By Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted February 26, 2018

A group that is overseeing investments in U.S. electric vehicle infrastructure should consider charging infrastructure investments in public power communities, which represent ideal charging station infrastructure candidates, the American Public Power Association recently said.

The Association submitted its comments on Feb. 15 to Electrify America, which was created to manage the $2 billion over the next decade that will be provided by Volkswagen Group of America to invest in zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure in the U.S. and to build awareness of EVs. The money will come from Volkswagen as a result of a partial settlement with the car company in court fights over the VW emissions-cheating scandal.

The settlement will cost the car manufacturer $14.7 billion over 10 years. As part of that settlement — one of the biggest consumer settlements in U.S. history — Volkswagen will have to invest $2 billion over the next decade in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and in the promotion of zero-emission electric vehicles.

Over a 10-year period ending in 2027, Electrify America will invest $2 billion in ZEV infrastructure and education programs in the U.S. Of this $2 billion, $1.2 billion will be invested nationwide (in states other than California), while $800 million will be invested in California.

Electrify America is currently implementing the Cycle 1 National ZEV investment plan, the Cycle 1 California ZEV investment plan and the supplement to the California ZEV investment plan.

Cycle 2

The Association submitted its comments in response to Electrify America’s request for suggestions and data relevant to “Cycle 2” investments.

The Association encouraged Electrify America “to strongly consider investing in public power communities in Cycle 2.”

The group noted that public power communities are situated in ideal locations across the country to facilitate EV deployment. “Our members often serve downtown areas that include establishments people visit on their commutes to and from work, local shopping areas, and many places people want to visit during their free time that will require EV charging infrastructure. The local utility and the associated community make ideal charging station infrastructure candidates since it meets the ideals of these communities moving forward with an EV vision.”

Public power utilities are “poised to create the ideal incubators for early EV adoption because they have access to both land, infrastructure, and electricity in their locations,” the Association said.

“Furthermore, integration in the local government allows for streamlining coordination among various government departments that may be involved with EV deployment, including departments dedicated to the transportation, fleet management, environment, community engagement, permitting, and technology,” the Association added.

Integrating EV infrastructure in contiguous communities across the country, including areas served by public power, “is essential because EV users need assurance that there are places to recharge at their various destinations.”

On a national scale, both Level 2 and DC Fast charging infrastructure are limited, with the highest concentration of deployments occurring in coastal states and major metropolitan areas, the Association pointed out.

“While focusing on deploying EV infrastructure in major urban centers is important, it is equally critical to support the workers that migrate each day in and out of urban areas,” the group told Electrify America.

Public power communities supporting EV infrastructure

Public power communities are actively supporting EV infrastructure in a number of ways. One example is by electrifying their own utility fleet.

Some communities are offering incentives for EVs and electric vehicle supply equipment, while other communities are working on pilot projects. They are installing charging infrastructure within their communities and examining how the new load will impact their infrastructure, operations, and rate design, the Association noted. “Public power utilities also promote EVs through education, whether it be a page on their utility website, participating in community events, or working with local auto dealers.”

In November 2016, the Association surveyed its members on their activities and interests in EVs. Survey data concluded that there is a high level of interest within the Association’s membership for EV adoption in their respective communities.

Association EV activities

The Association noted that it has created a multi-disciplinary team to support EV resources for membership.
This staff-driven, member-supported team follows topics such as EV research and demonstration, market trends, legislation, regulation, rate design, incentives and grid load management.

The Association said that it focuses on the following themes to assist member utilities in providing EV resources for their communities:

  • Funding: The Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Development program funds research, pilot projects and education to improve the operations and services of public power utilities. Four EV projects are currently in progress, and 21 EV-related projects have been completed in the 38-year history of the program;
  • Educating: Webinars, conferences, and reports provide members with opportunities to learn about EVs;
  • Engaging: Staff collaborate with industry trade groups and other EV stakeholders. The Association also promotes information-sharing with members through listserv platforms, the Electric Vehicle Interest Group and direct contacts; and
  • Monitoring: Staff actively monitor federal legislation and regulations relevant to EV and EV supply equipment deployment.

Association issues report on EVs

The Association recently unveiled a new report for member utilities, A Public Power Guide to Understanding the US Plug-in Electric Vehicle Market.

The report describes the growing plug-in electric vehicle market by examining several topics including market trends and technologies and challenges to adoption.

The report is available on the Association’s Product Store and members can download the report at no cost.