FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — In the coming years, your primary options for buying a vehicle will likely be something powered, at least in part, by electricity. To help consumers adapt to the changing vehicle landscape, on Thursday, Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) announced the details of its IM Plugged In program, which offers incentives to Hoosier customers who install electric vehicle charging equipment in their homes.
“It makes charging easier at home,” said William Tokash, the Energy Services Customer Solutions Leader at I&M. “For them, it takes the hassle out of them working with contractors to do that and they can save money while charging their vehicle and be ready to drive, [essentially] with a full tank of gas every morning.”
This announcement comes during National Drive Electric Week, which runs Sept. 25 through Oct. 3, and is meant to highlight the advantages that electric vehicles offer. It appears to be well-timed too, as a small but significant share of car owners have traded filling up for plugging in– and many more are thinking of joining them.
A recent Pew Research Center survey found 7% of U.S. adults said they currently have an electric or hybrid vehicle, while 39% said they were very or somewhat likely to seriously consider buying an electric vehicle the next time they’re in the market for new wheels.
“Indiana Michigan Power’s program is acknowledging the fact that people want to implement this technology and use these vehicles and it’s helping them get there,” said Kerri Garvin, the Executive Director for Greater Indiana Clean Cities. “There’s a high demand for it. More people are buying these vehicles and people see it as an incentive to bring people to those areas.”
Garvin said in Indiana alone, over the past five years, there has been an 80% increase in electric vehicle and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle registrations.
As part of the IM Plugged In program, I&M is offering Hoosiers a $500 incentive toward the cost of wiring a residential electric vehicle meter. Customers who participate in I&M’s program will also receive a 33 percent discounted rate for charging their vehicles during “off peak” hours, which run from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
If someone drives a full-sized car that gets 20 miles per gallon, 12,000 miles a year, they are spending about $1,782 each year on gas. That number is based off Thursday’s average gas price in Fort Wayne, which according to GasBuddy is $2.97 per gallon. However, I&M says if you use its program, and charge your electric vehicle during off peak hours, you will only spend $235 per year.
Tokash said I&M evaluates the needs of its customer service areas routinely and is “well positioned” to manage the additional electric usage that would need to be sustained as the growth of electric vehicles continues.
While making the switch may sound like a no brainer, many are wondering what all goes into into preparing your home for it– and more importantly, at what cost?
“This is a tricky question to answer because every home installation is different,” said Luis Quiroga, the Senior Vice President of Product with HomeServe.
According to Quiroga, all installations require a double pole breaker switch, an outlet or mount to install the charger, and wiring. On top of that, I&M’s program requires customers to install a sub-meter socket and to get a permit. Once the customer verifies the installation is done according to I&Ms requirements, the customer is issued at $500 rebate.
Basic installation where the electrical panel is about 10 feet from the location of the charger in a garage is about $800 to $1,100, according to Quiroga. These estimated prices include I&M’s rebate. A comparable installation that is outdoors, instead of inside a garage, is about $1,400 to $1,700.
Quiroga said if there is work required to either upgrade the panel, replace it or upgrade service that can be an additional $1,200 to $3,500 charge.
“It’s a pretty robust circuit you need to add,” said Quiorga. “And of course, then you have labor on top of that.”
To prepare your home for an installation, Quiroga says customers should think about where they want to permanently place their chargers, as well as figure out how they’ll manage the long cable that has the connector that you actually plug into the car.
He said although it can be expensive, he strongly discourages anyone from trying to install a charger without an electrician.
“It’s definitely worth it for them peace of mind and safety perspective,” said Quiroga.
The Electric Power Research Institute anticipates that nationwide, there’ll be 18 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030.