An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid
Americans purchased almost 18,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in 2011, a strong first year for these transformative vehicles. Recently, private industry and government have invested valuable resources in developing, promoting, and deploying PEVs. These vehicles offer an uncommon opportunity to address energy security, air quality, climate change, and economic growth. However, market growth is uncertain due to policy, economic, and technical challenges, and other advanced vehicle technology may prove more popular with consumers over time. There are steps that can be taken now, however, to meet some of these challenges and ease adoption of PEVs nationwide. In An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid, the PEV Dialogue Group lays out some of these critical steps needed to enable a robust national PEV market.
With PEVs’ important opportunities and challenges in mind, the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) convened the PEV Dialogue Group—a unique, diverse set of stakeholders composed of leaders from the public and private sectors along with non-governmental organizations. The Group developed an Action Plan to fill gaps in the existing work on PEVs using a consensus process that aimed to optimize public and private investments and avoided favoring certain PEV technology.
|C2ES convened the PEV Dialogue Group in early 2011 to create an Action Plan that identifies many of the steps that would be necessary to integrate PEVs with the electrical grid nationwide.|
The Group believes PEVs could be an important part of the vehicle market in the United States and worldwide if they are given a fair chance to compete with conventional vehicles. The Group identified a series of market-based actions for all stakeholders that foster innovation, minimize public cost, educate consumers, and maintain electrical grid reliability.
The Group began by identifying key challenges and objectives that existing PEV efforts have not addressed adequately, such as integrating PEVs with the electrical grid. The Group did not focus on reducing vehicle upfront cost directly, since federal and state tax credits are already in place. The Group then held a series of face-to-face meetings to hash out the details of the Action Plan over the course of one year. The plan represents a unique and valuable contribution to the national conversation on PEVs by identifying practical steps that policymakers, regulators, local and state officials, private market participants, and others should consider as PEVs become more broadly available in the coming years.
The plan recommends specific actions in four categories summarized below:
- Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide: Regulations by state public utility commissions that are compatible across the country can help foster innovation and increase the PEV value proposition while also maintaining the reliability of the electrical grid.
- Optimize Public and Private Investments in Charging Infrastructure: There are opportunities to accelerate private investment, encouraging innovative business models while also acknowledging that PEVs warrant some public investment in charging infrastructure.
- Facilitate PEV Rollout: Connecting stakeholders to provide a satisfactory PEV and electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) purchase and home EVSE installation is a necessary step to seal the deal once a consumer commits to purchasing a PEV.
- Educate Consumers: Explaining the PEV value proposition and bridging the consumer information gap about PEV technology can be accomplished through a combination of cutting-edge online resources and traditional touch-and-feel experiences.
The Action Plan represents Phase I of a larger initiative to pave the way for PEV adoption nationwide by helping level the playing field. Phase II aims to work with stakeholders “on the ground” to go about implementing the Action Plan with leaders across the country.
The table below provides an overview of the Action Plan, which is fleshed out in great detail in the body of the report. Next to each action component are a number of individual actions or the principles for the individual actions. Many activities for these actions can occur concurrently. Businesses, electric utilities, government, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will all play a role in each action component.
Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide
Optimize Public & Private Investments of Charging Infrastructure Regarding Location, Amount, & Type
Facilitate PEV Rollout
Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide
- Residential & Commercial EVSE Installation: Stakeholders should jointly create a competitive and innovative market for residential and commercial PEV charging services. Decisions by Public Utility Commissions (PUCs), local government, and PEV service providers regarding household EVSE installation should streamline the installation process. Regulations should reflect the local characteristics of markets, potential PEV users, PEV service providers, and electric utilities.
- Residential & Commercial Electricity Rate Structure: Stakeholders should work together to determine electricity rate structures that maintain the reliability of the electrical grid and reward households for charging PEVs at off-peak hours. Rate structures should offer households choices, including options that better reflect the cost of electricity generation.
- Transportation Infrastructure Finance: Stakeholders should work together to determine how PEV owners can pay their fair share of transportation infrastructure maintenance. Permanent or temporary methods should be implemented in a way that does not affect PEV market growth before PEVs have a noticeable impact on tax revenue for a state.
- Vehicle Charging Standards: Voluntary standards bodies should work together, with the assistance of stakeholders, to develop vehicle charging standards and best practices related to the vehicle charging connector, PEV interconnection and communication with the electrical grid, and EVSE installation.
- Protecting Consumer Privacy: Stakeholders should ensure that individual identity is impossible to glean from data collected from EVSE and vehicles released to NGOs, government, and other researchers while also maintaining the usefulness of these data for researchers.
Optimize Public and Private Investments in Charging Infrastructure
- Assess PEV Feasibility: Stakeholders should cooperatively develop a method to assess the suitability of deploying PEVs in a geographic area and share this information with area governments.
- Estimate Charging Equipment and Infrastructure Needs: Stakeholders should collaborate to estimate charging equipment and infrastructure needs in a geographic area based on the expected PEVs in an area, travel patterns, and area geography.
- Estimate the Extent of Public Investment in EVSE: Stakeholders should work together to estimate the amount of public investment in an area that is appropriate to overcome existing market deficiencies.
Facilitate PEV Rollout
Expedite EVSE Home Installation: Stakeholders should design an expedited EVSE home installation process. A locality can speed up permitting and inspection processes to reduce overall installation time. Localities can also promote training, best practices as identified by early-action cities, and guidelines for electrical contractors. PUCs and electric utilities should provide assistance when creating this process to ensure regulatory compliance. Steps should also be taken to encourage utility notification about EVSE installation.
- Remove Market Barriers for EVSE Service Providers: Stakeholders should cooperatively remove local and state market barriers for PEV service providers. Legal and regulatory hurdles that prevent a PEV service provider from competing in an area could exist. PEV service providers should identify local and state barriers that prevent them from introducing their product in a market. They should work together with automakers, PUCs, and local and state government to clear those barriers and facilitate new market introduction. Local and state government should encourage the training of inspectors and electrical contractors on all aspects of EVSE installation. Face-to-face meetings between PEV service provider representatives and government officials can begin this process.
- Create Tools to Help Consumers Understand PEV Value Proposition: The value proposition PEVs provide includes tangible operational cost savings such as lower fuel and maintenance costs throughout the vehicle’s lifetime. In the short term, however, consumers may find non-financial benefits more valuable, like the driving experience or the statement driving a PEV conveys. Since consumers attain most of their information about vehicles online, stakeholders should cooperate on unbiased web tools that accurately communicate the PEV value proposition.
- Close the PEV Technology Information Gap: The focus of an effort to close the technology information gap should be to increase PEV publicity, develop web tools on PEV technology, and improve stakeholder outreach. Stakeholders should develop engaging and sophisticated web tools to educate consumers about the difference between PEVs, other alternative vehicles, and conventional vehicles. While consumers obtain most of their information about vehicles online, there is no replacing test drives and other valuable hands-on experiences.
Consumers will ultimately decide whether PEVs will succeed or not in the vehicle marketplace. The inaugural year indicates there is strong consumer interest, but the number of early adopters and the ability of PEVs to reach the mainstream consumer are still uncertain. The benefits PEVs provide warrant action by relevant stakeholders to level the playing field in order to provide a fair chance for these vehicles to compete with conventional vehicles. Implementing the steps laid out in the PEV Dialogue Group’s Action Plan will enable a more viable transition to a nationwide PEV market.
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions convened the PEV Dialogue Group. The original group assembled the Action Plan collaboratively. Each group member participated by providing valuable input that was instrumental in shaping the Action Plan. The Plan’s recommendations reflect the input from the group as a whole, not necessarily those of individual organizations.
The group has expanded to include other partners that are active in the PEV market. The group continues their collaboration in Phase II of the PEV Deployment Initiative, focusing on Action Plan implementation.
- A123 Systems
- Argonne National Laboratory
- Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers
- Better Place
- Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
- City of Raleigh
- U.S. Department of Energy
- Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
- Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA)
- Electrification Coalition
- Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
- General Electric
- General Motors
- Georgetown Climate Center
- Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission*
- Johnson Controls Inc.
- Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments
- Michigan Public Service Commission*
- National Wildlife Federation
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- Northeast Utilities System
- Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
- NRG Energy
- PJM Interconnection
- Rockefeller Brothers Fund
- Rocky Mountain Institute
- Southern California Edison
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- University of Delaware
- Washington State Department of Transportation
A lot has changed in the two years since I made my first visit to the Washington Auto Show. Back then, gas prices averaged $2.68 per gallon and the Nissan LEAF looked like a “car of the future” compared to the other vehicles on the showroom floor. Now, prices at the pump are 25 percent higher, averaging $3.50 per gallon in 2011, and fuel costs are eating up the largest share of the average American’s income in over 30 years. Meanwhile, the auto industry is adapting their product line to their new environment and cooperating more closely with regulators. The 2012 auto show includes many more alternative vehicles like the all-electric Ford Focus (see picture below) and the Prius V, a 42 mile per gallon hybrid station wagon.
Letter to the Editor
The Washington Post
Published December 14, 2011
The Dec. 8 front-page article “Obama’s green-car push struggles to pass ‘go’?” missed the mark with respect to the emerging electric vehicle industry. The plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) market is less than a year old. Americans have already purchased 50 percent more PEVs than they bought hybrids in the first year those cars were introduced a decade ago. Furthermore, the amount of private capital that has gone into the PEV market dwarfs public investments. These private companies did not invest hard-earned capital just because President Obama set a national goal. Focusing on public investment ignores the much larger efforts to develop the PEV market, undertaken by thousands of engineers, scientists, entrepreneurs and business leaders.
Experienced companies and start-ups in the PEV market are still trying to figure out their positions. Battery technology is evolving rapidly, and, as a result, costs are coming down. There will be ebbs and flows as consumers decide what kind of PEVs they want to purchase. Demand will drive the winners and losers here.
But the government can help jump-start the market, as it did with the 2009 Recovery Act. And the recently announced fuel economy standards should help, too. It’s simply far too early to make a call about where we’ll end up.
Judi Greenwald, Washington
The writer is vice president for technology and innovation at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions.
Click here to visit The Washington Post site.
This is Part 2 of a series on the new EPA-DOT vehicle greenhouse gas (GHG) and fuel economy standards. Part 1 took a first look on the goals of the standards.
These days, most cars can go from 0 to 60 mph in a pretty short time – but can the nation’s car fleet go from 27.3 to 49.5 mpg in 15 years flat?
As we mentioned in Part I, a 49.5 mpg CAFE standard (or 54.5 mpg by the EPA’s calculation) is the new vehicle standard for 2025. Considering that the current CAFE level is 27.3 mpg, closing the 20 mpg gap will need some pretty quick acceleration, efficiency-wise.
Though the new standard may seem daunting, the key takeaway is that passenger vehicles will use many technologies we already know about and still deliver the freedom of mobility and convenience found in today’s cars. In fact, most of the fleet will still be powered by diesel and gasoline but with under-the-hood technological improvements that improve the bang for each buck of gas.
This post is the first of a two-part series on the new joint EPA-NHTSA vehicle standards. It will give an overview of the new standards. The second part dives deeper into details on how the new standards will be met.
As the Pew Center for Global Climate Change has transformed into the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), the transportation sector is undergoing some major transformations itself.
The eagerly anticipated model years 2017-2025 vehicle standards for greenhouse gases and fuel economy have been officially proposed and inked into the best of formal Federal prose – an extensively detailed 893-page behemoth of a report to be exact. The new vehicle standards would nearly double the efficiency of the nation’s passenger vehicle fleet. And based on its contents, these proposed standards appear to be a tremendous victory for most, creating benefits for the economy, national security, public health, vehicle buyers, and the global climate.
It’s been a long time coming. Together with last year’s rulemakings on 2012-2016 light duty standards and 2014-2018 heavy duty standards, vehicle standards haven’t seen an overhaul of this magnitude since, well, the creation of such standards in the 1970s.
Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are a transformative technology – offering a way to reduce America’s reliance on imported oil, combat rising gas prices, improve local air quality, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Nearly 10 companies already have PEVs on the road, and over the next year or two, all of the major automakers will be offering them. But to realize the full PEV potential, a broad range of stakeholders must work together.
The PEV Dialogue Group convened by C2ES brings together automakers, electric utilities, policymakers, environmental groups and others to develop consensus approaches to accelerate PEV deployment nationwide.
- Stay up to date on the progress of implementing the PEV Action Plan.
- Read Eileen Claussen's opening remarks at the PEV Action Plan launch event.
- Podcast: C2ES's Nick Nigro interviews PEV Dialogue members, Watson Collins of Northeast Utilities and Zoe Lipman of National Wildlife Federation, about the PEV Action Plan.
- Listen to a podcast on electric vehicle basics and an overview of the PEV Dialogue group.
- Press release announcing the Action Plan.
- Report: Plug-in Electric Vehicle Markets: State of Play
- Report: Plug-in Electric Vehicles: Literature Review
- Interactive Tool: PEV Action Tool
This post originally appeared on Txchnologist
At a time when many are adopting the narrative that carbon markets are faltering, the European Union (EU) is aggressively pursuing the expansion of theirs to include aviation. One of only two mandatory greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade systems in the world, the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) plans to fold in a new sector beginning in January 2012. Our research shows reducing GHG emissions from aviation is critical if we are to mitigate the impacts of global climate change. Low-carbon fuel technology and other technologies for airplanes are advancing at a rapid clip, but we need a climate policy – either a price on carbon or something else – to get over the hump.
This post first appeared in Txchnologist.
It is too early to pick the ultimate car of the future. Plug-in electric, hydrogen fuel cell, and biofuel vehicles are currently in contention, but it is quite possible that no single alternative will dominate the future the way that gasoline-powered cars own our roads today. The competition will be fierce because these new technologies will not only be competing against each other, but also against the ever-improving internal combustion engine. By 2035, it’s quite possible a new gasoline-powered car will get 50 mpg and a hybrid-electric car (like the Toyota Prius) will achieve 75 mpg.
Whatever technologies win out, it is clear the societal costs of oil are too high. The price at the pump fails to include all the national security and environmental costs of exploration, extraction, distribution, and consumption of oil. Since oil appears cheaper to the consumer than its true cost to society, we end up consuming more than we should. We send hundreds of billions of dollars out of our economy each year – $330 billion in 2010 alone – to oil producers with monopoly power instead of investing the money here at home.