How much of a bargain are those free electric car recharging stations in rural Nevada?

The state has released information on just how frequently those rural electric car recharging stations are being used, and it’s not exactly like the lines for gasoline back in the 1970s.

The Nevada Office of Energy reports that drivers have charged their electric vehicles 274 times at the three charging stations built by the state in Beatty, Fallon and Panaca along Highways 95 and 93 since the first one opened in early 2016, according to The Nevada Independent. The donation funded news website reports this usage saved a total equivalent to 395 gallons of gasoline and gave away 3,150 kilowatt-hours of electricity. It was dutifully noted that the usage rate is growing.

The costs of three charging stations which give away the power — dubbed the Electric Highway — has been a moving target. When the first opened in Beatty in March 2016 the Office of Energy said each would cost $15,000 and the would be paid for taxpayers and the ratepayers of NV Energy and Valley Electric Association. In the summer of 2015 press accounts said each would cost $30,000. A June 2017 story in the Las Vegas newspaper quoted a spokesman for the governor as saying the cost of each station would range from $85,000 to $250,000, but he assured its readers “none of that comes from taxpayer dollars. The office is funding its portion of costs with federal grant money, and the electric utility covers the rest.” And we thought federal grant money came from taxpayers.

According to the Office of Energy, NV Energy put up $30,000 in an upfront cost abatement payment. It also reports NV Energy is putting out $30,000 for three stations and Valley Electric $15,000 for one.

Another station opened a month ago in Hawthorne. No usage for that outpost was mentioned yet. The press release announcing the opening was bereft of dollar signs.

The first three electric car charging stations have been open an average of about 540 days. Thus, according the Office of Energy, they are used about once every two days.

Taking the low-ball cost per station of $15,000 each that means the 395 gallons saved cost $114 per gallon in capital outlay alone, never mind maintenance and operating costs. The high-end of $250,000 per station translates to $1,900 per gallon.

Using the current retail power cost of about 11 cents per kWh, the stations have given electric car drivers less than $350 worth of power over two years. Now there’s a bargain.

The NVIndy website said Gov. Brian Sandoval sent it an email statement saying he was “encouraged” by the progress of the project.

“When the entire route is complete, range anxiety will be significantly reduced, giving more travelers the comfort required to travel between Reno and Las Vegas,” the statement reportedly said. “Moreover, as the number of electric cars increases, I am confident even more travelers will utilize the electric highway.”

When that Beatty charging station opened, Sandoval was on hand demonstrate by charging up a Ford Focus from the state Department of Transportation fleet in Las Vegas. Since the car had a range of only 76 miles, it had to be hauled to the ceremony from Las Vegas. Most of the Beatty charging stations took four hours to recharge, though a couple could do an 80 percent recharge in half an hour.

According to that 2017 Las Vegas newspaper account, a spokesman for the governor said the office has identified 24 sites along five traffic corridors “where EV charging stations make sense.”

Depends on what one means by make sense?

Governor announces Nevada Electric Highway (Photo from governor’s office)




You can’t get there from here — but you can go for free

Gov. Sandoval demonstrates how to recharge a car that was shuttled to Beatty for the dog and pony show. (R-J photo by a photog who probably drove to Beatty in a gasoline-powered car)

Think of it as an electric oasis — a place to fill up along your caravan journey across the desert to pay homage to the lords of government in Carson City.

Only, you can’t get there from here.

According to the morning newspaper, Gov. Brian Sandoval took time out of his busy schedule Tuesday to travel to Beatty to dedicate the state’s first electric car recharging station. Three more are planned along the 450 miles of Highway 95 between Las Vegas and Reno. It is dubbed the Electric Highway by the word crafters at the state.

Pay no attention to the fact most electric cars have a range of less than 100 miles before requiring a recharge and the distance from downtown Las Vegas to Beatty is nearly 120 miles.

To demonstrate for the assembled press, according to the paper, Sandoval recharged a Ford Focus from the state Department of Transportation. Since the car has a range of only 76 miles, it had to be shuttled to the ceremony from Las Vegas.

And even if the car could reach the recharging station at Eddie World, plan on spending a little time at Eddie World, because most of the outlets require four hours to recharge, though a couple can do an 80 percent recharge in half an hour. But I doubt there will be long lines for “speedy” outlets.

But a full charge would get you to Goldfield, where you can call for a tow truck to take you the 26 miles to the next recharging station when it is built in Tonopah, but you can charge up your electric toy for free courtesy of the state and the local electric utility for the next five years.

“This really is significant for us,” the governor was quoted as saying. “Just think about it. This is the first electric highway in the United States. And when I talk about the New Nevada, it’s significant steps like this that show the rest of the country that we are tech savvy, especially when it comes to electric cars and autonomous vehicles.”

NV Energy touts building Electric Highway with your tax money and rate money. Robbing from the poor to give to the rich.