High West Energy Cooperative is officially announcing a new, long-term initiative revolving around the rapidly increasing consumer interest in electric vehicles.
High West’s EV-23 Initiative is a four-year plan that will add electric vehicles to the High West fleet and create attractive and affordable options for the co-op’s members as well as the general public in Southeast Wyoming, the Nebraska Panhandle and Northeast Colorado.
“Electric vehicles represent an exciting future trend for the automotive industry, and we owe it to our members interested in EVs to make this a viable option in the rural areas High West serves,” said Brian Heithoff, High West Energy’s CEO and General Manager. “EVs check all the boxes. These vehicles offer comfort, performance, and safety.
“Members who purchase an EV will see a significant financial advantage as well. They will save 3-to-5 times as much money by powering their vehicles with electricity compared to gas.”
After spending part of 2020 educating members and gauging their interest in EVs, High West saw the value in making a long-term commitment to EVs. The co-op promoted a month-long event in September – working with partner Tri-State Generation and Transmission – to offer free EV test drives, and more than 80 members and employees participated.
“We’ve always looked for opportunities to give our members more choices based on what they want, and that’s what we’re doing here,” Heithoff said. “From 2014-2017, EV sales in this country hovered between 100,000 and 200,000 vehicles a year. Those numbers surged to more than 300,000 EVs sold in both 2018 and 2019. If any High West member is thinking about buying an EV, we want to make it more convenient and affordable for them to do it.”
High West will be rolling out the EV-23 initiative in stages with the goal of expanding its scope and duration based on local interest and feedback from the co-op’s members. Throughout the EV-23 Initiative, High West will communicate with its members about the thousands of dollars available in EV tax incentives and other rebates; High West also will encourage member feedback through the co-op’s website, social media pages, and in person at Annual Meetings and other cooperative events.
- In July, High West’s website began featuring an interactive section dedicated entirely to EVs (https://hwe.chooseev.com/ev/home/). This section of the website offers a savings calculator, informs members about different EV models on the market, and answers questions about the advances in EV capabilities.
- In September, High West hosted the Tesla Test Drive event. The vehicle was available for members in Potter, Nebraska; Pine Bluffs, Wyoming; and Cheyenne; Wyoming.
- High West is planning to install public EV charging stations in Potter, Nebraska, and Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. The co-op is also working with Tri-State Generation and Transmission and state officials from Colorado and Wyoming to identify two additional sites to install public charging stations.
- High West will begin offering sales and installations of EV charging stations in home garages and at local businesses.
- High West members who have a charging station installed in their home will have the option to subscribe to a monthly service offering unlimited charging for their EV. The co-op will be proposing a $49 a month service (subject to approval by the Wyoming Public Service Commission), which would save members approximately $1,200 a year or more compared to what they would spend on gas.
- To promote local car dealers selling EVs, High West will contact all dealerships in the co-op’s territory to seek out opportunities to work together on informing and engaging consumers.
- High West will be expanding our extensive rebate program to include equipment such as electric lawnmowers, forklifts, and trimmers).
- High West will begin upgrading the High West fleet, focusing first on cars and pickup trucks.
- The cooperative plans to install one or more charging stations at our Pine Bluffs office for use by the co-op fleet as well as any High West employees with an EV.
- With the goal of increasing the number of conveniently located charging stations in the High West region, the co-op will invite other local companies and organizations interested in EVs to partner with High West on installing more charging stations.
- High West plans to continue updating the co-op’s fleet with EVs, with an ultimate goal of converting the cooperative’s entire light-duty fleet to EVs by 2026.
- The co-op will explore upgrading forklifts and lawnmowers with electric options.
- High West will begin providing regular updates to the members on how EVs are saving the co-op money on fuel, maintenance, and other advantages.
- High West will look to expand the number of charging stations in Cheyenne and I-80.
- The cooperative will begin a conversation with local school districts to explore any potential interest in upgrading part of the school bus fleets from gas to electric.