The Time is Right for Utility-Led EV Investment

By: Forrest Lee, Lead Distribution Engineer, EIT

Utilities are in the driver’s seat for the electrification of America’s roads and a reinvention of our transportation infrastructure.  For utilities, strategically supporting national EV growth means balancing electrical efficiencies, technology adoption, grid improvements and user experiences. With a renewed focus on this initiative, the time is right for utilities to prepare and improve EV infrastructure programs.

Based on recent estimates, a utility with 2 to 3 million customers may need to invest between $1,700 and $5,800 in electric grid upgrades per EV through 2030 – this translates to a cumulative transmission and distribution network spend of $2.8 billion. At the higher end, this could result in a 12% increase in electricity rates, based on an assumed 11 cents/kWh. (BCG 2019)

Invest in Existing Assets

To minimize the impact to electricity rates, utilities could opt to distribute the upgrades over time by investing in its existing assets as soon as possible, i.e., starting with substations and distribution and transmission networks.

Implement Smart Grid Technology

To ensure the grid can handle the increased load and shifting peaks associated with mainstream adoption of EVs, utilities can look to adopt new technology such as advanced metering, which allows variable electricity rates, depending on the timing, load and location. Advanced metering allows utilities to create time-of-use rates, hourly pricing, and demand charges to incentivize customers in high demand areas to choose off-peak hours to charge their EVs.

Establish Sound Partnerships

By implementing EV charging infrastructure appropriately, utilities can not only mitigate potential impacts to the grid, but also enhance customer satisfaction, create new economic opportunity, and create new connections with their customers. Partnering with an experienced engineering and technology provider to develop and implement an EV charging infrastructure program will ensure a best-practice approach, while allowing program enhancements such as deeper data collection and community value.

Each utility must prepare for current and future transportation electrification, which can bring efficiencies and enhanced value to utilities, customers, and communities, alike.

 

Forrest Lee is a Lead Distribution Engineer out of Florida, leading a team of engineers to deliver storm hardening programs and grid modernization efforts across the state. Forrest works closely with clients to ensure program success and find optimal solutions for process, design, and business challenges.

For more information on how ENERCON can team with your business to overcome energy infrastructure challenges, contact Emily Norkus.

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