EnerStar debuts Bolt

By NANCY ZEMAN nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 7/3/19

EnerStar Electric Cooperative launched its electric vehicle pilot program with a Dine and Drive event Thursday, June 27, as part of the Paris Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours …

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EnerStar debuts Bolt

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EnerStar Electric Cooperative launched its electric vehicle pilot program with a Dine and Drive event Thursday, June 27, as part of the Paris Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours promotion.

While the nibbles prepared by Joni Smith of the Front Street Market in Hume were delectable, the star of the early evening event was the Chevrolet Bolt, now a part of EnerStar’s vehicle fleet. Unveiled at the annual meeting of the cooperative in March for its members, Thursday’s event allowed those attending to test drive the Bolt on the highway or local roads.

The purpose, according to Vice-President of Utility Services Angela Griffin was to educate Chamber members as well as members of the Paris business community about not only the advantages of an electric vehicle (EV), but the special EV owner electric rates available to EnerStar members.

The Bolt has a range of up to 238 miles on a single charge, Griffin said. The 200-horsepower motor with a 266-pound torque offers a brisk acceleration of zero to 60 mph in six seconds. Griffin demonstrated the acceleration during the interview.

The EV is incredibly quiet and despite its smaller profile has plenty of passenger space. The EV offers extensive driver assistance options including the popular rear view while backing up as well as an overall view around the car, Griffin noted.

“There are other EVs in Paris,” Griffin said, noting the cooperative’s IT director Jim Lewis, drives a Nissan Leaf he purchased in September. Lewis was instrumental in helping the cooperative choose an EV for its fleet.

EVs require less maintenance than traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles, Griffin explained. There are fewer fluids — like oil and transmission fluids — which means no changes.

“EVs have no spark plugs or wires so no replacements are necessary like in ICE vehicles,” she said. “There are no mufflers or catalytic converters, two exhaust system components that can fail and result in expensive replacements.”

The EV has only about 20 moving parts, Griffin said, compared to more than 2,000 moving parts in an ICE vehicle.

In addition to charging the vehicle at home, Griffin said the cooperative is planning to install a charging station in Paris soon, offering those with electric vehicles a convenient way to charge the EV while at work, shopping or running errands.

An incentive for cooperative members to purchase an EV is the new rate offered as part of EnerStar’s private program. By agreeing to charge their EV only at off-peak electric load times, the cooperative member can reduce their rate by 33 percent.

“It’s important for us to encourage EV owners to charge during off-peak times,” Griffin said. Peak times for electric load are 1-7 p.m., she said. “The pilot rate offers a 33 percent discount.”

The rate is designed for single-phase residential and farm members that are utilizing a level two charger for their EV, she said. The lower rate is not just for charging the EV. It applies for all kilowatt-hours used at the member’s location.

Griffin said not only is an EV less costly to operate — up to five times less that an ICE vehicle — other advantages include:

EVs are environmentally friendly because there are no tailpipe emissions.

EVs require no gasoline and can be charged at home with a standard 120-volt outlet or a 240-volt level two charger, similar to what an electric dryer uses.

EVs require less maintenance and offer quiet, smooth operation.

Griffin emphasized anyone considering an EV purchase should consider five issues to determine if the vehicle is right for a particular consumer. Those questions are:

Is the daily commute more than 150 miles roundtrip? The Chevy Bolt gets up to 240 miles per charge.

Is a vehicle needed for trips of more than 200 miles? Long road trips do present challenges for today’s EVs. Charging infrastructure and technology is continually improving, but planning is still required for long trips, which can be done with the assistance of an app.

Does the household have more than one car? If there is more than one vehicle in the household, an EV offers an opportunity to not only save money but improve the quality of the environment.

Is there an interest in saving money? The average U.S. commuter spends around $2,000 annually on gasoline. Depending on the utility rate, a saving of 50-70 percent may be possible by choosing an EV. That amount does not include the regular maintenance required on an ICE vehicle.

“Nothing is better than an exceptional driving experience,” said EnerStar CEO Mike Clark. “Besides saving money…electric vehicles check all the boxes. It is a bit surprising to hear how quiet an electric car can be, but it is a testament to the cutting-edge technology that works to make the car smoother and more efficient.”

Griffin emphasized most car manufacturers are now offering an EV option. In addition to the Bolt and the Leaf, other vehicles include Tesla, the BMW i3, the Kia Soul, the Jaguar I-PACE and the Audi e-tron.

The price tag on the Chevy Bolt purchased by EnerStar was $33,000.