Advanced Energy’s Jonathan Coulter, senior consultant, recently returned from a great experience at the NET Conference 2018, a yearly meeting hosted by Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. NET brings together national, regional and local co-op professionals (primarily from distribution co-ops) to network, share ideas and learn about new technologies and services.
Jonathan attended the conference to participate in a panel session about electric vehicles (EVs). He was joined by representatives from Tesla, Nissan and ChargePoint, and Alan Shedd, director of energy solutions at Touchstone Energy, facilitated the session. Each panel member gave a short presentation, and then the floor was opened up for questions from the audience. An EV showcase following the panel provided a hands-on look at the technology, with cars from Tesla, Nissan and Toyota available to explore.
Jonathan, the last to present, used his experience working with co-ops over the past decade to frame the potential benefits of EVs for co-ops and their members. He started by discussing why co-ops across the country are beginning to engage with EVs. EVs have a number of features that align nicely with co-ops’ core values, which prioritize their members and the community. For example, EVs can increase member engagement and satisfaction, improve the local environment and offer flexible load growth.
To strengthen his message, Jonathan provided examples and case studies of co-ops preparing for EVs. Across the country, new programs and services have been helping encourage adoption while allowing co-ops to better anticipate potential challenges. In North Carolina, for example, some co-ops have implemented time-of-use rates to promote off-peak charging. Others are installing charging stations in their territories or offering rebates for home installations. With the successes these co-ops have seen, other co-ops entering the EV market have places to look for support and guidance.
Jonathan ended his presentation by highlighting resources developed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association that emphasize steps co-ops can take to anticipate the growth of EVs. These steps include co-ops learning about the EV industry, evaluating the EV landscape in their territory, understanding how they will manage the new load, and providing both internal and external promotion and advocacy.
With the EV movement heading toward co-ops throughout the United States, the panel at NET 2018 was timely. Jonathan’s presentation was a success, and he received positive feedback from the audience and his fellow panel members. Having an opportunity to connect with individuals who may be less familiar with the technology was a huge benefit. The more co-ops know about the advantages and potential challenges associated with EVs, the better equipped they will be to take advantage of them.