A plug-in electric vehicle will certainly reduce emissions over a gas car. But will it actually save you money—and if so, how much? The huge utility Southern California Edison is now providing its customers an easy-to-use online tool to answer those complex questions.
Take someone living in Riverside who, say, drives 12,000 miles a year, gets 25 miles per gallon with their current car and pays $3 a gallon for gas (all variables that can be personally tailored with the tool). If that person switched to a battery electric vehicle and took advantage of lower, off-peak charging rates—and installed a separate meter for the vehicle—they’d pay $54 more a month for electricity. But their gasoline expenditures would drop from $120 to zero, yielding a net savings of $66 a month. If the vehicle were charged under standard residential rates, however, the savings would drop to just $15 a month, according to the tool.
Showing customers that gap was a big reason Southern California Edison developed what it calls the Plug-In Car Rate Assistant. “The online car rate assistant will provide an idea of the bill impacts and the benefits of charging electric vehicles during off-peak hours, 9 p.m. to noon,” the utility’s Steve Powell said in a press release. “It’s important for customers to understand the advantages of the various rate plans.”