The feds may be willing to make some financial concessions to encourage electric-vehicle use, but utility companies? Not so much. Just six percent of U.S. utilities offer special electricity rates for plug-in vehicle drivers charging their vehicles at home, according to a report released this week.

Out of all utility companies in the U.S., just 22 – which operate in 11 states – offer special rates customized for EV charging, or tariffs, according to a study from the Northeast Group LLC. These tariffs come in the form or either a pre-set monthly rate, or special, off-peak rates for those who charge their vehicles overnight. When the tariffs are in place, some EV owners can cut their annual recharging fees in half, Northeast Group says.

Hawaii, Michigan and Nevada are the most EV-friendly states when it comes to utilities that offer special EV recharging rates, according to the report. Arizona, California, Indiana and Virginia are among states where utilities have added special EV tariffs during the past year. What does it look like in your neck of the woods?
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Only 6% of US utilities offer electric vehicle tariffs for their customers

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Electricity tariffs designed specifically for electric vehicle (EV) recharging are a key driver to promote the growth of EVs. Currently, in the United States only 6% of electric utilities offer special EV tariffs and rates for their customers, according to the second annual United States Smart Grid: Utility Electric Vehicle Tariffs (Volume II) study released today by Northeast Group, LLC. The study benchmarks all of the EV tariffs launched to-date by utilities in the United States.

The benchmark reveals that 22 utilities across 11 states have launched EV tariffs for their customers, as of the end of the first half of 2012. EV tariffs are important in helping increase drivers' adoption of EVs as they offer cheaper recharging options compared with standard household electricity tariffs.

In just the past year, utilities in Arizona, California, Indiana, Michigan and Virginia have added new EV tariffs. In Hawaii, Michigan and Nevada, more than 90% of state residents already have access to EV tariffs through their various utilities. California and Georgia are next in line, where more than 80% of state residents have access to EV tariffs. The large California utilities were early pioneers in launching EV tariffs. As EV numbers grow over the coming years, EV penetration rates are likely to be higher in states with utilities offering their customers EV tariffs.

"Under all utility EV tariffs across the US, electric vehicles are much cheaper to 'fuel' compared with conventional vehicles, with most EV fueling costs between just 10% to 60% the cost of internal combustion engine vehicles," according to Northeast Group. This can equate to savings of more than $2,000 per year for those recharging EVs versus refueling conventional vehicles with gasoline. Furthermore, special EV tariffs were found to save EV owners more money compared with standard residential electricity tariffs. EV tariffs can save approximately half the cost per year for EV owners, compared with standard electricity tariffs.

EV tariffs offered by utilities have been structured in two main forms to-date: time-of-use (TOU) tariffs and flat rate tariffs. TOU tariffs typically provide for cheaper overnight and off-peak rates for those recharging EVs. Flat rate tariffs charge customers one fixed monthly fee for recharging EVs. In addition, sliding scale tariffs – where rates increase with usage - can also be incorporated in some form with both tariff structures above.

United States Smart Grid: Utility Electric Vehicle Tariffs (Volume II) builds upon the first volume of the EV tariff benchmark, published at this time last year. This second volume provides a description of the different EV tariff structures offered across the country, a list of utilities and their specific tariff structures, a comparison and further analysis of these tariffs. For example, the study includes an analysis of how different tariffs' costs vary depending on distance driven and the time of day an EV is recharged. An appendix in the study includes details on all of the EV tariffs offered by the 22 utilities in the US.

The report is 40 pages long and includes 22 graphs and tables. Those who will benefit from purchasing this study may include:
  • Electric utilities in the US planning on launching an EV tariff;
  • Public Utility Commissions interested in learning more about EV tariffs launched across the US;
  • International regulatory bodies interested in launching similar EV tariffs in their respective countries;
  • Electric vehicle manufacturers wanting to know which states currently have utilities actively supporting EVs with special tariffs and rates;
  • Research institutes and academics studying the potential for EVs;
  • Regulatory lawyers;
  • Consulting firms.
Those interested in purchasing the study can find an order form on Northeast Group's website at www.northeast-group.com, or by emailing Ben Gardner at: ben.gardner@northeast-group.com

ABOUT: Northeast Group, LLC is a Washington, DC-based smart grid market intelligence firm.