It is time to shift transportation from oil to electricity and this shift will open up the transportation energy market for utility companies. Electric vehicles sales are growing and EV owners say in surveys that they are very happy with their choice. Energy that used to be delivered through gas stations will be replaced by energy delivered mainly through home charging stations overnight and this naturally provides unique opportunities for electric utility companies. In addition to increased revenues, it also provides an opportunity to become a trusted advisor in the transportation power sector. It is time to build good programs, educate your personnel and provide value added services for your clients.
How to proceed?
1. Educate your employees about EVs
The first step is to educate all your employees about EVs and provide more advanced training for your key employees who will be working with EV programs. If you can assist/incentivize your key EV employees to shift to driving electric, you will increase their experience and expertise considerably. This talks about street credibility when they can tell their customers that they drive electric themselves.
2. Develop specific charging rates and products for the MUD market
This segment requires a lot of education, there are multiple stakeholders involved and the charging infrastructure solutions can require considerable infrastructure investments. Utility companies are well equipped to assist with all these needs. In addition to revenue opportunities, EV charging naturally provides grid load risks so more advanced rate structures (e.g. TOUs, dynamic rates) are in order. By taking an active role in this space, utility companies can make sure there is higher participation in these grid and customer friendly programs. Also consider a make ready approach to lower customer infrastructure investment needs and integrated metering+billing solutions to make this all easy and cost effective for customers in the long run.
3. Provide technical assistance
Your customers need all the support you can provide. The first step is to provide technical assistance by talking with property management and electricians on the power availability at the property and opportunities for service upgrades if needed.
4. Provide planning support
If you have a knowledgeable resource available consider offering planning support for HOAs, building owners and management companies. This is a totally new field to them so it would be valuable for them to talk with a person who knows the electric vehicle technology, how people use their cars, how they usually prefer to charge them and what kind of approaches usually work well for MUD charging. This will help your customers get started in the right direction for their planning process.
5. Provide education
Since this is a new area for most people there is a lot of need for education for all stakeholders. Planning committee members have a dire need of real life understanding on this all, but when they are at a comfortable knowledge level, the rest of the residents need information. This is especially true with condominiums where HOA members ultimately make decisions on investments like this. If you can provide a knowledgeable EV expert to talk at their HOA meeting about EVs, charging infrastructure and provide answers to general questions, it will help them make better educated decisions on this. Providing enough information will help to overcome the inertia that new concepts usually face.
6. Familiarize yourself with the resources available on the Tools page
Our Tools page provides tools, concepts and resources that are designed to help EV owners, HOAs, management companies and property owners calculate and plan for the EV charging infrastructure. The Power and Energy calculator tool will provide information about the EV owners' charging needs that are the base for all design decisions. The Metering and Payment table covers the most common setups that are considered at MUD buildings and if you have a good solution for MUD charging, it provides you a tool to highlight the differences between your solution and other approaches. If a utility program is well designed, it should be the most affordable and convenient option both for residents and property management.
The Future Ready MUD Charging concept provides one approach that you can use as a starting point for EV charging planning. It is designed to show a solution that combines a relatively low initial investment with a future proofed infrastructure plan. See how well that works with your solutions and explain the technology and/or structural differences between that and your plan. There are so many variables and technology solutions in this marketplace that we do expect to see a good number of different approaches.
7. Educate your customers on the financial incentives and programs available.
DOE provides the most comprehensive list of general incentives so make sure your offers are listed here: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/state
In 2020 there is also Federal tax credit for charging infrastructure available. More info on our Tools page.
Many utility companies have seen a flat or even declining demand curve in recent years. This has put more pressure to increase the electricity prices for all customers. EV charging will bring more demand and revenue which provides relief to utility company finances and reduces the need for price increases.
More level grid load
Since the vast majority of EV charging can happen overnight during off-peak hours, the grid can deliver this power without major infrastructure improvements. This can level the grid load curve and utilize the resources more evenly. Since wind power plants tend to have higher production during the night time this can also help utilities integrate more renewable energy to their grid. For all of this to happen, utilities need to take a very active role in rate design and program development & implementation.
Build stronger relationships with your customers
Becoming an energy expert in the transportation area is a new role for electric utilities, but it is also very valuable role. Your customers can find this all very new and potentially confusing so they do appreciate all the assistance that you can provide. This is a great opportunity to build customer centered programs that provide valuable assistance and solutions to your customers.
Set your company apart in the marketplace and attract new customers with a stronger service portfolio
In deregulated markets, the capability to provide good solutions for MUD charging can give your company a competitive advantage.
Receive positive publicity by championing sustainable transportation solutions
Electric transportation has a great potential to decrease our oil dependency and increase the use of domestic, renewable energy sources.
Gather information about EV charging locations, loads and usage patterns
The more engaged you get with charging infrastructure installations, the more information you will acquire about the locations, loads and usage patterns that they have. This information is naturally very valuable for future installation and distribution grid development.
Dynamic control capability
An active role and the right technology deployment will enable you to build more dynamic control programs. Since vehicles are parked most of the day, there is a wide charging opportunity window that could be used to sync the charging load better, for example with renewable energy production. These kinds of solutions will help to build a smarter, more resilient grid and provide more affordable charging solutions for customers.
Over the years, we have worked with utility companies on their strategic planning, rate and program development, auto dealer outreach and many other EV-related projects. This has helped utility companies take on their new role with confidence, advance transportation electrification and become the trusted source of EV information for their members and customers. We have also supported utilities in program implementation by providing planning assistance and education for HOAs and building management. You can find more information about our work by visiting the Utilities page at Shift2Electric.com.