Frequently asked questions about Electric Vehicles 

What kind of services do EVs require?

  White Toyota Prius



Conventional hybrid, such as the Toyota Prius, is primarily a gas-powered car that uses electric motors to help out the internal combustion engine.



Teal Chevrolet Bolt



Plug-in hybrid (PHEV), such as the Chevrolet Volt, has a battery-powered electric motor that can function independently with enough range for a daily commute. It also has a conventional gas engine to extend the vehicle’s range.


Red Nissan Leaf



Battery electric vehicle (BEV), such as the Nissan Leaf, is powered solely by a battery and electric motor.





     Toyota Prius Prime                                         Chevy Volt                                                             KIA Niro  


Plug-in hybrid (PHEV’s) like the Toyota Prius Prime, Chevy Volt, and KIA Niro  can generally travel 20-50 miles on one charge. With combined gas and electric the ranges of PHEVS are 460-590 miles.

Battery electric vehicle (BEV’s) like the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf, and Honda Clarity  can generally travel 80-240 miles on one charge.


A) Plug-in- Hybrid (PHEV’s)  offer the green and fun driving experience of an EV on short trips with the convenience of extended range up to 400+ miles

B) Power up at a Level 3 DC fast charger (coming soon to 3+ locations in Humboldt County) to replenish range up to 70-80% in 30-60 minutes.

The common answer for battery replacement time is about 10 years. Battery replacement cost will depend on the size of the battery- about $6,000 at the low end. Nissan and Chevrolet offer an 8-year/100,000 mile warranty on their battery packs; Hyundai offers it for life. There will be some battery degradation over time; warranty does not cover that .

RCEA’s network of charging stations cost $0.48 per charging session + $0.18 per kWh.

This adds up to:

  • $13.08 for a 2017 Tesla Model S70
  • $11.28 for a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt
  • $5.88 for a 2017 Nissan Leaf
  • $3.79 for a 2017 Chevrolet Volt
  • $2.06 for a 2017 Prius Prime

Electric vehicles take 10+ hours to recharge on a Level 1 charger. Level 2 chargers can charge an electric vehicle in 4 to 8 hours. Level 3 chargers, also known as DC fast chargers, are most often used by people travelling and can charge an electric vehicle in 20 to 60 minutes.

  • Limit DC fast charging. Repeated DC fast charging to the high end of state of charge (past 80% or so) may accelerate battery degradation. Try to limit DC fast charging to reach a very high state of charge only if needed to reach a destination. (*)
  • Charge small. Generally, many small charges are better for battery than a few larger charges. A deep discharge cycle constitutes a full chemical reversal inside the cell, whereas a shallow cycle is not a complete utilization of the chemical resources in the cell. (*)
  • Assess when to charge your battery. Deciding whether to leave your battery always plugged in depends on the charging system and the EV model. Some recommend it, to keep the battery thermal management system functioning optimally. If you have time-of-use pricing from your utility, you may wish to schedule charging to take advantage of low rates. In extreme weather, you may also approach things differently. (*)

Leaving your battery always plugged in depends on the charging system and the EV model. Some recommend it, to keep the battery thermal management system functioning optimally. If you have time-of-use pricing from your utility, you may wish to schedule charging to take advantage of low rates. In extreme weather, you may also approach things differently.

There are a number of free public charging apps available that could help you find an EV Station.

Here are a few :




Plug in America 



Open charge map 


In some markets, AAA offers a mobile charging service from their trucks. In all other markets, you’ll need a tow or a push. Electric Vehicles need to be towed by a flat-bed tow truck.

Here are some local towing companies:

If you want to charge an EV at home, you can actually do it without installing a home charger. Most EV’s come with an adapter that allows you to plug into any 110V outlet.

It takes about 20 hours to go from completely empty to full using a 110V outlet, but if you are charging every night and have a relatively short commute this time decreases drastically.

If you have an older home, say older then 1970, you will likely want an electrician to visit your house to verify you have the capacity to charge an EV.

Some folks want to charge at home at a faster rate. It is possible to install a 22V charger (aka level 2) at your home. The costs vary, but here are some ball park estimates:

  • To hire an electrician for the installation, you should expect to pay anywhere from $65-$85 and hour, for about $500 total. While you might be tempted to do this yourself, hiring a professional is the safest way to go.
  • There are a wide array of EV charging station options available, but expect to pay between $600-$700. If you want a charger with higher power or longer cables expect to pay at the higher end of the range.
  • This brings the estimated total to $1200 to install a L2 charger at home.

This is a technically feasible option for providing grid services or emergency backup power. More generally, timing EV charging to when a home or building’s solar panels are generating electricity is effectively a way to store that solar power for later use, even without the ability to return it from the vehicle to the home.

In most cases, with net metering, storage is not specifically needed to accommodate the levels of solar power currently on the electricity grid. But EVs could provide this capability if that changes. This is a developing story.

Now! EV models on the market today have cargo space that is comparable with others in their class. There’s even a hybrid mini-van!

View or download the RCEA EV Model Chart (XLSX) of your EV options.

Unlike conventional cars, in fully electric vehicles there are no oil changes, spark plugs, timing belts, fuel filters, head gaskets, radiators or fuel lines. The main wear items will be tires, brakes, windshield wipers, and the occasional cabin air filter- all relatively cheap in comparison!

  1. California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project offers a rebate of $4500 for BEVs or $3500 for PHEVs to qualified low-income buyers
  2. The federal government offers a tax credit for plug-in electric vehicles of up to $7500, based on the capacity of the vehicles battery.
  3. PG&E offers a $800 rebate for PHEV or BEV buyers.
  4. RCEA is currently offering an EV rebate for CCA customers.
  5. View our Electric Vehicle Incentives (PDF)
  6. The American Public Power Association is currently offering RCEA customers a rebate of $3,500 on the 2019 Nissan LEAF 40 kWh Standard and $2,500 on the 2019 Nissan LEAF 62 kWh ePlus. To claim this rebate, download the American Public Power Association flyer and take it to a local Nissan dealer along with proof of eligible residency and a current electric bill. All rebates expire September 30, 2019.

The federal tax credit decreases your tax liability by up to $7,500, depending on the vehicle purchased (vehicles with larger batteries get a larger rebate.) It’s important to note that you’ll need a liability larger that $7,500 to take advantage of the full credit, any unused credit simply goes away. For more information, please visit and search “IRC 30D” or speak to your tax advisor.

(*)= Information sourced from Plug In America.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles ( FCEV) 

An FCEV uses compressed hydrogen gas as its fuel, which is then fed into a fuel cell in the car to combine with oxygen to form water. This process generates electricity, which is harnessed to run a motor, and water vapor, which is the only emission from an FCEV.


The state of California classifies FCEVs as “zero emission vehicles”. FCEVs are quiet and fuel efficient, just like EVs, however, they have much longer ranges (up to 360 miles!) and take only 3-5 minutes to refuel.

Toyota, Honda, and Hyundai all make fuel cell model passenger cars that are commercially available.


Toyota logoHonda logo

Hyundai logo

You can only buy FCEVs in areas with hydrogen fueling stations. Currently, most fueling stations are in Los Angeles and the Bay Area. Fueling stations are coming soon to the New York City, Connecticut, and Boston areas as well.

We hope so! RCEA is currently working on a grant from the California Energy Commission to identify sites for hydrogen fueling stations along the Interstate 5 corridor. Redding and Eureka have been identified as priority sites for near-term station development.

There are a couple of ways. The first is through a process called electrolysis. This involves running an electric current through water to separate it into its components, hydrogen and oxygen. Clean power, such as solar energy, is frequently used to run this process. The other is called steam-methane reformation, which reacts steam with natural gas and a catalyst to make hydrogen. 33 percent of hydrogen used in CA is legally required to be produced from renewable resources.

There are lots of resources about hydrogen and FCEVs online, and a great place to start is with the statewide experts in FCEVs, the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

33% of hydrogen in California must be produced via renewable energy, but steam methane reformation is another common production method.

Steam methane reformation applies extreme heat to methane (CH4) to produce hydrogen via the following chemical reaction:

CH4 (methane) + H2O (water) <-> CO (carbon monoxide) +H2 (hydrogen)

Hydrogen is the obvious product we harness for FCEVs. The carbon monoxide is typically burned to extract extra energy, and produces carbon dioxide upon combustion.

There are innovative carbon monoxide clean-up systems used in some factories which produce hydrogen, but generally speaking, the CO ends up as CO2.

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