Best Practices for Utilities to Prepare for Electric Vehicles

In 2012, approximately 50,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) were sold in the United States, and the market is expected to grow by more than 50% in 2013.

When primarily charged at home, these vehicles will, for many families, become the single largest power consumer of any device connected at a residence.

For utilities, PEVs represent a significant opportunity to increase revenue as well as to establish new forms of interaction with consumers.

PEVs have unique profiles for power consumption, and will be sold in much greater concentrations in urban and suburban areas, which will magnify their impact on power distribution equipment.

Understanding how the daily patterns for electric vehicle charging will impact utilities’ equipment, as well as the tools available to incentivize EV owners to charge during off-peak hours, will help utilities better prepare for their arrival.

This research brief includes recommendations based on data collected thus far on PEV power consumption, and highlights the lessons learned from many of the leading utilities that have been involved in providing electricity for vehicle charging. Based on these findings, the brief provides best practice recommendations to enhance customer service in engaging with consumers. Also included are guidelines for interacting with regional EV groups, PEV dealers, and local officials, to enable utilities to create a positive experience for PEV owners while receiving the maximum benefit from this new revenue source.

Key Questions Addressed:

• How should utility customer service representatives interact with EV owners?
• What utility strategies for creating PEV incentives and rate programs have been successful?
• How should utilities build their staffs appropriately to address EV adoption in their service territories?
• What do utilities need to understand about EV charging patterns to anticipate increased loads?
• What types of outreach programs will provide effective communications to current and prospective EV owners?