Compared with gasoline cars, electric cars are cheap to refuel, especially when charged at night using specialist electric car rates.

Designed to encourage the charging of electric vehicles at night time when grid demand is naturally lower, electric car rates are substantially cheaper per kilowatt-hour than normal day rates, incentivizing electric car owners to charge at night time. 

But according to the second annual United States Smart Grid: Utility Electric Vehicle Tariffs (Volume II) study published today by research firm Northeast Group, only six percent of all utilities in the U.S. offer special rates to electric car owners. 

When the study was compiled at the end of June, only 22 utility companies across the U.S. had launched specialist energy products for electric car owners. 

Interestingly, while California and the Pacific Northwest are considered among the states where electric cars are the most popular, Hawaii, Michigan and Nevada are the states with the most electric-car friendly utility companies. 

In those three states, 90 percent of all customers are able to choose an electric car charging rate should they so wish. 

A3 e-tron charging station installation

A3 e-tron charging station installation

With 80 percent of all customers having access to an electric car charging plan, California and Georgia come next, despite utilities in California being among the first to offer electric car price plans. 

For the rest of the U.S. however, access to specialist electric car electricity rates is much more restricted, with only 6 percent of utilities nationwide offering cheaper electricity rates to electric car owners. 

Depending on the utility company, the way electric car charging rates are metered varies from place to place. 

In some instances, the utility company will install a dedicated electric-car electricity meter, only offering discounted or fixed-fee electricity for the charging of an electric car. 

In other cases, utility companies offer lower than usual night-time rates to customers with an electric car registered in their name, allowing the electric car owner to use the cheaper rate electricity for everything from charging their car to running their washing machine at night.

2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt, with charging station visible; photo by George Parrott

2011 Nissan Leaf and 2011 Chevy Volt, with charging station visible; photo by George Parrott

Despite what seems like a low overall availability of specialist electric car charging rates, the report points out that year on year, many more utilities offer electric car rates than did last year. 

Do you charge your electric car using a special time-of-use or electric car rate from your utility company? 

How much do you pay per kilowatt-hour, and how much money has it saved you over standard electricity rates? 

Let us know in the Comments below. 


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