Perhaps you’re considering buying an electric vehicle (EV), but uncertainty about costs and the practicality of charging it are preventing you from doing so. Most drivers charge their vehicles overnight at home using AC Level 1 or AC Level 2 charging equipment. EV operation in the Inland Northwest costs less than an equivalent $1 per gallon of gasoline, saving you hundreds to thousands of dollars per year depending on how much you drive. For example, if you drove 10,000 miles with an EV at an estimated efficiency of 3.3 miles per kWh and $0.10 cost per kWh from your residential electric bill, this would cost (10,000/3.3)*$0.10 = $303. If gasoline were $3 per gallon for a vehicle with 26 mpg efficiency, it would cost (10,000/26)*$3 = $1,154. That’s a savings of $851 per year, a 64% reduction. While your electric energy bill increases driving an EV, you would save much more overall from greatly reduced transportation fuel costs. All this while making a significant positive impact on the environment, reducing emissions by 80%.
Spokane’s first electric vehicle was a trolley, purchased in the late-1880s. Created by real estate developers to entice residents into yet-to-be-developed neighborhoods, trolley lines allowed people to extend everyday life outside of the city’s downtown area. By 1900, electric streetcars were the predominant mode of transportation within the city. And just 10 years later, more than 150 electric trolleys carried nearly 25 million riders across the booming Inland Northwest. Alas, the popularity of trolleys began to wane with the arrival of gas-powered automobiles. By the 1920s, private cars and buses became the favored mode of transport in Spokane, and the last trolley was retired in 1936.
Robert Sewell built the first experimental all-electric ride from a converted sedan in the 1950s while he was a student at the University of Idaho. In fact, it was featured in the November 1957 edition of Popular Mechanics. Public interest was greater than anyone expected, prompting serious consideration about the future potential of the electric car industry. After graduating in 1957 with a degree in Electrical Engineering, Sewell worked for Washington Water Power (Avista) until his retirement.
Today, consumers can choose from more than 50 EV and plug-in hybrid models, with a growing number expected to enter the market. The driving range of many new EVs from Audi, Jaguar, Chevy, Nissan and Hyundai, is well over 200 miles on a full charge, while Teslas boast an impressive 300 miles. Compared to standard internal combustion engines, electric vehicles deliver the following benefits:
Washington already has the lowest carbon footprint of any state with 86 percent hydro, nuclear, and wind electricity generation, yet the transportation sector is the biggest contributor of emissions, accounting for 45% of overall emissions in the state. A Senate bill passed in January 2020 requires that automakers stock EVs on their lots, with EV sales making up at least 5% of vehicle sales by 2022, rising to 8% of vehicle sales by 2025.
As part of a 3-year pilot program to support early EV adoption, Avista installed a total of 446 EV charging ports in workplace, residential, fleet, and public locations across Eastern Washington. PlugShare provides aggregate charging locations throughout the US, so EV drivers no longer have to worry about taking long road trips. As these eco-friendly cars are more effectively integrated in the grid of the future, all consumers and the environment will reap the benefits.