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A derelict petrol pump, which sits outside a long-abandoned petrol station. Image courtesy of Lewis Collard.


Charging Up to Drive Cheaper & Cleaner Just Got A Lot Easier in Virginia

Amid record high gas prices and record high climate-changed temperatures, there’s a sliver of good news this week.

For anyone who wants to lower their cost of living or lower their pollution footprint (or both), Virginia’s primary electric utility rightly got a good greenlight from regulators last week. Dominion will now commence with well-designed electric-vehicle charger offerings, to get more EVs out on the road, putting dollars back in all Virginians’ pockets while slashing air pollution by nudging higher-cost, pollution-spewing cars OFF the road.

gas station converts to EV chargers

First gas station to convert to EV chargers via Electric Vehicle Institute

The approved programs will make EV driving even easier, through enhanced EV-charging access in places it’s needed most. With those additional places to fill ‘er up with greener electrons, more Virginians can drive cars that are cheaper, cleaner, and faster (just don’t drive them TOO fast, now).

Cheaper Driving, Up Ahead

More charging stations under Dominion’s newly-approved initiative means more EV miles driven, and that means more money in everyone’s pockets (and not just for the EV drivers). How?

EVs cost far less to own and drive than inefficient gas engines. Rather than dig deep into your pocket to fill your tank at the pump, you fuel up your tank at the socket with far, far cheaper electricity. Imagine whizzing past the $4 a gallon sign and filling up at home at your apartment building or in your garage instead. That cheaper option just got a lot easier for Dominion customers.

And that switch, from the gas station to the socket, is not only inexpensive for the driver’s pocketbook, it’s good for all Virginia electric customers: rather than send billions of Virginian dollars out of state to pay for dirty, climate-wrecking petroleum imported from the global petro market, Virginia’s EV-fueling dollars stay right here in the Commonwealth. Those new, lower electric payments go instead to paying down the cost of our state’s electric grid, new revenue that means lower electric rates for everyone.

If that Economics 101 — lower electric rates via increased revenue paying down the fixed cost of our state power grid — sounds too good to be true, then just look at the lowered electric rates where EVs are most prevalent in the nation.

But better grid economics isn’t the only win-win for EV drivers and non-EV drivers alike.

Cleaner Driving, Up Ahead

More charging stations under Dominion’s approved initiative also means cleaner air for all of us.

EVs’ “direct-drive” motors run (and accelerate!) so efficiently that, even when accounting for the upstream pollution from any remaining gas and coal plants that “fuel” them, EVs in Virginia generally emit less than half the pollution compared to the comparatively clunky, putt-putt-putt engines of dirty fossil combustion cars. Clean EV charging and EV driving means cleaner neighborhoods everywhere, especially along congested corridors and already-disadvantaged communities. Given that cars are, by far, Virginia’s biggest air and climate polluter, cutting any number of Virginia drivers’ pollution by more than half will eventually add up to be a very big deal, for cleaner air and a safer planet.

Faster Driving, Up Ahead

As for charged-up EVs being faster, well, you’ll just have to get one yourself to (safely) find out. But suffice it to say: once you go electric, you will never go back.

How Dominion’s Charging Package Makes Virginia Driving Cheaper, Cleaner, & Faster

The well-designed programs regulators greenlit last week, though modest and limited in scope, begin to fill important gaps. These newly-deployed chargers, along with private installers and crucial federal EV-charger funding across Virginia, will ensure we can convert Virginia’s inefficient, pollution belching, “putt-putt-putt” fleet over to clean, cheaper, and, yes, faster EVs. Here are the three new options for Virginia’s EV drivers:

1) In-home chargers: Dominion now offers convenient at-home EV-charger installations to residential customers. That’s a very sensible basic: the vast majority of charging occurs at home. Think cheap overnight charging while you sleep, and when the grid is pretty much dormant as well, and therefore able to cheaply absorb that additional charging demand (not to mention that extra revenue that in turn lowers rates for all).

Crucially, 10% of those residential chargers will be made available to low-income customers, at no cost, to improve the availability of cost-saving EVs for the less affluent. That charging availability will be important as more EVs enter the more-affordable pre-owned market in the next few years.

2) Away-from-home chargers: Dominion now incentivizes the installation of EV chargers in “long-dwell” places where it’s most convenient to charge when away from the house — think office buildings, shopping centers, gyms, and multi-family apartment buildings. The charging “gaps” in these places are essential to fill if we’re going to tackle climate change and stop throwing Virginia money away on non-Virginia petro-product: if folks can charge where they work and play, they’ll make the jump into the warm EV waters, rather than be paralyzed by perceived “range anxiety.”

Again, there is also another sensible carveout for these chargers in low-income neighborhoods and multi-family apartments, and in communities of color, to improve accessibility in those historically underserved areas. Lower cost fueling must be made available now to these important communities, so that low-cost fueling is accessible when EVs penetrate the pre-owned market in the near term.

3) Fleet charging: Dominion now offers turnkey charging stations for fleets: this way, those ubiquitous and always-driving, always-polluting delivery vans and other high-mileage vehicles can even more easily make the jump to cleaner, cheaper electric.  Not only will those fleet owners realize massive operational savings, given their high drivetime, so will all of us realize more significantly cleaner air.

What’s Just Around The Corner

More EV charging means cleaner air and lower electric rates for everyone. And if you’re a Dominion customer and have a house, operate a fleet, or own a commercial property that you’d like to make a more inviting destination, this is a promising week: it’s now easier for you to zip around in a cheaper way, drive cleaner, and (if you promise to be safe and not break the law) drive faster.

Originally published on NRDC.
By Walton Shepherd 

Featured image © Lewis Collard, who allows anyone to use it for any purpose, provided that the copyright holder is properly attributed.

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