Fall Foliage, Ovando, Montana

Save Power and Money with ReCHARGE

Posted: September 1, 2023
Mark Hayden, GM

As gas prices continue to soar, many drivers have decided to swap traditional gas-powered vehicles for electric vehicles (EVs). While EVs are considered by many to be environmentally and wallet-friendly, among other benefits, widespread adoption could pose a challenge to power providers and the electric grid as a whole.

Power systems are designed to accommodate future load growth based on observed trends. The loads that concern power providers the most are “peak loads,” which occur when a majority of consumers use electricity during a specific time period. With new loads, like those we’ve embraced as EV charging begins to impact utility lines, their management will be crucial. This means we will work to move these loads to off-peak hours when ample capacity exists.

Unlike traditional vehicles, which run on gasoline or diesel fuel, EVs are powered by electricity stored in a rechargeable battery. So, while EV drivers won’t have to pay at the pump, they’ll still need somewhere to “fuel” their vehicle’s battery. In preparation for this transition, MEC launched ReCHARGE, a residential-managed EV charging program, which allows members to charge their electric vehicle during off-peak hours at a reduced price.

The key to the ReCHARGE program is the charger. MEC will provide members with a 32 Amp, 240 Volt Level 2 Smart EV charger that automatically shuts off during peak periods – weekdays from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. In addition, the charger is equipped with a built-in, revenue-grade kilowatt-hour (kWh) meter, which will track energy utilized for EV charging. All kWh used for charging will be deducted from the primary residential meter and billed at a reduced rate. Based upon today’s rates, all energy consumed by the charger will be billed at a 2-cent per kWh discount from our residential energy rate. For example, if our residential rate is 7.15 cents per kWh, our ReCHARGE rate would be 5.15 cents per kWh. Based on the average efficiency of an EV (in miles/kWh) and the fuel economy of the “average” American vehicle, fueling an automobile at 5.15 cents per kWh is like buying gas at 40 cents per gallon!

We commonly get asked, “What is required to install the charger in a residential garage?” Firstly, if you have Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity at the site where the charger will be installed, your charger will be able to “communicate” smoothly. Participating members will also need a dedicated 50 Amp circuit with a NEMA 14-50 receptacle, as chargers are fitted with a NEMA 14-50 plug end. The last two requirements are simple… you will need to screw the charging unit into the wall and know how to plug in a power cord. The charger should immediately begin communicating usage once it’s plugged into your EV.

EV ChargerAre you ready to join dozens of other MEC members and turn your garage into your very own fueling station? The ReCHARGE EV charger can be rented from the Cooperative for a one-time fee of $499 or $19 per month. Email our Manager of Energy Services, Dan Rogers, at DanR@meccoop.com. He can provide you with program-specific details, help you complete a participation agreement, and start you “on the road” to money (and energy) savings.