Electrify America, created as a result of Volkswagen’s years of diesel emissions cheating in the United States, is best known for quickly rolling out a nationwide network of fast and ultra-fast chargers for electric vehicle drivers (mostly at Walmarts). That part of the company is a true boon to non-Tesla electric vehicle (EV) drivers, since it makes road trips in other electric vehicles genuinely practical and fairly convenient (and also assists electric taxi or ride-hailing services like Lyft), even if it’s not as ideal as the Tesla Supercharger network (in various ways) and a bit more expensive.
However, Electrify America goes beyond the charging infrastructure. For example, it also produces and runs national advertisements for EV adoption, and it is rolling out “slow”/destination EV chargers across the country. Now there’s also news of an Electrify America investment in a stationary storage program in Sacramento, California.
The thing is, EV fast charging pulls down a lot of power, sucking electricity out of the grid very quickly. Typically, that kind of high-power activity presents challenges for the grid and thus comes with hearty peak power charges, “demand charges.” Up to 80% of an Electrify America electric bill can be demand charges. One solution implemented by Electrify America in some cases has been installing Tesla Powerpacks at some locations. (Perhaps using Powerpacks or perhaps using other stationary energy storage units, other EV fast charging networks — like Greenway, Fastned, EVgo, and Tesla’s Supercharger network — have done the same.)
In Sacramento — as part of a deal with the local utility, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) — Electrify America is putting $1.3 million into SMUD’s Energy StorageShares program.
“This first-of-a-kind program will help address peak energy demands, minimize impacts to the grid and support the expansion of EV charging in our community,” said SMUD CEO and General Manager Arlen Orchard. “A program like this also continues to move us toward a carbon free economy by enabling higher levels of renewable generation to be integrated with the grid.” By helping to lower its impact on the SMUD grid, this investment is also cutting Electrify America’s energy costs, which will presumably be passed on to customers via lower prices.
“The program incentivizes placement of energy storage in grid-stressed locations in Sacramento while providing Electrify America with potential reductions in demand charges for its SMUD service territory-located sites. SMUD plans to site the utility battery in a location where significant load growth is expected over the next five years.” Electrify America currently has 12 charging stations in the SMUD territory.
This investment is part of Electrify America’s Sacramento-area Green City Initiative. Here are more of Electrify America’s investments in this initiative:
- Car sharing – Electrify America has invested in two ZEV car share services within the City of Sacramento which complement each other with different service areas while providing the same easy access:
- GIG Car Share – Free Float Car Sharing: GIG Car Share, which is managed by AAA Northern California, Nevada, and Utah, offers free float car share service in Sacramento.
- Envoy – Round Trip Car Sharing: Electrify America also invested in a program with Envoy Technologies, a community-based EV car-share service based at residential buildings as an amenity. Vehicles can be reserved, picked up and returned to the same location.
- ZEV bus/shuttle services – Electrify America invested in a ZEV bus service and an on-demand micro-shuttle service. To support powering the fleets, Electrify America is installing charging stations with ultra-fast chargers to power each service.
- Electric Bus Service – Causeway Connection: Electrify America’s investment enhances bus service between Sacramento and the City of Davis with 12 new electric buses that will run from the main campus to the UC Davis Health campus in Sacramento. The shuttle will be co-run by Sacramento Regional Transit (SacRT) and the Yolo County Transportation District.
- On-Demand Electric Shuttle Service – Franklin Region: Electrify America has provided the funding for battery electric shuttles to replace the existing internal combustion engine shuttles that currently operate on this SmaRT Ride service operated by Sacramento Regional Transit.
- EV charging infrastructure – Twelve of Electrify America’s 14 ultra-fast EV charging stations in the Sacramento region available to the public are powered by SMUD. The charging stations have a range of power from 50 kilowatts (kW), which is most commonly used in today’s electric vehicles, to 150 and 350kW. This future-proof charging technology will meet the needs of all electric vehicles available today and the advanced EVs expected as early as 2020. The Electrify America ultra-fast charging technology can deliver energy up to 20 miles of range per minute.