By Brian Booher and Maddie Sligh, D+R International
Driving around Oregon, you probably have noticed more electric vehicles on the road, even in rural areas. The number of electric vehicles (EVs) registered statewide has increased significantly—from 13,261 in 2016 to 35,798 in March 2021.
EVs make up about 1% of registered passenger vehicles in Oregon, but that percentage is expected to increase dramatically, thanks to Senate Bill 1044, passed in 2019. Its EV adoption target is to have 250,000 zero-emission vehicles on Oregon roads by 2025.
Globally, EV sales are expected to increase from 2.1 million in 2019 to 14 million in 2025, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s latest forecast.
Electric utilities are paying close attention to this trend. Many electric cooperatives—which often are overlooked in conversations about how the U.S. generates and consumes energy—are leading the way in implementing programs that make it easier for members to switch to EVs.
Lane Electric Cooperative is embracing the EV revolution with a tailored and well-researched EV program.
“Choosing an electric vehicle over a gas-powered car will help members reduce pollution, conserve energy, save money and reduce their carbon footprint,” says John Murray, Lane Electric’s energy services representative. “Depending on current gasoline and electric rates, EV operation can be three to five times cheaper than gasoline and diesel-powered cars. By replacing their fossil fuel-burning cars with a clean, efficient electric vehicle, our membership and our community will benefit together.”
Lane Electric’s membership is mainly residential, so load growth is small. EVs serve as an opportunity to increase demand during non-peak hours and keep rates down for all cooperative members. In Lane Electric’s service territory, 82% of the energy mix is composed of emissions-free hydropower. Charging on a hydropower-dominant grid makes EVs even more beneficial compared to internal combustion engine vehicles.
Governor Kate Brown’s zero-emission vehicle goal is an important tool in carbon reduction.
“By bringing the benefits of cleaner, cheaper transportation to more households and businesses, Lane Electric can help its members save money,” John says.
During the next 12 months, Lane Electric will educate members about the benefits of EVs, give information on selecting and buying EVs, and provide members with rebates and advice on Level 2 charging.
“With automakers ramping up production on EV technology, it is undeniable that a much larger percentage of cars and trucks purchased in the next five years will be electric,” John says. “Lane Electric plans on staying ahead of this curve so we will be able to provide member education and reliable electricity to power these vehicles.”
Lane Electric’s EV Program
To promote electric vehicles in its service area and benefit co-op members, Lane Electric Cooperative is adopting a three-pronged approach.
Tools & Information about EVs
Lane Electric added impartial EV resources to its website. Powered by the ChooseEV platform, it makes it easy for members to understand fuel cost savings and emissions reductions switching from a gas-powered vehicle to an EV. Members can review general performance information about EVs, sorting, and filtering based on vehicle preferences. The tool helps members determine the estimated cost of a new EV, including available tax credits and other incentives. Visit the Lane Electric Choose EV site.
Rebates for Home EV Chargers
Lane Electric offers a Level 2 residential charger rebate for members to incentivize at-home charging. Level 2 EV chargers decrease charging time and make EV ownership more convenient but have a high upfront cost. Lane Electric is helping to decrease the financial burden by offering rebates for Level 2 residential chargers.
“With over 70% of all EV charging done at home, you can charge your EV overnight and be ready to go in the morning,” John says. “A full charge can be reached in three to eight hours, which is three to seven times faster than a Level 1 system. With some EVs having a range of over 300 miles on a single charge, Level 2 charging will become increasingly important.”
On laneelectric.chooseev.com, there is a list of Level 2 chargers eligible for the rebate, with the option to filter for Energy Star-certified chargers. Although the rebate is not limited to Energy Star models, those ensure the highest energy efficiency and safety.
Lane Electric has awarded more than 25 rebates in 2021.
An EV Experience for Members
Lane Electric procured a Ford Mustang Mach-E, named Car and Driver’s 2021 EV of the Year, to allow members to see and experience what EVs have to offer. The car is wrapped with Lane Electric branding.
The cooperative also is exploring options to allow members to interact with the car.