How leading utilities are embracing electric vehicles

Mike SalisburyBy Mike SalisburyIf - electrical power distribution solutions - a business owner has the chance to expand his or her market and immediately increase sales, s/he jumps at the opportunity, right?Electric vehicles (EV) offer electric utilities exactly that type of opportunity to increase sales. And leading utilities across the United States are taking notice and embracing plug-in cars.Anew reportby the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) describes the opportunities and challenges thatelectric vehicles present to utilities. It explains why utilities are embracing EVs and what leading utilities across the country are already doing to increase adoption.EVs Can Reverse Declining Growth in Electricity DemandIn a world of slowing (and, in some states, negative) growth in electricity demand due to increasing energy efficiency and more distributed solar PV generation, EVs offer utilities an entry into a sector of the economy that accounts for 28 percent of the country's energy consumption. Because EVs are so much more efficient than gasoline vehicles, in every southwestern state except Wyoming a switch to EVs lowers total energy use and emissions even as it increases electricity use.EVs Can Increase Household Electricity Use by 30 PercentThe Idaho National Laboratory (INL) estimates the average monthly electricity consumption of an EV and a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) to be 261 kWh. Assuming all EV charging occurs at home, the addition of an EV would increase the average household's electricity demand by 30 percent, based upon existing average consumption levels from the Energy Information Administration. The EIA forecasts that between 2015 and 2040 all residential electricity sales will grow 22 percent. Add an EV and the increase in household electricity consumption will more than double.In addition, most EV charging happens at customers' homes during the night, when most utilities have excess power available on the grid. Because this charging is taking place outside of peak periods of demand for electricity, the net economic benefits to the utility and its customers can be quite large: One study in California found that each EV created a net benefit of up to $5,000. That's because EVs charging off-peak improve a utility's load factor, boosting sales during low nighttime periods of demand. The additional revenue generated by the increased sales more than offsets the cost to generate and deliver the additional power.In some parts of the country, supportive policies from cities, states and utilities are driving high EV sales -- as much as 10 percent of new vehicle sales are EVs in the leading city, San Jose, Calif. The leading city in the Southwest is Boulder, Colo., where EVs made up just over 2 percent of new vehicle sales in 2014. However, without a significant increase in current sales rates, in most areas there will not be enough EVs on the road to give utility electricity sales a big boost. Utilities that want to see a transportation sector powered by their fuelelectricityare taking action now to help - electrical power distribution solutions - grow this emerging market. They offer a model for other utilities that want to build electricity sales with electric vehicles.How Utilities Encourage EV AdoptionTwenty-eight utilities currently offer special rates to discourage charging during peak periods and encourage off-peak charging.They offer incentives to customers who install charging stations at their home or businesses. For example, Georgia Power offers rebates of $250 to residential customers and $10,000 to commercial customers.In Utah, Rocky Mountain Power will be spending up to $2 million a year supporting charging station deployment.They install and operate networks of public charging stations, often in partnership with third party charging companies. For example, Kansas City Power and Light has installed more than 1,000 public charging stations across their service territory.Utilities promote EVs to their customers via their websites and other mediums.In California, the leading investor-owned utilities have plans to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to install more than 10,000 charging stations in their service territories over the next few years. About the AuthorMike Salisbury is senior transportation associate in the transportation program at SWEEP and co-author of the report. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project is a public interest organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in the Southwest. To learn more, visit href='' - -