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Paulsen, Co-Ops Challenging Misconceptions About Electric Cars’ Effect on Grid

Part of Paulsen Marketing’s “Rural97” market research project aims to help rural electric cooperatives protect their brand (i.e., commission Paulsen to craft ad campaigns) against concerns about electric vehicles. Pauslen’s polling of rural electric co-op members evidently finds underinformed rural folks share underinformed city folks’ worry that electric cars will affect the power grid:

Around half of the rural Americans served by electric cooperatives expect less reliable service and higher bills because of electric vehicles.

Even so, about half would consider buying an EV the next time they need a new vehicle.

…In spite of the ubiquitous nature of the topic in mass media – the last two Super Bowls featured multiple EV ads – a lack of basic knowledge about the vehicles and about the electric grid in general help fuel half-informed or misinformed spats on social media, [Paulsen VP Mark] Smither said.

A national poll from the Pew Research Center released in July suggested that Americans as a whole are concerned about the electric grid and electric bills. Just under half would consider buying an EV [John Hult, “South Dakota-Led Poll Finds Alignment of Rural, Urban Opinions on Electric Vehicles,” South Dakota Searchlight, 2023.09.22].

Funny: I don’t hear rural or urban folks worrying that all those electric TVs and dishwashers and air conditioners are going to hurt the grid and thus sticking with their gasoline-powered home appliances. And I suspect the same people fretting that EVs may raise their electric bill have never considered that putting more gasoline-powered vehicles on the road will increase fossil fuel demand, burden the fossil-fuel supply chain, and raise prices at the pump.

But this oldthink too shall pass:

What the Paulsen results show for rural Americans is a clear dividing line between the attitudes of young and old co-op members, alongside predictable political divides. Those older than 54 are far less likely to consider purchasing an EV, the poll showed. They’re also far more likely to be among the fifth of respondents who said that nothing could convince them to do so.

Younger co-op members are more likely to consider buying an EV, the poll found. More than half of respondents opposed a phase-out of the production of gas-powered vehicles [Hult, 2023.09.22].

The electric co-ops themselves aren’t worried about their ability to power personal transportation. They’re actually handing out cash to help people buy EVs and charge wisely:

…Sheila Gross of Sioux Valley Electric Co-Op gets accused of “pushing EVs” on a fairly regular basis. Sioux Valley EV owners can get a $500 rebate for the purchase of a fully electric vehicle if they sign up for the co-op’s off-peak incentives. The “time of use rate” program, which is also available to non-EV owners, charges members 43% less than the standard rate for power consumed between from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. or 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., and higher-than-standard rates during peak times.

At a Sept. 19 EV Expo at the W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds in Sioux Falls, Gross said the perceived push for EVs is really about education for consumers and cost control for the co-op, rather than an evangelical drive for an electrified future.

It’s true that co-ops could earn more if consumers use more power – potentially boosting payouts to its members – but poorly timed power use is a drain on the grid and a drag on any power provider’s bottom line.

The co-op is charged more for power during peak periods, and the overnight hours often coincide with a greater availability of cheaper wind power.

“We actually lose money pretty quickly” when members don’t take advantage of the off-peak incentive, Gross said.

“For the people who have them, we want to make sure they’re charging in those off-peak hours,” she said [Hult, 2023.09.22].

Sales of electric cars are booming globally. And even back in 2016, using the practical 73-mile range of a Nissan Leaf, researchers concluded that electric vehicles could meet the daily driving needs of 81% of drivers in rural areas. The electric co-ops are ready to sell us the electricity for those cars and manage the charging of those cars to keep the grid working for everyone.

I’m generally suspicious of marketing, but if Paulsen and the electric co-ops’ marketing can help get South Dakotans over their misconceptions of 21st-century transportation technology, then more power to them… and to the batteries of our fun, fumeless electric cars.


  1. larry kurtz 2023-09-24 08:08

    Screw the grid. Utilities are not your friends so if you can afford to go grid free do it now but don’t sell your power to any electric company and if you use it as a backup keep your own electricity completely separate from the utility that reads your meter.

  2. grudznick 2023-09-24 08:21

    This morning at the Conservatives with Common Sense breakfasting the Opening Rant shall lambast electric vehicles and their piddly 73 mile range. That will barely get a fellow from the south western fringe of Rapid City out to that new shooting range and back, let alone down to Hot Springs and home again. To make the electricity for this cheaply built tin cans we burn more fossil fuels to build, haul and install the grid lines than they ever would save. And don’t get grudznick going about “wind” power or you will lose in the debates. You see those big trucks hauling those blades down the highway, clogging up traffic with a swarm of pilot trucks around them? None of those vehicles are electric, are they?

  3. larry kurtz 2023-09-24 08:24

    Our 4000W system will charge a hybrid SUV or pickup on even a partly cloudy day but we have yet to pull the trigger on something like a RAV4 because they sit too low for our road.

  4. larry kurtz 2023-09-24 08:25

    That Republicans in South Dakota are too stupid to see the value of alternative power is hardly surprising.

  5. grudznick 2023-09-24 08:35

    Lar, not all these fellows are the environmental elite, like you and grudznick, and can afford a 4000W system.

  6. sx123 2023-09-24 09:11

    An electeical inspector told me the co-ops arent even very fond of electric tankless water heaters due to spikes they create.

    No way are the grids currently setup for lots of EVs. Case in pont: california rolling outages on a hot day.

  7. John 2023-09-24 09:39

    Grudz and his landline Luddites are out with the sun. They fail understanding exponential technological transformation.
    Glimpse at the remarkable rise in California’s grid battery capacity.

    Sodium-ion batteries are on the way to phasing out lithium batteries. Sodium, as in table salt.

    Yes, the monopolistic business model of the utilities must die. Solar is now the cheapest electricity. Ever. It’s cheaper than even the operating costs for coal OR natural gas plant producing electricity. Within the decade new homes and commercial real estate will become their own powerplants – likely through a redundant combination of either geothermal, solar, heat pump, or fuel cell, and more thermally compliant construction.

  8. larry kurtz 2023-09-24 10:12

    The cost of subsidizing, manufacturing, transporting, erecting, maintaining then removing and disposing of just one wind turbine eyesore bat and bird killer would take a thousand subscribers to energy self-reliance. Microgrid technologies are destined to enhance tribal sovereignty, free communities from electric monopolies and net-metering only gives control back to utilities enabled by moral hazard.

    Rooftop solar is now.

  9. grudznick 2023-09-24 10:38

    I don’t click on Lar’s blue links, of course, and neither should you risk it, but his micro-grid theories hold water. grudznick is looking into the rooftop solar and also a water mill in the creek. Water mills are the old school way of creating microgrids, and you can use gears to really get your generator humming. It is natures perpetual motion machine. #4Science, of the mechanical kind.

  10. larry kurtz 2023-09-24 11:05

    Albuquerque enjoys an annual average of 310 days of sunshine while Rapid City in my home state of South Dakota gets about 230 days of sun.

    Xcel Energy is responsible for part of the methane bubble over the Four Corners area. In 2015 the Minneapolis-based utility even sued to prevent the hookup of a solar generating station for a Minnesota company and enjoys frequent rate hikes from the South Dakota Public Utilities Cartel (SDPUC). Several utilities are based in South Dakota because of the state’s regressive tax structure — Northwestern Energy and Black Hills Power among them.

  11. grudznick 2023-09-24 11:23

    The creek runs year long, Lar, and you must admit the outskirts of Rapid City is not like living in the “the war zone” downtown Albuquerque, where rain or shine there is little to enjoy. Laud me.

  12. P. Aitch 2023-09-24 12:43

    As a kid every golf cart at the Country Club was gas powered. Guess what happened.

  13. jakc 2023-09-24 13:46

    grudz, I’m surprised that you’re not complaining that those kids won’t get off your lawn, and the stuff they call music! and I’m not going to get you started on the fact that they can’t handle a bullwhip or drive a wagon pulled by a team of oxen.

  14. grudznick 2023-09-24 17:00

    Mr. jakc, grudznick would often be heard blaring “Geet Off Ma Lahn!” except I have a nifty fence and long driveway. Unless Mr. H or Lar start handing out gate codes, I won’t likely see any kids bringing their oxen teams parading past my window.

  15. DaveFN 2023-09-24 23:53


    You’re not a scientist, are you. Realism before fantasy:

    “The Drawbacks of Sodium-Ion Batteries:

    There’s no such thing as perfect battery technology, and there are a few reasons sodium-ion batteries haven’t taken over from lithium yet.

    **Sodium-ion batteries have a lower voltage (2.5V) than lithium-ion batteries (3.7V), which means they may not be suitable for high-power applications that require a lot of energy to be delivered quickly.

    **They have a slower charge/discharge rate than lithium-ion batteries, which may not be suitable for applications that require a lot of power to be delivered quickly (such as electric vehicles).”

    **Sodium-ion batteries still have limited charge cycles before the battery begins to degrade, and some lithium-ion battery chemistries (such as LiFeP04) can reach 10,000 cycles before degrading.”

  16. grudznick 2023-09-25 06:10

    What’s the beef with lithium?

  17. Dicta 2023-09-25 06:50

    Mike thinks it means he’ll be low on one of his meds. (Different lithium, Mike)

  18. P. Aitch 2023-09-25 07:31

    @ grudznick – What makes lithium-ion battery fires so distinct is thermal runaway. This occurs when heat builds up in the battery faster than it can be dissipated, causing the battery to off gas or even explode.

    Thermal runaway occurs when the battery is overcharged or overheated or suffers damage such as a puncture.

    As if that wasn’t bad enough, a lithium-ion battery stored near or next to another battery or batteries can set off a chain reaction, making an already tough fire to fight even worse.

    When they reach thermal runaway, lithium-ion battery fires can burn for hours or even days. One fire department learned this lesson first-hand after it took four hours and 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish a lithium-ion battery fire.

    Here’s your answer grudz from the National Fire Spinkler Association

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