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SEPA Report Provides Utility Roadmap to EV Infrastructure Success

Utilities play an important role in their customers’ EV success

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With an estimated two million public EV charging ports needed in the U.S. by 2030, a new report from the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) describes what utilities need to know as they develop and implement strategies for EV infrastructure deployment.

“Utilities often focus on infrastructure deployment because it is commonly cited as one of the largest barriers to EV deployment,” said Erika Myers, Principal, Transportation Electrification at SEPA. “With billions of dollars of charging infrastructure being installed in the United States, it is critical that the utility industry share best practices to quickly and efficiently build the necessary charging network.”

Combining results from industry surveys, six utility case studies, and other stakeholder insights, the report offers a comprehensive set of recommendations and best practices for improving utility EV programs, interconnecting third-party EV infrastructure, and prioritizing the customer experience. The recommendations apply to all utilities, regardless of size, type, location or maturity of EV programs.

Additional takeaways for utilities include:

  • Utilities must start EV infrastructure planning now. Upgrades required could take years to complete.
  • A strong cross-functional EV team is vital to lead the utility through program launch and project implementation. The dedicated team should have a broad scope, access to funding, and authority to make decisions.
  • Prioritize the customer experience at each level of EV infrastructure planning and project implementation.
  • Consider EV programs and process improvements that can benefit lower-income and underserved customers, and will support transportation and health equity.
  • Ensure that infrastructure deployed, either through utility programs or otherwise, is technologically capable of participating in utility load management programs.

“When customers are considering installing EV charging infrastructure, their first stop is often the utility,” said Danielle Kievit, Clean Energy Product Manager at Puget Sound Energy. “It is essential that the utility can address questions and play an active role in customers’ electrification goals.”

“As the number of EV drivers rapidly grows, utilities need to develop a holistic strategy that engages their customers while involving key internal stakeholders in program management and system planning,” said Skip Dise, Vice President, Product Management at Clean Power Research.

“The most successful utility transportation electrification programs prioritize the customer experience,” said April Bolduc, President at S Curve Strategies. “To achieve mainstream electric vehicle adoption, we must remove barriers and streamline processes that will ensure a positive experience for households and fleet owners as they transition to EVs.”

“Many utilities are making progress towards accelerating an EV future, but there is plenty more work to do,” said Rusty Haynes, Research Manager at SEPA. “While each utility’s approach to transportation electrification will be unique, the recommendations, insight and real-world examples of leadership in this report can help utilities achieve success.”

This is the second report in a two-part series from SEPA. The first report, published in October 2019, “Preparing for an Electric Vehicle Future: How Utilities Can Succeed,” called for utilities to be proactive in planning for a variety of EV infrastructure deployment scenarios and to better address internal and external program challenges. This second report provides further direction on how to organize effective utility teams and strategically plan for EV adoption.

The report, “Utility Best Practices for EV Infrastructure Deployment,” is published in conjunction with the 580+ member SEPA Electric Vehicle Working Group and Distribution Planning Subcommittee, with subcommittee co-authors representing key EV stakeholders, including Commonwealth Edison, Southern California Edison, Clean Power Research, Black & Veatch, and S Curve Strategies.

Media contact: Jordan Nachbar [email protected]; 202-559-2034