How to handle EV charging? Try borrowing from those who've gone before

Tools

By: SGN Staff

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Quick Take: Research and Markets is out with a new report that tracks how 22 U.S. utilities are handling electric vehicle (EV) charging.

 

Useful information – but be cautious about the study's bias. As you can read in the release below, it takes the position that "utilities and regulatory commissions across the country will need to increase the number of electric vehicle tariffs available in order to make EVs more attractive for customers."

 

Yes, that's the right thing to do to make EVs more attractive. But utilities don't necessarily have a responsibility to promote EVs. So be sure that both management and regulators are on that bandwagon before you spend too much effort designing fancy tariffs.

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm in favor of EVs personally. I'm old enough to remember sitting in gas lines in the 1970s, so I have an emotional attachment to the idea of reducing or eliminating our dependence on foreign oil. And I'm a strong proponent of sustainability and I believe EVs are better for the environment. (Though an EV's environmental footprint is not nearly as good in areas that generate electricity from coal. And manufacturing and disposing of the batteries also detracts from EVs' green credentials.)

 

But despite my personal preferences, I don't think utilities should necessarily bear the financial burden of making EVs more economically appealing. Only if its regulators and ratepayers will allow it to recover the extra costs. - By Jesse Berst

 

United States Smart Grid: Utility Electric Vehicle Tariffs Volume II: Summer 2012 (excerpt from Research and Markets)

Electric utilities in the U.S. are struggling with a number of challenges related to EVs, from determining which infrastructure upgrades may be required on their distribution systems to assessing which tariff structures are most effective. As the first wave of EVs hits the US market, utilities have begun launching EV tariffs. Northeast Group first published its benchmark and analysis of these EV tariffs and their implications for utilities and EV owners in July 2011. This second volume of the benchmark includes EV tariffs from 14 new utilities, as well as additional analysis of the implications of these tariffs.

As of June 30th 2012, 22 utilities across the US have launched EV tariffs. Unsurprisingly, many of the utilities are located in California and Michigan. California utilities are at the forefront of several smart grid initiatives, while Michigan utilities are eager to support automobile manufacturers working on transitioning their production lines to EVs.