If the Lone Star State gets any more giving with its free power for electric-vehicle drivers, all your exes may live in Texas, too. Dallas-based TXU Energy is starting a new plan to use some of its excess wind energy by promoting a "Free Nights" program. As you might suspect, it lets EV-driving customers charge for free between the hours of 10 pm and 6 am, according to Plug In Cars.

The promotion makes sense because those howling Texas winds are especially strong at night. Since TXU gets much of its electricity via wind power, there is excess supply after dark. This is a good thing for EV drivers, because about 80 percent of EV charging is done at home. And if you want to emit the least amount of CO2 possible, then it's an even better combination. Of course, the program may also result in higher rates during daytime hours, but, hey, nothing's free, right?

Meantime, Texas is about on par with the rest of the country when it comes to publicly accessible EV-charging stations. The Lone Star State, which accounts for about one in 13 US vehicles, also accounts for about one in 13 public charging stations in the country, according to US Department of Energy figures.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 16 Comments
      Spec
      • 1 Year Ago
      Texas has added a lot of wind energy and the wind blows heavily at night in Texas such that they have lots of excess electricity at night. This is a clever way of attracting more EV buyers who will be able to use that night-time excess electricity.
        EZEE
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        He said,'blows heavily night.'
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Spec
        Most reports I've seen actually say the wind load is highest in the evening during the transition between day & night because of the changes in thermal loading. Regardless, since so much industry shuts down at night, simply being able to not shut off power generation at night just to restart it during the day combined with not having to call on supplemental power plants during peak hours makes charging less at night profitable for the power providers.
      Marco Polo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well done TXU Energy. Programs like this help promote the economics's of alternate energy, in a very direct way.
      Greg
      • 1 Year Ago
      This isn't new. TXU has been doing it for well over a year.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well, unless I bought a Tesla, no EV today would suit my needs. I average 50 miles a day but there are days where I drive more than 120 miles (my job involves looking at real estate) and in Houston that usually involves running the air conditioning. Not to mention that I take the occasional road trip. The Volt is ideal for me in that it allows me to use electricity most of the time but it has gasoline backup that is available hassle-free.
      BF4ALTF
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why would this program result in higher daytime rates? The capital cost is not impacted. There are no fuel costs. If they can't sell the excess power at night somewhere else, there is no revenue loss. My guess is, this is essentially free energy.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BF4ALTF
        If the turbines are spinning, they're getting hours put on them, that will cause maintenance to happen more frequently. Capital costs might not be affected, but operating and maintenance costs certainly are. I do agree that they might as well give the power away instead of not running the turbines, but how about giving a similar deal to poor people who otherwise might not run their AC because they can't afford to pay their electric bill - why only give free power to people who can obviously afford to buy a brand-new car? This smacks of elitism.
          Dave R
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I imagine that the main idea here is to promote night-time charging which has other benefits like reducing the need for infrastructure upgrades and reducing the need to add additional peaking resources during daylight hours. You can bet that this promotion won't last forever. But you can also be sure that an idle wind turbine still costs the company money even when it isn't generating power and perhaps the utility still generates RECs or something which offset the maintenance costs.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          Thanks Marshall, for pointing that out. *Any* customer can get the free nights (or weekends) deal. I retract my previous complaint.
          Marco Polo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          @ Letstakeawalk I, along with Ezee, was shocked by your suggestion that poor people should be allowed to run air-conditioners in their homes for free ! Why are the poor allowed air-conditioners ? Or for that matter homes ? If they weren't so lazy, by 10pm they would be completing their 3rd shift, in the grindstone factory, along with the hoards of brat's they insist on breeding. It's fellows like you sir, that have destroyed the morale fibre of the masses, mollycoddling them, and giving them idea's above their station ! Bah, next thing you'll be expecting child labour to be paid wages in the mines !
          Marshal G
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          It's being reported on EV blogs as a way to charge up your car for free, but it's not only for those users, it's for everybody that that particular utility serves.
          Greg
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          This isn't about wind turbines. (They just mention them because it's a good sound bite.) Any time the turbines spin, they will use the electricity they generate. This is about the traditional power plants that still provide most power. The ideal is to run everything at the same load all the time--to smooth out the peaks and troughs. Businesses & industry as well as air conditioning that use electricity mostly during the day makes daytime use dramatically higher than nighttime. Companies have only recently started these time-dependent programs because people didn't have smart meters that could track when electricity was used until a few years ago.
      Greg
      • 1 Year Ago
      Few buy back electricity at retail prices. They typically only pay 5-6 cents per kWh. Even with the buyback, solar panels don't pay for themselves--not yet, anyway. Another technique that can work with the different billing structure is to cool enough thermal capacitance at night to provide cooling cooling without AC during the day. Another option would be to buy a house battery pack similar to a car's, charge it at night, and run your house on it during the day. Without AC, my house uses
      • 1 Year Ago
      As a Texas resident who is interested in buying a Chevy Volt, I have been looking into these programs. Yes, the nights are free but the daytime rate is 18.9¢/kWh in Houston and 18.5¢/kWh in Dallas. Even though I average 50 miles a day, my office is at home and I run the air conditioning all day. Compared to a flat 12¢/kWh plan, the amount I would save at night would be half the extra it would cost me during the day. These types of plans will not be worth it until they can bring the daytime rates closer to the flat rates.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        Get a pure EV and put PV solar panels on your roof. You'll end up making money from your power company (if they have system where they pay you).
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