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EV charging remains a great question for the burgeoning industry. Michigan's DTE Energy is the first to tackle developing a specialized bill scheme for EVs (Chevy Volt charger is pictured).  (Source: Car Fanatic Forum)
Customers can also opt for cheaper off-peak charging; may have to pay up to $2,500 for high-tech meter

The Tesla Roadster is already prowling the streets while the 2011 Chevy Volt and 2011 Nissan LEAF EV are preparing to launch later this year.  That's familiar news to most, but what might be a little more hazy is how the growing ranks of EVs are getting their power.

Amid all the EV excitement, charging has been one topic that has been decidedly undercovered -- largely due to lack of available information.  However, the Michigan Public Service Commission this week announced that it had approved the state's first experimental rate for residential customers to recharge their EVs.  

Utility DTE Energy Co.'s Detroit Edison unit filed the application.  By having a regimented payment infrastructure and usage monitoring, the utility will be able to better cope with demand and presumably provide customers with more competitive rates than if it left them on their own to install home charging stations and charge off their current connections.

DTE Energy is offering EV customers two options -- either pay a flat rate of $40 per vehicle per month, or sign up for a lower, variable off-peak rate.  The big expense will be the installation of a specialized meter circuit and charging station -- DTE Energy says that customers may be charged up to $2,500 for that.  It's unclear whether automaker-provided chargers will be compatible with DTE's system.

The trial program will run through December 31, 2012 and can cover up to 2,500 consumers.

For moderately heavy drivers (40-100 miles per day), assuming $40/week in gas expenses and the full charging station cost, it looks like customers will start to see savings in about 2 years.  While those savings have a long way to go towards justifying the large cost premiums on the Volt and Leaf, they're a start, at least.

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Why not give everyone off peak rates?
By nafhan on 8/11/2010 11:17:50 AM , Rating: 2
It seems like low off peak rates are a good idea, period. Why limit that to electric vehicle owners? Encourage people to dry their clothes, etc. when electricity usage is lower.

RE: Why not give everyone off peak rates?
By Homerboy on 8/11/2010 11:41:03 AM , Rating: 2
It used to be this way (at least in WI).
I remember being little and my parents always doing wash, vacuming etc during "off peak" hours to save pennies.

RE: Why not give everyone off peak rates?
By rvd2008 on 8/11/2010 12:25:07 PM , Rating: 2
I doubt that very much. Maybe they were simply busy during the day? Because off peak rate requires smart meter with real time rate and usage upload.

RE: Why not give everyone off peak rates?
By Mogounus on 8/11/2010 1:07:22 PM , Rating: 2
You don't need smart meters for off peak rates. That is old tech. All the meter needs to know is the time.

RE: Why not give everyone off peak rates?
By rvd2008 on 8/11/2010 2:01:57 PM , Rating: 2
SO, where do they get real time from? And how do they change metering according to that time without computer?

By namechamps on 8/11/2010 4:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
It isn't that hard. Off peak metering has been around for 50+ years. A timed usage "meter" is simply 2 meters inside combined with a clock. Peak usage is recorded on one meter, off peak on the second meter.

So for example the system recorded the power used between 10pm & 8am (off peak) and the power used between 8am & 10 pm (peak) separately.

When the electric guy came to read the meter instead of reading a single meter value he read and recorded 2 values (peak & off)

The electric bill was computed as follows:

Power on A * A rate + Power on B * B rate = total bill.

Now two way communication, and microprocessors has made the system much easier to implement but that doesn't mean it is a new thing.

You are thinking of "smart grid" which involves dynamic power shaping and cutting off non-essential loads based on overall grid demand. That is radically different and more complex than a peak vs off peak system.

By HotFoot on 8/11/2010 1:13:18 PM , Rating: 2
There's a lot of places doing that already. Smart meters allow for changing electricity charge rates according to time of day. It's not without problems, as this tends to mean prices don't just go down at night, they also go up during the day. The stay-at-home parent might want to be doing laundry while the kids are having their afternoon nap, because there's really no other convenient time. For them it's a losing proposition.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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