- The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ordered the state’s investor-owned utilities to provide new, reduced rates for the state’s estimated 3,000 electric vehicle owners if they charge their cars during off-peak nighttime hours, the Star Tribune reports.
- Xcel Energy, Minnesota Power, and Otter Tail Power plans will vary, but the new rates could reduce the cost of charging EVs by 40%. About a 2,000 of Xcel's 1.2 million customers have electric vehicles, along with about a dozen Otter Tail customers.
- EV penetrations are expected to increase in Minnesota by 2017 when battery ranges exceed 200 miles, a distance today’s Tesla is capable of, and the new rates will be in place in the next two months.
In addition to the electric vehicle charging hours, the PUC last Thursday approved other rate changes for the Minnesota utilities as well.
The PUC order sets Minnesota Power’s fixed monthly charge at $4.25, and its off-peak hours at 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. The utility's summer and winter off-peak rates will $0.04332 per kWh, and its all-renewables premium rate will be $0.025 per kWh. Some Minnesota renewables advocates have expressed concerns about the fixed charge.
The Otter Tail fixed charge is $4.50 and itts off-peak hours are 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. Its summer off-peak rate is $0.02962 per kWh, while the winter off-peak rate is $0.04661 per kWh, and its all-renewables premium is $0.013 per kwh.
Xcel’s monthly charge is $4.95, its off-peak hours are 9 p.m. to 9 a.m., its summer and winter off-peak rates are $0.033 per kWh, and its all-renewables premium $0.0068 per kWh.
Xcel will also offer a $25 gift card to EV owners who choose the all-renewables option. Renewables in Minnesota largely means wind, which is plentiful and cheap at night. Night charging with renewables is seen as particularly effective at reducing the 27% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions generated by the transportation sector. Analysts estimate the cost of driving a plug-in at the equivalent of paying $0.40 per gallon to $0.50 per gallon for gasoline.