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Electric Vehicles Prompt Renewed Look At Power Rates


Widespread adoption of electric vehicles in the Northwest could lead local utilities to introduce variable electricity prices. 

State regulators, consumer advocates and utility managers broached the subject at a well-attended workshop Thursday in Olympia.


The problem is this:  What if electric vehicles catch on and lots of owners plug in to recharge their fancy new cars at the same time you’re turning on the oven at the end of the day, cranking up the baseboard heater and flicking on your wide screen plasma TV. 

That’ll strain the electric grid, of course. 

Washington public utilities commission chairman Jeff Goltz convened a roundtable to talk among other things about how to move battery recharging into off-peak hours.

Jeff Goltz: “It may be the cost of electricity at peak is considerably higher.  The cost of electricity off peak at night is considerably lower. If you charge your vehicle at night the lower rate would apply.”

Northwest utilities are unanimous in welcoming plug-in cars and many have surplus electricity to sell right now.

So restructuring of electricity rates may not be needed for a while.

Meanwhile, the first mass production electric car, the Nissan Leaf, rolls into Northwest showrooms in December.