Lessons from early days of EV charging
Fleets are the future, demand management is key
ELECTRIC VEHICLES are crucial to reducing carbon emissions and fighting climate change. That’s why governors from coast to coast have announced that they will ban the sale of new gas-powered cars by 2035, and why automakers from GM to Ford to Nissan have announced countless new EVs coming to the market in the next five to 10 years.
But to realize the full potential of electric vehicles, drivers need to feel confident in their ability to find charging anywhere and everywhere. In fact, a recent research report by Morning Consult found that a quarter of the public would only consider an EV with 500-plus miles of range. While that may not be an option quite yet, robust charging infrastructure in convenient locations can make even a 200-plus mile range vehicle seem like double the range and help conquer range anxiety.
That’s why Eversource set out to increase access to EVs this past year, by supporting 100 percent of new infrastructure costs for thousands of new charging stations. Here’s what we learned in the process:
The expansion of charging infrastructure must go hand-in-hand with reliability and demand management.
Customers were receptive and eager to earn incentives through demand management and maximize the carbon reducing potential of their charging stations.
In other words, we soon found that managing stakeholder relationships is key.
Implementing and expanding EV charging infrastructure takes a breadth of stakeholders – from energy companies to charging station manufacturers and EV network providers to local municipalities to site hosts and even to the drivers themselves.
While there is great interest in EV charging, many customers are surprised to learn about the full costs of installing EV charging stations and the benefits of creating a separately metered service for those stations. And, in a booming and crowded EV solution marketplace, customers looked for recommendations for reputable charging station manufacturers, installers, and network providers. So, it was key to provide customer education and create a vetted vendor list early on.
At the same time, stakeholder groups, including local and state governments and advocacy organizations, collaborated to ensure EV programs benefited all. Eversource has proudly exceeded its goal for 10 percent of sites in Environmental Justice communities. But that’s not nearly enough. Future EV programs will continue to include equity goals and ensure everyone can participate in the EV revolution.
Fleets are the future.
As we look beyond the first iteration of EV programs, one thing is clear: fleets are the future. With the Biden administration’s recently announced plan to electrify the federal fleet, and companies like Amazon and FedEx transitioning their delivery fleets to EVs, it’s clear that the most immediate and significant impact on carbon emissions lies in those vehicles that rack up miles faster than your average passenger vehicle. We’re looking forward to working with rideshare companies, delivery companies, and more as we look ahead to the next iteration of the program.
James Cater is the Eversource program lead for EV infrastructure.