Dollars and Sense: The True Cost of Operating EV Charging Stations

Many business leaders fear electric vehicle (EV) charging stations will add significant costs to their energy expenditures? Are they justified?

What does it cost this business to charge their employees vehicles? Maybe less than you think.

Employees see workplace EV charging stations as a valuable amenity. A convenient workplace perk.

Facility directors and business owners may feel differently. Rising energy costs may lead to uncertainty. Many leaders fear new EV charging stations could add unnecessary financial risk and eat away at company profits.

Others express concern with the state of their facility’s existing electrical infrastructure. New EV chargers may trigger expensive utility upgrades.

Does any of this describe you? If so, you’re not alone.

Let’s provide clarity. I want to debunk some common myths and arm you with facts as you consider your organization’s next EV charging project.

Let My People Charge – I Think?

Business owners often ask me two questions: how much electricity an electric vehicle (EV) needs. And how will it impact my businesses’ electrical bills?

Let’s run some numbers with a quick example.

Consider Sonia, one of your valued employees. She commutes 35 miles round trip to your workplace, representing the average American commute according to the US Department of Transportation.

Vehicle efficiency affects the amount of fuel required to travel 35 miles. For example, if Sonia’s gas-powered vehicle gets 35 miles per gallon, she’ll need 1 gallon of fuel. If her car is half as efficient at 17.5 miles per gallon, she’ll need 2 gallons. You get the idea.

Electric vehicles use a different measure of energy. Instead of gallons of gasoline, we use kilowatt-hours (kWh).

A kilowhat?! Don’t worry, it’s easy. Consider a single kWh propels an EV between 3-4 miles.

So if Sonia traveled 35 miles in an EV, she’d need about 11 kWh (rounding up). Are you with me? Good.

So Sonia needs 11 kWh. So how much does that all cost?

Home or Away

If you live in California like me, electric rates vary throughout the day. Electricity costs more during “on-peak periods”, generally from 4 – 9 pm. On average, our family pays about $0.35 per kWh. Let’s assume the same for Sonia.

When Sonia charges an EV at home, driving 35 miles costs $3.85 in fuel. (11 kWh x $0.35 per kWh).

But charging at work is way less expensive. Why is that?

Here in California, utilities offer businesses lower commercial rates. That’s because commercial customers use more energy, resulting in a lower marginal cost of energy. Think of it as a bulk discount.

For example, Sonia’s employer pays an average electric rate of $0.20 per kWh. That’s 43% less than her residential rate!

Many of our customers offer their employees complimentary no-cost charging as an employee perk. So what does that cost an organization?

Back to Work

Workplace EV charging costs Sonia’s organization $2.20 to cover her 35-mile daily commute (11 kWh x $0.20 per kWh).

For large businesses, a paltry $2 is hardly noticeable. As one customer shared, $2.20 is less than the cost of a cup of coffee. But it makes a big difference in Sonia’s life since she doesn’t have a reliable place to charge at home. Her company’s $2 investment saves her over $6 a day in driving costs.

Consider a business that charges 20 employees’ EVs each day. That would cost about $44 in electricity while saving employees over $120 in fuel savings. Every single day. That’s a nice recruiting piece, eh?

Fleet operators often think in “Cost per 100 miles”. For our fleet friends, it takes about 40 kWh to drive an electric transit van 100 miles. That’s $8 in electricity costs ($0.20 x 40 kWh).

Driving a comparable gas-powered delivery van 100 miles could run $30 (5 gallons x $6 per gallon). That’s 275% more than driving an EV in fuel alone.

Putting It All Together

Affordable EV charging can lure employees like Sonia back to the office. Fleet operators can cash in on serious fuel savings while showcasing their sustainability commitments.

With gasoline prices surpassing $6 per gallon, commercial charging can offer employees and fleets a valuable respite from the growing pressures of inflation. And sustainability directors can’t wait to showcase the next EV project on their next annual ESG report.

So, how much does it cost to install EV charging stations? Stay tuned for my next article to find out.

About the Author

My name is Alex. I’m working alongside a talented team to provide organizations with intelligent onsite solutions that support carbon-free electrification and transportation.

I live in San Diego and enjoy hiking, bicycling, traveling, spending time with my wife and son, and pondering the clean energy transition. You can reach me directly at alex.kaufman@powerflex.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *