Utility-scale Viewpoint: Overcoming EV Myths and Misconceptions

July 6, 2022
Many of these challenges, however, are concerns of the past. Thanks to growing infrastructure, alongside rebate and credit programs, driving EVs has become easier and more efficient than ever
While electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way recently, there are still common misunderstandings hampering their full-scale adoption.

Issues like the belief that EVs cost significantly more than gas-powered vehicles, “range anxiety” (running out of power or being unable to find a charging station when you want), and the idea that EVs will be too taxing on our nation’s energy grid, often prevent drivers from making the switch.

 Many of these challenges, however, are concerns of the past. Thanks to growing infrastructure, alongside rebate and credit programs, driving EVs has become easier and more efficient than ever.

 Long term savings

When it comes to cost, it’s important to compare more than just vehicle sticker prices. An EV may cost a bit more up front, but once you factor in fuel savings, maintenance costs, state incentives, and total cost of ownership (TCO) over a vehicle’s lifetime, EVs save drivers money. These savings are seen beyond the pain-at-the-pump many drivers are feeling today.

 A recent study by Energy Innovation showed that in most states, EVs are less expensive to own than their gasoline-fueled counterparts, even when the sticker price is significantly higher. The study also indicates that an EV owner stands to save an average of $6,000 over a vehicle’s lifetime compared to traditional internal combustion engine (ICE), gasoline vehicles. Monthly EV costs are on average lower in most states, and EV owners see considerably more savings once a car is paid off.

These savings are partly thanks to the current $7,500 federal tax credit. These incentives, however, won’t last forever. Many manufacturers will hit the 200,000-vehicle cap for tax credit eligibility in 2022, if they haven’t already, which is more reason to consider getting an EV now. That said, without the federal tax credit, EVs still save drivers money overall.

Addressing range anxiety One of the biggest concerns since before actual EVs hit the road is range anxiety. The phrase elicits images of running out of juice at the worst time or in the most unforgiving conditions. But as EVs have evolved and charging infrastructure has grown, it’s a frame of reference that no longer applies.

On average, American drivers go about 30 miles in a day. Charging an EV for an hour alone with a typical Level 2 home charger adds 20 to 30 miles to car’s range. Additionally, EV charging infrastructure is continually expanding, so drivers can more easily find charging stations before they run out of mileage. Even though range anxiety still creates some hesitancy, interest in EVs is growing.

To accommodate a growing number of EV adopters and create a more robust charging infrastructure, Michigan has joined other states in building regional and nationwide networks for fast EV charging. Consumers Energy is developing 200 fast-charging locations, and more than 2,000 chargers in homes and businesses powering EVs across the state. We’ve also provided more than 1,000 rebates for home, business, and public charging stations, making electric vehicle ownership convenient and affordable. Those rebates include 37 fast charging locations, which can quickly get a long-distance traveler back on the road after 30 minutes.

There’s help at the national level, too. The Biden administration recently committed $7.5 billion toward building EV charging infrastructure and $7 billion toward EV supply chain needs. This will help achieve the goal of having 500,000 public charging stations and 40- to 50-percent of all new vehicle sales be EVs by 2030. Auto executives are also hopeful EV adoption will grow from roughly 2 million electric vehicles today to 22 million vehicles by 2030. 

Guaranteeing our grid

What about the grid itself? There is a misconception that EVs on the road will overtax our grid. In actuality, the nation’s grid has excess capacity year over year. In fact, a U.S. Energy Information Administration report indicates energy consumption per person peaked in the 1970s and has generally decreased due to innovations increasing production efficiencies.

Energy providers are also already planning for growing demand to ensure energy is available when and where it’s needed. For example, Consumers Energy offers plans that include lower rates during lower-demand hours, encouraging EV drivers to charge overnight, when the electric grid can easily provide more energy. Not only does this protect our grid, but it also saves all customers money.

We’re also accelerating the end of our coal usage and investing in renewable energy. Consumers Energy is going coal-free by 2025 and is committed to net zero carbon emissions from electricity we provide to Michigan homes and businesses by 2040. With these incentives in place, not only will our grid be prepared for widespread EV usage, we will also be able to provide EVs with clean, reliable energy.

About the author: Sarah Nielsen is Michigan-based utility Consumers Energy's Executive Director of Transportation-Renewables and Storage, Consumers Energy. Her team team runs the utility programs for demand response, electric vehicles, renewables, and pricing. 

Prior to joining Consumers, Nielsen was a Fellow, working on the Veterans Advanced Energy Project, at the Atlantic Council. She also has been a director of corporate strategy for Consumers Energy and served on the Truman National Security Project. 

Nielsen is a graduate of the Yale School of Management and University of Dayton.