by Julia Pyper
June 01, 2018

California has made clean energy history once again in approving investor-owned utility plans to spend nearly $768 million on electric vehicle infrastructure and rebate programs. Coupled with another recent ruling, California has set aside more than $1 billion for transportation electrification in just the past two weeks.

But California isn’t the only the state making big moves on EV charging. This week’s State Bulletin outlines the latest EV infrastructure investments, followed by some of the latest EV stats and research. How many Americans are currently buying EVs? How many want to buy one? And how important will public charging infrastructure be in serving these drivers? Read on to find out.

CPUC approves landmark EV-charging programs

On May 31, the California Public Utilities Commission approved wide-ranging proposals from the state’s large investor-owned utilities to expand electric-vehicle infrastructure and rebate programs with a budget of $738 million, with an additional $29.5 million for program evaluation.

Under the approved proposals, Pacific Gas & Electric has the go-ahead to invest up to $236 million, San Diego Gas & Electric can invest up to $137 million and Southern California Edison can invest up to $343 million. The proposals include a substantial focus on medium- and heavy-duty vehicles and emphasize locating infrastructure in disadvantaged communities.

In addition, the California Air Resources Board voted in late May to allocate $423 million in funding from the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal settlement to a variety of clean transportation projects. The state has already started spending $800 million in Volkswagen penalty money to build out thousands of EV chargers.

New York state commits up to $250 million for EV expansion

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday announced a new $250 million electric-vehicle expansion initiative dubbed Evolve NY. The initiative is a key pillar of the Governor's Charge NY 2.0 initiative, which aims to help bring the state closer to its goal of installing at least 10,000 charging stations by the end of 20.

The New York Power Authority has committed $40 million to the first phase of the Evolve NY initiative, to be allocated into three primary new programs through the end of 2019:

  • Interstate Fast Chargers: Collaborate with the private sector, and other partners, to identify and install up to 200 direct current (DC) fast chargers along key interstate corridors — with a target interval of every 30 miles — and in select urban areas.
  • Airport Fast Chargers: Leverage public and private partnerships to install DC fast chargers at or near John F. Kennedy and LaGuardia airports. The program may include promoting charger use by multiple users, including rideshare companies, public vehicles, rental agencies, commercial fleets and buses.
  • EV Model Communities: Partner with a NYPA municipal or co-operative distribution utility to test and scale EV infrastructure and service business models, including a utility-managed charging platform Features may include developing home and public charging "subscriptions," an online customer portal, and EV education events.

In addition to the funding, NYPA will be launching several new initiatives to co-invest in EV infrastructure with private-sector partners, collaborate with partners on identifying new business and ownership models, and increase customer awareness about electric vehicles and charging.

NYPA is currently installing 400 public chargers at airports, train stations and municipal parking lots, as well as high-speed chargers along the New York State Thruway (as part of a recently announced $4.2 million expansion plan). In addition, NYPA has partnered with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Con Ed to bring electric buses to New York City. In the second phase of the Evolve initiative, NYPA will work with partners to further accelerate public transportation fleet electrification efforts, including transitioning the MTA’s entire bus system to a zero-emissions fleet.

New Jersey’s PSEG proposes $300 million EV charging program

Newark-based utility Public Service Enterprise Group unveiled a proposal Thursday to invest $2.9 billion in energy efficiency, electric vehicle infrastructure and energy storage over the next five years. The plan includes $300 million for building out up to 50,000 “smart” electric vehicle stations along highways, in residential areas and at workplaces.

PSEG estimates New Jersey currently has 16,000 EVs on the road, and that this figure will climb to 275,000 or more EVs by 2025, NorthJersey.com reports. According to DOE data, the state currently has around 200 charging stations.

Duke Carolinas commits to $25 million

Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) on Friday reached a settlement agreement with the Environmental Defense Fund, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Foundation and Sierra Club on the utility’s three-year, $2.5 billion grid modernization plan.

As part of the Power Forward grid modernization initiative, DEC has committed to investing no less than $25 million in electric vehicle charging stations in its North Carolina service territory by 2021. Under the agreement, EV program costs are eligible for cost recovery. DEC will issue a request for proposal process to competitively select EV hardware and network solution providers. Additional program details are outlined in Attachment A.

Nevada allows utility-owned EV infrastructure

On May 11, the Public Service Commission of Nevada adopted rules that allow NV Energy to self-build EV charging stations (Docket 16-01018). The ruling also directed NV Energy to use $15 million in existing incentive funds to help build out the state's charging infrastructure, as well as incentive funding for energy storage and low-income rooftop solar, according to AEE’s PowerSuite.

Michigan’s Consumers Energy seeks $7.5M EV pilot

On May 14, Consumers Energy filed an application for a $58 million annual revenue increase, which includes a three-year, $7.5 million EV infrastructure rebate pilot and a EV-only residential time-of-use rate (Docket U-20134). The plan also includes a 1.4 percent residential rate increase, the establishment of two new time-of-use rates for residential customers, and an increase in the residential fixed charge from $7 to $7.50.

Q1 state EV policy actions

EV infrastructure investments approved or proposed in recent weeks are significant, but represent just some of the latest policy actions. The vast majority of U.S. states have undertaken some type of EV policy reform so far this year.

The North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center released its Q1 2018 edition of The 50 States of Electric Vehicles last month, which found that 42 states and the District of Columbia took at total of 275 actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in the first quarter. The greatest number of actions were related to electric vehicle fees, charging station deployment and electric vehicle studies.
The report highlights four trends in EV activity apparent or emerging in Q1: (1) states considering multi-faceted electric vehicle plans, (2) contention around utility ownership of electric-vehicle charging infrastructure, (3) examining the role of demand charges in vehicle charging rates, and (4) piloting the co-location of energy storage systems with EV charging infrastructure.

The report notes the top electric vehicle actions taken during the quarter were:

  • Hawaii utilities publishing their Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap, which includes EV education, utility fleet electrification, opportunities for smart charging and grid services, bus electrification, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification, and expansion of charging availability at multiple locations.
  • California regulators approving utilities’ first wave of proposed electric vehicle programs and investments in January 2018, including 15 priority projects with combined budgets of $42 million.
  • A Maryland working group proposing a statewide EV portfolio, including a variety of new rate structures, incentive programs, and demonstration projects.
  • Missouri utilities proposing new electric vehicle programs. Ameren proposed an incentive program for third-party charging infrastructure, while Kansas City Power & Light and KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations asked the Commission to reconsider cost recovery for their utility-owned charging network and proposed a new rate tariff for these utility-owned charging stations.
  • Pennsylvania regulators issuing a policy statement on EV charging that clarifies third-party electric vehicle charging does not constitute a resale of electricity and requires electric distribution companies to expressly address electric vehicle charging in their tariffs.

How many Americans want to buy an EV?

Just 14 percent of U.S. adults said they're either "extremely" or "very" likely to get an EV with their next vehicle purchase or lease, while a combined 62 percent said they were unlikely to do so, according to a new Axios/SurveyMonkey poll. Another 23 percent of respondents said they were "somewhat likely" to get an electric car.

The numbers don't look super promising for the EV market at first glance. However, Axios' Ben Geman noted that although most of the public is still wary of EVs, the poll shows that electric car sales have a significant amount of room to grow — "because even the small percentages of people who say they're interested suggest a market far bigger than the people who buy electric vehicles now," he wrote.

Current U.S. EV sales

From 2012 through 2017, electrified vehicles consistently accounted for between 2.5 percent and 4 percent of total light-duty vehicle sales, even as the number of available models increased from 58 to 95, according to the Energy Information Administration. Hybrid electric vehicles accounted for the largest share of electrified vehicles, but their share of sales has fallen (3 percent in 2012 to 1.9 percent in 2017) as plug-in hybrid electric (0.5 percent in 2017) and battery electric vehicle shares (0.6 percent in 2017) have slightly increased.

The EIS notes several factors may account for the limited growth of these vehicles, including low gasoline prices and improved fuel economy of conventional gas vehicles. In addition, purchase prices for EVs remain relatively high, and in most locations limited charging infrastructure for plug-in vehicles has hindered wider adoption.

How important are public chargers?

According to European consulting and research firm Delta-ee, only 8 percent of EV charging is expected to use public charging infrastructure in the near future. Public charging infrastructure is expected to be important for addressing range anxiety, but will account for a small portion of total charging, at least in this European-focused assessment.

The research draws on extensive surveys to profile the next wave of EV drivers — the “early adopters” — who behave very differently compared to today's “innovators.” Within the early adopters group, the research identifies three distinct segments with vastly different charging patterns and behavior:

  • The suburban commuters (50 percent) who charge at home and work.
  • The mix-and-matchers (29 percent) who are happy to use public chargers and the latest tech to find the best deal, but won’t always use public chargers.
  • The home dwellers (21 percent) who are typically older, rural-suburban homeowners with little need for workplace charging.

"Understanding who is going to be driving EVs and how they will behave is critical for a lot of actors, for varying reasons," said Jon Slower, director at Delta-ee. "Electricity network operators will need to understand when, how and where different groups are going to be charging in order to manage demand on the grid, or even start to put in place much-anticipated vehicle-to-grid services. Then you have the brewing battle to capture the market for EV services. Winning that will require detailed understanding of different customers and their needs.”