Archive for the ‘Electric Vehicles’ Topic

Managing Intermittent Wind Energy with EVs

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

From Integrating intermittent renewable energy sources like wind into the electric grid has been one of the big challenges facing the smart grid initiative. Now, scientists at DOE’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) say they have what could be a workaround: plug-in EVs.

“Electric vehicles, coupled with grid-friendly charging, offers a great opportunity, right now, to help electric companies integrate additional wind power into our electric system,” said Michael Kintner-Meyer, a PNNL staff scientist and co-author of the report Using Electric Vehicles to Meet Balancing Requirements Associated with Wind Power.

While growing in popularity, wind power is notoriously unpredictable – it’s not always there when you need it – and on windy days, grid operators struggle with ways to use excess energy or store it. And grid-scale storage is at this point pretty limited in the U.S. . . .

read the rest of the story:

Thanks to all who visited us at the County Fair

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

OPALCO staff had a great time talking (and playing Plinko) with you at the Fair – thanks for stopping by to visit. In case you missed it, here’s a glimpse of the fun:

  • Members learned how to save energy in their homes by playing the very popular Plinko game crafted by co-op members and employee Elisa and Nate Howard. Prizes included school pencil cases with a cool multi- color highlighter and organic cotton backpacks stocked with home energy efficiency items.
  • You could ride a stationary bike to learn how much effort it takes to light an incandescent bulb vs. a CFL or make a smoothie.
  • If you signed up for one of OPALCO’s programs (MORE, PAL, Sharing the Load blog or Home Snapshot Energy Assessment), you were entered into the daily draw for a basket of energy efficiency tools and goodies.
  • You could talk with members of the MORE (member owned renewable energy) committee and learn how YOU can support local renewable power generated by your island neighbors and fellow co-op members.
  • You could check out the Nissan LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) – on display in front of the main entrance and learn more about how electric cars work.
  • And, the ever popular safety board display was a hit. Lineman conducted safety demonstrations and well as discussed current projects.

There was a great response of participants and OPALCO thanks you for doing your part. Working together through energy efficiency we can make a difference in managing our load and keeping rates lower!

Visit with OPALCO at Eco-Fest and County Fair

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

OPALCO’s Energy Services staff will be on hand to talk with members at two big events in the next month: at the Orcas Island Eco-Fest and Solar Science Fair on Saturday, August 6th at the Funhouse and, of course, at the San Juan County Fair in Friday Harbor from August 18-20th.

At the Eco-Fest, you can learn about OPALCO’s MORE (Member Owned Renewable Energy) program and how you can participate in producing and/or supporting local renewable power like solar energy; and OPALCO’s Nissan Leaf all electric car will be on site for a closer look.

The County Fair is all “Razzle-Dazzle” this year and OPALCO’s booth (look for us in the SW corner of the big exhibition building) will feature energy superhero information and action with games and great give-aways for those who take the “energy superhero challenge.” See you at the Fair!

AAA Roadside Assistance Capable of Charging EVs

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

AAA unveiled today North America’s first roadside assistance truck with the capability to charge electric vehicles. The motor club is able to come to the rescue of its members with ‘depleted’ electric vehicles and provide Level 2 and Level 3 charging on the roadside.

Read the whole story

Is This Our Future? New York Times on Electric Cars

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Excerpted from The New York Times, by Joe Nocera, published June 25,2011

THE moment I realized that driving the new Chevrolet Volt was fundamentally a new experience was not when I first turned it on and went around the block. Yes, it was whisper-quiet, powered by its 16 kilowatt-hour, 400-pound battery, but it still felt like a “normal” automobile. And it wasn’t when I drove the 100 or so miles from Manhattan to Southampton, N.Y., either. Although the battery’s range is only about 40 miles, the car kept going even after the battery was drained; it just switched to its gasoline engine, in a transition so seamless I barely noticed it. It wasn’t even when I arrived in Southampton that evening and plugged a special cord into an electrical outlet in the garage, to recharge the battery overnight.

No, what made the experience truly different — and what got me thinking about the Volt’s potential to change the way we think about gas consumption — was what happened after that.

Read the whole article

OPALCO’s Electric Vehicle Journey: The Mt. Constitution Test, Regenerative Brakes and CFL Charlie

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Orcas High 72

Besides the batteries, the kids were really interested in the sound system and how fast the car would go!

I was really happy to finally get to take the LEAF out last week for some testing.  First, on Tuesday,
I took the car to the Orcas High School Physics class. They are building a solar powered boat and
are studying and choosing a battery pack. See their project online:

Friday we took the car to the top of Mt. Constitution. I was really interested in the variation of mileage given the “mountain” we were driving up and the breaking and coasting down.

The LEAF has regenerative brakes that supply the battery when breaking and coasting. We started from the OPALCO office on Mt. Baker Rd. with a full charge and 101 miles predicted. Keep in mind the 101 miles is for absolutely perfect conditions and flat driving, including not using the radio or comfort system (heat or a/c). We left the radio and heat off. By the time we got to the top of Flaherty’s Hill we had 80 miles left but we had only gone 4.1 miles! Yikes! The LEAF had no trouble going up the hill as we traveled 41mph. By the time we got to the turn off to Mt. Constitution we had 82 miles on the car. We added a few coasting and breaking through the park.  The car had no issues going up the road and handled really well. At the top we had 39 miles left but had gone only 10.1 miles since Mt. Baker Rd.  Wow!

We are doing a promotion for an Energy Efficiency/Conservation contest using our partner, Touchstone Energy’s CFL Charlie. We were helping him make an appearance on Mt. Constitution.

Visit our website June 1st to enter the contest to win an Apple iPAD 2.

Back to the car – we left the parking lot on the top with 39 miles left. We got to the bottom with 82 miles left. Ta Da!  43 miles used on the way up and 43 miles gained on the way down. Pretty cool!!

Nissan LEAF: OPALCO’s Electric Vehicle Journey

Friday, May 6th, 2011

Posted by Todd Shaner, OPALCO Manager of Operations: The car is very fancy. I’ve never had a new car so this is pretty exciting to drive. It has a lot of power. The concern I have is the way the numbers change up and down on the dashboard for how many miles there are left to drive before a charge. It’s somewhat disconcerting to watch the numbers; you never really know how many miles you have left. For instance, it is 3 miles from my house to the main road but the dashboard showed a change of 7 miles. I realize the range depends on road conditions, hills, etc. but it seems as if it shouldn’t vary so drastically.