By Jonathan Marshall
Only 25 U.S. utilities — 7 percent of the nation’s total — offer special rates for owners of plug-in electric vehicles (EVs), and three of the biggest are right here in California, according to a new study by Northeast Group LLC, a market consultant based in Washington, D.C.
Of the more than 21 million utility customers in 14 states who now enjoy access to such rates, fully one quarter live in PG&E’s service area.
Special EV rates typically encourage owners to charge their vehicles at night, when supplies of electricity are ample and the cost of serving them is low.
That helps the owners lower their spending on electric “fuel,” helps other utility customers by making more efficient use of the power grid, and helps society by encouraging the sale and use of clean-fuel vehicles.
“Everyone talks about the shortage of public charging stations, but the reality is, most EV drivers are charging at home and need these rates,” Northeast Group President Ben Gardner told The Energy Daily.
New owners of EVs can choose from two rate plans at PG&E, both of which vary according to the time of day.
The first option, EV-A, applies to your total household electric bill. Alternatively, on EV-B, you can put your home charging station on a separate meter to keep your EV charging costs distinct from the rest of your home.
Prices are lowest during off-peak hours, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. Prices are highest during peak hours, from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Other times are considered “partial peak.” Depending on the time of day and season, prices range from $0.10 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to $0.38 per kWh.
Unlike PG&E’s other residential rate plans, the EV rate plans are not tiered. That protects EV owners from soaring bills due to higher usage.
As a result, EV owners can charge their vehicles at night for the equivalent of about $1 per gallon. A convenient calculator on PG&E’s website lets you do the math and compare your costs of driving with different vehicles, under traditional residential rate plans and various EV rate options.
Just over 200,000 EVs have been sold in the United States since 2010. According to James Ellis, director of electrification and electric vehicles at PG&E, nearly a fifth of those are registered in PG&E’s service area. That number is growing by about 1,500 each month.
About 30 percent of EV owners currently take advantage of PG&E’s special rates, a share that Ellis and his team are working to increase by raising customer awareness.
“We designed our EV rates to make them easy for customers to understand and to help eliminate barriers to adoption of this clean transportation technology,” Ellis said.
Email Jonathan Marshall at firstname.lastname@example.org.