The Land of 10,000 Lakes is now No. 1 when it comes to cutting electric-vehicle recharging rates. Minnesota has become the first state in the union to require investor-owned utilities to offer consumers discounted rates for EV charging during off-peak hours. You betcha.

More than 1.3 million households throughout the state will have the chance to take advantage of off-peak rates when recharging their plug-ins during hours outside of the 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. timeframe, clean-energy advocate Fresh Energy says. Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power and Otter Tail Power, Minnesota's three largest utilities, are being given until early next year to set their off-peak charging rates. Already, Minnesota–Connexus and Dakota Electric are charging the equivalent of about 57 cents a gallon for EV charging while regular gas prices are running about $3.53 a gallon, so there is a little momentum here.

For those keeping track, Minnesota is home to 155 publicly accessible charging stations, according to the US Department of Energy. That translates to one for every 33,000 vehicles in the state. Nationwide, there is one publicly accessible station for every 30,500 vehicles. Eleven types of plug-in models, including the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S and Ford C-Max Energi are sold in the state. Check out Fresh Energy's press release below.
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Minnesota first in nation to adopt statewide standard for EV refueling

Investor-owned utilities to provide discount off-peak rate, all-renewable option

Minneapolis, MN – Signed in to law by Governor Mark Dayton, clean energy advocates, including Minnesota utilities, worked together to create bipartisan and market-driven policy that has the following outcomes:

Beginning in 2015, more than 1.3 million households will have access to a discounted rate for electric vehicle (EV) refueling.
Also beginning in early 2015, investor-owned utilities will provide customers the option of zero-emissions EV refueling with renewable energy.
State agencies can more easily consider electric fleet vehicles–previous purchasing decisions were not permitted to take into account the lower refueling and maintenance costs typical of EVs.
The policy removes roadblocks to utilities becoming champions for EV adoption.

FIRST IN THE NATION
Taking leadership to accelerate private-sector adoption of EVs, Minnesota is the first state nationwide to require its investor-owned utilities to offer a special rate for off-peak (overnight) EV refueling.

REFUELING RATE EXPECTED TO BE LESS THAN $0.99 PER GALLON OF GASOLINE (EQUIVALENT)
Co-operative utilities that pioneered off-peak EV refueling rates in Minnesota–Connexus and Dakota Electric–charge roughly 50 percent lower than average daily rates. Connexus and Dakota Electric currently offer an off-peak refueling rate that is equivalent to $0.57 per gallon of gas.

The U.S. Department of Energy provides a methodology for comparing the costs of gasoline and electric refueling. Under the new law, Minnesota's three largest utilities–Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power–have until early 2015 to set their specific off-peak charging rates for electric vehicles. The law allows for flexibility in the specific rate design.

"This law is a win, win, win,' said Michael Noble, executive director of Fresh Energy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to economic development and nonpartisan energy policy. "It's a significant savings to consumers, an extraordinary market opportunity for utilities, and timely action for society. For the public, this law helps reduce harmful carbon pollution and also reduces risk and Minnesota's economic exposure to volatile gasoline prices."

LOWERS COSTS FOR ALL RATEPAYERS
Left unchecked, the booming EV market had the potential to increase costs for all electric ratepayers because people would likely to be plugging in to refuel during peak hours (e.g. 4:00PM to 8:00PM). The new off-peak refueling incentive saves all ratepayers money by more evenly distributing demand on the electricity grid.

STATE-RECOGNIZED FINANCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS
The new law recognizes the "financial, energy conservation, and environmental benefits of electric vehicles" (statute).

UNIQUE MARKETING AND CONSUMER EDUCATION EXCEPTION FOR UTILITIES
As regulated monopolies, investor-owned utilities have been discouraged from use of promotion and advertising to increase sales and electrical consumption. This new law creates a special exception specifically for informing and educating consumers about the benefits of electric vehicles and the availability of the off-peak refueling rate.

Promotion of the off-peak program could take the form of

electric bills that highlight fuel-cost savings, avoided tailpipe emissions, etc.,
rebates for residential refueling equipment,
point of purchase displays at automotive dealerships, and
television, print, and online advertising.
WIDE VARIETY OF ELECTRIC VEHICLES IN MINNESOTA
Eleven different models of electric vehicles from eight different brands are currently available in Minnesota. Models available are: Nissan Leaf, BMW i3, Ford Focus EV, Ford Fusion Energi, Porsche Panamera S E-Hybrid, Chevrolet Volt, Cadillac ELR, Tesla Model S, Ford C-Max, Mitsubishi i-Miev, and Smart Electric Drive. Lease rates for the Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi i-Miev, and Smart Electric Drive may start as low as $200 per month.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 15 Comments
      Spec
      • 6 Months Ago
      I was gonna say that PG&E has some discount rate but I guess since there are other electric companies in the state, it is not 'state-wide'.
      Rotation
      • 6 Months Ago
      That's stupid. The companies already have plenty of reason to want to drive EV adoption. It'll drive up the amount of electricity they sell. No need to add a regulation on top of what was already happening.
        GoodCheer
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        If you're a regulated monopoly that makes a guaranteed rate of return on capital investment, then doing things that increase sales but do not increase capital investment (eg, filling in load valleys) does not make you much of any more money, because energy costs are small compared to capital costs. Also, if you're a regulated monopoly, then things that are strange, new and different are scary, and why bother putting together a system to accommodate them?
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @Rotation
        If they are already doing it then having a regulation changes nothing . . . but it does publicize the fact that the rate is available so that is good.
          CoolWaters
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spec
          Having a lower rate for off peak usage should be Standard-Operating-Procedure, because you drive demand OFF Peak, which gives you greater, more efficient, use of your capital for less investment.
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spec
          While Xcel already has TOU rates, it is for the whole house so running AC or anything during the day is at peak rates which are much more expensive than the flat rates. That means that for many people, including me, it is not cost effective to do TOU rates because I use enough other electricity during peak times at high rates to more than offset the lower off peak rates. Even Xcel, when I looked into it, said that my off-peak EV usage and moving around running the dryer/dishwasher, etc. to off-peak would not compensate enough for the higher peak usage I would still incur. I believe the goal of this legislation is to mandate the option to have TOU rates *only* for the EVs. Thus this large and easily moved usage can be moved off peak economically and with little disruption to residential users.
          Rotation
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spec
          The regulation does nothing except cause the companies to go trough the effort of ensuring the follow the regulations instead of just doing what comes natural. It does nothing good. If you want to publicize that the rate is available, then publicize that the rate is available. No need to add a regulation to do that.
          Spec
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spec
          But the publicity from passing a law is free. You just learned about it from this story, not an ad.
          Lam
          • 6 Months Ago
          @Spec
          The problem is xcel energy is notoriously uninterested in doing any work to drive forward or support alternative energy, or electric vehicle adoption. Xcel has its headquarters in Minneapolis, but last year Minneapolis had to threaten to vote on changing to a "municipal electric company" inside the city, because Xcel refused to do anything to improve its energy mix. They realized how embarrassing it would be to have the city that your electric company is headquartered in switch over to a municipal power company, so they capitulated to demands, but they don't change willingly.
      Spec
      • 6 Months Ago
      I like the fact that they mentioned that there are 11 different plug-in cars for sale in MN. I know people complain about compliance cars but even outside of California now, people are starting to get a good set of plug-in car choices.
      GoodCheer
      • 6 Months Ago
      Piles of individual utilities do this already (TVA is a great example), but putting it into state law, especially in the context of consumers not having a choice of utility, is a great step forward. TOU rates make lots of sense all around. The only caveat I'd add is that with as much wind as MN and its neighbors have, a real-time signal based on wind output may be an important next step not too far down the road.
        Spec
        • 6 Months Ago
        @GoodCheer
        I think all rates should be TOU. That makes the electricity market more of a market wherein people will change their behaviors based on the rates.
      goodoldgorr
      • 6 Months Ago
      You can't have a battery car in minesota because of the too cold winters. Some that have one is because they want the state subsidy for themselves and they keep their old gasoline car.
        • 6 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Wow. You will have to tell that to my Volt and all the Leafs and Teslas I see around the Twin Cities. And, as Lam pointed out, there are NO state incentives for EVs.
        Lam
        • 6 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        Don't be an idiot, there plenty of Minnesotans who drive electric cars, and they made it through winter just fine. As a matter fact we love to use our remote apps to preheat our cars in the winter. Also, Minnesota doesn't have any electric car subsidies.
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