We recently converted a couple of spaces on the end of our office parking lot — my favorite place to park — to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Almost every day I see a couple of cars using them. Since I’m still driving a gas-burner, I’ve lost my spot, at least until I go electric myself, which might not be that long from now.
You see, the No. 1 issue with all-electric vehicles — driving range — is rapidly improving. The new Chevy Bolt has an EPA-rated range of 238 miles on a charge, and if you have the money, the newest Tesla roadster will travel as far as 620 miles!
With that kind of range, recharging times can sound daunting. To recharge that Chevy Bolt for 100 miles might take four hours with a dedicated fast charger. That would be a long wait at the gas station, but with an electric vehicle, you need to think differently about “fillin’ ’er up.” Today we go to gas stations to get fuel because most of us don’t keep a giant gas storage tank at our home. But we already have electricity, which means we can refill our electric vehicles every night without making a stop at a filling station, and we can leave home every morning with the equivalent of a full tank of gas. That’s one less thing to worry about on your way to work.
Eventually, charging stations will be available at most popular destinations. Shopping areas and restaurants are already seeing the economic benefit from adding charging stations. EV owners can shop or eat while they recharge. As the charging infrastructure expands, you will find a boost at most common destinations, so you’ll no longer have a reason to stop at a conventional “filling station” unless you want a lottery ticket or crave an extra-large soft drink.
Charging an EV saves money over filling the tank. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, with gasoline in Arkansas at $2.37 per gallon, the equivalent price for a gallon’s-worth of electricity is just 94 cents!
Electric vehicles also offer lower maintenance costs. Depending on how you count them, EVs have fewer than 100 moving parts, while their internal combustion counterparts have thousands. Say goodbye to oil changes. Because of their relative simplicity and lower fuel cost, the Department of Energy estimates the total cost of driving an electric vehicle at about half that of its gasoline counterpart.
If you choose to buy an EV and charge it at home, you will benefit from your electric cooperative’s power supply network that sources one in five kilowatt-hours from generating plants powered by water, wind, solar and biomass.
EVs are reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible. Sound familiar? It’s also the core mission of your local electric cooperative — to provide reliable power, delivered affordably and in every way responsibly to your home, farm or business.
Duane Highley is president and CEO of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (AECI) and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC). AECI, a statewide service co-op, and AECC, a wholesale power supply co-op, are owned by Arkansas’ 17 local distribution co-ops, which provide retail electric service to more than 1 million members.