Power utilities in the United States have everything to gain by supporting the surging growth in electric vehicle markets, both as a business venture and an opportunity to do well by doing good, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) concludes in a recent report.
“Utilities can plan for—and guide—EV growth in ways that also benefit society at large, ensuring that potential environmental benefits of EVs are fully realized while taking advantage of the new business opportunities they present,” writes senior researcher and lead author Siddiq Khan, in a summary of the Council’s Strategies for Integrating EVs into the Grid.
More than a business opportunity, EV’s may well be the utilities’ salvation, Khan notes, as “large-scale adoption represents an opportunity for load growth at a time when many are forecasting declining sales.” And not only are utilities well-positioned to support the EV transition: the ACEEE report suggests that accelerating EV adoption will depend upon utility engagement.
“Adequate charging infrastructure is an important prerequisite for EV adoption,” he writes, and some utilities are already exploring “the possibility of partnerships to make EVs accessible to all potential users, whether through ownership, carsharing, or ridesharing.”
He adds that “certain electricity rate structures can benefit both EV owners and utilities by creating an incentive to charge EVs when electricity demand is low.” And “utilities can also help to maximize EVs’ pollution reduction benefits, by using rate structures that promote EV charging with electricity from renewables or other low-carbon generation sources.
Full integration of EVs into the grid, however, will depend on state and local government involvement, to ensure that “EVs do not create an added burden on transportation and utility systems,” ACEEE notes. Ultimately, Khan writes, “EVs’ place in the transportation system needs to align with each city’s or state’s vision for its transportation future.”