Policies and Programs Make Nevada Utility A Leader for Electric Vehicles

August 28, 2014


RENO, Nev. (Aug. 28, 2014) – A new report issued by the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) shows that Nevada’s major utility, NV Energy, is a leader in the Southwest and the nation in promoting clean electric vehicle transportation.

Through its Shared Investment Program, NV Energy has facilitated the installation of nearly half the public electric vehicle charging stations in the state. The utility also offers a special electric vehicle billing rate that encourages people to charge their cars during the wee hours of the night, when demand is at its lowest and power plants typically are underutilized. These programs and other initiatives are detailed in the report, “NV Energy: Leading the Way on Electric Vehicles,” by Transportation Analyst Mike Salisbury at SWEEP.

“NV Energy seems to recognize that it is in their own best interest to develop this new market and advance the adoption of EVs,” said Salisbury. “We encourage other utilities to follow NV Energy’s lead and proactively support electric vehicles.”

Even when factoring in pollution created by generating electricity, electric vehicles are the cleanest transportation option in Nevada, according to the report. Nevada’s electricity in 2013 was produced primarily by natural gas at about 66 percent. The remaining electricity generation comes from coal and renewable energy. Legislation (SB123) passed in 2013 puts the utility on a path to retire 550 megawatts of coal-fired electricity generation in 2014 and another 250 megawatts by 2017 and makes Nevada a leader in the Southwest in moving away from coal and towards more renewable energy and cleanburning natural gas.

NV Energy’s Director of Renewable Energy Strategy and Development Jared Friedman said that NV Energy has been a longtime supporter of electric vehicles because such vehicles reduce emissions and provide cleaner air to all Nevadans. He noted that electric power is less expensive than gasoline, giving electric vehicle drivers more disposable income, which can bolster the Nevada economy.

“If a customer opts for an electric vehicle, their cost of fuel for driving will typically decrease by over 50 percent,” Friedman said. “If that same customer selects our special electric vehicle rate for their entire home or apartment and modifies their energy usage away from the high-peak hours, then they will reduce their energy bills even further.

”NV Energy first began offering lower electricity rates in 2009 to customers who owned electric vehicles. Customers had an incentive to shift their electricity use to times when demand was lower, and the utility had an opportunity to sell more electricity while avoiding the need to build new generating plants.

Customers in Northern Nevada, for example, who charge their cars between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., pay 6.3 cents per kilowatt hour compared to the normal residential rate of 10.2 cents. In Southern Nevada where electricity use spikes during the hot summer months, EV drivers who charge their cars between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. pay about seven cents per kilowatt hour in summer and about five cents in winter compared to normal residential rates of 12 cents.

The State must import most transportation fuel from California and Utah via pipelines. Each year, Nevada spends over $5 billion on imported transportation fuels, almost all of which leaves the State’s economy. The SWEEP report notes that electricity sold as fuel reduces that outflow and benefits the Nevada economy.

NV Energy developed its Shared Investment Program to improve range confidence and provided $500,000 to help fund new electric vehicle charging stations around the State. During 2013, the utility partnered with private and public sector entities to set up 133 individual charging ports at more than 47 locations statewide as part of the program. Charging stations have been installed at Nevada universities, airports, casinos, resorts, shopping centers, recreation destinations and municipal facilities.

Employers who provide charging to their employees were also eligible to participate in the program. NV Energy offered partners up to $7,000 off the cost of a dual port charger, about half the cost.

Salisbury noted that NV Energy funded this program as a result of customer demand and set it up independently of any regulatory or legal requirements.

According to the report, NV Energy’s support for electric vehicles includes:

  • NV Energy’s Shared Investment Program which has helped develop a public charging infrastructure across the State by nearly doubling the number of public charging station locations. This network allows electric vehicle owners to make longer trips and reduces range anxiety for potential electric vehicle purchasers.
  • NV Energy has led a statewide working group, Nevada Electric Vehicle Accelerator, to share information and promote electric vehicles and charging stations.
  • NV Energy provides a Time-of-Use rate to encourage off-peak vehicle charging and an additional electric vehicle specific tariff to further reduce off-peak charging costs for electric vehicle owners.
  • NV Energy has led by example, purchasing 12 electric vehicles and offering charging stations— some powered by solar energy—at several of their office locations.
  • NV Energy has a relatively clean electricity mix which is becoming less dependent on coal-fired power plants over time. This makes driving an electric vehicle significantly cleaner than a gasoline-powered vehicle.

The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project is a public interest organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.swenergy.org.