Minnesota regulators approve Xcel electric car pilot program

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An energy utility company is rolling out a new pilot program in Minnesota to increase interest in electric vehicles.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved Xcel Energy’s pilot program Thursday, the Star Tribune reported .
“I think this is critically important,” Commissioner Matt Schuerger said. “Electric vehicles are coming, and we need to have a pathway into this and evolve with it.”
The utility’s program includes a “smart charger” that doesn’t require customers to install a second electrical meter, which can be a costly venture. The charger is a 240-volt level two charger, instead of the 120-volt level one charger most electric cars have. The level two charger can provide up to 25 miles per hour of charge, more than six times the level one charger.
“We predict more and more customers will opt for a 240-volt charger,” said Kevin Schwain, leader of Xcel’s electric vehicle program.
The pilot program will be limited to 100 customers.
The company adopted a 40 percent discount rate for its electric vehicles in 2015, but other expenses continued to deter customers. Customers were required to purchase a second meter and pay for its installation, which can range from $200 to $2,000 depending on a building’s layout.
Only 150 customers enrolled in the discount program. Most customers elected to pay the more expensive standard rate instead of installing a second meter.
Xcel estimates there are about 5,700 electric vehicles in its service area. The company estimates there could be more than 300,000 electric vehicles in the area by 2030.

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