Attendees discuss the many benefits and choices of electric vehicles at the National Drive Electric Week 2020 event in Las Vegas at Springs Preserve Museum parking lot October 3, 2020. PHOTOS BY ED MALKIEWISCZ, LAS VEGAS ELECTRIC VEHICLE ASSOCIATION
Exciting opportunities await members and the co-op
By Amy Carlson with Tom Polikalas
Valley Electric CEO Mark Stallons was one of more than 140 leaders from across Nevada who participated in the Nevada Transportation Electrification Forum in March, with an eye toward enacting policies to accelerate the state’s transition to electric transportation.
“Electric cooperatives like Valley Electric are always looking for ways to help their members save energy and money,” Mark says. “A broad and growing number of electric cars on the market will do just that through substantial fuel and operating cost savings. We’re excited about the possibilities of helping our members save on these costs, as well as keeping more money in our community by expanding the use of electric transportation.”
The gathering of regional experts, legislators, electric utility leaders, economic development staff, government agency representatives, builders, business leaders, educators, and clean air, environmental and health advocates discussed how a greater reliance on electric cars, trucks and transit would benefit Nevada’s health, economy and environment.
“Electric utilities have a key role to play in advancing electric transportation, and we see benefits for all electric ratepayers as more EVs get on the road and connect to the grid,” says Katherine Stainken of Plug In America, one of the forum coordinators. “We also greatly appreciate the support of both Valley Electric and Nye County in making the day a tremendous success. This was one of our most successful events in large part because of its diversity of support and participation.”
Mark noted Valley Electric wants to stay plugged into both technological and political developments “so as to be better able to serve our members with the best information available.”
The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project—a nonprofit public interest organization—has done extensive research on the economic benefits electric cars provide Nevada’s consumers. The organization joined Plug In America and Clark County to coordinate the forum.
“Because of their higher efficiency and the low cost of electricity compared to gasoline per unit of energy, electric vehicle owners pay the equivalent of $1 per gallon to drive their EVs,” says Matt Frommer, SWEEP’s senior transportation associate. “The cost to recharge an EV is 70% lower than it is to refuel a gas-powered car. In Nevada, EV drivers can expect to save between $945 and $1,264 annually on fuel and maintenance costs, totaling between $11,000 and $15,000 over the life of the vehicle.”
One of Plug In America’s goals is simply to get more people behind the wheel of an electric car.
“Electric cars typically accelerate more quickly and smoothly than cars with internal combustion engines,” Katherine says. “That’s a driving experience that many people are pleasantly surprised by once they take a test drive, whether at an event or a dealership.”
To work toward that and other goals, Plug In America founded National Drive Electric Week—the world’s largest celebration of the plug-in vehicle, with hundreds of events and test drives across the country. Plug In America also promotes Drive Electric Earth Day, to be held in April 2021.
Sen. Chris Brooks on a Zero electric motor- cycle.
PHOTO COURTESY OF TOM POLIKALAS
Consumer savings on fuel and maintenance costs translate into an economic stimulus for local businesses, notes Tom Polikalas, SWEEP’s Nevada representative.
“Our economic models show that most people who save money on fuel costs tend to spend it locally,” Tom says. “Money saved on gasoline will likely be spent in the retail and service sectors, which have high economic multipliers that generate additional income and job creation. EVs mean business.”
Because electric cars typically add 2,500 to 4,000 kilowatt-hours a year to a homeowner’s electric bill, that benefits all co-op members, Mark notes.
“They reduce consumption of gasoline or diesel fuel substantially, so VEA members that switch to electric cars will benefit from the cost savings that SWEEP described,” Mark says. “This new load can be good for our co-op— spreading more kWhs over our fixed system costs—as long as we work to make sure it doesn’t add to our system peak.
“We’re looking to ensure that as more of our members buy electric cars that the added load benefits all VEA members by increasing load without needing to add capacity or upgrade infrastructure. We want to encourage off-peak charging, such as at night, so we can take advantage of our capacity that’s not being used. This could help us control costs and keep rates stable.”
Mark says EVs offer lots of exciting possibilities for both members and the co-op.
“We’ll continue to study electric transportation and engage our members in this conversation as electric transportation progresses across Nevada and our nation,” he says.