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Powering Up Plug-in Electric Vehicles

Over the next few years, Plug-in Electric Vehicles (PEVs), including Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEVs) are expected to become more readily available to the public. Most carmakers are designing the vehicles to charge by plugging into a standard 120-volt outlet. It's possible you could drive home at night, plug your car into an outlet in the garage and be charged up and ready to go the next morning.

But what does that mean for your electricity costs? Will your home be able to handle the extra demand? Will your wallet be able to handle the additional cost? Will there be discounts for powering up at off-peak times? Will you need a second meter at your home for the electric car? There are so many questions about this emerging technology.

Alliant Energy supports the development of sustainable energy and technologies. We understand that PEVs are “greener” options that can help cut emissions and increase energy independence.

Utility companies (including Alliant Energy) are investigating the impact the increased residential demand for electricity could have on the distribution of power to entire neighborhoods. We need to make sure that the electric grid remains safe and reliable, and power remains affordable for all of our customers.

If you have purchased a PEV or are considering a purchase, let us know. Sign up for our email notification program and we’ll send you Alliant Energy updates as they come available. This will also help us gauge the growth of this technology in our service areas.

Frequently asked questions

What exactly is a Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV), an Electric Vehicle (EV) or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV)? 
A Plug-in Electric Vehicle refers to cars that are powered completely or in-part by electricity. An Electric Vehicle (EV) is powered completely by electricity. It does not require gas at all, and its battery can be charged by plugging into a standard household outlet for 16-18 hours. A 220V or 240V outlet cuts the charging time down to eight hours (depending on amperage), but a quick-charge station can have the battery ready in less than 30 minutes.

PHEVs are powered by two energy sources—an energy conversion unit (such as an internal combustion engine or fuel cell) and an energy storage device (usually batteries). The energy conversion unit can be powered by gasoline, diesel, compressed natural gas, hydrogen, or other fuels. The batteries can be charged by plugging into a standard 110V or 120V electrical outlet—in addition to being charged by the energy conversion unit when needed.

I’m considering purchasing an electric plug-in vehicle (PEV) – do I need to let you know before I purchase the car?
Please contact our Distributed Resources Hotline at 1-800-972-5325 to let us know you’re purchasing a PEV. This will help us monitor the electrical system needs. Alliant Energy continues to monitor PEVs, the impact the new technology will have on the power grid, and how we can best serve our customers.

Will I be able to charge my PEV car at home?
Car companies are designing PEVs that can plug into a standard 120 volt residential outlet, or a special 240 volt circuit, like you’d use for clothes dryer or other large appliance. In some cases, you may have to have an electrician install an outlet. It is a good before you purchase your new PEV to have your home’s electrical system inspected. In some cases, a new circuit may need to be added or, if you have an older home with older wiring other upgrades may need to be made.

Will Alliant Energy offer a special rate for charging your PEV at home?
Alliant Energy is committed to providing safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible energy to our customers. Our Time-Of-Day rate provides a 50% discount on electricity used during overnight and weekend off-peak hours. Signing up for Time-of-Day pricing and charging at off-peak times will provide you with a discounted rate to charge your PEV.

I’m considering a PEV because I want to be more “green”. While I’m waiting to hear more about PEVs – do you offer other ways I can be green?
Yes, we have two programs you might consider, and they could help you prepare for the PEV: energy efficiency and our Second Nature program.

  • Conserving energy is the first step toward saving money and protecting our natural resources. Our Energy Efficiency programs offer rebates to Iowa and Minnesota customers on the purchase of energy-efficient products like appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling equipment. Focus on Energy, Wisconsin’s statewide resource for energy efficiency and renewable energy, offers similar Cash-Back Rewards for Alliant Energy customers in Wisconsin.
    You can find many easy, low-cost and no-cost energy-efficient home improvements at our Save Energy & Money section, or get our brochure: 101 Easy Ways to Save. Cutting energy use today will help your energy costs when you add the PEV later on.
  • Second Nature is another earth-friendly program to consider. When you enroll, we're able to buy more earth-friendly renewable energy produced from wind power, solar and bioenergy. Your small monthly contribution (as little as $4.00 per month) covers the added expense of harvesting renewable energy. As electricity from renewable sources comes into the energy pool, it displaces electricity that would otherwise come from fossil fuel sources like coal and natural gas.

Quick Tip: While you’re investigating or waiting for your PEV, there are many things you can do to improve your gas mileage.

  • Get the junk out of the trunk and properly inflate your tires!
  • An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your fuel efficiency by up to 2%.
  • Properly inflated tires are safer, last longer and save fuel. You can improve your gas mileage more than 3% by keeping your tires inflated to the recommended pressure.
  • Car pooling and sharing travel makes a difference. Reducing the number of vehicles on the road decreases congestion and reduces CO2 emissions. Plus it can be a great way to make friends!

The small percentages noted above may not sound like much, but it all adds up!

Additional information

Fueleconomy.gov helps consumers make informed choices when purchasing a vehicle or getting the best gas mileage from the cars they own

The EPA's Green Vehicle Guide can help you choose the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicle that meets your needs. Low emissions and good fuel economy are both important for the environment.

Alternative Fuels & Advanced Vehicle Data Center from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Commonly Asked Questions about Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) for vehicles