Charged up about electric vehicles

Dawson Public Power District General Manager Gwen Kautz.

Dawson Public Power District General Manager Gwen Kautz.

By Gwen Kautz, General Manager
gkautz at

When it’s time to purchase your next vehicle, is an electric vehicle right for you? EVs are not for every lifestyle, but don’t be too quick to rule them out. Take the quiz here. Based on some simple questions, I found out that an EV isn’t right for me…yet.

I’ve been intrigued about electric vehicles for a few years. Back then, the distance they could go simply didn’t make them feasible for those who live in the country; especially for distances most of us drive to do anything special outside our small communities.

Today, automakers have made considerable strides and nearly every major brand has announced significant future EV plans.

A few years ago, the type of EVs available were limited to small compact cars. Today, you can buy a pick-up truck or SUV that has the same abilities as those with combustion engines. Again, you must pay attention to how you plan to use it and how far you need to go. How long the charge lasts depends on what you are running inside the vehicle, like heating or air conditioning, which lessens the distance you can drive.

What makes EVs still impractical in rural Nebraska is that there are not a lot of convenient vehicle charging stations. You can get low on gas and find a gas station within a few blocks. Not so with electric vehicles – but it’s getting better.

Today, you can pull up a map on your smartphone that shows you where the closest charging station is. The problem with some of these charging stations is how long it takes to charge your car – anywhere from 30 minutes to 8 hours. I can spend 30 minutes inside a store while my car is being charged, but I cannot spend 8 hours shopping (although my husband would argue that).

EV fuel is called an eGallon, even though it’s not measured the same way as gasoline or diesel. If you compare the fuel costs between an EV and one that uses gasoline, the value found is distinctly related to low cost energy – which Nebraska is known for.

Plug in hybrid electric vehicleA 2018 study from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute found that EVs cost less than half as much to operate as gas-powered cars.

The average cost to operate an EV in the United States is $485 per year, while the average cost for a gasoline-powered vehicle is $1,117. The exact price difference depends on gas and electric rates where you live, plus the type of car you drive.

If you’d like to see a comparison for operating costs related to fuel, check out the Department of Energy’s online calculator here.

Prices for EVs have come down a lot. There are still plenty of federal incentives to investigate. These rebates help offset the typically higher cost of an electric car to make “going electric” more financially feasible. Rebates and incentives for EVs are changing constantly, so do your homework!

Overall, I believe that electric vehicles are cheaper to operate – but it depends on what you use them for.


See our EV charging station rebate


June 2019

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