The Department of Energy's eGallon is intended to let plug-in vehicle drivers know how much they're saving per mile compared to motorists in gas-powered rides. It's not perfect (the numbers behind the methodology need to be updated, for starters) but it does attempt to give the average driver an easy-to-understand price tag to look at. Turns out, says the Northeast Group, a Washington, DC-based smart infrastructure market intelligence firm, even the low number that the DOE provides isn't accurately low enough.

Michigan and California are the two states with the highest number of EV-friendly utilities.

In fact, the Northeast Group says that charging your car can be, on average, 34 percent cheaper than what eGallon says it is. In a new press release (available below), the Northeast Group says that despite the average nationwide eGallon cost of $1.14, the real number for many should be $0.93 per gallon equivalent, since some electric utilities offer lower EV charging tariffs. The 93-cent number comes from a new study called "United States Smart Grid: Utility Electric Vehicle Tariffs (Volume III)" that includes numbers from the 24 utilities in the US that have a special EV tariff. Those utilities are in 13 states, and if you average out the regular eGallon cost there, you come up with $1.40, hence 34 percent. As a bonus, we now know that Michigan and California are the two states with the highest number of EV-friendly utilities. Ninety percent of Michiganders, and 80 percent of Californians, live in a place where they could get discounted EV charging rates.

In earlier editions of the annual EV tariff study, which have been released in early July in 2011 and 2012, the Northeast Group found that electric vehicles cost a lot less to refuel than gasoline vehicles (Volume I) and that only six percent of US utilities offer electric vehicle tariffs (Volume II).
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Electric vehicle tariffs on average 34% cheaper than eGallon

WASHINGTON, July 8, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- There are currently more than 100,000 plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads in the United States. A key factor in EVs' rising popularity is charging costs that are much lower on average than comparable gasoline fueling costs. In June, the US Department of Energy increased transparency with its launch of the "eGallon" metric, making comparisons with the price of gasoline easier. With the majority of charging done at home, EV drivers are now looking to their utilities to offer special tariffs to make EV charging even more affordable.

The average national price of a gallon of gasoline was $3.65 as of June 30th. The eGallon averaged $1.14 per gallon equivalent across all 50 states. Electric utilities offering special EV tariffs for their customers were even cheaper at an average of $0.93 per gallon equivalent, according to a new study published today by Northeast Group, LLC. The study United States Smart Grid: Utility Electric Vehicle Tariffs (Volume III) includes a benchmark of all utilities in the US that have launched EV tariffs.

Northeast Group's benchmark found that there were 24 utilities located across 13 states offering EV tariffs. In these 13 states, the average DOE eGallon was $1.40, but the average EV tariff cost was just $0.93. This is a discount of 34% from the eGallon, which is based on standard electricity rates. The two states with the largest number of utilities offering EV tariffs were California and Michigan. California had six utilities offering EV tariffs, reaching more than 80% of the state's residents, and has been at the forefront of the EV market for several years. Michigan had four utilities offering EV tariffs, reaching more than 90% of the state's residents, as the state is eager to facilitate the shift for its car manufacturers from conventional vehicles to EVs.

In addition to launching EV tariffs, there are other ways utilities are helping enable electric vehicles. For example, 91 of the 100 largest utilities in the US have sections on their websites with information for EV owners. As EV prices continue to decline, cheaper leasing options become more prevalent and consumers see the clear benefits, the penetration rate of EVs-and prevalence of EV tariffs-is likely to continue to grow in the US.

ABOUT: Northeast Group, LLC is a Washington, DC-based smart infrastructure market intelligence firm.

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