Xcel Energy serves 3.3 million electricity customers in 8 states — Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Colorado, Texas and New Mexico. This week, it announced it plans to help put 1.5 million electric cars on the road in those states by 2030. It will do that by promoting electric cars, providing rebates for people who buy an electric car, helping customers install residential EV chargers, and expanding the public charging network for electric cars. It also will develop time of use programs that will allow EV owners to save money on the electricity they use to charge their cars during times when electricity rates are lowest. Part of the program will be targeted toward low income drivers in underserved communities.
Our vision will help customers save on fuel by charging with electricity. With Xcel Energy’s low electricity prices, driving electric equates to spending about $1 per gallon of gas and can be even less when charging at off-peak times. Replacing traditional vehicles with more EVs will also keep bills low for all customers, even if they don’t drive an EV. That’s because as more cars are fueled with smart charging at off-peak times, the fixed costs of providing electricity are further spread out.
That last sentence is important. Xcel Energy is expecting to fund its $100 million EV program from utility payments made by all its customers, even those who don’t drive an electric car. So it’s important for the company to show the benefits of the program will be beneficial for all its customers, at least indirectly. Here’s more from the company about this initiative.
We have a vision to provide 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050, and electrification of transportation builds on our clean energy leadership. Powering 1.5 million EVs by 2030 would reduce carbon emissions by nearly 5 million tons annually by 2030, or about 3 tons of carbon reduction per vehicle. Accelerating EV adoption with the help of a range of partners and supportive policies can drive major reductions in carbon emissions while delivering customer savings and making the most of our clean energy investments. We’ve already reduced carbon emissions by 44% from 2005 levels. By 2030, electric vehicles charged on the Xcel Energy system will have about 80% lower carbon emissions than gas-powered cars. And with our renewable energy programs, customers can choose to charge with 100% carbon-free energy today.
“As more and more people adopt electric vehicles, essentially you’re taking transportation fuel dollars that used to go into gas and they’re now being put into the utility grid,” Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group, tells the Denver Post. Colorado is one state that has put a plan in place one of the nations most aggressive clean energy and carbon reduction plans. It has also signed on to the auto emissions program spearheaded by the California Air Resources Board.
Xcel Energy has created a plan to cut its emissions by 80% by 2035 and get to 100% emissions-free energy by 2050. The first part will be difficult, but eliminating the last 20% may require new technologies, says Ben Fowke, CEO of Xcel Energy. He sees the business opportunity that electric cars offer utility companies as consumption of gasoline and diesel decline in coming years and wants the company ready to take advantage of this new business opportunity. Perhaps some of his vision will rub off on executives of other utility companies who gaze back longingly to the past rather than looking ahead to the future.
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