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Jack Anderson | Charging ahead: All about ‘eGallons’

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How much does it cost to commute to work or drive over to Pybus Market? The price of gasoline is easy to find — it’s posted at every corner gas station. But what about the cost of driving on electricity? One tool that has been developed to allow a quick overview comparison is the eGallon. Here’s how it works. Take the average distance that a gasoline-powered vehicle can drive on a gallon of gas; then, calculate how much it would cost to drive the average EV that same distance. Because electricity prices are different state to state, the eGallon tool shows how much an eGallon costs in each state and compares it to the average cost of gasoline in that state. You can view this tool by visiting the website energy.gov/egallon.

If you chart the price of gasoline and the eGallon price over time, you’ll notice something else. Gasoline prices often spike up and down erratically because they’re linked to international oil markets. Events half a world away can drive up the price we pay at the pump. Uncertainty about the availability of crude oil and the capacity to refine it into gasoline are used to justify both the wide swings in price paid at the pump and the steady increase in gasoline cost. On the other hand, the cost of electricity is regional and much more stable. In many regions like ours, it is generated by public utility districts which have a mission to provide affordable, reliable electricity. Because of this, you don’t have to worry about the wild gyrations seen in gas prices.

The eGallon price provides a little bit more information to compare the costs of driving an electric car to the cost of gasoline, but it doesn’t measure other benefits of driving on electricity. There are significant environmental benefits — particularly as the share of electricity that comes from clean and renewable energy increases — as well as benefits for America’s energy security. Instead of spending $1 billion a day on foreign oil, with electric vehicles we can drive with power produced in Washington state!

Lest I forget, the major reason to drive electric, besides foreign intrigue and cost, is that they’re fun to drive. As the cost of electric drive vehicles continues to fall, more and more Washingtonians are making the switch to electric. The state Department of Transportation has been posting the numbers of electric drive vehicles registered county by county. As of Dec. 31, there were 7,896. This is up from last June’s posting of 5,347! Check this out: Douglas County now leads in North Central Washington with 29 EV registrations.

Jack Anderson is a volunteer Project Manager for Plug-In NCW. Reach him at jmaorn@yahoo.com

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