The Silent Charge: Electric co-ops planning for electric vehicle growth

Technology advances in electric vehicle development have shifted heads to considering possibilities for the energy industry.

EVs are still a small portion of the total U.S. automobile sales but it’s growing rapidly. CNBC reported in May that an industry research firm predicts that the global market for EVs, which are automobiles powered by a rechargeable battery rather than gasoline, will top 3 million in 2021. And the utility industry is paying attention because several developments could have far-reaching implications:

More effective use of the energy grid. The addition of thousands of recharging EVs could put a strain on the energy grid – particularly if they charge during the utility’s peak time, when people use the most energy. To encourage EV owners to charge off-peak, many utilities are offering Time of Use rates that provide discounts during non-peak time. This helps the utility avoid paying high prices during high demand times, which saves everyone money. It also provides a use for energy generated during the evenings and overnight times when power plants are still running but without much load to serve.

EVs support a greener, diversified energy supply. Over the last 10 years, your local electric co-op’s power supply has incorporated a greater amount of alternative energy sources. More wind and solar energy resources have been added while our reliance on coal has decreased. As EVs replace gas-powered vehicles, society as a whole likely will become less reliant upon fossil fuels.

Batteries provide future potential. Battery technology in EVs could hold the key to larger utility scale batteries in the future. Battery storage would enable electricity generated to be stored and then used later during times of higher demand. Even cars themselves hold potential: there has been consideration of how EV batteries could help power a home during a storm outage. While the technology is not there yet, it is being explored.

EV technology under the hood has the potential to impact the entire energy industry and those tech advances can even be beneficial to people who have no plans to ever own an EV. For more information about EVs, including to see if one would be a good fit for you, contact your local electric cooperative’s energy advisor or visit