FAQ’s on Electric Vehicles (EVs)

General Manager Syd Briggs

It’s no secret that consumer interest in electric vehicles (EVs) is growing, and Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric has been receiving general inquiries about EVs, along with requests for specific information on charging requirements, incentives, etc.

You have probably also heard that most automakers are transitioning many or all their new vehicles to electric-only models over the next 10 years, so I thought it would be helpful to respond to some of those frequently-asked questions.

• Why does Steele-Waseca have an EV? The co-op purchased their first EV in 2020 for research and development purposes, and to have actual experience in knowing what they’re like to operate. Our EV and charging station helps the co-op access key data and gain insights into how EVs operate, and what infrastructure is needed to support them.
Steele-Waseca has an EV to help raise awareness and promote understanding of EV technologies. We also provide rebate details on the ChargeWise program through our website, swce.coop. Steele-Waseca is among participating electric cooperatives taking part in this voluntary program for qualified members who own a plug-in (PEV) or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) electric vehicle. In addition, Steele-Waseca has hosted electric vehicle safety training for area fire departments.

• Why is Steele-Waseca involved in EV infrastructure issues? All electric utilities are planning now to ensure they have the necessary electric infrastructure in place to meet future EV charging needs—without jeopardizing the ability to keep reliable power flowing to our local homes and businesses. We have members express concern with the EV future when we have our wholesale energy provider encouraging conservation during peak demand times. However, the charging of electric vehicles are during the overnight hours when demand is low, instead of daytime and early evening hours when demand is high.

• Can I charge my EV using an existing outlet or do I need a special outlet? All EVs come with a 110-volt-compatible (Level 1) charging unit which can be plugged into any standard household outlet. For an eight-hour overnight charge, this will enable traveling around 36 to 40 miles a day. If you typically drive longer distances, or are in a hurry, a Level 2 charger takes about half the time and provides about 180 miles of range over an eight-hour charging period. A Level 2 charger must be installed by a licensed electrician.
The ChargeWise program allows members to charge their PEV/PHEV in their garage or carport using electricity from a specially installed 20-amp ChargeWise outlet. This outlet only provides energy during the off-peak hours of 11 p.m.-7 a.m. Members simply plug in the vehicle in the evening and it’s charged during those overnight hours at a reduced rate, and wake up to a fully-charged electric vehicle. A state electrical inspector will inspect work following installation.

• Does the outside temperature affect the range of an EV? Outside temperatures, particularly colder weather, can impact the range of an EV. Unlike a gas-powered vehicle, where the heat is mostly coming from the engine, an EV must produce cabin heat and manage an optimal battery temperature with energy that comes from the battery, which can reduce battery range.

• Will an EV meet my daily driving needs? If you are like most Americans and drive an average of 30 miles a day, an EV can meet your daily needs.

• What kind of incentives are available for EVs? There are a variety of tax credits, rebates, and other incentives available for EV purchases. Visit www.afdc.energy.gov/laws/electric-vehicles-for-tax-credit to learn about federal incentives available through the Clean Vehicle Credit program, and about incentives in Minnesota.

• Should I let Steele-Waseca know if I purchase an EV? If you purchase an EV, please let us know so we can better serve you. As more members buy EVs, it’s helpful to know where they’re located in our service area so we can ensure the co-op has the necessary infrastructure in place to meet charging needs and provide reliable power to our local homes and businesses.

We understand making the switch to an EV is a big decision. Whether you’re ready to make an EV purchase or wondering if an EV can meet your daily driving needs, Steele-Waseca’s here to help you make an informed decision. Give us a call during regular business hours or email info@swce.coop.