Utilities as the Binding Force Between EV Manufacturing and Fast Charging Station Growth
The “chicken and egg” analogy that had been so aptly used to describe the conundrum of whether it would take more new electric vehicles to increase the build out of more electric vehicle charging stations, or if things would work in the reverse order where the build out of more charging stations would spur greater electric vehicle production and adoption, is less of an issue today than it once was. That’s because the momentum is so much greater for electric vehicle adoption that few can doubt what lies ahead. Case in point, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute, EV adoption rates on a compound annual growth basis have been between 30 – 40% in recent years. The EV adoption "train" has already left the station so to speak and things are on a strong upward trajectory. With two of the key players in the world of vehicle electrification slowly synchronizing with one another, what else needs to be done to make sure the entire EV ecosystem can continue to grow?
Without a doubt, utilities are the other major piece in the puzzle. Utilities and public utility commissions must create common sense policies that lead to more charging stations. They must also work with consumers to incentivize them not only to make these vehicles purchases but to also become more engaged in the charging process and to send signals that encourage drivers on how and when to charge. This includes time of use charging rates that help consumers charge when demand may be lower and at off-peak hours. Or to incentivize site owners of DC fast charging stations to setup and operate these charging stations in a way that leads to prices that are attainable for consumers and profitable for the operator. Moreover, utilities and the public utility commission will need to work on rates that are not prohibitive to electric vehicle adoption. Heavy fees and demand charges levied at underutilized charging stations can and will dampen the growth of electric vehicles as it must be cost effective for consumers to be able to charge vehicles at prices that are at or below per mile rates for a comparable gasoline powered vehicle. Utilities, charging station manufacturers, and automotive manufacturers themselves must all come together to create policies that will lead to a fully electrified future for all.
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