Lisa Explains: Electric vehicles

These days, I know a lot of people who are looking into getting an electric car. The price of gasoline is finally starting to get lower, but wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to buy gas at all?

It surprised me how much information Avista’s website had about electric cars, like this one. Did you know that in Spokane, the first electric vehicle was a trolley in the 1880s. Real estate developers back then invested in the trolley line to attract buyers to areas outside of the downtown core.

About 20 years later, electric trolleys were the main form of transportation in Spokane. There were 150 cars transporting about 25 million riders. But then, by the 1950s, most commuters in the Inland Northwest started driving gas powered cars and the trolley system disappeared.

Is an electric vehicle right for you?

There are basically three kinds of vehicles that don’t rely solely on gasoline. The fully electric vehicle and the plug-in hybrid both need an outlet to charge. There are also regular hybrids that don’t need charging, but we won’t discuss those today.

Fully electric vehicles neither have a gas engine, nor do they need oil changes. Depending on the model, they can travel anywhere from 100 to 375 miles on a charge. Finding a charger near you is easier than ever by visiting

Plug-in hybrids have an electric motor and a gas engine that extends the range they can drive without a fill-up or a charge. They do need oil changes and regular maintenance, and you can charge them at public charging stations or at home.

You should ask yourself if you can charge your vehicle at home or not. Public charging is typically more expensive than home charging.

I found this really cool tool on Avista’s website that tells me how much cheaper it is to drive an electric vehicle than it is to drive a gas-powered vehicle. You can also compare vehicles.

Let’s say you drive a 2022 Chevy Spark about 30 miles a day. If gas costs about $3.90 a gallon and your gas-powered vehicle gets 33 miles to the gallon, you are spending about $107 a month or $1,290 a year on gasoline.

If you upgraded to a 2023 Chevy Bolt that gets 3.560 miles per kilowatt hours, you may have to add $23 to your monthly energy bill or $282 a year. That’s a huge difference.

Most electric vehicles come with a Level 1 120-volt charger, and Avista will help with the cost of a charger upgrade. If you are an Avista electric customer in Washington, they can install a Level-2 charger at your home plus pay 50% of the wiring costs up to a maximum of $1,000. You are responsible for the remainder of the premise wiring costs.

Lisa, an Avista customer, has been writing about the energy savings she implemented in her 1908 home. While visiting to get some tips to make her home more efficient she noticed there were more than just tips to save energy, there are energy tools, programs, and lots of customer resources. “Lisa Explains” is written from the customer perspective with short articles about what she has learned in hopes that you find it just as interesting. Join us every other week for Lisa Explains.

If you are thinking about an electric vehicle, check out Avista’s website. It will help you answer a lot of your questions.

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