Your EV Electric Bill May Vary

By · September 13, 2010

The most popular questions around buying an electric vehicle center on the upfront cost of the vehicle, the adequacy of the driving range, and the effective miles-per-gallon rating. But an equally important question has yet to be fully answered: How will plugging in every day impact your electric bill?

As with many questions, there isn't a simple answer.

Nissan Leaf owners, for example, will pay different amounts depending on their utilities, even if they consume the same amount of power as other drivers. The price of electricity varies widely from state to state, but that aside, the rate programs offered by utilities can have a significant impact on the cost of electricity.

Time-of-use rates, which charge consumers significantly more (as high as 10x) per kWh during peak times for any household energy use, are available in some areas of the country. Many utilities are also developing EV specific rates to encourage plugging in overnight. One utility is Southern California Edison, which recently added videos and the Plug-in Car Rate Assistant, a useful tool on its website explaining its EV rate options.

SCE EV Electricity Tool
SCE EV Electricity Tool

Southern California Edison's Plug-in Car Rate Assistant

Consumers can select options such as their type of vehicle (EV or plug-in); average amount of energy consumed when charging; and peak versus off peak charging. The tool then selects the most appropriate of SCE's three rate options. Switching to the EV rate can save consumers as much as $500 or more, but also requires the installation (at a cost) of a second meter.

Some utilities such as Pacific Gas and Electric offer tiered rates where customers who use more energy in a month pay higher rates per kWh, so there's the possibility that plugging in could bump customers into the next tier for all of their household electricity use. EV owners in these service territories have a strong incentive to sign up for EV-specific programs.

Avoiding peak times when charging will save money for consumers, but even paying the highest rates is still much cheaper than lining up at the pump. Will consumers who are cutting their "fuel" costs by up to 75 percent put off charging until late evenings to save a dollar or two? The utilities sure hope so.


· · 7 years ago

Once I had the MINI-E for a few months, I realized that I will be driving electrics from then on. I went ahead and installed an 8.8kW home based solar PV array.

I realize not everyone can do this, both for financial and logistical reasons, but for those that can, it is a great combination (PV + EV). I can now be assured my fuel cost will be pretty stable even if the electricity rates increase since I produce just about all the electricity my car and home needs. Also, by feeding the grid during the day when demand is high and charging at night when demand is low, I am actually helping the grid. The exact opposite of what EV detractors and grid-doomsday predictors will tell you. I know it's a small sample, but at least three other MINI-E lessees that I know also installed PV systems after getting their cars and realizing that EV's are in their future. Just think how many people will follow this model once there are tens of thousands of LEAF's and volts on the road in the next year, followed by hundreds of thousands when other models are available.

· · 7 years ago

We are Southern California Edison customers, so I thought I would try their "Plug-in Car Rate Assistant". What it shows is that, depending on the rate plan chosen and whether we pay to have a second meter installed, we could save somewhere between 19% and 48% of what we currently spend per month on gasoline.

This is based on:
- Current (modest) electricity usage of 10 kWh per month
- Driving 12,000 miles per year in an electric-only vehicle
- Nighttime-only charging for the best savings
- Replacing a 30 mpg gas car at $3.10 per gallon

Even a savings of 48% (which requires a second meter) seems modest, which attests to our relatively high electric rates in California. We will likely stick with the standard residential plan and save only 19% or so, for the sake of simplicity and to allow for daytime charging here and there. Obviously, we won't be buying an early-model electric car to save money!

At some point, especially considering SCE's high rates, we are likely to get quotes on solar. I am also working to reduce our current electricity consumption, which will mean less EV charging at the higher rate tiers. (For instance, we just replaced all of the overhead par30 CFLs in our kitchen with some nice LEDs, which use only 43% of the power of the CFLs.)

· · 7 years ago

what Southern California Edison rates ?
My rate for Alabama Power for standard service are :
Base Charge: $14.50 per customer; plus
Charge for Energy:
BILLING MONTHS JUNE - SEPTEMBER 7.7920¢ per kWh for the first 1000 kWh,
plus 8.0449¢ per kWh for all over 1000 kWh.
BILLING MONTHS OCTOBER - MAY 7.7920¢ per kWh for the first 750 kWh,
plus 6.5920¢ per kWh for all over 750 kWh.
Smart meters are being installed statewide this Month
New time of use rates will be : if wanted
Base Charge:
$21.91 per customer; plus
Charge for Energy:

JUNE 1 through SEPTEMBER 30
18.5000¢ per kWh (on-peak)
6.8200¢ per kWh (intermediate-period) 6.8200¢ per kWh (intermediate-period)

· · 7 years ago

3.6100 cents ( off-peak )

How does this compare ?

· · 7 years ago

@TechExplorer: SCE has three applicable rate plans. And the SCE rates are tiered according to usage, meaning that higher levels of consumption get billed at higher rates per kWh. For my above analysis, I just let their rate calculator do the work for me. Suffice to say that the SCE standard residential tier 1 rate is about $.13 per kilowatt hour, and it goes up from there, as high as something like $.33 per kilowatt hour.

· Charles Whalen (not verified) · 7 years ago

In the 5 and a half years that my wife and I have been driving our Toyota RAV4-EVs, one of the most frequent questions I’ve gotten from people is ... “How much did your electric bill go up when you got your electric cars?”

People are always confounded and have a puzzled look on their face when I answer that our electric bill actually went DOWN after we got our EVs. How could that be possible, they wonder?

Well, the answer is that we undertook a whole series of household energy efficiency upgrades at the same time that we bought our two EVs, with a result that the amount of electricity saved by all the energy efficiency upgrades was greater than that used for charging our two EVs, such that the net effect ended up being a net reduction in electric consumption.

And that’s without having even done any solar (yet).

So, yes, it's actually possible to produce all the electricity needed to charge an electric car solely from "Negawatts".

The stats as of a couple years ago were that roughly half (48%) of all Toyota RAV4-EV owners solar charge their cars from their home PV systems.

· · 7 years ago

Hey Tom

I too hope to get a PV system before my Leaf arrives. I was wondering how involved you were with the PV setup? I imagine from your involvement in this site and your mini-e you might have had a hand in your PV setup. I want to do as much of the PV setup myself as possible. Do you have a website tracking what you have done with your PV installation by chance?

· · 7 years ago

Scott, I didn't do any of the actual physical work. It all came down to just not having the time and I really wanted to get the system up and running ASAP. I did research many of the local installers and go see some of their installations first before choosing who to go with though. Also, here in NJ there are up front state rebates and an SREC program and you have to be approved by the state to qualify for, and the solar installers do all the legwork and submit the engineering reports that are necessary. They just make it so easy I went with them.

Yes, you can view my solar production in real time from my MINI-E blog. it's at:

Scroll down and on the right side click on:
"Click here to see live data of my 8.8kw Sunpower System installed by GeoGenix" and you can view the live data

New to EVs? Start here

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