Could electric vehicle charging stations make your energy cheaper?
To get more use out of the grid, [Kansas City Power & Light] decided to change the equation by installing 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations.
- Kansas City Power & Light is building electric vehicle charging stations.
- The utility hopes to get more use out of its underused grid.
- The infrastructure is already paid for, so increasing use could drive down the per-unit cost of electricity.
I splurged and bought a spendy pair of new jeans recently. They were the most comfortable and stylish pants I had ever tried on. But even so, I had a hard time convincing myself the purchase was worth it.
To justify my splurge, I decided to wear them every day. That way, when I average it out, the cost of the jeans per use would actually be very low.
For the sake of easy math, let’s say the jeans cost $200. If I only wore them 20 times this year, they would cost $10 per use. But if I wear them 365 times this year, it’s only $0.55 per use.
Good thing I really love these pants.
Kansas City Power & Light is using a similar approach to make electricity more affordable for its customers. The infrastructure the utility uses to deliver electricity to its customers is already paid for. But it was created to support the huge energy demand on the hottest summer day when everyone has their air conditioners running on full blast.
Since the temperatures only spike a few times a year, the grid is underused about 80 percent of the time.
To get more use out of the grid, the company decided to change the equation by installing 1,000 electric vehicle charging stations. If enough customers used a lot more energy, it could drive down the cost per unit of electricity, similar to how wearing my pants more often brings down the cost per wear.
“When you turn on an additional TV in your home, that’s not enough to change that equation,” said Chuck Caisley, KCP&L’s vice president for marketing and public affairs in an interview with NPR’s “All Tech Considered.” “But when you talk about a segment [the auto industry] that’s as much as 25 to 30 percent of the entire economy, and electrifying it, you’re talking about a significant amount of increased electricity use, which means we’re now using that infrastructure that customers have paid for so much more efficiently."
Two years into the project, KC&L has installed 850 of its promised 1,000 charging stations.
It’s too early to tell if this will actually drive down the unit costs for customers, but I’ll check back in to see how it goes and keep you updated.
Now I just need to figure out when I’m going to wash these jeans.
Sarah is mom to the two cutest little girls in the world. Before choosing to make changing diapers and reading bed time stories her full time gig, she earned a degree in political science from The University of South Dakota, worked in the governor’s office as a policy analyst and dabbled in communications at her local utility. Follow Sarah on Twitter @EnergyMommy.