Location: Cullman, AL
Fleet Type: Utility

Narrative

Cullman Electric Cooperative (CEC) is an electric cooperative serving approximately 48,000 member accounts in Cullman, Winston, Morgan, and Lawrence counties in north Alabama. As a cooperative, CEC answers directly to its local members and has developed a unique understanding of local needs within its service area where its leaders and employees also live.

Cullman Electric Cooperative understands the growth of EV adoption can have a substantial impact on the co-op and its members in the years to come. Their team strives to help their members make informed and educated decisions. They also work to understand the challenges of preparing their infrastructure to manage the increased demand that comes with at-home EV charging.

According to Rob Chapman, senior vice president of energy delivery and customer solutions at the Electric Power Research Institute, “The coming wave of electric vehicles presents both opportunities and challenges for the electric utility industry. It is not a question of if they are coming, it is when and how quickly we (the electric utilities) adapt.”

With electric vehicle registrations growing rapidly in Alabama, and in the Cullman County/North Alabama area, the time is now to adapt. Year over year registrations are up over 60% statewide……and that, we feel, is only the beginning!

Seven charging stations currently serve Cullman County, including a two-vehicle Level 2 charging station at the Eva Road CEC office, and a Level 3 fast-charger installed by CEC and TVA near Exit 310 off Interstate 65. With Cullman’s proximity to Interstate I-65 we anticipate more EV stations to become available in the near future.

Getting ready for the growth of EVs, CEC acquired the electric Ford Mustang which is available for customers for educational ride & drives.

The Ford Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric car highlighting innovative technology, substantial driving range, and exhilarating performance.

The EV is used in day-to-day operations and outreach and at EVents to provide the interested public an opportunity to ask question and learn first-hand about the fun of driving electric.

In September 2023, the Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition and four other EV owners from the North Alabama Drive Electric Alabama Chapter, brought their personal EVs and participated in our Saturday CEC Annual Meeting. It was a great EVent with many questions about EVs addressed and answered!

At CEC we know EVs work because our customers tell us so….see Alex’s and Kaylie’s comments below:

Alex Bruce lives in Cullman and commutes to Birmingham for work. He previously drove a hybrid vehicle but decided to go all-electric because of lower maintenance costs. He drives a Chevy Bolt EV, and it only costs him around $3 per day to get to and from work, which is around 110 miles per day. His vehicle has an average range of 240 miles and must drive to Montgomery and back regularly on one charge and has no problems.  We estimate that Alex is saving $2,500 per year on fuel cost alone because he is not purchasing gasoline.

Kaylie Hill is from Cullman and drives a Tesla. She chose to opt for an all-electric vehicle to save on gas costs for her daily commute to work in Birmingham. She was spending over $350 per month on gas and is now spending less than $40 per month to charge her vehicle.

Outputs & Outcomes

Outputs:

  • Cullman Electric Cooperative purchased the Ford Mustang in 2021.
  • The two EV Charging outlets were installed at the Eva office in 2021.
  • The Level 3 fast-charging station was installed by CEC and TVA in 2022.
  • The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition was invited to display EVs at the CEC annual meeting.

Outcomes:

  • Cooperative members are prompted to ask question about driving electric when they see the wrapped Ford Mustang.
  • Every myth about driving electric that is debunked offers CEC the opportunity to educate consumers about the benefits and important issues related to the growth of the EV market.
  • When members add electric vehicle infrastructure, it potentially increases the Coop’s revenue.
  • The Alabama Clean Fuels Coalition’s President delivered a TED-styled “Spark Talk” at CEC’s 2022 annual meeting where he debunked many myth’s he found online related to EVs.

Best Practices & Lessons Learned

  • The Cooperative’s ownership of an electric vehicle demonstrates the co-op’s recognition that the EV market is growing and will become an increasingly important issue to its members.
  • Having an educational section on our web portal allows customers to acquire knowledge about driving electric and prompts their questions to our knowledgeable staff.
  • The adage “you can’t sell from an empty wagon” is a lesson we learned. You must have an electric vehicle available to prompt interest and provide education.

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Cullman Electric Cooperative Fleet Story

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