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An Action Plan to Integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicles with the U.S. Electrical Grid

Table of Contents

  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Executive Summary
  3. 1 Introduction
  4. 2 Opportunities and Challenges of PEVs
    1. 2.1 PEV Opportunities
    2. 2.2 PEV Challenges and Action Plan Objectives
    3. 2.3 How the Action Plan Addresses PEV Challenges
  5. 3 Creating a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide
    1. 3.1 Regulatory Issues
    2. 3.2 Regulatory Framework Actions
  6. 4 Optimizing Public and Private Investments in Charging Infrastructure
    1. 4.1 Public and Private Investment Issues
    2. 4.2 Public and Private Investment Actions
  7. 5 Facilitating PEV Rollout
    1. 5.1 PEV Rollout Issues
    2. 5.2 Actions to Facilitate PEV Rollout
  8. 6 Educating Consumers
    1. 6.1 Consumer Education Issues
    2. 6.2 Actions to Educate Consumers
  9. 7 Next Steps
    1. 7.1 Connect PEV Leaders around the Country
    2. 7.2 Advise PEV Stakeholders
    3. 7.3 Driver Behavior Analysis
    4. 7.4 Consumer Education Strategy
  10. Appendices
    1. Appendix A. Action Plan Terms of Reference
    2. Appendix B. Oil Price Volatility
    3. Appendix C. Example Scoring System
  11. Endnotes


The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES) would like to thankthe U.S. Department of Transportation, the Center for Environmental Excellence by AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials), the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and Daimler for providing financial support for this report. C2ES would also like to thank the following for their substantial input: Nadia Anderson, Vicki Arroyo, Jessica Bailey, Scott Baker, Max Baumhefner, Linda Bluestein, Larry Boggs, Ann Bordetsky, Erik Brownsword, Gustavo Collantes, Watson Collins, Louise Conroy, William Craven, Jeff Doyle, Mark Duvall, Shannon Eggleston, Carrie Gage, Mike Granoff, Britta Gross, Becky Harsh, Devin Hartman, Donald Hillebrand, Michelle Holiday, Roland Hwang, Commissioner Orjiakor N. Isiogu, Terry Johnson, Willett Kempton, Zoe Lipman, Keith McCoy, Bill Mitchell, Michael Northrop, Sam Ori, Phil Ovitt, Ken Pace, Caroline Paulsen, Cassie Powers, Julian Prosser, Filipa Rio, Joan Rohlfs, Dan Santini, Mary Beth Stanek, Luke Tonachel, Cathy Tripodi, Diane Turchetta, Barbara Tyran, and Kate Zyla.

Executive Summary

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:

  1. Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide: Regulations by state public utility commissions that are compatible across the countrycan help foster innovation and increase the PEV value proposition while also maintaining the reliability of the electrical grid.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Figure ES-1 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.

Action Plan Overview

Figure ES-1. Action Plan Overview.

Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide
  • 4 Principles of Utility Regulation
    • Protect the reliability of the grid
    • Minimize cost to the electricity distribution system
    • Encourage transportation electrification
    • Provide consistent treatment between PEVs and loads with comparable power requirements within each rate class
  • Focus Areas for Regulatory Action (utility and other)
    • Residential & commercial EVSE installation
    • Residential & commercial electricity rate structure
    • Transportation infrastructure finance
    • Vehicle charging standards
    • Protecting consumer privacy
Optimize Public & Private Investments of Charging Infrastructure Regarding Location, Amount, & Type
  • Assess PEV suitability based on consumer interest, gasoline & electricity prices, existing regulatory environment, local government & utility involvement, area geography, travel patterns, & expected environmental & economic benefits
  • Estimate charging equipment & infrastructure needs based on consumer interest & travel patterns
  • Estimate extent of public investment in EVSE based on consumer interest, private sector investments, & state/local government policy
Facilitate PEV Rollout
  • Expedite EVSE home installation process
  • Cooperatively remove local and state market barriers for PEV service providers
Educate Customers
  • Develop consumer web platform and other materials to understand PEV value proposition
    • Help consumers understand total cost of ownership (e.g., fuel & maintenance cost)
    • Estimate a broad set of benefits (e.g., fuel price certainty, environmental &energy security benefits)
  • Close PEV technology information gap

The Action Plan divides the stakeholders into four categories - NGOs, Government, Electric Utilities, and Other Businesses. Specific actions the plan identifies vary as to which players are needed. The plan includes more detail on roles and responsibilities.

Create a Consistent Regulatory Framework Nationwide

Optimize Public and Private Investments in Charging Infrastructure

Facilitate PEV Rollout

Educate Consumers

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.

Updated: 03/27/2014
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