In Xcel Energy’s service territory the market for electric and natural gas vehicles remains in the initial growth stages. Less than 1 percent of our customers currently own these vehicles, but according to information from the Electric Power Research Institute, two of the states Xcel Energy serves are leading the country in electric vehicle growth. Colorado is ranked eighth in the nation for electric car sales and Minnesota has one of the highest adoption rates for electric vehicles per capita. The market is projected to grow, especially as new models of alternative fuel vehicles become more available and more affordable for both individual and fleet use. Plus, fueling is becoming increasingly easier and more accessible.
As an energy provider, Xcel Energy has the unique opportunity to support customers and communities that want to participate in this vehicle market. We offer the safe, clean, reliable energy to fuel electric and natural gas vehicles at an affordable price.
Xcel Energy has developed three areas of focus for supporting alternatively fueled vehicles:
- Enable the market by supporting customers who choose to repower their transportation
- Get the rules right by engaging stakeholders to develop policy and regulations that support the market in a way that is equitable and fair to all customers
- Manage system impacts by providing reliable and safe energy to fuel vehicles at an affordable cost to customers
Along with specific Xcel Energy initiatives that support customer vehicle fueling and public education, we encourage customers to contact us to ensure that adequate system infrastructure is in place to support their fueling needs.
- Across all service territories, we work with auto manufacturers and station developers to build public fueling stations for both electric and natural gas vehicles. In 2014, we supported the installation of more than 10 new public fueling stations, plus provided electricity and natural gas to thousands of drivers that fuel at home or in their fleet parking lots.
- In early 2015, we filed a request with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to offer customers in the state a new electric vehicle (EV) rate, in addition to the time-of-day rate that we already offer customers in the Upper Midwest. Under the EV rate, customers use a separate meter for EV charging and are encouraged to shift their charging times to evening. Customers can save about 40 percent on their energy costs by charging their EVs off-peak in the late evening or early morning.
- In Colorado, we completed a two-year electric vehicle charging pilot that studied customer charging behaviors and acceptance of demand response. Xcel Energy worked with a limited number of customers to minimize load on the electric grid during peak hours. Participating vehicle owners had the opportunity to earn credit on their Xcel Energy bills in exchange for allowing us to interrupt their vehicle charging for a limited number of hours throughout the year. The final analysis of the pilot was completed in May 2015.
- Xcel Energy markets Windsource® for EVs specifically to electric vehicle owners who want a renewable fueling option. Currently, about two-thirds of our customers who drive EVs participate in one of Xcel Energy’s renewable energy programs, including Windsource. In Minnesota, we collaborated with community partners and customers to promote the Zero Emissions Challenge, a Windsource offset for public charging stations.
- Xcel Energy hosted booths and participated in several public education and outreach events to provide customers with information, including Drive Electric Week events in Colorado and Minnesota and the Twin Cities and Denver Auto Shows.
- Some Xcel Energy employees now drive electric vehicles to and from work. Under a pilot program, employees have the option to charge electric vehicles at Xcel Energy facilities for a reasonable monthly fee that covers electricity and administrative costs.
Xcel Energy continues to work with stakeholders to help develop state policy and regulations that support the market and customers who purchase electric and natural gas vehicles. It is important that new rules are fair to all customers—both those who own vehicles and those who do not. To make it easier for third parties to install fueling stations in Colorado, we changed our policies to include a special tariff and construction allowance.
We have conducted several studies of our electric and natural gas systems to verify that we can manage the increased load as customers begin using our energy to fuel vehicles. To make it easier for third parties to install natural gas fueling stations, we work individually with developers to help find ideal locations based on preferred gas pressure, vehicle traffic and fleet needs.
To stay informed about electric vehicle purchases and system needs, we participate in the Electric Vehicle Information Exchange (EVIX) that helps us track vehicle sales throughout our service territory. We also receive monthly vehicle sales reports from auto manufacturers. Additionally, the electric vehicle charging pilot in Colorado, the use of electric vehicles in our fleet and market research continue to inform the company’s strategy for the future.
Learn more about how we’re helping to repower transportation.