Utilities Are Lining Up Behind The Electric Vehicle Movement

Red Tesla Model S driving

MAY 17 2018 BY EVANNEX 52

HOOKED ON BATTERIES: UTILITIES LOOK TO TAKE BILLIONS FROM OIL INDUSTRY WITH ELECTRIC VEHICLES

As more customers generate their own power from renewable sources, utilities have seen much of their business slow down. Michael J. Coren reports (via Quartz) that “utilities scrambling to reinvent themselves are turning to electric vehicles… Bloomberg estimates that electrifying the US light-duty fleet would add 774 terrawatt hours of demand to the grid, nearly the same as the entire US industrial sector today. Globally, EVs are expected to drive electricity consumption up 300-fold by 2040.”

READ ALSO: HERE’S THE STORY OF TESLA’S PARTNERSHIP WITH PANASONIC

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Matt Pressman. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Image: Larte Design 

With the rise of electric vehicles, it’s reported that “utilities can now take billions of dollars in the transportation sector away from the fossil fuel industry. Politics, technology and economics are aligning to help them do that.” Max Baumhefner of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council says that utilities “all want to eat the oil industry’s lunch… [and] we’re happy to show them the way to the buffet.”

It turns out that “utilities are spending their money (and carmakers’ cash) to get people hooked on batteries. The biggest enticements this year have come through Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and New Jersey’s PSE&G. Utility customers can claim a $10,000 rebate (supplied by the carmakers) for a new BMW i3, reports Electrek, bringing the cost of the car down 54% to just $24,000 after state and federal incentives. Last year, Nissan teamed up with energy firms to offer similar deals. Vermont’s electric companies have offered up rebates of up to $1,200 toward the purchase or lease of a new EV.”

Image: Larte Design 

And that’s not it. At utilities, a variety of EV charging incentives are gaining popularity as well. It’s reported that, “Kansas City Power & Light launched a $20 million charging program for EVs in 2015, and Georgia is building its own charging stations. San Diego Gas & Electric has budgeted $45 million to build 3,500 charging stations by next year, as well as a $7.5 million for an education campaign to encourage EV sales in low-income areas. In Minnesota, Great River Energy is waiving premiums for people to charge their EV with wind power.”

Coren also reported that “utilities are asking Congress for help as they attempt to keep tapping into EV demand. A collection of 36 of the nation’s largest utilities wrote a letter(PDF) to congressional leadership on March 13, asking for a lift on the cap on EV tax credits. The signatories’ include California’s Pacific Gas & Electric, New York’s Consolidated Edison, the southeast’s Duke Energy Company, and others covering almost every state.”

Image: Larte Design 

And this trend is not just happening in the US — utilities are lining up behind the electric vehicle movement worldwide. In the UK, Randolph Brazier, head of the Innovation at Energy Networks Association argued for “an uptake of electric vehicles as part of [our] commitment to building a smarter, cleaner energy system that Britain needs – and one that delivers benefits for us all, that includes enabling the uptake of new energy technologies, like EVs, in communities across the country.”

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX, Check out the site here.

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52 Comments on "Utilities Are Lining Up Behind The Electric Vehicle Movement"

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The letter to Congress is encouraging. At some point, this has to stop being a partisan issue. Hard to see it when our current administration has sold its soul so deeply to big oil. It is one thing not to accept that when two elements form a gaseous asymmetric compound that when exposed to infrared radiation traps heat. It is something more mind-boggling when the fiscal superiority of the EV-PV/wind-storage is constantly hobbled for a dirty-expensive inferior solution.

Cheap-clean energy should trump dirty-expensive energy every time. And yes pun intended.

Keep in mind that it will not be fully clean energy. For example, China will trade much cleaner oil for dirty coal.
In America, we will see an increase in fossil fuel ( both coal and Nat gas ), along with nuke.
Note that at this time , 100% of wind/solar is used, so they can add. America really needs to add lots of nuclear energy.

“…much cleaner oil for dirty coal…” – I object on that. Cars don’t burn oil, they combust (which is a dirtier process than burning) gasoline or diesel, which has to be refined from oil using a lot of energy (in China coal energy to a large part).
Best case scenario is not to use fossil fuels. But if you have to use them (for a little while longer at least), you can be much more efficient in optimizing several big oil and coal plants, than millions of little combustion engines in private property.

sorry, but no.
Numerous studies, even by Tesla, has shown that when high quality coal is ran in plants with ~60% efficiency and providing more than 90% of the electricity, it is still worse than regular ICE.

Here shows the CO2 per million BTU from various sources.
Notice that coal is almost 50% WORSE than gasoline.

https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=73&t=11

http://www.lightsonsolar.com/emissions-and-efficiency-in-electric-cars-versus-gasoline-cars/

The fact is, that burning coal is a disaster, even under the best conditions. Gasoline is not useful and Nat Gas, while the best of the fossil fuels, really should be used for a VERY SHORT TIME, no more.

Battery storage is so fast in response that the savings have been astronomical. https://electrek.co/2018/05/11/tesla-giant-battery-australia-reduced-grid-service-cost/ Based on this, there should really be very little addition of fossil fuel support of any kind. Nuclear is a question of economics. The Savannah River project in South Carolina was stopped in mid-production due to cost even after billions were invested. Nuclear is trying to deal with this with simpler microreactors. For now, renewables are still the better fiscal solution. America really needs to add renewables and stop making policy that makes it more difficult. There are some articles that beg to differ. You will find the truth in what utilities are adding at such a rapid rate regardless of policy. By 2025 a utility will be able to build a solar array for one year’s operational cost of fossil fuel. They will then have 25 years of next to zero cost. The utilities will take free every time and they currently are lining up to do just that. Another critical fact on fossil fuels. You don’t have to stop using it for it to die. You simply have to squash the growth and investors will run for the door. When the investors run for… Read more »

China is by far the biggest investor in renewable energy and electric cars with larger commitments than the US. They have a long way to go, but it’s not easy to supply renewable energy for 1.2bn people and a good part of the world’s consumption overnight

Asia in general, and China in particular are building lots of new coal plants.

The Myth Of An Imminent Energy Transition
https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/The-Myth-Of-An-Imminent-Energy-Transition.html

(in figure 3, that little coal dip (due mainly to a US increase in NG) is now back on the rise)

Actually, that coal dip was due to 2 reasons.
1) the fact that America IS closing down our coal plants at a very quick pace.
2) for 2015/6, china had a large economic recession. They have kept quiet about how big, but it turns out that it was large. That brought china’s coal use and emissions down slightly for 2 years, but even this year, they are back up by 5%. And a 5% increase in CHina coal, is MUCH LARGER than a 10% drop in America’s coal use.

ANd yeah, CHina is adding 700 new coal plants over the next 2-3 years, with 350 of these in CHina. These are NOT replacing old ones. These are ADDING to China’s emissions.
In fact, these are expected to provide the energy for EVs that CHina will be adding.

I really wish that ppl would quit repeating gov-told lies.
CHina is adding AE. Yes. BUT, they are adding even MORE COAL JUST IN CHINA than AE. Just in the next 3 years, they are adding 700 new coal plants, of which 350 will be in china and 350 outside of china. This will add around 600 GW of new coal to the world. And this is JUST OVER THE NEXT 3 YEARS.
Keep in mind that America is ~250 GW of coal and that will be around 200 GW by 2020. Europe is something like 200 now and dropping. So, just in 3 years, China is going to add almost double what Europe and America has today.

Basically, we are NOT going to see our CO2 drop, no matter what the west does since we are NOT the main source of it.

Who better to develop our charging infrastructure than our utilities? They are only exposed to the true cost of intermittent power rather than the cost and profit that everyone else is.

It’s a great opportunity!

The one thing I haven’t seen yet is them offering charging stations that are powered by green energy only. I can get that for my home by paying a little more. Are any of the charging networks offering green power?

Not sure about in the U.S., but Fastned in the Netherlands sources it’s electricity from wind power. They also have solar panel covered stations that add a bit.

you could always change to buy renewable energy credits through companies like Arcadia Power.
https://www.arcadiapower.com/

Look outside the USA and you will find them.

Please.
America is loaded with plenty of AE and clean energy. Heck, we are cleaner than Germany.

Electric cars are becoming like razors. The razor is practically free, but the blades are expensive.

That’s why the Utility companies are so interested…. they provide the blades (electricity)

I think you have it backwards. Electricity is almost free for anyone with payed off solar and the cars can cost a lot of money but with your almost free fuel the long-term costs are a lot less and it helps shorten the payback time on the PV system.

Meanwhile with the idiot utilities–what took you so long to figure it out???

While true, only a small percentage of EV owners have solar, and only a small subset of those are paid off. That’s a pretty small number in total.

Well 40% of Californians do. Though that’s rather high, and so are most of them.
It certainly is something that people with evs will likely attain. Also consider that in CA, new homes, almost without exception, must now be equipped with solar panels.

And a smaller number of those 40% with solar are paid off. My parents and my brothers are three of those not paid for. I guess I am part of the other 60%

Almost all homes beginning Jan 1 2020, that is.

Our solar took just 5 years to pay off. And we have enough to cover both the house (all electric, including granny unit) and an EV. It was a no brainer.

All new homes, but yes.

The Invisible Hand strikes again. And how can this be? Because the SC says corporations are people. Regulated utilities may as well be too.

”Globally, EVs are expected to drive electricity consumption up 300-fold by 2040.”

That number is totally implausible. Looking up your source, this is what it actually says: ”.. projects electricity consumption from EVs to rise 300-fold globally”

I.e ”from EVs”. Because there will be 300 times more EVs around.

The end of the sentence of your source is also interesting: ”Electricity consumption from EVs would then comprise about 5 percent of total 2040 global consumption”.

Thanks; that line stuck out like a sore thumb for me as well.

Kudos.

You would think utilities would be building out charging infrastructure.

Of course they won’t. More and more utilities are now going into green energy because it’s price competitive but without the early push from China and California we would have been in the same spot. In Ca for example, they don’t even have to compete anymore since they have monopolies in their areas so nothing will ever get done without the state interference. Investing in the future is hard to do when investors want to see profits maxed out today.

They are as able. Several are having a hard time getting their plans past state regulators.

I wish that Utilities would NOT build out the Charging infrastructure.
Most of it should be done in homes, during the night time. As such, utilities should be pushing to require landlords to provide charging set-ups for tenets that request them.
Likewise, Utilities would be very smart to approach Fed ex, USPO, etc and push them into switching to EVs. With these, they can lower the cost for these businesses, but, also can quickly update each site with chargers for those vehicles. In fact, they might even lend money towards switching those vehicles to EVs, and simply fold it into their electrical bill to pay for it (instead of charging them .08/kwh during the nighttime charging, charge .18/kwh; .08 is electricity and .10 is towards the vehicle costs ).

I really liked this video, no talking, mostly about Model 3, it’s informative, and professionally done.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MRUtZECHHs8

Nice! Good find. I appreciate this type of video.

I have been saying for YEARS, let the electric companies FIGHT big oil for us…

All along, utilities have slept and their executives were sleeping with natural gas companies whose executives were in turn a puppet of the oil companies. So sad, the utilities just watched as TESLA built more than a 1,000 supercharging stations.

Even today, Tesla said that they have 1,000’s of supercharging stations planned/proposed and still the utilities have not made such a big plans.

Better late than never.

And there is no need to ask Congress to extend the EV tax credits. Credit for 200,000 vehicles is more than enough and it’s time for automakers to cut the prices as the battery prices has gone down from $1,000/KWh to just $200/KWh. I am sure congress will push to cut the credits entirely by the end of this year again and this time they may succeed.

Just start building a supercharging station containing 1 Level-3 charger and 1 Level-2 charger every 50 miles from every power plant they operate. As usage increases, increase the # of chargers accordingly.

Utilities can’t just run out and dump money into charging infrastructure no matter how much they believe in it. They’re almost universally governed by the states and many regulators have been reluctant to let them pursue investments into charging infrastructure, especially with plans that involved a surcharge to all customers. That’s changing and more utilities are getting permission, but it still takes time for infrastructure to actually be installed.

With the rise of electric vehicles, it’s reported that “utilities can now take billions of dollars in the transportation sector away from the fossil fuel industry. Politics, technology and economics are aligning to help them do that.” Max Baumhefner of the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council says that utilities “all want to eat the oil industry’s lunch… [and] we’re happy to show them the way to the buffet.”

I’d point out that as much as we’d all like all energy to be generated by renewables, there is still a lot of other stuff in the mix. Considering the growth of natural gas in the mix, oil companies are going to be making lots of money either way.

Even gas is being “squeezed out” by cheaper renewables

Not really, per the EIA, the use of NG has definitely grown with the drop in coal usage on the grid, coal has dropped significantly and NG and renewables have both risen to pickup that slack..

Now NG is much cleaner than coal, but most of it is coming from fracking.. Pull the EIA numbers if you want the details, as well as future projects for electrical generation

while EIA is great for current and historical numbers (for example, do not trust numbers from Chinese gov), EIA is a DISASTER on future projections. The reason is that they give heavy weighting to fossil fuel. If EIA’s projections for the last 15 years were even close to true, then America would be around 80% coal for electricity and our imported oil would 30% higher.

The main problem is that right now there is not enough $ to be made by utilities because the low number of ev on the streets. The number of ev on the streets won’t explode until the charging infrastructure is setup and the cars are able to take a fast charge. …so i don’t expect any of them to jump on board any time soon. It will be mostly the manufacturers and state mandates that will push ahead the charging infrastructure.

“Electricity consumption FROM EVs is projected to rise 300-fold globally”. That is much different than this confusing statement: “Globally, EVs are expected to drive electricity consumption up 300-fold by 2040.”

On a more serious note, I heard Yanny yesterday. Today, I hear only Laurel. It is disturbing.

Perhaps Angela Merkel shouldn’t get so excited about backing coal to shut down nukes. We might need those nukes. Incomprehensible why she is forcing the nuclear plants to shut down but propping up coal. Both make very good base load and presumably nighttime charging will increase dramatically. Oh…same thing in US…quit shutting down nuke plants if there are coal plants still burning. And spare me the ‘yes but renewables’. OK great….but shut down the coal first.

Fukushima changed the calculus. It is the largest ongoing environmental catastrophe in history with no end in sight.

Why is grid power preferable for the future anyway? Why not individual solar as a vision for the future?

the radiation from Fukushima is actually relatively minor. While I would not want to eat the fish from right by there, the rest of the ocean is doing just fine.
THe real problem is the hype that so many have created and with zero facts to back it.
BUT, even with that said, even I am not a fan of the large 1GW reactors. They really do not make good sense, esp. since none of them are able to survive without extra electricity.
OTOH, the nuclear SMRs are designed to not fail. Even the NuScale reactor will not fail.

Lots of new power production is natural gas combined cycle. It is efficient and the fuel is low priced in America. Take the money from oil companies, we are all better off for that.

Base load, most charge at home during the night.

Utilities are making a mistake focusing on charging stations. Instead, they need to approach delivery companies such as uspo, FedEx, etc and get them to switch to EVs. in particular, it allows them to upgrade connections to relatively small number of sites and charge during the night. They could increase their revenue quickly with very little cost.

Some concrete examples in Europe: Eon, one of the largest multinational utility provider, is investing heavily in consumer charge points. Others like Innogy are providing infrastructure for corporate clients like the >5000 van electric fleet of DHL / Deutsche Post in Germany.

https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/eon-have-10000-ev-charging-points-across-europe-2020
https://www.electrive.net/2018/03/28/deutsche-post-dhl-hat-bereits-5-500-streetscooter-im-einsatz/

What percentage of these Electric Company rebates are paid the Electric Company vs. the car makers? Do these affect the deals you will be able to make at the dealer? I just looked it up, and my power company in CT, Eversource, has a $3000 “rebate” on Nissan Leafs. Is this really $3000 extra, or is it just taking place of the amount the dealership would have negotiated down from the sticker anyway?

They’re usually paid by the carmaker. These programs and severely discounted leases are ways to move the cars while officially maintaining MSRP is legit.