Vol. 20   No. 3
Fall 2015
  • MGE Talks Business
Energy Trends

Considering an electric car charging station? Insights from MGE and American Family Insurance

Considering an electric car charging station? Insights from MGE and American Family Insurance

Melissa Flores, space and relocation analyst at American Family, worked with MGE to plan their workplace charging program for electric vehicles.

Check out the parking lot of any local shopping mall, business or school and it's apparent that a growing number of Madison-area residents have switched to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs).

In response, local organizations have begun to install charging stations for PEV-owning employees. MGE helps organizations navigate the ins and outs of installation. One of its latest partnerships was with American Family Insurance. The company added two charging stations in 2015.

"MGE's resources were extremely helpful to get our program off the ground, and their staff has been very supportive as we installed and launched," said Melissa Flores, space and relocation analyst at American Family.

Investigating a Charging station? Start Here.

An employer-based charging station offers a host of benefits. Use the following steps to ensure a smooth rollout.

Get MGE's "Workplace Charging: An Employer's Guide." "This brochure walks you through the issues you'll need to consider," said Debbie Branson, new market manager at MGE.

Get management on board. Include representatives from all critical areas including human resources, legal, facilities and your sustainability team.

"There are many items to consider," Branson added. "These typically include the concerns of non-PEV drivers, whether to assess a fee for using the station and managing station use. And there could be tax implications if this is offered as an employee benefit."

Start with a survey. A survey can help determine if a charger is a good fit for your organization, what type of charger to install and any areas of concern from users and non-users. "Most people (93% of American Family's survey respondents) thought the stations were in keeping with our company's sustainability goals, but there were questions," Flores said. "This information helped drive how we set up the program and our communications."

Discuss charging costs. Consider charging costs when evaluating a charger program.

  • A Chevrolet Volt runs on gasoline and electricity and costs about $247 per year to charge.
  • A Nissan Leaf runs on electricity only and costs about $445 per year to charge.

Please note: Charging costs shown are higher end estimates. PEV charging may affect demand charges. Talk to your MGE account manager about your electric rate and options for managing demand charges.

Pick a charger. Chargers are available at two levels. Level 1 is more affordable to install, but requires more time to charge your vehicle. Level 2 is more expensive, has a faster charging time, and some models allow for multiple users at one time. Smart chargers, which charge at Level 2, allow station owners to collect usage data, charge fees and notify drivers when their vehicle is charged.

Determine the right number of chargers. "Use your survey and employee data to help select the right number of chargers," Branson recommended.

Choose an installation site. Many factors drive this decision, including access to a power supply, safety and security, ADA compliance, the type of unit being installed and the need for additional electrical equipment. "Also decide if you're going to put it in a place that's viewed as 'premium parking,'" Flores said. "We decided on a prime spot to send a message that we supported PEV technology."

Decide if there will be a fee for charging. "The cost tends to be nominal, usually 25 cents to 50 cents per hour of charge, but this was an area of concern to some employees," Flores said. To date, American Family has opted not to charge for the service.

Set up a communication platform for users. Flores knew the success of the program depended on all users being able to get the charge they needed, when they needed it. She reached out to the company's PEV owners and created a private site for them on the company's intranet.

Establish rules and expectations before launch. Include any user fees, how long people can charge their vehicle and charger scheduling. "Develop the rules with input from your legal teams, HR and facilities and insights from PEV and non-PEV users," Branson recommended.

Get the word out. American Family launched its chargers in mid-2015. Flores uses American Family's internal newsletter to keep employees up-to-date on the systems.

"We've had an extremely smooth roll-out, and I'm very pleased with the level of commitment and support we've received from our users," Flores said.

Call MGE at 252-7007 to get more information on workplace charging.
Considering an electric car charging station? Insights from MGE and American Family Insurance

American Family installed Level 2 charging stations with dual charging capability at its East Madison facility.