While electric vehicles have Big Oil running scared, public and private electric utility companies are chomping at the bit for EVs to become mainstream. Why? Once EVs are everywhere those utility companies will supplant Big Oil and start raking in massive profits. So how can utility companies ultimately help the EV movement progress?
The biggest downside to EV ownership has always been access to charging. Even in states like California where multiple public charging networks exist it's still a pain point for many. The reason is the public charging model simply doesn't work as most EV drivers prefer to charge at home or work. For most living in a single family home with a garage this won't be much of an issue, but for those living in multi-family housing getting charging on-site can be a real pain. So how can utility companies help? By offering easy to access incentives.
Programs like LADWP's Charge Up L.A. are the gold standard when it comes to bringing EV chargers to the masses. The program set aside more than $20M and covers everything from single-family homes to apartments, condos, and workplaces. The latter offers $4500/station for up to 20 stations depending on parking lot size, which essentially makes the stations nearly free (especially if they're using SmartPower).
Stop Funding Public Stations
This is going to bring a lot of hate mail with it but the fact remains that over 90% of EV drivers prefer to charge at home or work and its not hard to see why. Most public charging networks (save for Tesla) are a complete nightmare. Charging prices fluctuate wildly from station to station and often times are most costly than gas. Stations can be broken as maintenance is not a priority and above all else, Level 2 charging is not suitable for a gas station model.
Charging times are just too slow for a public Level 2 station to make sense. On average most EV drivers need to charge up 2-4 hours every night from a Level 2 charger to replace the electricity they used that day. This means that if you are relying solely on a public charging network you're going to need to spend a lot of time hanging out at the public station just to ensure your car has enough power to get around. The bottom line is people want to charge at home when it's convenient and its one of the things that make owning an EV so great.
Fast Approval Times
The biggest problem with nearly every incentive and rebate program is they take a long time to actually get approved and that can mean a long wait for EV owners who need charging. The best thing these companies can do is offer a path forward that doesn't have long drawn-out timelines and makes things simple for everyone.Faster approval times also mean more work can get started and finish sooner which could make a real impact on the current lack of charging options available to EV drivers.
At the end of the day, the utility companies stand to gain quite a lot from the EV market and with a little more time and investment can ensure that the EV movement continues to gain momentum.