By Josh Cohen, Director of Policy and Utility Programs at SemaConnect
More and more drivers are going electric, as demonstrated by the recent milestone of the millionth electric vehicle (EV) sold in America. For this reason, electric utilities across the country are embracing EVs. For utilities, support of EVs makes good business sense. We are in an era in which electricity demand has plateaued nationally due to greater energy efficiency of buildings and appliances, as well as the increase of customer-owned solar panels and other renewable generation. For utilities, EVs represent the greatest source of new electricity demand since the air conditioner was invented.
It’s not surprising, then, that utilities are getting into the EV game. Edison Electric Institute, the national association representing investor-owned utilities, reports its utility members have already invested over $1 billion to accelerate electric transportation through programs such as EV charging rebates and customer education programs. Several utilities are now taking the logical next step to own and operate their own charging networks.
Utility support of EVs makes sense
Utilities have a critical role to play to advance vehicle electrification. For one thing, the business case does not yet exist for private companies to deploy charging stations at scale: there simply aren’t enough EVs yet to provide a return on investment. Even investments that stem from the Volkswagen diesel settlement, such as Electrify America (EA)’s infrastructure investment plan and the states’ share of the funding, will provide only a fraction of what’s needed. In fact, EA’s COO estimated its network would only provide less than 10% of what the country needs!
Utilities are uniquely positioned to deploy and manage the stations. Who else already has 1) an established service territory that connects electric service to every property, 2) a fleet of field technicians, and 3) trusted, generational relationships with its customers? And once the stations are deployed, who else will manage their impact on the grid? The technical capacity of utilities is ideally suited to addressing the emerging challenges that arise from EV charging on a mass scale, including managing electricity supply and demand and keeping prices down for all ratepayers.
EV charging solutions for utilities
SemaConnect’s EV charging solution is ideally suited to utility operation and is fully capable of demand-response. Right now, there is no standard, off-the-shelf utility program for demand-response EV charging, so different utilities are beginning to try different approaches. For example, PG&E uses several of our units in its fledgling demand response program. We want to partner with utilities to help you achieve your goals.
In addition, SemaConnect’s units all come pre-configured to enable Time of Use pricing, charging by kWh or duration, and setting different pricing structures for different groups of drivers, e.g. employees / non-employees. Contact us to begin the conversation about how SemaConnect is the right solution for utilities.