A recent email from EVgo told customers about upcoming changes to the company’s charging plans, and in a link, the company also gave us a good look at what it takes to financially support a DC Fast Charging (DCFC) station.
New EVgo Plans
Starting September 16th, just under a month from now, EVgo has several changes to its pricing plans that will go live. Pay and You Go and EVgo Member have been around for a long time, and those plans aren’t going anywhere. If you’re on one of those plans, you’ll stay on them, but you’ll see some improvements and changes.
One of the most notable changes is EVgo Rewards. You’ll earn points with every charging session, and these points can go toward free sessions once you get enough points.
Another feature open to all plans is EVgo Reservations. For a fee ($3 in California), you can reserve a station in advance to avoid waiting in line or waiting for someone else to charge. This isn’t available at all stations, but a list can be found here. It seems to focus on the busiest stations on the West Coast, which makes sense. You probably wouldn’t want to pay $3 for a station in Phoenix that’s just about guaranteed to be open.
On top of this, EVgo is adding a new tier to its pricing plans. Now, you can choose Pay as You Go, EVgo Member, and EVgo Plus. Tagging onto Disney+, Paramount+, and Discovery+, apparently, calling a subscription service “Plus” is the hip thing to do right now, so that makes a lot of sense, right?
If you’re the kind of EV driver who only very rarely needs a DCFC station (or you own a second-gen Nissan LEAF like I do and DCFC is almost literally painful), don’t live in an area with EVgo stations (that’s me, too), or otherwise only rarely charge on the EVgo network, the Pay as You Go plan makes the most sense. There’s no monthly fee of any kind, but you pay just a little more per minute or kWh (depending on the state) and pay a session fee to start the charger up.
If you’re a driver who needs DCFC only once or twice per month, it makes sense to go with EVgo’s Member plan. You pay just under five bucks a month, but that five bucks goes toward your first DCFC session, so you really didn’t pay them anything for the privilege of membership in the end. You get a lower per minute or kWh rate in some states, but the bigger advantage is not having to pay a session fee in California.
If you’re the kind of person who sees an EVgo station more than twice a month, like I was when I did Uber in Phoenix in my Nissan LEAF (yes, that’s a painful experience, like being one of the monks in a Monty Python film), then the Plus plan is your best bet. You’re paying EVgo seven bucks a month (so be sure to check with your accountant), but you have no session fees and the lowest minute/kWh rates in every state.
The last one I found a bit surprising, as behaving this way at a gas station could get you shot, arrested, or charged with credit card fraud (or all of the above). It turns out EVgo has been letting people drive away without paying. Sure, they’ll hit your card once a month to get you to pay up for all those drive-offs, but I imagine they frequently found themselves scraping the bottom of people’s bank accounts or the top of people’s credit card limits. This is America, where it’s the Land of the Free, but only if you ignore our indebtedness. Finally, EVgo is going to start charging people’s cards on the day they charge, the same way a gas station does. No money? No electrons for you today, good sir. Come back when you’re not a peasant and have a few bucks for fast charging. Hey, if I was EVgo, I’d do the same thing. It just makes sense.
I only didn’t know about the once a month pay thing because 99% of my experience with EVgo was when I was on the Nissan No Charge To Charge program, which I abused heavily. I’m probably the reason they got rid of that program, and it also cost me about 15% of my LEAF’s battery capacity to zap it good and hard over 300 times in 8 months, in Phoenix, with no battery cooling. Looking back, I’m probably fortunate that one of the pouch cells didn’t literally take a dump and start eating the battery case (this actually happens, according to a Nissan technician who will not be named because he enjoys his job).
But I digress. Can you tell I’m not terribly happy with my LEAF? I love EVgo stations, though. They were my lifeline, and almost always worked. If you’re with EVgo and you’re reading this, keep up the good work!
What It Takes To Swing A DC Fast Charging Station
Another little gem EVgo gave us in the email was a link where we could get lots of good information on what it takes to pay for a DC fast charging station. Some of this I knew, but I didn’t realize how bad it was, so I’ll never complain about the cost of a charging session again.
Here’s the power bill for one of EVgo’s stations in New York:
You’ll notice that they only paid about $466.66 in electricity charges and fees. Yeah, that’s a big bill by residential standards, but then note that the total was $2322.60. How did their electricity bill jump from under 500 bucks to over two thousand smakeroos?
The problem is what utilities call “demand charges.” They basically take the highest amount of power you pulled during the month (the actual wattage at the moment of your highest peak usage, not the amount of electricity), multiply it by some number the utility’s bean counters came up with, and hit you with that. For most homes, the main breaker is 100 amps, which translates to 24 kW if you pulled all of that amperage through 240-volt appliances. Even with a 200 amp breaker, that theoretical maximum is less than one DC fast charging station’s power, and you usually don’t come anywhere near tripping that main breaker in your house. Once you go much above a normal household’s usage, they start hitting you with those demand charges.
EVgo’s New York power bill was probably for two 50 kW stations that were used simultaneously at one site, which pulled just over 100 kW. When they start putting in faster chargers, which is something they plan to do, they’re going to have to pay demand charges for several 350 kW stalls all pulling that power at the same time. The demand charges for that won’t be pretty.
EVgo isn’t sharing their big power bill just to flex. The company wants us to know what we’re paying for when we pay far more for DCFC than we do charging at home.
The enormous cost of buying electricity is only around half of what it costs to maintain a DCFC station, but you can read all about that on this EVgo webpage.
Featured image by EVgo.
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