Do Solar Panels and Electric Cars Work Together?

Shopping for a new car? If you’re looking for one that makes the most financial sense, you should definitely consider an electric car. With high and volatile gas prices, many car shoppers are exploring alternative fuel vehicles such as hybrid or electric cars.

Source: Energy Sage

On first blush, these cars may seem more expensive, but if you conduct a full “cost of ownership” analysis, the gap narrows considerably and electric cars may even come out ahead. What’s really amazing, though, is what happens to the cost of owning and operating an electric car when the electricity you use to fuel it is produced by a solar panel system installed at your home or business. When you add solar panels to the mix, the electric car becomes incredibly economical. Here’s how it works:

PV Solar Compared to Electric Cars: Leaf, Prius vs. Civic

Source: Energy Sage

To illustrate, we looked at three compact car options, comparing the costs of buying, maintaining and operating a traditional gasoline fueled car (e.g., Honda Civic), an electric car (e.g., Nissan Leaf or BMW i3) and a hybrid car (e.g., Toyota Prius). If you look only at purchase price, the gas-powered cars are the cheapest, while the electric cars are quite a bit more expensive. Once you factor in the $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars, however, the difference narrows substantially.But purchase price can’t be your only financial consideration. Over the course of your ownership, you will incur other costs such as fuel, maintenance, insurance, and other expenses related to running and maintaining your vehicle. We totaled up the costs for a 10 year period and this is what we found: the electric car is the cheapest to own and operate at about $48,500, while the gasoline powered car is the most expensive to own and operate at about $63,500. That’s a $15,000 difference in favor of the electric car.
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Federal Court rules EPA failed to update hazardous air pollution rules

Clean Wisconsin Wins Toxic Air Pollution Lawsuit 
MADISON, WI — A federal judged on Tuesday ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review health standards for hazardous air pollutants from 13 types of industrial sources, including tire, plywood, fiberglass, and other facilities. 

Clean Wisconsin and three other environmental groups sued the EPA in 2016 for missing legally required deadlines to protect public health from toxic air pollution. To protect public health and safety, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to regularly review the health and environmental hazards faced by people who live near major industrial sources. The agency also has a duty to review the latest best available pollution control technologies. EPA is years overdue in fulfilling its legal duty to protect people from industrial sources of toxic air pollution. 

“We have a fundamental right to breathe clean air, but people throughout Wisconsin are being denied that right every day because industrial facilities are releasing toxic chemicals into the air,” said Katie Nekola, general counsel for Clean Wisconsin. “We have at least 35 industrial facilities that crank out toxic air pollutants across the state.”

Clean Wisconsin, Blue Ridge Environmental Council, Sierra Club and Midwest Environmental Defense Center filed lawsuit Washington, D.C. in February 2016 on behalf of communities exposed to toxic emissions. The plaintiffs asked the court to ensure EPA completes rulemaking to strengthen national health protections which are especially needed to protect people in Wisconsin. 

“We know air pollution kills by causing cancer and a range of other health problems. Yet major polluters have for years avoided reducing air pollution to protect public health, even though effective controls are readily available and in use in other places,” Nekola said. “That’s why we are working to ensure the Clean Air Act gives children in our communities the protection they deserve. 

“As EPA begins work reviewing and updating these rules, we will ensure the agency pays attention to reducing toxic pollution.”

As a result of the Court’s decision EPA is required to review health threats and technological updates and strengthen air standards to protect protect public health and ensure no local communities are left behind as pollution reduction methods advance in some parts of the United States. EPA will have to fulfill these important Clean Air Act requirements for seven industrial sources by Dec. 31, 2018, and for the remaining six by June 30, 2020. EPA may choose the sequence in which to complete its duties for the thirteen air toxics source categories.

Source: Clean Wisconsin, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, March 23, 2017

McLaren Health Care Partners with Future Energy Group to Transform Energy Footprint with $1.6 Million Annual Savings

Largest Cree SmartCast® Installation Improves Patient Experience, Increases Staff Productivity and Reduces McLaren Health Care’s Energy Consumption by nearly 70%
FLINT, MI and STERLING HEIGHTS, MI (February 21, 2017) – McLaren Health Care, a statewide integrated healthcare network, and Future Energy Group, a turnkey energy solutions provider, have partnered to revolutionize exterior and interior lighting across 11 hospitals in Michigan.The massive undertaking—25,000 Cree outdoor and indoor LED fixtures and over 12,000 Cree SmartCast® intelligent lighting fixtures were installed—will enable McLaren to reduce their energy expenditure by nearly 70% and realize an estimated cost savings of over $1.6 million annually in energy and operating costs.


The McLaren Health Care corporate-wide LED lighting project includes upgrading both indoor and outdoor lighting in parking lots and structures, hallways, waiting rooms, lobbies and staff centers. Intelligent lighting and LED fixtures were installed in over 5 million square feet at McLaren subsidiaries: Northern Michigan, Bay Region, Bay Special Care, Central Michigan, Greater Lansing, Orthopedic Hospital, Flint, Lapeer Region, Port Huron, Macomb and Oakland. To date, this project is the world’s largest intelligent lighting installation for both Future Energy Group and Cree.
“McLaren Health Care is committed to reducing our carbon footprint as much as possible by decreasing our energy use,” said Keith Miller, corporate facilities manager, McLaren Health Care. “Working with Future Energy Group to improve our lighting, with a suite of Cree products, allowed us to reach our sustainability goals quickly and cost effectively while improving patient, staff and visitor experiences.”

“Through our Corporate Programs, we were able to assist McLaren Health Care pivot to a more energy-efficient footprint,” said Michael Abraham, Jr., co-founder and president, Future Energy Group. “Our approach is completely turnkey, from a detailed energy analysis to project management of installation and commissioning of the new system. Our team personally counted each and every fixture in every facility where the new products were installed. That’s the attention to detail Future Energy Group is committed to.”  


Healthcare facilities consume enormous amounts of energy in the form of heat, light and electricity. A June 2016 Yale University study cited that the healthcare sector contributes 8 percent of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, emitting more than the entire United Kingdom. This intelligent LED lighting project will enable McLaren to optimize energy savings and utilize their space effectively, furthering McLaren’s corporate-wide initiative to promote sustainable business practices.

“It was exciting to work on such a comprehensive project because we were able to get creative with Cree’s lighting solutions for McLaren,” said Sam DiNello, co-founder and vice president, Future Energy Group. “We selected the SmartCast fixtures with occupancy and daylight harvesting sensors to recognize if somebody is in the space or not. This technology allows for dimming capabilities when an area isn’t occupied, which further increases savings, sometimes as high as 90 percent.”

The Cree SmartCast and LED lighting installation provides McLaren Health Care with numerous benefits, including:
Substantially lowered operational costs, a total of $1.6M per year

Reduced environmental impact with a sustainable choice

A consistent lighting and brand experience across 11 facilities

For more information on the McLaren Health Care installation please visit
SourcesFuture Energy GroupMcLaren Health Care

Midwest Republican Mayor Revises His Assessment of EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt

Jim Brainard, the six-term Republican mayor of Carmel, IN, had deemed EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt “extremely liberal” for Pruitt’s assertion that human activity is not a “primary contributor to the global warming we see.”

In a statement later, Mayor Brainard — one of only four from the GOP to serve on an Obama White House task force for climate change — revised his critique, referring instead to Mr. Pruitt as “extremely reckless”:

“I am not a scientist but I believe we need to pay attention to what people who have dedicated their lives to a field of study have to say. I am disappointed by the risky and extremely reckless approach taken by Administrator Pruitt when he challenges the scientists conclusions that humans contribute to global warming. A true conservative would cautiously take the position carefully researched by the scientific community as correct. A true conservative would hesitate to risk our future on nonscientific opinions. A true conservative would be prepared for the worst.”

Some might see the Mayor’s willingness to speak out against his own party leadership on this issue as a bit risky. 

 (And the fact that Al Gore tweeted plaudits for him probably adds little to his GOP credentials: 

But the Mayor is obviously quite passionate on this issue and is eager to show Americans that “conservative” can mean someone who cares for the environment rather than allowing it to be further destroyed. 

Recent EV Results from Ford Motor Company are Demanding Electric Cars

Understanding customers
Ford has been extensively studying how past and current EV owners use their vehicles. The company has sold more than 520,000 electrified vehicles in North America since 2005 and 560,000 globally.

In studying 33,000 Ford EV owners that have made 58 million unique trips, Ford has learned:

88 percent of customers’ habitual daily driving distance is 60 miles or less. For plug-in hybrids, the average refueling distance is 680 miles, making gas station trips rare
Customers want as much electric range as possible, but range anxiety drops over time as they become more comfortable and familiar with the technology

80 percent of Ford EV customers charge once a day; 60 percent during evenings
Ford EV customers collectively have plugged in their vehicles a total of 9.4 million nights

An overwhelming majority of Ford EV owners expect to replace their current EV with a new one, additional Ford research shows. Specifically:

92 percent of battery electric car customers say they will purchase another battery electric vehicle as their next purchase
87 percent of plug-in hybrid customers want another plug-in for their next vehicle