Midwest utilities charge ahead with EV charging networks
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- Oct 20, 2020 9:34 pm GMTOct 20, 2020 7:28 pm GMT
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Widespread electric vehicle ownership has the potential to provide electric distribution utilities with both opportunities and challenges. The opportunities include the opportunity to sell more power — Duh! — and the ability to use EV batteries for grid management if vehicle-to-grid technology becomes widespread, too. The main challenge, of course, is putting in place — and paying for — the grid infrastructure able to handle widespread EV ownership and V2G technology.
One way utilities are addressing that challenge is by trying to get ahead of the EV adoption curve so they can make sure their infrastructure is able to meet the demand their EV-owning customers put on it. And two ways they’re doing that are by offering their customers incentives to buy EVs and making using EVs easier.
MidAmerican Energy Company has been doing the former for a while, providing $500 rebates to residential customers who buy or rent EVs and $1,500 rebates to businesses that buy Level 2 charging stations. Recently, the Berkshire-Hathaway subsidiary took another step towards doing the latter, saying it plans to increase the number of sites in its EV fast-charging network in Iowa from 18 to 50 by the end of 2022.
“When we first launched our EV fast-charging network plan last year, our goal was to help address range anxiety by building charging stations within about 50 miles of each other and along major corridors,” Andrew Lewis, MidAmerican’s electric vehicle infrastructure program manager, said in an Oct. 1 news release from the company. “With this next phase, we’re adding convenience for drivers and new opportunities for communities we serve.”
MidAmerican isn’t the only Midwest electric distribution utility trying to address its EV-owning customers’ range anxiety. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy said last month they and four other utilities have signed a memorandum of cooperation to facilitate the construction of a network of fast-charging stations that would stretch from Michigan to Kansas.
Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, Oklahoma Gas and Energy, and Evergy also have signed the memorandum. DTE Energy and Consumers Energy said other companies have expressed interest in joining the consortium, which hopes to have the network up and running by 2022. One complicating factor is that the network must be approved by regulators in the states it runs through.