Utilities Promote EV Use, Charging

According to a new benchmark study by Northeast Group, electric utilities are beginning to do their part to enable EV growth by offering new tariff and rate structures tailored specifically for EV owners. For the past three year, EV sales have nearly doubled every year in the U.S. There are currently 25 utilities across 14 states offering EV tariffs, including eight of the largest 15 utilities. Regulators are also taking action and Minnesota recently became the first state to mandate that electric utilities offer EV tariffs.

“In the currently shifting landscape, utilities are finding it increasingly important to better engage with their customers. A key part of this is new customer offerings such as electric vehicle tariffs,” said Ben Gardner, president of Northeast Group. “EVScreen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.35.38 AM owners tend to be more engaged customers and it is critical that utilities are providing them with new rate options for their EVs.”

According to the report, EV rates typically give steeper discounts at night and during other off-peak hours. Across the 14 states with EV tariffs, the average equivalent “price per gallon” was $0.75. Without EV-specific tariffs, the US Department of Energy calculated that the cost of an “eGallon” was $1.42. The average cost of gasoline in these states was $3.70.

“EV owners are an increasingly important focus for utilities,” added Gardner. “On average, they consume more electricity — not even counting electricity consumed by the EV — and are more likely to have solar panels installed at their home. EV tariffs that offer overall lower prices while encouraging off-peak charging are a great way to engage these customers.” Northeast Group found that 95 of the 100 largest utilities in the US had EV-specific information on their websites for customer engagement purposes.

Utilities that still do not offer special EV rates can make new rate offerings part of broader customer engagement efforts. These broader customer engagement efforts may include social media, mobile apps and new customer offerings.

Northeast Group’s benchmark found that in total, over 21 million utility customers across 25 electric utilities in 14 states had access to EV tariffs in the US. This number is set to grow over the coming years as EV sales grow and regulators begin encouraging EV tariffs.

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