Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Nov. 30, 2021

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Energy Adviser: Savings can surprise for switch to electric car

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Meet Pat, the most average driver in Washington state. Pat’s car is about 12 years old and gets right around 20.5 miles per gallon. Of course, the actual mileage varies depending on what the day brings, but that’s what Pat figured out after calculating the fuel consumed after driving about 11,000 miles last year.

The car runs just fine and it’s paid off, but, never one to spend more than necessary and liking the idea of reducing emissions, Pat started thinking about buying an electric car. Curious about the expenses of owning one, Pat used the electric vehicle calculator at ClarkPublicUtilities.com to see how gas and electric compare.

The results were surprising.

Throughout the year, Pat’s daily one-way commute is about 22 miles and last week’s local gas prices were about $3.61. Those figures combined with the car’s 20.5 mpg mean Pat spends about $161 a month on gas. That’s to say nothing about oil changes and the occasionally pricey repairs the ol’ rig seems to need at its age.

That $3.61 that paid for 20.5 miles’ worth of gas would buy 138 miles worth of electricity, based on Clark Public Utilities’ current electric rate. The annual fuel expense for Pat’s commute would drop from $1,937 to just $287 in an electric vehicle. As if that weren’t enticing enough, Pat was pleased to see the annual emissions of a car powered by Clark Public Utilities electricity is just 1,260 pounds versus a gas vehicle’s output of 11,435 pounds.

Curious to see what you might save? Visit our website and see what investing in an EV could do for you. Visit myaccount.clarkpublicutilities.com/evCalculator to find out.

“People get very surprised when they see how much they can save,” said Matt Babbitts, energy resources manager at Clark Public Utilities. “Vehicle expenses are so baked into our lives, it’s easy to forget how much you’re spending on transportation until a tool like this lays it out.” 

A new or new-to-you vehicle is always a big purchase. Clark Public Utilities offers rebates to make them more affordable for everyone, regardless of income level.

While many state and federal tax rebates apply for EV purchases, Clark Public Utilities offers rebates on level II chargers to everyone and on used EVs for limited-income customers.

A qualifying low- or limited-income customer could receive a rebate of $1,000 or $2,000 for the purchase of a used EV costing $20,000 or less. With more than a decade’s worth of production behind them, many used EVs are available for surprisingly affordable prices.

Electric vehicles can be charged at a standard electrical outlet, but it can take a long time to reach a full charge. Level II chargers are much faster, but at 240 volts and up to 50 amps, these chargers may need to be installed by a professional electrician.

Clark Public Utilities offers a rebate that can make them more affordable for everyone.

Customers can receive a $500 rebate for the installation of an Energy Star-rated, and internet-connected level II charger, or a $100 rebate to install any kind of level II charger without internet connectivity. Business customers are eligible for a $500 rebate without a limit on the number of chargers per site.

So far, both the used EV and charger rebates have been popular with customers. Since March, the utility has given $15,000 in used EV rebates and $35,000 in charger rebates. Utility forecasting predicts a steady and substantial rise in the number of electric vehicles on Clark County roads in the next few years.

Each program has specific qualifications that must be met before the rebate can be awarded, and requires customers to fill out a brief application. To find out more, call the energy counselor of the day during business hours at 360-992-3355 or visit www.clarkpublicutilities.com/ and search for the electric vehicle program.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98688.

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