Preparing for Electric Vehicles

kbrodd ev north hills

Electric vehicles (EVs) have come a long way since they were originally developed in the 19th century. The first successful American EV was invented by William Morrison of Des Moines, Iowa, and it reached a not-so-speedy top speed of 14 mph. Today, there are 400,000 EVs registered in the U.S., and owners are purchasing them for all kinds of reasons, including the fuel and maintenance savings, environmental benefits, energy security and driving performance.

To support EV owners, many businesses, schools and communities are installing charging stations, allowing drivers to plug in while they shop, work or visit. According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, there are tens of thousands of individual charging ports available across the country.

With the rise of these new technologies, however, come barriers and challenges. Advanced Energy has been working in the electric transportation sector dating back to the late 1980s to find solutions and assist with consulting and outreach. More recently, we have created resources and programs to provide assistance to specific market segments and promote driving electric.

Throughout 2015, we managed a project to explore EV impacts and opportunities for electric co-ops. We started by conducting research and building a database of EV programs offered by co-ops across the U.S. Over the summer, we expanded our research by hosting three workshops at co-ops in North Carolina. We spoke with co-op employees and members about EVs and the efforts underway. We then surveyed attendees on their likelihood to purchase an EV and reasons for doing so. Using this research, we crafted a strategic plan template that co-ops can use to design a personalized program of activities to prepare for EVs.

ev survey charts

As EV adoption increases, co-ops will see new opportunities to benefit, including in member engagement and satisfaction, load growth and flexibility, and environmental improvements. The strategic plan template encourages co-ops to begin planning now to make the most of these opportunities.

According to the Regulatory Assistance Project, utilities can take on the following roles to support EVs: incentivizing their purchase, deploying utility-owned charging stations, providing EV electricity rates and tracking EVs and charging stations. To guide co-ops, the strategic plan template walks through seven strategies for staying proactive when handling the growing EV market. Most importantly, it helps co-ops be an informational source for their members.

pev ca doc

In another recent project, we partnered with the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) Collaborative on a report that addresses topics around workplace charging, a burgeoning area. We conducted a gap analysis of current resources and surveyed California-based companies about how they are handling certain issues. We then compiled our findings in a guide titled, “Plugging in at Work: How to Effectively Install, Share and Manage Electric Vehicle Charging Stations.” 

The document provides guidance on facilitating charging, planning for future growth, identifying the right charging equipment, writing etiquette and human resources policies, assessing fees, adding signage and maintaining charging equipment. Several case studies are also provided. We greatly enjoyed working with the PEV Collaborative and believe this document will be useful for workplaces in California and across the country for years to come.

In North Carolina, we also launched Plug-in NC, a recognition program that we have been developing since early 2015. The program encourages North Carolina businesses, schools, communities and organizations that have installed charging stations or purchased electric fleet vehicles to become a member and be featured on our website and social media channels. It serves as a great way to gather information about the efforts occurring across the state and promote locations that are aiding EVs. We are excited to see the program take off.

These experiences have allowed us to enhance our knowledge around EVs, and we are impressed by all the initiatives taking place to further EV adoption. We have made a commitment to continue helping our partners navigate the new technologies and properly plan for charging station and EV growth.