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Are Utilities Investing in Enough Infrastructure for EVs?

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Julian Jackson's picture
writer and researcher BrightGreen PR

Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass business and technology, cryptocurrencies, energy and the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here:...

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  • Sep 15, 2022

Rolling forward on the horizon is the need to have sufficient infrastructure to charge EVs, and utilities will also need the generation capacity to service those power demands. Electrifying transportation is progressing swiftly. Are utilities responding to this challenge in a timely manner?

EV registrations surged 60% in the first quarter of 2022, according to Automotive News. Over the last decade, regulators have approved more than three billion dollars in utility transportation electrification funding. These include everything from charging stations, roadside charge points, and others installed in apartments, parking garages and workplaces. Utilities will need to engage in comprehensive planning for not just ordinary cars, but larger EVs, including buses, pickups, and commercial vehicles, as well as some of the lighter classes of truck.

Large numbers of new EVs on the road will necessitate better electricity charging infrastructure, making it essential for utilities to prepare for electrification. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization, has just published research looking at the level of preparedness of utilities for this transition. The level of planning and investment by utilities across the country varies considerably, but some trends are emerging.

ACEEE assessed transportation electrification (TE) planning efforts among 10 investor-owned utilities and one municipally-owned utility, each chosen for having recently submitted plans and representing the range of utility involvement in TE. These 11 utilities varied in their level of TE planning and investment and hailed from a diverse set of states that are at different stages of the EV transition. ACEEE looked at both the content of TE plans and the underlying planning processes. They examined efforts across seven criteria: coverage of vehicle types and overall program scope, rates and managed charging, incentives, equity, education and marketing, metrics and progress reporting, and system planning.

The report said, “Our review of selected utility TE plans found a few emerging trends: Programs are covering an increasingly wide range of charging and transportation use cases, such as for apartment buildings and fleets, and there is a greater focus on level 2 (L2, 240 or 208 V charging providing 10 to 20 miles in range per hour) charging investments. Programs often use both make-ready programs and time-of-use rates, and education and outreach plans are also common. Equity is frequently prioritized but approaches varied.

”A state’s requirement to submit formal, comprehensive plans can also help utilities and utility commissions coordinate with other actors, such as state and local governments and regional transportation authorities.”

The report concluded that utilities need to prepare plans that will enable them to foresee problems and ensure that their communities are served in an efficient way. Comprehensive planning by utilities can help ensure that Transport Electrification investments serve different types of vehicles and deliver the greatest benefits, especially to underserved communities, while allowing for public input and participation.

Download the research report here.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 15, 2022

For people who want to dig more into this topic, check out this week's Energy Central Power Perspectives Podcast on it: 


Audra Drazga's picture
Audra Drazga on Sep 16, 2022

Also, in addition to Matt's podcast, check out our recent community submissions as part of our Electrification of Transportation - Special Issue series - published August 2022.

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