Why Electric Vehicles? Savings, Convenience, Environmental Benefits

July 9, 2021 (originally published July 2019)

As someone who has always driven a gasoline-powered vehicle, it can be difficult to think of making the switch to an all-electric car. But with how affordable they are becoming, the convenience of “fueling up” at home and the added bonus of knowing you’re positively impacting the environment, it could be a more practical option than you first think.

While electric vehicles (EVs) are less expensive to own and operate than a traditional gas-powered vehicle over the long-term, they can cost more upfront to purchase. That’s where incentives come into play. For example, the federal government offers consumers a tax credit of up to $7,500 to put toward the purchase of a new EV, which can significantly lower the price tag. The primary cost of an EV is its battery, but innovations in design and manufacturing have driven battery prices down more than 80 percent between 2010 and 2018.

Once you own an EV, the fuel cost savings start adding up. Electricity prices are far more stable than gas prices, and EVs are three times more energy efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles. This means that a typical EV can travel about 43 miles on $1 worth of electricity. While total savings depend on current gas prices and your driving habits, someone who drives 12,000 miles per year could save $1,300.

You already charge all your personal electronics at home – why not your vehicle, too? Your local electric cooperative offers another cost savings solution, this time on a home EV charger. By enrolling in Stearns Electric Association’s ChargeWise program, you’ll be able to receive a rebate for up to $500 to offset the cost to install an EV charger. Plus you’ll pay nearly half price electricity for charging the vehicle overnight.

Another convenience factor of EVs is that very little maintenance is required beyond changing windshield wipers and tires. They have fewer moving parts to break down – no carburetors, spark plugs, starters/alternators, etc. – which means they’re also more reliable than their gasoline-powered counterparts. EVs are also extremely quiet since they don’t produce combustion noise.

Overall, EVs have better environmental attributes than traditional vehicles because of their higher efficiency, lower energy consumption and no tailpipe emissions.

Plus, utilities like Stearns Electric and its wholesale power provider Great River Energy are producing energy from many renewable sources, including hydro and wind. As the source of electricity gets greener, so does the vehicle.

There’s even a program you can enroll in once you own your EV that will ensure that you are “fueling” your vehicle with 100 percent wind energy for its lifetime at no additional cost. By signing up for Revolt, Stearns Electric will dedicate wind energy renewable energy credits on your behalf to offset the energy used to power your vehicle.