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SEPA Report Highlights Trillion Dollar EV Opportunity for Prepared and Proactive Utilities

EV Adoption and Fleet Electrification Announcements Signal Growing Need for Immediate Utility Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With forecasts of more than 20 million EVs on U.S. roads by 2030, a new report from the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) builds the case for a strong utility role in transportation electrification, by identifying opportunities for utilities to minimize infrastructure challenges, improve internal planning and forecasting methods, and provide best-in-class customer service.

Combining results from an industry survey with personal insights of utility industry experts, the paper delivers recommendations and best practices for improving how utilities should support, plan and deploy EV charging infrastructure. With similar time horizons for realizing large EV deployments and utility infrastructure deployments, the message is clear: all utilities should be preparing today for significant EV penetration.

“Being at the forefront of commercial fleets’ transition to electric mobility, major corporations tell us every day they need to convert their vehicles to electric to stay competitive,” said Dan Wilson, Senior Product Manager at Chanje. “Not a week goes by without seeing a major EV announcement, such as FedEx ordering 1,000 of our electric trucks.”

Other key findings include:

  • EV adoption presents an opportunity for utilities to increase customer engagement and be seen as a champion of positive change.
  • Utilities must streamline processes and organization structures and create new business models to support EV rollouts.
  • Utilities need to plan ahead to minimize grid impacts from an increasing number of megawatt-scale public, corridor, fleet, and private charging sites, and invest in infrastructure planning to prepare for EV charging infrastructure grid upgrades.
  • Right-sizing EV charging infrastructure is crucial to avoiding unnecessary project delays, cost, and grid impacts.
  • Expected EV infrastructure upgrade costs will drive new economic models, requiring discussions with stakeholders to begin early.
  •  Utilities should identify opportunities to incorporate load management, including managed charging and rate design and encourage the creation and broad adoption of
    open protocols.

“The rapid acceleration in consumer electric vehicle adoption and higher load demand across transit and commercial fleets of medium and heavy-duty electrification will require utilities to focus on developing more flexible distribution grids,” said Paul Stith, Director, Strategy & Innovation at Black & Veatch. “This has become increasingly clear as it can take years to design, plan and build the charging infrastructure and supporting grid assets required to serve concentrated EV demand zones.”

According to Erika Myers, Principal of Transportation Electrification at SEPA, “Electric vehicles offer a tremendous opportunity to integrate more clean energy into our fuel mix by increasing electricity demand and utilizing the EV batteries for vehicle-grid integration. By eliminating barriers for EV infrastructure rollouts, we are laying the groundwork for a better future. Knowing that an electrified transportation future is in the best interest of utilities and society, this report loudly proclaims: Be prepared and be proactive.”

The report, “Planning for an Electric Vehicle Future: How Utilities Can Succeed,” is published in conjunction with SEPA’s 450+ member Electric Vehicle Working Group and Distribution Planning Subcommittee, with subcommittee co-authors representing key EV stakeholders, including Chanje, Black & Veatch, Southern California Edison, S Curve Strategies, Affiliated Engineers, EDF Innovation Lab, ChargePoint, Demand Side Analytics, and the University of Texas, Austin.

For more information about SEPA’s Transportation Electrification pathway, including the electric vehicles 450+ member working group, click here.

Media contact: Jordan Nachbar jnachbar@sepapower.org; 202-559-2034

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