Fluctuating gas prices, advancements in battery technology, environmental concerns and federal incentives all have led to an increased interest in electric vehicles (EVs). As your electricity provider, Idaho Power is preparing for accelerated consumer adoption of EVs and wants to help our customers better understand the technology.
EVs have many benefits, including:
- Better air quality: EVs are zero-emissions vehicles, which improves air quality.
- Local fuel: More than half of Idaho Power’s energy is generated in our service area, meaning your fuel dollars stay at home.
- Less maintenance: EVs have far fewer moving parts to be maintained than traditional vehicles.
- Performance: Unlike traditional engines, EVs are always “on,” meaning instant acceleration.
- Fuel savings: Electricity as a fuel is significantly cheaper than gasoline or diesel.
Idaho Power’s leading the way: To get familiar with the technology, Idaho Power has added several passenger EVs to our fleet, as well as hybrid-electric bucket trucks, electric utility vehicles and battery-assisted trucks. We also just installed five charging stations of varying make and model at our Downtown Boise office, specifically for employee workplace charging. We will continue to monitor advancements in EV and charging station technology to make sure our customers have the information they need.
What is an EV?
EVs run off an electric motor and a battery pack. They’re powered entirely by electricity and have zero tailpipe emissions. Also referred to as Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) or Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs), EVs are charged by plugging into a charging station. Example: Nissan Leaf.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are hybrids with larger battery packs and an Internal Combustion Engine. PHEVs can be plugged into a charging station to recharge their battery pack(s) or run off gasoline. Example: Chevy Volt.
Owning an EV
It’s easier than ever to own and operate an EV. Many now have all of the comforts and performance of gasoline-powered cars. New EVs have a driving range that meets daily needs, reasonable charging times and can be charged easily at home or at public stations.
Different vehicles are better suited to different tasks and driving habits. Be sure to research which vehicle is right for you. The U.S. Department of Energy provides useful comparison information on their Fuel Economy website.
- Ask your dealer about battery capacity and how much energy is drawn during charging.
- Have a licensed electrician inspect your service panel to ensure your home is ready for electric-vehicle charging.
- If you decide on a Level 2 charging station, check your service panel first. If you have a 60-100 amp panel, you’ll likely need to upgrade it.
- If you have a standard 200 amp panel, be sure to contact a licensed, professional electrician prior to plugging in or installing a Level 2 charging station.
- Examine your energy use and how charging will impact it, and choose which pricing plan is best for you. Sign up to use My Account to access detailed information regarding your energy use.
We’re encouraging EV owners to consider our Time of Day pricing plan instead of the Standard plan. The Time of Day plan has lower prices weekdays after 9 p.m., and all day weekends and holidays. This option could save you money and, by charging during off hours, you’ll help even out demand on the power grid.
The first step to determining which plan is right for you is to register to use My Account. Signing up is easy and you’ll get access to detailed information about your account and your energy use.
Charging an EV
EVs are powered all or in part by electricity. The time it takes for a full charge depends on the type of vehicle, temperature, driving habits and the type of charging station, among other factors. Generally, it takes about 0.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) to go one mile in an EV. So for example, a 10-mile commute to work would require 3 kWh of electricity.
DOE’s eGallon calculator provides up-to-date gasoline vs. electricity prices.
There are three options for charging:
- Level 1 – 120V, dedicated 15-20A circuit. Used both at home and work, Level 1 uses a standard, 3-prong 120 volt outlet. This type of charging draws a lower electrical demand and typically takes 8 to 12 hours.
- Level 2 – 240V, dedicated 30-40A circuit. Typically found at businesses and public sites, these units are also available for home use. This type of unit uses a 240-volt charger, the same voltage used for a clothes dryer. It will recharge an EV in about 4 to 8 hours, allowing for multiple employees or customers to use the same charging station.
- DC Fast Charging – 480V. These units are typically found at public facilities and can charge an EV to 80 percent in less than 30 minutes. Note that not all EVs are equipped for fast charging.
Idaho Power recommends using a licensed electrician for any home or workplace electrical work.
Interested in where the charging stations are in your city or neighborhood, or looking to plan a trip in your EV? PlugShare maps all public charging stations.
Installing workplace charging stations for employee, customer and fleet vehicles offers a low-cost benefit that will expand your business’s transportation and parking options. Charging at work or in public places can help EV drivers double their all-electric daily commuting range and provides a charging location for employees and customers without access to home charging. Charging stations cost anywhere from $1,000 to over $7,500, depending on the number of ports and functionality. Installation costs are additional.
For employees: Most employees spend 40 hours a week or more at work, and studies show that next to home, work is the preferred place to charge.
For your fleet: Adding EVs to your company fleet demonstrates your company’s commitment to sustainability. EVs are fun to drive, easy to maintain, and may even reduce your business’s transportation-related operating costs.
For your customers: Installing charging stations for customers with EVs provides a convenient way to recharge while they visit your business, and may encourage them to stay longer or visit more frequently.
Want to see the options? Idaho Power has installed five different types of EV charging stations at its headquarters in Boise and invites local businesses to take a look. Email DriveElectric@idahopower.com to request information or schedule a visit.