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Published on August 1st, 2014 | by Tina Casey

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EVs Are Win-Win-Win-Win For Utilities*

August 1st, 2014 by  


The green tubes are starting to cheer over a new white paper from the Edison Electric Institute, which makes the case that electric utilities can get a “quadruple win” by converting their existing gas and diesel fleets to plug-in electric vehicle fleets. That’s great except the last time we checked in on EEI, the organization was lobbying heavily against distributed solar power.

That’s why we put that little “*” thing up there in our title. So, let’s take a knee and floor our pom-poms for a couple of minutes while we take a closer look at the new EV white paper, Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge.

electric vehicle fleets

Chevy Volt by Al Pavangkanan.

EEI Casts Stinkeye Upon Distributed Solar

Distributed solar power is the wave of the future, but EEI is no big fan of it. The organization has been lobbying in favor of a new tax on the electricity that home solar owners sell to their local utilities via a Value of Solar Tariff.

EEI has previously drawn attention to the tension between distributed solar and the traditional utility model, and there’s no question that it’s a real thing, so there’s no mystery why EEI would give it the stinkeye.

For that matter, don’t be surprised if the micro wind turbine market gets similar pushback from EEI.

EV Fleets And Utilities

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the new EEI white paper.

First, let’s also clarify that we don’t think EEI is trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes with the report itself. The title indicates pretty clearly that the white paper is about utility EV fleets, not individually owned vehicles.

According to EEI, utilities get a quadruple payoff by transitioning to electric vehicle fleets:

According to the paper, electrification of the transportation sector is a potential “quadruple win” for electric utilities and society, and it will enable electric utilities to support environmental goals, build customer satisfaction, reduce operating costs, and assure the future value of existing assets.

Did they leave out dog bites man? Yes, they did. This is all old news, if you’ve been following the Obama Administration’s efforts to promote electric vehicle fleets, through the Clean Fleets initiative (part of the Clean Cities program) as well as the Workplace Charging Challenge.

Electric Vehicle Fleets: What’s In It For Me?

Where things start going off the rails isn’t the report itself. It’s the header for EEI’s press release about the report, “EEI Releases ‘Road Map’ to Help Expand the Electric Vehicle Market.”

The press release does clarify that EEI’s focus is on expanding EV fleets into the commercial and retail markets, not necessarily into individual EV ownership, but if you’re just skimming headlines for good news, you’re not getting the full picture.

Look at that in the context of EEI’s anti-distributed solar lobbying, and it’s clear that there is one key part of the EV market that the organization is definitely not interested in expanding, and that is the EV market for property owners who have access to on site solar power, aka distributed solar power.

 

That market has attracted a great deal of interest from Ford, for example, which has partnered with the home builder KB Home to incorporate solar powered EV charging in its new “net zero” models.

Ford has also introduced a connectivity product called MyEnergi Lifestyle, which is aimed like a laser at PEV owners with access to distributed solar power at home.

Standalone solar carports are also set for an explosion into the market.

Don’t get us wrong, electric vehicle fleets are totally a good thing, but in the case of EEI, what’s sauce for the goose is not necessarily sauce for the gander.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



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