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

5 Facilitating PEV Rollout

The purchase process for a PEV does not stop at the auto dealer and involves an unprecedented number of stakeholders beyond those in the automotive sector. Automakers, auto dealers, electric utilities, electrical contractors, permitting offices and inspectors, and PEV service providers may all interact with a consumer during the vehicle purchase process. Beyond purchasing the vehicle, a consumer must determine whether, and how, to set up and install a home EVSE, choose from available PEV electricity rates, and access financial and non-financial incentives. Stakeholders are trying a variety of processes and new business models in the early stages of the PEV market in hopes of identifying best practices. As with the actions laid out in Chapter 4, actions here will largely depend on the geographic area.

Flowchart: Alternate Process: “Consumers expect a speedy PEV purchase process and should not have to interact with many different businesses before they drive a PEV off the lot.” – PEV Dialogue Group

This chapter addresses stakeholder roles in supporting PEV rollout and identifies actions that will help facilitate the PEV purchase process and home installation of EVSE.

5.1 PEV Rollout Issues

The PEV Dialogue Group identified actions to increase stakeholder coordination and help accomplish the following objective:

In addressing challenges associated with this objective, the Group focused on purchasing and owning a PEV, vehicle charging, and accessing PEV-related incentives (both financial and non-financial). Consumers purchase a vehicle using a complex and individualized decision-making approach. The Group wants to ensure that stakeholders facilitate the purchase process to capture and enhance PEV benefits and to increase the likelihood that PEVs will fit more consumers' needs.

In developing actions to facilitate the rollout of PEVs, the Group considered the influence stakeholders have on consumer decisions and the need for stakeholder coordination. As a goal, the Group believes that consumers should be able to purchase a PEV in a comparable amount of time to a conventional vehicle. The Group also believes that transparency and consistency in how stakeholders communicate PEV-related information to consumers is critically important.

5.1.1 Purchasing and Owning a PEV

Almost all new vehicles in the United States are sold through franchised dealers, which are independently owned and serve as an extension of the automaker to the customer.[61] Automakers have worked to educate dealers about new PEVs before they are introduced to help prepare them for customer questions. However, the lack of consistency in regulations along with other issues laid out in the Action Plan makes training dealers to address all consumer issues a serious challenge that is largely location-specific.

In the short term, the PEV purchase process will be more complex than it is for a conventional vehicle.[62] The stakeholders involved in the PEV purchase process include not only the typical auto dealer and automaker, but also those that help a consumer install a home charger (e.g., electric utility, PEV service provider, and/or electrical contractor). It is possible that over time consumers will not need to install a new home charger because a compatible one may already exist. In the meantime, the auto dealer (and in some cases, the automaker) will serve as the central point that allows consumers access to a variety of stakeholders, as they might be averse to contacting many businesses separately during the PEV purchase process. Also, consumers will unlikely commit to a home EVSE, especially one provided by a PEV service provider via a service agreement, until the PEV purchase is certain.

When visiting a dealer, most consumers will be unsure of how purchasing and owning a PEV is different from a conventional vehicle. The time from an agreed sale to when a consumer can take a vehicle home can vary widely depending on the jurisdiction's PEV readiness as discussed in Section 5.1.2. Auto dealers' or local mechanics' ability to service these vehicles will also vary. Importantly, PEV maintenance will depend on the type of PEV; for instance, PHEVs and EREVs will still require occasional oil changes, while BEVs will not.

Much of the purchase process length depends on the coordination of the stakeholders involved. The consumer, electric utility, electrical contractor, and local government will have to coordinate to install a home EVSE, which could be facilitated by a PEV service provider or other business. Understandably, automakers and auto dealers do not want to interject themselves into this process, but they also want to ensure consumer satisfaction. To that end, automakers are forming partnerships in hopes of streamlining the purchase and EVSE home installation processes. These partnerships can help alleviate the concern identified in Section 3.1.1 regarding electric utility notification. The following are three examples of partnerships:

5.1.2 Vehicle Charging

If they do not use the partnerships formed by automakers, consumers will need to identify companies, including PEV service providers that install and maintain EVSE. They will also need to identify public charging stations and/or find out if workplace charging is available. Lastly, they will have to identify favorable (e.g., off-peak rate) and/or detrimental (e.g., demand charge) PEV electricity rates or additional costs associated with EVSE installation. If PUCs have not provided clarity on how PEVs are treated, some of this information may be unavailable or, worse, misleading.[66]

Consumers living in multi-unit dwellings will have to identify who, if anyone, is responsible for setting up and paying for installation. This information may not be readily available from expected sources, like condominium homeowner associations.Section 3.1.1 further discusses the challenges related to multi-unit dwellings.

The process of installing a home EVSE will vary depending on local laws. Some proactive cities have streamlined permitting and inspection processes including Raleigh, North Carolina; Houston, Texas; and Los Angeles, California.[67] These cities can serve as models for other areas to follow. Raleigh prioritized inspections and permitting, which allows the entire installation to be done in 2 days, assuming no electricity service upgrades are necessary. Such a short process is only possible because the expected additional load on the electrical grid is small for the foreseeable future. To permit and inspect the installation of multiple EVSE, such as those that are publicly accessible, requires more analysis including expected electrical grid impacts (e.g., a distribution system impact analysis done in advance can help expedite the permitting process).

Figure 5‑1: EVSE installation process (adapted from http://bit.ly/oywn6S).

Connect Consumers with EVSE suppliers: Identify. Assess: Determine any electricity service upgrades. Obtaion local permit for EVSE installation: Permit. Install: Install EVSE in home. Local inspector validates installation: Inspect. Integrate: Customer optionally signs up for the PEV electricty rates.

PEV service providers are currently implementing different business models to accommodate home charging and beyond, since many consumers may need access to charging outside the home. Consumers will have an opportunity to pick a provider that best meets their needs.The following are examples of some business models:

Looking ahead, electric utilities also can make money servicing PEV load, even while holding rates steady or decreasing them. If PEVs capable of providing grid services through V2G become readily available, electric utilities may also wish to provide EVSE to consumers through business models that aim to lower grid operational costs. However, some concerns may exist about utilities providing EVSE (see Section 3.1.1).

5.1.3 Accessing Incentives to Support PEV Deployment

A number of jurisdictions are providing incentives for PEV drivers including favorable electricity rates; parking, high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access, and other privileges; EVSE discounts; and tax credits or deductions. In the past, these incentives, especially non-financial incentives like HOV access have stimulated vehicle purchases. The financial incentives can significantly reduce total cost of ownership, but they are likely to be available only in the short term.

Electricutilities want PEV owners to charge their vehicles off-peak when the costs of services are lowest and many will offer rate plans to encourage consumers to take advantage of lower off-peak prices. These plans could lower a consumer's electricity bill below what it would be otherwiseand maximize savings relative to gasoline. To provide background and context, the table below includes a number of existing incentives along with examples.

5.1.4 Existing Efforts to Facilitate PEV Rollout

Many deployment efforts are already underway, and there is an opportunity to learn from these experiences and improve ongoing and future PEV introductions. Automakers are partnering with PEV service providers. Local governments have "get ready" projects to prepare stakeholders for the growth of the PEV marketplace. They are also working with businesses and citizens to identify convenient charging locations within their communities. The Rocky Mountain Institute's Project Get Ready also aims to prepare businesses and local governments for PEV deployment. In the case of California, the PUC has directed the utilities under its jurisdiction to conduct public education and outreach on charging as well as to the environmental and financial benefits of PEV driving. Some local governments have been proactive, largely because they are the launch cities for PEVs from General Motors and Nissan, which have led local efforts to encourage consumers to purchase their inaugural PEVs. As more automakers introduce models over the coming years, more areas will benefit from initial PEV launches.

Competing interests among the automakers can make it difficult to determine the extent to which their efforts favor their own business. Some work is clearly applicable across vehicle types and PEV service business models, but other actions could limit competition, and in some cases, increase costs to individual consumers or the public.The involvement of entities such as local government or NGOs could help avoid such cost increases.

5.2 Actions to Facilitate PEV Rollout

Automakers, auto dealers, EVSE providers, electric utilities, and government should take action to smooth the PEV purchase process, especially home EVSE installation. - PEV Dialogue Group

The rollout of PEVs is the culmination of activity to prepare an area for PEV introduction. The relevant businesses and government must be proactive to ensure the purchase process for consumers is as smooth and satisfying as possible. For instance, consumers may have to line up their own electrical contractor before purchasing a home EVSE, or the electric utility, EVSE provider, an automaker's third-party installation service provider, or auto dealer may help with that process.

Figure 5‑2: Action by NGOs, electric utilities and other businesses, and local and state government to facilitate PEV rollout.

Bullet list: Prioritize permitting and inspection timing; Check regulatory compliance with PUCs & utilities; Encourage utility notification of PEV purchase. 2 cogs: Expedite EVSE home installation process; Remove market barriers for PEV service providers. Bullet list: Provide regulatory clarity for PEV service providers; Support training of local/state inspectors & electrical contractors on all EVSE aspects; Hold face-to-face meetings between local officials and PEV service providers.

Table 4:Policies to support PEV deployment. Many of these policies are market corrections (e.g., fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards, TOU electricity rates, and carbon price).

Policies

Level of Government

Example

 

Federal

State

Local

 

Financial Incentives

Funding for R&D

P

O

O

ARPA-E battery research grants

Manufacturing Incentives

P

P

O

$2 billion PEV battery and component vehicle manufacturing grants from ARRA

Public Infrastructure Incentives

P

P

P

Maryland offers a tax credit up to 20% of the EVSE cost.

Private Infrastructure Incentives

P

P

O

ECOtality offers home EVSE at no cost partially funded by a federal grant

Purchase Incentives (tax credit, rebate, etc.)

P

P

O

Utah offers a tax credit of up to $2,500 for a PEV purchase

Free Parking

O

P

P

Hawaii exempts PEVs from parking fees by non-federal governmental authorities

Reduced Bridge and Toll Roads

O

P

P

California allows PEVs on the HOV lane, which has a discounted bridge toll

Reduced Vehicle Registration Fees

O

P

O

Washington DC offers a reduced registration fee for PEVs

Reduced Electricity Rates for Charging (TOU)

O

P

O

Virginia Dominion Power provides a PEV charging rate reduction

Non-Financial Incentives

HOV Access

O

P

O

PEV drivers can use HOV lane on New Jersey Turnpike

Exemption from Vehicle Inspection

O

P

O

Michigan exempts PEVs from vehicle emission inspections

Other

Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Standards

P

P

O

2012-2016 federal vehicle standards

Gasoline Tax or Carbon Price

P

P

O

PEVs users do not have to pay a motor fuel tax on electric miles traveled

Low-Carbon Fuel Standard

P

P

O

California has a low-carbon fuel standard that will promote alternative fueled vehicles including PEVs

Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) Mandate

P

P

O

California's ZEV Program will require automakers to sell some ZEVs including PEVs in the state

Streamline Processes

P

P

P

Raleigh developed a two-day process for home EVSE installation

Facilitate Information Sharing

P

P

P

DOE awarded community planning grants totaling $8.5 million and will help share results

Lead by Example - Fleets

P

P

P

General Electric's commitment to purchase 25,000 Chevrolet Volts

To facilitate this process:

  1. Local government, electric utilities, and PUCs should designan 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.
  2. PEV service providers, local and state governments, and PUCs, 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. For instance, it may be unclear if a PEV service provider is subject to the same regulations as a utility. In addition, awareness by the public, automakers, auto dealers, and local government could also be a challenge. 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 support 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.

Current Examples

As mentioned earlier, the cities of Raleigh, Los Angeles, and Houston have developed streamlined processes that prioritize EVSE inspection and permitting. These actions include requirements for next day inspection after EVSE installation illustrating the priority of PEVs amongst city activity.

Updated: 07/22/2014
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