No gas? No problem. Plug it in.
Electric vehicles (EVs) offer our customers many benefits, including discounted electric service, reduced fuel and maintenance costs, lower carbon emissions, and tax credits and other incentives, just to name a few.
TEP residential customers who own and operate a highway-approved plug-in EV can receive a discount on their electric service by signing up for our Time-of-Use or Demand Time-of-Use pricing plans. Eligible participants will receive a 5 percent reduction on their Base Power and Purchased Power and Fuel Adjustment Clause charges during off-peak time periods. The customer of record must submit a copy of the vehicle's registration to qualify for the discount.
In Arizona, EVs are exempt from all emissions testing requirements. And, once you have an Alternative Fuel Vehicle license plate, you can use the HOV freeway lanes at any time, regardless of the number of passengers. State tax incentives also are available, including reduced vehicle license tax.
Fuel is a lot less expensive, too. In Arizona, fueling an EV is about a third of the cost of fueling a traditional gasoline vehicle.
Federal tax credits of up to $7,500 are available for the purchase of a new plug-in EV.
TEP EV programs
In February 2019, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) voted to approve several new TEP programs that will promote the use of EVs.
TEP plans to offer up to $500 in financial incentives to residential customers who purchase and install qualified home charging systems. Incentives will be available to homebuilders that pre-install electric pathways to accommodate EV charging equipment. TEP also will revise its electric service discount for residential owners of plug-in EVs and help schools develop EV charging infrastructure and energy efficiency education materials.
These new programs are not yet available. TEP will be participating in upcoming ACC workshops on EV policy and seeking further guidance about program implementation. We hope to make our updated pricing plan and other approved EV programs available later this year.
For now, TEP is partnering with car manufacturers and dealers to plan events where fleet managers and members of the public can test drive EVs and learn more about them. TEP also is working with the Arizona Department of Transportation and other state utilities and stakeholders on the continued development of highway charging infrastructure and facilities.
How EVs work
EVs look just like other vehicles, except they use a battery to store electric energy that powers the motor. EV batteries are charged by plugging in the vehicle to an electric power source.
Some EVs can travel more than 300 miles on a single charge. That means you could drive from Tucson to Flagstaff without stopping. Private and public charging stations are more common than ever before, enabling EV owners to travel farther without sacrificing convenience.
Auto companies also manufacture plug-in hybrid EVs, which have both an electric motor powered with battery-stored energy and a traditional gasoline engine. These vehicles plug in to an electric power source and can operate solely on electricity or gasoline.
Read the U.S. Consumer’s Guide to Electric Vehicles to learn about the newest available models, driving range and charging time. Information in the Electric Cars Report and Green Car Reports also might be helpful as you shop for your EV.
Charging my EV
According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), more than 18,000 electric charging stations and 50,000 charging outlets have been installed throughout the United States. If you’re planning a trip, consider downloading a mobile app to identify charging station locations along your route or visit the EV charging station map available on the DOE website.
Access to charging equipment at work helps make EVs more affordable and convenient for owners. The DOE is encouraging employers to provide EV charging stations. A handbook for employers interested in installing charging equipment is available through the DOE’s Clean Cities program.
Before purchasing an EV charger for your home, you may need to consult an electrical contractor to determine if your home electrical system needs any modifications. The type of charging system you install will depend on the type of vehicle you choose. Installation of higher-voltage systems may require permitting and upgrades to your home’s electrical facilities.
Charging equipment is classified by the rate at which batteries charge. Obtaining a full charge can take from 15 minutes to 20 hours or more, depending on the type of charging equipment and the battery’s current charge. There are three types of chargers:
- Level 1 chargers use a 120-volt (V) plug and can be plugged in to a standard outlet. Most plug-in EVs come with this type of charging equipment. These chargers provide 2-5 miles of range for each hour of charging and are most often used at home. EV owners typically use these types of chargers to charge their vehicles at home overnight.
- Level 2 chargers provide 10-60 miles of range for each hour of charging. Electric vehicles can be charged with a 240V plug, typically used in homes, or a 208V plug, which are most commonly used in commercial settings. These units can fully charge an electric car battery in as little as 2 hours, making them a good choice for both homeowners and businesses.
- Level 3 or direct-current (DC) fast charging equipment is typically found along corridors with heavy traffic and other public locations. DC rapid chargers use a 480V connection to provide 60-100 miles of range for each 20-minute charge. These chargers require highly specialized equipment to install and maintain and typically are only used in commercial and industrial environments.
A greener choice
EVs do not produce tailpipe emissions, and plug-in hybrid EVs produce no tailpipe emissions when in all-electric mode.
Although generating electricity to power EVs produces greenhouse gases, EV charging has a smaller carbon footprint than vehicles burning fossil fuels. As TEP continues to reduce its use of coal as fuel source in favor of renewable energy resources, those greenhouse gas emission benefits will increase.
In the future, EV batteries could be used to help manage peak energy demand and provide other support to our local electrical grid.