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Get Smart about EVs


Electric vehicles (EVs) can be more affordable than traditional gas-powered cars and can contribute to improved air quality. And now EVs are becoming more accessible and easy to use.

From homeowners to corporate fleets, EV technology is rapidly developing to match the demand for an alternative clean, green option. It’s an unfamiliar territory for some, and getting accustomed with an EV may require a little more initiative including researching, test driving, and consulting. We’re here to help make it easy.

Plugging in is as simple as it sounds. Many EVs plug in to a common 120V outlet with a small “Level 1” mobile charger that resembles an extension cord. Some EV drivers install a “Level 2” charger for a faster charge on a 240V outlet similar to an electric outlet for clothes dryers. Public charging stations and workplace charging options are growing in popularity, providing on-the-go options to charge your EV.

With the help of your car dealer, utility and electrician, you can get set up fairly easily. Think of it as a three-step process: a charging station is installed, the EV is plugged into the outlet, and an EV electric rate you choose is applied to charge an EV at home, on the road, or at work. Learn more about your charging options.

The EV Pay-Off

Cost of Driving an EV

You may be wondering, "How does paying for kilowatt-hours compare to buying gasoline?" There is a bit of math needed to determine how the EV model you select will perform per hour of electricity compared to a gallon of gasoline. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (external PDF), EVs will travel roughly three miles per kilowatt-hour. To consider all other factors, the U.S. Energy Department offers a handy tool to determine an eGallon (external link).

Within our service territories, the standard cost of electricity for driving is about $1 per gasoline gallon equivalent, but vehicles charged using our off-peak rates can be refueled for less than $0.75 per gallon equivalent.

Generally speaking, an electric vehicle efficiently uses about 300 kWh per month or about $33 for electric fuel based on 10,800 miles a year, about three miles on 1 kWh, and 11¢ per kWh inclusive of taxes and riders.

Cost of Buying an EV

Essentially, while the initial sticker price of an EV is higher than that of a traditional vehicle, there are factors to consider when calculating payback.

According to the Department of Energy Alternative Fuels Data Center's Alternative Fuels Price Report (external link), the average plug-in vehicle driver will save between $275 and $1,000 per year in fuel (the cost of electricity compared to gasoline). This is based on the national average for gasoline ranging from $1.86 to $3.89 over the last 10 years and also on a comparable 30 miles-per-gallon vehicle. According to a federal government study cited by the Sierra Club in "Electric Vehicles: Myths vs. Reality (external link),"  due to a cleaner, more streamlined system under the hood, an EV may save the average driver about 46 percent in annual maintenance costs. While you'll spend more on electricity, the savings on gas will more than cover it.

Federal tax credits can offset the cost of your purchase as well. Depending on your vehicle's traction, battery capacity, and gross vehicle weight, the existing federal tax credit is between $2,500 and $7,500. Some states offer tax credits in addition to the federal credits. For more information, including qualifying vehicles and sales by manufacturer, see the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Plug-In Electric Vehicle Credit (external link) website.

Types of EVs

There are two types of EVs: Battery-only and plug-in hybrid. Battery electric vehicles depend solely on battery for fuel and must be recharged when the battery is depleted. Over the next few years, we expect to see the performance and availability of battery EVs increase. Today, these EVs can drive anywhere from 80 to 270 miles on a single charge, depending on the model.

Plug-in hybrid EVs operate on both a battery and a gasoline engine. The car initially runs on power from the battery, and when the battery is depleted, they can continue to operate on gasoline. Some plug-in hybrid models have an electric range of more than 50 miles, and can drive more than 350 additional miles with power from the engine.

EVs and the Environment

According to Green Car Reports (external link), researchers estimate the average electric car has 54 percent lower lifetime carbon emissions than a comparable internal-combustion model. Since EVs do not produce carbon and other emissions directly from their tailpipes, we should see reports connecting EV growth with a reduction in air and greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately for Xcel Energy customers driving EVs, renewable energy is high on our priority list. We have been ranked the No. 1 utility wind energy provider by the American Wind Energy Association for more than 10 years. In the Upper Midwest service area, renewable energy makes up about 25 percent of our energy supply.

Some EV drivers would like to make an even bigger environmental impact, by finding alternative energy sources to provide electricity for fueling their cars. An EV fueled with 100 percent renewable energy is the cleanest driving option.

To answer the call of more renewable choices, you can participate in our wind and solar programs to add renewable electricity for your home and vehicle.

Electricity from Wind-powered Energy

EV drivers can plug in at home and eligible Xcel Energy customers have the opportunity to choose wind power through our Windsource® for Electric Vehicles program. When you subscribe to Windsource to power your EV, you will select how many blocks of wind energy you want to power your EV, which can be up to 100 percent. For instance, four blocks of Windsource energy costs $4 per month, making it an affordable option and an easy way to help reduce emissions.

Electricity from Solar-powered Energy

Solar is another renewable energy source for electricity becoming more popular. We offer Community-based Solar options to eligible Xcel Energy customers, allowing you to use solar energy without installing equipment. If you're an eligible Xcel Energy customer who has rooftop solar panels installed, you can participate in our Solar*Rewards program to fuel your electric vehicle from renewable sources and receive an incentive.

Additional Information

For more information about getting charged at home, at work, and on-the-go, email us at, or call 800-895-4999 to speak to one of our energy advisors.

Join our network to learn more about powering EVs.

Energy Saving Tip

Want to make a strong statement about energy efficiency? Consider whether your home might be a good candidate for a green roof, solar panels, or a geothermal system.


May is National Electric Safety Month

Before beginning an outdoor project, be aware of overhead electric lines and keep yourself, your ladders and tools at least 10 feet away from them.

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