A look at which US utility companies are running EV programs
April 11, 2018
April 11, 2018
Electric vehicles are increasing in popularity. But is the electrical utility grid ready to adapt? By 2020, the EV market is expected to reach 3.8 billion. The prices are dropping, which will accelerate the adoption of the new type of vehicles even further. However, this raises some problems: How are utilities going to prepare for taking the extra load? What will happen during the peak demand, and is this profitable for utility companies?
One of the obstacles early adopters face is the “last mile.” In Canada and the United States, the current grid capacity doesn’t cause any issues. But as the number of cars goes higher and higher in a specific location, the smaller cities and neighborhoods might not be able to take the huge spikes. Many of the early electric vehicles are in a few hotspots around the United States and Canada. For example, Silicon Valley and the tech community are in love with the idea of pollution-free vehicles.
But power transformers in the residential areas aren’t made to provide the energy needed for electric vehicles to function, especially in large numbers. The problem occurs when utility companies, despite knowing about the spike in the electric vehicles, aren’t able to invest in new transformers that can handle the load, mostly due to the heavy price tag.
Fortunately, the EV impact on electrical grids will be diminished by automakers who understand the need of building a better infrastructure for their clients and by using rewards to encourage their consumers to charge during off-peak hours.
The good news is that some utility companies already recognized the need of using reward programs to encourage EV owners to both use clean energy and charge their cars between specific hours. Let’s look at seven utility companies that offer rewards to hybrid and EV leasers and owners.
Con Edison gives rewards to electric vehicle owners
If you own an electric vehicle and live in New York City or Westchester County, New York, you are eligible to earn $500 in rewards via the new program run by Con Edison and FleetCarma.
Because the infrastructure is not developed enough to keep up with the demand, the utility company pays its customers rewards to charge their vehicles when the demand for energy is not high.
If you are the owner of an electric vehicle in that area, along with the rewards, you will also have access to important information regarding your car. This includes battery life, carbon footprint, and other information regarding the vehicle and its environmental impact.
If you live in NYC or Westchester County and own an EV, you can sign-up today.
SMUD encourages electric car purchases
If you choose to purchase one of the vehicles advertised on SMUD’s list, you might be eligible to charge up for two years at no cost whatsoever. To make the deal even sweeter, the utility company has many options when it comes to charging. It also gives you information on what type of electric vehicle is suitable for your needs. The company does mention that if you choose to charge your car at home, the ordinary house current will work well for most batteries. It gives discounted rates to clients who choose to charge the vehicle’s battery on off-peak hours.
PG&E runs the biggest utility-sponsored program
California is one of the states with the biggest interests in electric vehicles. It has around 6.65 electric cars per 1,000 people. After years of negotiations and an investment of over $130 million, PG&E will start implementing the new changes in the infrastructure this year in northern and central parts of the state, where it already has a large customer base.
By 2020, it’s predicted that charging stations will be available near apartments and offices, as well. But underserved neighborhoods won’t be ignored, either, despite the low chance of vehicles being purchased in those areas due to the current price tag of electric vehicles.
The company offers a $10,000 discount to EV lovers who want to give the BMW i3 a try.
Florida Power & Light Company plans to power car races
The Florida-based utility company is making efforts to promote its electric vehicle program via car racing and helping students in the STEM field. On its website, it advertises that the cost of charging is equivalent to paying $1/gallon of gasoline.
SRP launches a program for both hybrids and fully electric vehicles
SRP gives hybrid and fully electric vehicle owners incentives to charge during off-peak hours. The utility company has both business and residential plans, as well. According to its website, the plan suits you if you are comfortable charging between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. if you lease or own the vehicle and are able to lower the usage of energy in your home during the peak hours.
Southern California Edison rewards clean fuel users
New or used electric vehicle users receive $450 in clean fuel if they meet a few criteria. The program was put in place by California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Program as a way to encourage the purchase of environmentally friendly cars. In order to be eligible, you need to be a customer of Southern California Edison company and own a car that is registered to an individual, not to a business. In this program, electric bikes, scooters, and motorcycles are not eligible.
You can receive this reward up to three times in your life if you decide to change your vehicle. But you get only one reward per vehicle.
SDG&E gives up to $200 in rewards to residential customers
What makes this reward program special is the fact that you don’t have to be an SDG&E customer to be eligible for it. In this program, all types of hybrid and electric vehicles are accepted with no exceptions.
Another piece of good news is the fact that you can apply for this rewards program each year you drive or lease a hybrid or EV. To apply, you need to own a residential vehicle and live in the area served by SDG&E.
How utility rewards help both companies and clients
There is no secret that Americans love being rewarded for their loyalty by companies. But how does this impact the grid?
Most utility rewards are needed to control and analyze the impact of an increasing number of electric vehicles on the infrastructure. When too many vehicles charge at once, there is a risk of the local grid being affected.
Another issue utility companies face is scattered data. When do most people charge up? How does consumer behavior work? Is there a way to analyze the behavior of your consumers and tweak your rewards?
New technologies like FleetCarma’s SmartCharge Rewards, can help you put rewards in place based on data that insights that smooth the transition, analyze the impact, and prepare the electric grid for a new wave of EVs. By analyzing the behaviors of EV owners, it is easier to set up rewards that matter for them and set in motion a plan that benefits you, as well.