With billions of dollars on the way from the federal government to deploy the infrastructure needed to fast track transportation electrification, energy businesses need proven accurate, credible data to drive their EV charging investments. Hear more from Florida Power & Light, Austin Energy, Portland General Electric and more utilities nationwide about how data informs their strategic plans, and learn how Bidgely’s EV Solution makes it easy to access the data insights that are critical to getting it right.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes the largest-ever U.S. investment in transportation electrification: $7.5 billion. The funds are intended to support the deployment of 500,000 chargers to build a national charging network – roughly a five-fold increase in the nation’s EV infrastructure – in order to make EVs accessible to all Americans for both local and long-distance trips.
The momentum driving transportation electrification was already accelerating, but the federal government’s investment has kicked EV infrastructure development into an even higher gear. With that shift, there is now a tremendous opportunity for utilities to serve as a strategic driver and take the lead in charging infrastructure deployment across both the public and residential sectors.
That said, the price tag associated with building new EV infrastructure from the ground up and the aggressive timelines by which it is supposed to happen creates a challenging high-risk, high-reward environment for power businesses.
Thankfully, data exists today to provide accurate and reliable insights upon which successful infrastructure programs can be built. Where are EV drivers currently charging – at home, a business or a public charging station? At what time of day are they charging? And for how long? What is the potential for vehicle-to-grid integration to create capacity with battery storage?
AI-powered AMI analytics are essential in informing our understanding of current and future transportation electrification impacts, and in driving EV-related resource planning.
The Public EV Infrastructure Landscape
In December 2021, the Edison Electric Institute announced that 50 U.S. power companies had joined forces to create The National Electric Highway Coalition – a group committed to working in partnership to build a coast-to-coast fast charging network for electric vehicles along major U.S. travel corridors by the end of 2023. At the same time, individual utilities are also making significant investments in building out public infrastructure as they seek to mitigate range anxiety and ensure equitable access to the advantages of electric vehicles and a clean energy future.
Matt Valle, VP of Development at Florida Power and Light, describes the pilots now underway to collect data to inform FPL’s public charging initiatives moving forward.
“FPL is one of the largest utilities in the country, and other than some workplace charging, we had not yet deployed chargers. So we wanted to understand the technology, the resiliency of it, what it takes to run a network like that, and what customer preferences are,” says Valle. “One of our public charging pilots centered upon the workplace where we deployed over 1000 level two chargers across the state of Florida. We’ve taken tens-of-thousands of sessions from customers that are plugging in and charging at those locations and are gathering data to better understand time of use. We also have a fast charging network pilot underway. We’ve looked across the state and picked out the points where we can connect an FPL fast charger every 50 miles along the main travel corridors of the state. You can now credibly travel up and down or across Florida using our public charging network. With that initiative, we’ve put about 100 fast chargers out there in 18 different locations to build what I would say is the initial skeleton of that network. We’re getting session data coming back from these pilots so that we can better anticipate the areas of higher use and times of day that the stations are getting most utilized. We are gathering the core elements to build off these initial networks and evolve our charging infrastructure from this point forward.”
Austin Energy is also leveraging data from its DC fast charging hubs to inform the evolution of its public infrastructure plans. Karl Popham, Manager of Electric Vehicles & Emerging Technologies explains.
“For example, we know the average session at a DC fast charger is 18 minutes. That influences our programs in two ways. One is that our pricing strategy is plug-in-per-minute. I don’t care if you have a 200 or a 5300 kilowatt charger, the car is going to send a signal to protect its battery at 80%. So you need a pricing strategy to encourage drivers to fill up to 80%, and then move along,” says Poham. “We’re also creating heat maps across our 1,100 charging ports to know where the usage is, both by category and location. We’ve found the ‘big three’ opportunities for level-two charging are the workplace, retail and multifamily. The data also has revealed that level-one chargers at multifamily locations provide a very affordable, and often preferred solution to make more ubiquitous charging available to residents.”
Residential Charging Still Leads the Way
Today and in the future, the U.S. Department of Energy expects up to 80 percent of EV charging will occur at home. With such a large percentage of charging occuring residentially, having at-home charging data for entire service populations becomes one of the most critical inputs in informing EV infrastructure deployment – from home charging equipment to the transmission infrastructure required to support EV-related increases in grid load.
Neither DMV data nor car API/hardware telematics sampling provides sufficient location and behavioral data on which to build EV forecasts. Only AMI data provides an accurate understanding of EV adoption at a granular, residential location-by-location and time-specific basis to ensure utilities are able to identify EVs, EV charging patterns, and growth trends to drive investment and strategy in grid infrastructure and EV programs.
Bridgely’s Analytics Workbench allows utilities to examine what EV load looks like during all hours of the day, including each individual’s charging behavior line-by-line and hour-by-hour.
“As an operator, I need to see what consumer energy usage I can influence. That includes the electric vehicle that you’re charging. If I can influence charging patterns, I can maintain the capacity of the system and keep everybody in power without rebuilding the feeder. I don’t have to put a new transformer at the substation,” says Larry Bekkedahl, Senior VP of Advanced Energy Delivery at Portland General Electric.
By applying Bidgely’s patented disaggregation technology to AMI data, energy providers are able to break down grid loads by individual service point end use consumption, and develop load curves for individual substations, feeders and other assets. This, in turn, reveals granular opportunities to reduce or shift demand or implement targeted infrastructure changes.
Data is the Key
“Data analytics is core to everything that we’re going to be doing with EVs. This is happening in real time, and the systems and processes have not yet been built. But there’s a wealth of information that is coming back, and we are only beginning to tap into what we’re receiving,” emphasizes Valle. “Data is going to guide us. How do we make the customer experience better? What are we learning? Are charging stations in the right spot? Is the price point the right price point? Are we having issues with reliability or with stations going down? Do we need to think about distribution planning any differently? I think the really interesting thing is nobody knows how this game is going to play out. But at the end of the day, EV infrastructure deployment is going to be driven by the data that is coming in.”
With billions of dollars on the way from the federal government to deploy the infrastructure needed to fast track transportation electrification, energy businesses need proven accurate, credible data to drive their EV charging investments. Hear more from FPL, Austin Energy, PGE and more utilities nationwide about how data informs their strategic plans, and learn how Bidgely’s EV Solution makes it easy to access the data insights that are critical to getting it right.