Utilities Lead in Building Out EV Charging Networks

Utilities Lead in Building Out EV Charging Networks

One of the biggest obstacles to wider adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) is range anxiety and “charging deserts,” or disadvantaged areas where public charging stations are not readily available.

Currently, there are 113,500 public charging outlets and 46,290 stations in the U.S., most of them concentrated in California and mostly Level 2 Chargers. There is no consistent payment process and some chargers, like those manufactured by Tesla, are not compatible with all models of vehicles.

Globally, electric vehicle sales reached 6.6 million in 2021, representing nearly 9 percent of car sales and more than tripling 2019’s sales, which reached roughly 2.5 percent. There are an estimated 16 million electric vehicles in use, consuming 30 terawatt hours of electricity annually.

Battery electric vehicles and passenger cars made up three-fourths and two-thirds of the market, respectively, and the Asian-Pacific market, followed by Europe and North America, have the largest demand for EVs, with the three regions making up approximately 90 percent of global sales.

In the U.S., electric vehicle sales doubled in 2021 to reach more than half a million sold, or 4.5 percent of all cars sold in the country. An estimated 1 in 20 Americans will purchase an electric vehicle in 2022, for a total of 1 million vehicles, and the National Electric Highway Coalition (NEHC) predicts that there will be 22 million electric vehicles in the U.S. by 2030.

U.S. sales are boosted by tax credits and the rollout of a wider range of models, which is expected to double this year to thirty. Many new models will be designed from the start as electric vehicles, instead of adaptions of existing internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. At the same time, fuel costs for ICE vehicles have soared and rules restricting vehicle emissions, such as the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2021 emission rules, have made electric vehicles more attractive then ever.

Additionally, several automakers have announced goals to reach huge electric vehicle sales targets. For example, Volkswagen committed to having half of their sales consist of EVs; Ford, General Motors and Stellantis jointly set a goal of 40 to 50 percent of sales; and Toyota is working to achieve 3.5 million electric vehicle sales, all by 2030.

In the public sector, $7.5 billion from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act has been earmarked to install a network of electric vehicle chargers, with $5 billion focused on the interstate highway system. The Biden administration also has pledged to replace the entire government fleet, approximately 650,000 vehicles, with EVS. Individual states also are encouraging adoption, with 47 states investing in EV adoption with tax credits, rebates and research.

Through the IIJA, the federal government will invest the remaining $2.5 billion for EV charging in disadvantaged areas such as rural communities or neighborhoods with lack of access, the “charging deserts,” that primarily include low- to moderate-income communities and people of color. The administration has pledged to ensure that at least 40 percent of overall investments in clean energy benefit disadvantaged communities through an initiative called Justice40.

This comes after an analysis that showed that very few states are ensuring an equitable spread of EV infrastructure money, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. These charging deserts show a clear delineation between LMI neighborhoods and wealthy ones – for example, the Bronx has only 17 EV charging stations and East Harlem seven, while the Upper East Side has 70 charging stations.

Only six states have laws that require that equity be considered in building out EV infrastructure. The Electric Vehicles for Underserved Communities Act, which would recreate an Electric Vehicle Charging Equity Program to create charging networks in underserved communities, remains in committee nearly a year after its introduction. Regardless of federal and state guidance, equity has been a top-of-mind concern in the utility space for some time.

Utilities will lead not only in meeting the increased demand for power to charge EVs but will also in building out a charging network to address range anxiety and charging deserts. The NEHC announced their commitment in December to fill in the gaps in the EV charging infrastructure on the interstate highway system.

With utilities in a leadership role in EV charger network-building, it’s not surprised that many new EV owners are turning to their utilities for guidance in navigating having a home charger installed. Utilities can improve customer satisfaction by providing a frictionless charger installation journey through a turnkey solution that allows customers to purchase a charger, schedule an installation and have the dispatched electrician provide information on incentives and time-of-use rates.

HomeServe is among the first to provide a Level 2 EV charger installation and repair plan that provides a pre-vetted, nationwide network of licensed and insured electricians and fills the gaps in manufacturer’s warranties by covering normal wear-and-tera and protecting out-of-warranty devices.

Contact us to learn more.

IM Plugged In EV Incentive Program Announced by I&M Power

IM Plugged In EV Incentive Program Announced by I&M Power

Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) recently announced its IM Plugged In program which will accelerate Indiana residents’ adaptation of electric vehicles by giving them an incentive for installing charging equipment and discounting electrical rates for those who charge their EVs overnight.

“Driving EVs has never been more affordable for I&M’s Indiana customers who take advantage of our incentives and lower overnight rates for charging their EVs,” said William Tokash, I&M’s Energy Services Customer Solutions leader. “Now, as more and more Hoosiers are purchasing EVs,
our new HomeServe partnership will help our Indiana customers with installing chargers and protecting their home wiring configurations.”

HomeServe has partnered with I&M and will be supporting the IM Plugged In program by dispatching an electrician to install the charging equipment and providing an optional interior electrical protection plan.

“It makes charging easier at home,” Tokash told WANE-TV. “For them, it takes the hassle out of them working with contractors to do that and they can save money while charging their vehicle and be ready to drive, [essentially] with a full tank of gas every morning.”

There are already more than 2 million EVs on the roads, and Americans are expected to have nearly 19 million EVs within the next decade, according to the Edison Electrical Institute. In Indiana, EV purchases increased by 25 percent between 2019 and 2020. While only 7 percent of Americans currently own an EV, another 39 percent said they were very or somewhat likely to purchase one the next time they purchased a vehicle, according to a Pew Research Center study.

Transportation accounts for the largest share – 29 percent – of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to the EPA, so EVs are an important tool in reducing overall emissions.

“Indiana Michigan Power’s EV programs are helping to remove barriers for Hoosiers interested in purchasing electric vehicles and installing charging equipment in their homes and businesses. The expansion of Indiana’s electric vehicle fleet will improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve the health of all Hoosiers,” said Kerri Garvin, Executive Director of Greater Indiana Clean Cities, Inc.

I&M will provide a $500 incentive toward the installation of wiring for a residential EV meter to reduce the cost of taking advantage of the discounted rates. It is available for both Indiana residents who already have an existing charger and who are installing a new charger.

However, without programs such as I&M’s IM Plugged In, many residents are unsure where to turn for guidance on installing a new EV charger and other equipment, such as housing for an EV meter. It can be a disjointed and confusing experience, one in which energy utilities can become a trusted advisor.

The overnight charging rate is 33 percent below standard rates and available to those who charge their vehicles from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. This overnight charging will allow EV owners to travel up to an estimated 4,700 miles without filling the gas tank.

“Indiana Michigan Power’s program is acknowledging the fact that people want to implement this technology and use these vehicles and it’s helping them get there,” Garvin told WANE-TV. “There’s a high demand for it. More people are buying these vehicles and people see it as an incentive to bring people to those areas.”

These incentives are in addition to federal tax credits – a 30 percent Federal Investment Tax credit (up to $3,000) for the installation of a new charger until Dec. 31, and a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500 for a battery or hybrid EV.

For more information about the IM Plugged In program, visit the website; and for more information about how HomeServe can help make installing an EV charger hassle free for your customers, contact us.

Gas and Electric Utilities Have Important Roles in Decarbonized Energy

Gas and Electric Utilities Have Important Roles in Decarbonized Energy

The power generation sector has made great strides in creating decarbonized energy, with transportation overtaking the power generation sector as the largest CO2 producer in 2017. This change did not occur as a result of transportation emissions increasing or Americans using less electricity. The decline in power sector emissions is largely attributable to the switch from coal to natural gas and the growth in renewable energy generation, particularly wind and solar.

However, with fossil fuels still generating over 60% of U.S. electricity, and many energy industry leaders publicly pledging carbon neutrality by 2050, the transition toward cleaner energy production will need to accelerate in the coming years, and both electric and gas utilities will be key contributors to this transformation to decarbonized energy.

Many states have prioritized reaching their goals for decarbonized energy.

Many states have prioritized reaching their goals for decarbonized energy.

Throughout the U.S., the energy generation mix varies widely. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have established economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, with some of the cleanest energy states having aggressive goals for 2030 and beyond. California’s goals are the most ambitious, pledging 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2045. Washington, Oregon and New York, also among the cleanest energy states, have reduction goals of 40-45% by 2030 and 80-95% by 2050. To achieve these goals, utilities must increase renewable generation, electrify transportation and proliferate energy efficiency programs.

In states where the energy mix is dominated by petroleum and coal, such as in the top coal-consumption states of Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, natural gas conversion continues to be the primary path to decarbonized energy. Burning natural gas for energy results in GHG emissions that are 50-60% less than coal and 30% less than oil to produce an equal amount of energy.

The transportation sector accounts for the highest level of U.S. GHG emissions (29%), and therefore must be a major focus for all utilities. Cars and light-duty trucks account for 58% of total transportation sector emissions, making widespread adoption of electric vehicles essential to decarbonized energy for transportation. Utilities are in a position to drive EV growth, particularly among residential customers, by offering services to address some of the key pain points of EV charging, which is currently a disjointed experience that leaves consumers largely on their own.

A recent survey of North American utility professionals conducted by Bidgely found the primary barriers to greater adoption of EVs are insufficient charging infrastructure in their territory (67%) and lack of customer awareness of EV benefits (58%). A HomeServe 2021 study of prospective and current EV owners found similar results, with nearly 50% of respondents unaware of utility rebates and time-of-use programs. Additionally, 74% of prospective EV buyers responded that they were concerned about the potential for their level-2 charger to break. When EV owners were asked where they turn for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) support, the number one answer was their utility, more so than vehicle and device manufacturers.

In partnership with utilities, HomeServe offers utility customers first-to-market EV charger support plans. The EV Charger Protection Plan includes reimbursement for a broken charger and coverage for the repair or replacement of wiring and components that are damaged due to normal wear and tear. The EV Charger Convenience Package includes charger installation, protection and guidance on related utility offers including any available incentives, time-of-use rates and demand response programs.

In addition to offering plans that help to increase EV adoption, HomeServe plans protect utility customers against the expense and inconvenience of HVAC, gas and electric lines, water heater and other home emergencies by providing affordable coverage and quality local service from vetted local contractors. As customers with a plan are more likely to repair or replace inefficient systems and proactively address issues, our solution promotes overall energy efficiency, reliability and safety. For more information, contact us.

Installing Level 2 Charger Increases Satisfaction, But is Disjointed Process

Installing Level 2 Charger Increases Satisfaction, But is Disjointed Process

With transportation accounting for the greatest percentage of greenhouse gas emissions, and electrification of the sector as a common solution to achieving state and utility decarbonization goals, the importance of electric vehicle adoption is well understood by utilities.

However, the decision on electric vehicle charging method is one that significantly affects satisfaction, and the utility has an opportunity to educate and offer solutions to residential EV owners, enhancing the customer experience and deepening customer engagement.

According to the inaugural JD Power Electric Vehicle Experience Home Charging Study, 88 percent of EV owners charge their vehicles at home “often” or “always,” and those EV owners who had a Level 2 charging station had the highest level of satisfaction.

The process of purchasing and installing Level 2 chargers can be disjointed and frustrating. Most vehicle and charging manufacturers don’t provide much guidance to customers, leaving them to navigate the differences between types and makes of chargers; search for a reliable, trustworthy contractor to install it; and educate themselves about utility rebate and incentive programs.

As a trusted advisor, utility companies have an opportunity not only to encourage adoption, but to educate customers; increase their satisfaction and participation in relevant programs; offer targeted solutions and obtain useful data – all with a resource many utilities already have in place, a marketplace. Aggregating information on EVs in one place, from testimonials, reviews and ratings, to pricing, tax credits, rebates and calculators, can help utilities step beyond the standard energy-related e-commerce offers. Alongside the usual items, utilities can consider offering EV supply equipment (EVSE); and value-added services, such as Level 2 charger installation and maintenance plans.

A survey conducted by HomeServe found that consumers would look to their utility for assistance with EV charging, with nearly one-third of respondents saying they would most likely turn to their utility provider if they had an issue with their charger. Integrating information to related web pages enables the utility to provide needed support to customers and improve the EV experience.

Charger malfunction was found to be a significant concern by the JD Power study, which cited the need for repairs as the most frequent problem (29 percent). This tracks with the HomeServe survey, which found that 74 percent of potential EV owners and 59 percent of current EV owners worry about a charger breakdown.

Both surveys also noted the importance of awareness of and participation in utility EV programs. JD Power found that the more programs a customer utilized, the greater their satisfaction, but many were unaware of these programs. HomeServe’s survey showed that just under 50 percent were unaware of EV-related utility programs, but when aware, 84 percent claim rebates and 88 percent adopt EV time-of-use rates. Additionally, 97 percent of current EV owners expressed interest in a turnkey solution from their utility for installing Level 2 chargers, repairs and EV program information.

With EVs projected to be 20 percent of vehicle sales (3.5 million annually) by 2030, utility call centers will likely see an increased number of calls requesting EV-related assistance. Those with a comprehensive program in place for customers will demonstrate a commitment to furthering the adoption of EVs and delivering a positive customer experience, and when related calls come in, they can be resolved more quickly.

Utilities can help drive a positive customer experience by providing a frictionless EV charging journey from purchase decision to use. Utilizing their online marketplace or a microsite, utilities can offer a turnkey solution enabling customers to purchase a charger, schedule the installation and have the utility dispatch an electrician to install the unit who can provide information on EV incentives and time-of-use rates.

HomeServe is among the first in the industry to offer an EV charger installation and repair plan that not only provides a pre-vetted, nationwide network of licensed and insured electricians, but fills gaps in manufacturer’s warranties, covering normal wear and tear and offering protection for out-of-warranty devices.

HomeServe can also launch a co-branded mobile experience enabling customers to learn about the advantages of installing a Level 2 charger and estimate the cost of installation, schedule their appointment, see when the technician is on his way and review their experience afterwards.

To find out more about how you can offer this seamless turnkey solution, contact us.

Helping Customers Navigate the Electric Vehicle Experience

Helping Customers Navigate the Electric Vehicle Experience

Electric vehicle adoption is poised for explosive growth in the next decade. Several major automobile manufacturers have pledged to stop making internal combustion engines (ICE) by 2026, focusing instead on development of electric vehicles (EV); by 2030, it’s estimated that there will be over 18 million EVs on the road and over 20 percent of vehicles sold annually will be EVs; by 2035, two of our most populous states – New York and California – plan to halt new car sales of ICE vehicles; and price parity between the cost of new ICE vehicles and new electric vehicles is expected to be achieved by 2025.

The U.S. is the third-largest market for EVs, just behind China and Europe, and several factors contribute to adoption. A greater range of vehicle options, including the recent release of all-wheel drive sports utility vehicles and trucks, is helping to generate interest. Federal, state and manufacturer incentives have contributed tremendously to adoption, helping offset cost differences between EV and ICE vehicles and making the behavioral changes required more palatable. Major metropolitan areas have an average of 450 public chargers per million residents, reducing range anxiety.

The availability of efficient public and home electric vehicle charging options is critical to widespread EV adoption. This is an area where utilities can support their customers and enhance customer engagement. The country’s charging infrastructure will have to grow by 20 percent annually to reach the 9.6 million Level 2 chargers needed. Eighty-eight percent of EV owners charge their vehicles at home, according to HomeServe’s research.

So, what does that mean for energy utilities?

Customers overwhelmingly expect information about EVs from their utilities and, before their purchase, seek out cost comparisons between EVs and ICE vehicles, locations of the closest charging stations and information about home charging options. However, this is only the beginning of customer expectations – they want their utility to be involved and communicating with them through every step of their EV journey.

Incorporating a range of helpful EV information to utility websites, adding electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) to online marketplaces and providing guidance on home installation can significantly enhance the EV customer experience that is presently disjointed.

At present, dealerships and special financing are structured with the purchase of ICE vehicles in mind, and incentives that could save buyers thousands can require research and detailed paperwork and take months to recoup. Many dealers do not stock EVs, and, among those who do, a surprising number are ill prepared to answer basic questions and rarely provide guidance on home charging and related utility offers. Utilities, leveraging their position as a trusted advisor in this space, can help fill these gaps and increase customer satisfaction and engagement while doing so.

Ratepayers have long indicated their preference that their electric utility be involved with the installation of EVSE, whether it means the utility’s employees or a third party recommended or engaged by the utility. They are likely to contact you for information on local contractors who are available to safely install their chargers – HomeServe’s research found that nearly 30 percent will turn to their utilities for charger help. However, having a charger close at hand doesn’t completely relieve them of anxiety, because nearly three-quarters worry about their Level-2 charger malfunctioning or breaking.

A charger installation isn’t the end of the customer journey, especially with new EV adopters who are navigating the space for the first time. While many energy utilities offer special EV time-of-use rates and provide rebates and incentives for EV purchases and installation of Level-2 chargers, fewer than half of EV owners were aware of them, according to HomeServe’s research. Of those who were aware, better than 80 percent took advantage of these programs – a great opportunity for increased customer engagement.

Engaging regularly with customers about their EV ownership gives you an opportunity to communicate about charging management – EV owners have shown strong interest in managing their charging in order to take advantage of the best rates and utilize clean energy. In a study commissioned by GE, researchers found that three factors came into play: a desire to be more environmentally conscious, cost savings and enthusiasm for cutting-edge technology.

While utilities and state commissions wrestle with execution of EV-related programs – and who will pay for what – the Alliance for Transportation Electrification and Plug In America are advocating that utilities should be able to recover the costs of EV adoption programs, noting that energy utilities are trusted advisors, uniquely placed to educate the largest potential pool of EV drivers. Utility commissions are paying attention, and the Edison Electric Institute is regularly seeing EV programs as part of proposals and estimates that, to date, 40 utilities have been granted funding for EV programs.

A partnership with HomeServe can be another tool to help encourage the adoption of EVs as we roll out first-to-market EV charger protection and installation solutions.

For information on how HomeServe can complement and amplify your EV programs, contact us.