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New EMPOWER Project Aims To Bring EV Charging To Workplaces All Across America

The EMPOWER project is focusing on implementing a new national workplace charging alliance that will encourage and support employers by providing charging stations at their workplace sites.

The new program was recently funded by the US Department of Energy, which announced the winners of its FY’21 “Low Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Vehicle Technologies Research, Development, Demonstration and Deployment” funding opportunity. A topic area of “Electric Vehicle Workplace Charging” was included in this year’s round. The Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities Coalition (CWCC) was one of the announced winners, and its Equitable Mobility Powering Opportunities for Workplace Electrification Readiness (EMPOWER) proposal was highlighted.

East Tennessee Clean Fuels (ETCF) is providing administrative support and project management guidance for the EMPOWER program by leveraging its experience with the Drive Electric USA program. Included in the proposal are 30 DOE Clean Cities Coalitions as a collective workforce leading on-the-ground implementation of a new national workplace charging alliance.

The project will start with the collaboration of transportation electrification representatives sharing their experiences, listening, and designing a program to encourage workplace participation spanning all across the diverse communities throughout America.

“This project offers a great opportunity for Clean Cities Coalitions to listen to the communities we work within and find out how workplace charging could benefit them,” said CWCC’s executive director, Brian Trice.

Aim of the Project

The EMPOWER project plans to work with over 2,000 employers and secure around 650 or more employer commitments to install and support workplace charging programming. Additionally, the project is also hoping for a total of 3,500 installed EVSE/units at employer sites.

The goal is to have around 20% of employer commitments from diverse employers located in qualified opportunity zones that benefit underserved communities and people of color. Workplaces that participate will be able to provide feedback on resources for workplace charging as they are being produced. This will allow for improvements to the program during the project period.

The feedback loop is critical, as it plays a key role in the successful development of an effective national workplace charging program that is user-friendly.

To accelerate interest and support, the EMPOWER project will provide a national landing page funnel and website where users can access tools, resources, and information. For those who may not know, a landing page with a funnel is a common marketing tactic where you visit a website, look at the information, and sign up for a “free gift” or something. This is crucial to building email lists and growing any business.

The project will also provide consistent messaging while coordinating with national data and utility partners. The goal is simple: advancing employer commitments for workplace charging programs and installations. The secondary goals include collecting and advancing EV charging research as well as career pathways in the EV charging industry for underrepresented communities.

Jonathan Overly, Coordinator of ETCF, emphasized the organization’s interest in engaging directly with both unrepresented and overburdened communities through the EMPOWER project.

“We are looking forward to engaging directly with unrepresented and overburdened communities through this project. We will be listening to what these communities have to say about electric vehicle infrastructure in their communities and considering it as this project progresses.”

Key project partners working with CWCC include:

  • Cadeo Group
  • East Tennessee Clean Fuels
  • Louisiana Clean Fuels
  • ICF International
  • Shift2Electric
  • Smart Electric Power Alliance
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Training Program
  • Cerritos College
  • Washington State Department of Commerce
  • American Lung Association
  • The University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • Pacific Northwest Laboratory
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The EMPOWER project also has supportive charging provider partners, which include many utility companies. These are:

  • Siemens
  • ChargePoint
  • ComEd
  • Alabama Power
  • Entergy
  • Eversource
  • Memphis Light Gas & Water
  • OK Gas & Electric
  • Northern Indiana Public Service Company
  • Green Mountain Power
  • Baltimore Gas & Electric
  • Tennessee Valley Authority
  • Avangrid
  • Electric Power Board of Chattanooga
  • Pepco Holdings
  • Western Farmers Electric Cooperative
  • Central Maine Power
  • Knoxville Utility Board
  • Rocky Mountain Power
  • Burlington Electric Department
  • Portland General Electric
  • Southwestern Electric Power Company
  • Kentucky Power

The EMPOWER project team is receiving $3,970,539 in federal funds. It is also providing over $1,000,000 in cost share from non-federal sources.

The project team is receiving $3,970,539 in federal funds while providing over $1,000,000 in cost share from non-federal sources.

Parts of the country now exceed 5% EV market share and many new plug-in EV options are becoming available. In addition, many states are developing their own Drive Electric partnerships and programs. With this in mind, a national workplace charging collaboration is crucial.

Benefits Of Workplace Charging

Two important benefits of workplace charging include greater employee recruitment and retention. Also, giving employees the ability to plug EVs in while working reflects upon the organization’s credibility when talking about sustainability efforts. The latter is really important, especially if the company is talking about going carbon neutral or taking other efforts to become more sustainable.

Tennessee Clean Fuels noted that workplace charging can provide a lot of help for people who want to switch to electric driving but haven’t been able to yet.

“Reliable access to a charging station at home remains a barrier that prevents many drivers from owning a plug-in vehicle. Workplace charging can provide a pathway for plug-in ownership for those considering an EV who live in apartments, condominiums or otherwise do not have access to an overnight charging station.

“Workplace charging can affect large swathes of our community and directly affect many new EV owners, plug-in hybrid owners, and a growing used-EV-owner populace.

“An essential facet of our program design will be the diversity, equity, and inclusion lens in place for all facets of this project.”

LCF also pointed out that workplace charging is increasingly seen as a value to electric utilities in which administrators are forecasting the value of frequency regulation, load following, and also load shifting grid interactions with EVSE and EVs.

Employers that support workplace charging can help flatten the curve of electricity demand by allowing EV owners to charge during the middle of the day, which eases the evening demand during a normal peak evening event.

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Written By

Johnna owns less than one share of $TSLA currently and supports Tesla's mission. She also gardens, collects interesting minerals and can be found on TikTok


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