April 13, 2014

Turlock Irrigation District might lower rate for plug-in cars

Owners of plug-in electric cars would get a discount for nighttime charging electricity under a proposal going to the Turlock Irrigation District board on Tuesday.

Owners of plug-in electric cars could get a break on power rates from the Turlock Irrigation District — if they charge them at home during certain hours.

The district board on Tuesday will consider letting these customers request “time-of-use” billing, which rewards energy use outside the peak demand period of noon to 9 p.m. on weekdays. TID can provide power more cheaply late at night and in the morning, and it is looking to share the savings with car owners.

The change could mean overall savings of about 5 percent on average for these bills, according to a staff report to the board last week. The rate would be in effect for three years so the district could see how it affects consumption patterns.

TID allows time-of-use billing for commercial, industrial and agricultural customers. This would be the first time any residential users would have access to it.

The staff report said sale records indicate that at least 37 qualifying electric cars have been sold to residents of TID. The district serves about 98,000 power customers in an area from south Modesto to north Merced County and from the lower Sierra Nevada foothills to the hills west of Patterson.

Plug-in electric cars get their power from the grid, unlike hybrids that rely on a gasoline engine to charge the battery. The average charging time for plug-ins is eight hours, the staff report said.

This is not TID’s first step toward easing the way for electric vehicles. In 2011, it helped with the installation of six charging stations at Best Western Plus Villa Del Lago Inn, next to Interstate 5 in Patterson.

Also Tuesday, the board will get its weekly update on watershed conditions and on the start of an irrigation season where Tuolumne River allotments will be roughly half of average.

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