Sky Habitat 889 kWh 0.0105000 $ 9.33

So I would pay 0.0443 per kWh for the car less whatever my solar cost plus Blue Sky, Salmon habitat and other stuff.

EaglesPDX | 11 mei 2017

@stevenmaifert "Our electricity comes in various shades of green, but even the dirtiest sector of the grid produces fewer pollutants, mile for mile, than the internal combustion engine."

Depends, a Tesla using grid power in Missouri which is near 90% in coal generated electricity would produce 300 grams per mile vs. a Honda Accord Hybrid that would produce 200 grams per mile.

Haggy | 11 mei 2017

I'm closer to 10 cents/kWh EV rate from PG&E. I did get the $500 check but they didn't exactly advertise it. Customers need to find out on their own and go to the website. I found out about it from some obscure forum on Tesla's website.

Coastal Cruiser. | 11 mei 2017

Snort.

vicmgvaz | 11 mei 2017

Portugal: 0,20 to 0,10 eur/kWh, VAT included. 50 to 60% from wind, solar and hydro.