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Sep 14 2023

Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations are a novelty right now, but in the United States, they will become both ubiquitous and a necessity in the next decade. The 2030 National Charging Grid Report finds 2.3 million charging ports will be needed to accommodate the 28 million EVs expected to be on the road by 2030, but as of right now, only 160,000 exist nationwide. This will be an enormously expensive venture – grid analytics company Kevala believes that California alone will need $50 billion to accommodate its EV and emissions targets. 

Utility companies will have an unprecedented amount of financial capital, scope of work, and public pressure to adapt their service areas to the EV era. While not applicable to all the challenges inherent in this transition, curated, in-depth, and accurate vehicle data will be essential to develop optimal grid planning strategies. 

Charging Stations Where They’re Needed Most

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, intelligent placement of public charge points/electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE), is essential to maintaining grid integrity. They write that “some initial studies have shown that uncoordinated charging could significantly change load size and shape and introduce higher peaks.  If the change in load is not considered in distribution planning, the result could be system overloads.” 

DataOne’s previous blog post detailed the benefits of leveraging tailored, standardized vehicle data for EV rebate programs, and these same benefits can be applied to utility grid planning. The same data that ensures that qualified EVs registered within the local market receive appropriate offers for rebates and discounted billing incentives, helps to determine the saturation of EVs when tied to residential data by electric utilities.  Such data is imminently useful for local usage estimation, analysis, and planning.  It is likely that as EVs continue to evolve with feature sets including bi-directional charging and grid integration, even more in-depth information will be needed to qualify consumers and fleet owner vehicles for certain rebate programs. Reviewing these rebate records thus enables utility companies to identify where to focus their efforts on charging stations and other service equipment placement facilitating the best possible use of grid resources.

Establish Priorities During Outages

Utilities aren’t foremost in peoples’ minds until they stop working, and suddenly returning service is a five-alarm crisis.  These outages are even more critical for EV owners because they likely employ home charging stations in addition to using the publicly available charge points. Power outages that last several days may disconnect them from their transportation entirely. Again, confidence in where EVs are concentrated, thanks to confirmation from OEM-sourced, in-depth vehicle data toolsets, can help identify where home charge points are prevalent, optimizing grid service and repair operations for neighborhoods with a higher population of EVs. 

Focusing the grid management strategy on EV-heavy portions of the service area also has a beneficial impact on the entire energy grid. The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Samantha Houston notes that “EVs also can strengthen local resilience during outages, providing a lifeline to backup power if the regional grid goes down. For example, during an ice storm, hurricane, or public safety shutoff that has knocked out power, an EV that is designed to export its stored energy could provide power to a home or shelter until the electricity is restored. “ As of June 2023 there are 10 vehicle models that support some level of bi-directional charging, ranging from support to power a home, charge another EV, to powering devices such as laptops and appliances (Ford F-150 Lightning, Hyundai Ioniq 5, Kia EV6, Nissan Leaf, Kia Niro EV, Genesis GV60, Hyundai Ioniq 6, MG ZS EV, MG MG4, and the Volkswagen ID Buzz).  

Utility companies have a monumental, resource-heavy task in front of them to modernize energy grids that were not designed to handle renewable energy sources, and they only have one chance to get as much right as possible and avoid endemic problems that will always need attention. Diligent tracking of qualifying electric vehicle registrations, verified with detailed and standardized vehicle data, will play an important role in planning and optimizing proper initial resource allocation. 

If you would like to learn more about how DataOne supports’ utility companies’ vehicle electrification programs, you can visit this dedicated page or contact one of our data strategists.




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