Report: Utilities can treat electric vehicles as demand response tools

Electric vehicles (EVs) are quickly becoming one of the largest flexible loads on the grid in certain parts of the United States. Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects EV electricity consumption to increase to approximately 33 terawatt-hours (TWh) annually by 2025, and 551 TWh by 2040.

Utilities and Electric Vehicles: The Case for Managed Charging

(Artwork by Smart Electric Power Association)

While most industry analysts see EVs as a boon for utilities, load management risks are an issue. Managed charging—remotely controlling vehicle charging by turning it up, down or even off to correspond to grid conditions—could present utilities with an effective, new demand response opportunity.

Utilities and Electric Vehicles: The Case for Managed Charging, You are leaving WAPA.gov. by the Smart Electric Power Association (SEPA), offers a wide-lens overview of the managed charging ecosystem. This research report studies game-changing utility pilot programs for developing and testing managed charging approaches. Download the free report to learn about:

  • Examples of utility programs
  • Vehicle-grid integration and connected-car platform providers
  • Compatible electric vehicle supply equipment
  • Examples of automotive industry activities

Utilities have a central role to play as a nexus for stakeholders in the EV market, with their deep understanding of the grid and customers’ needs and interest. Power providers must act now to advocate for consumer-friendly features and programs, and to help shape relevant policies, regulations and standards. Utilities and Electric Vehicles: The Case for Managed Charging is an excellent resource for preparing for the future of EVs.

Source: Utility Dive, 5/11/17

California utilities discuss concerns at UEF roundtable

An Energy Services Bulletin story last month looked at the results of a Utility Dive survey You are leaving WAPA.gov. that asked power providers what their biggest concerns were. This month, several California utilities—including many WAPA customers—gathered at the Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. (UEF) Pre-Forum Roundtable to talk about the issues that kept them up at night.

Because of their potential as a revenue source and demand response tool, electric vehicles were a running topic at the UEF Pre-Forum Roundtable.

Because of their potential as a revenue source and demand response tool, electric vehicles were a running topic at the UEF Pre-Forum Roundtable. (Photo by DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)

The UEF program committee asked utility and government representatives to weigh in on the topics they wanted to discuss in the exclusive session dedicated to those groups. Not surprisingly, the responses reflected California’s unique situation, even as they echoed the findings of the Utility Dive survey.

Energy storage
The question that was No. 1 in the minds of survey respondents was, “What is the value of energy storage for customers, utilities and the grid?” It is not hard to connect the dots between energy storage and concerns about distributed energy policy and aging grid infrastructure that ranked high in the Utility Dive survey. But in California, a combination of legislative and market forces have made energy storage specifically a relevant topic.

Most people automatically think about battery systems when they hear energy storage, and six utilities in the state have already installed and are experimenting with that technology. However, thermal storage—using available renewable electricity to heat water or make ice for later use in heating or cooling—is a proven technology in use at eight California utilities. Pacific Gas and Electric has the state’s only pumped storage project, which uses renewable energy to pump water to a higher-altitude reservoir where it is released to generate hydropower when needed.

Utilities and battery manufacturers still have much to learn about storage batteries, from funding and installation to operation and maintenance to best uses for the systems. Riverside Public Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov. enlisted the University of California Riverside as You are leaving WAPA.gov. a research partner to discover more about solar-plus-storage capabilities. Imperial Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. installed 30 megawatts (MW) of storage last October. System operators find it valuable for balancing intermittent solar power during weekdays, but also note that it takes 220 tons of air conditioning to control battery temperatures. Maintaining constant battery temperature is crucial to extending the life of batteries. Tucson Electric Power (TEP) chose to lease 10 MW of storage from Next Era You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Eon You are leaving WAPA.gov. as a way of easing through the learning curve. The system supports 40 MW of solar and provides ancillary services for TEP.

So far, the business case for storage has yet to be made because utilities are still discovering the values associated with it. Also, each utility will have to learn how to maximize storage on its own system. Planning and rate design will play a critical role in unlocking the value of the technology. But utilities can’t afford to hang back, as big, energy-intensive businesses like data centers are already investigating going off-grid with their own solar-plus-storage systems. These customers may prove to be important partners for power providers seeking to meet storage mandates.

More to offer
Stagnant load growth appeared in the Top 10 Utility Dive survey results, a harbinger of reduced revenues utilities can expect from distributed generation and storage technologies. California utilities seem to be ahead of the curve in this respect, interested in exploring new business models to grow services and build relationships. Many roundtable participants have begun to create programs and services that offer customers more than kilowatts.

A number of industry surveys indicate that most consumers still rely on their power providers to help them sort out claims about electrical products and services. Utilities can leverage this trust to get customers to take a holistic approach to energy use, installing weatherization and efficient appliances and systems before moving on to renewables.

The City of Palo Alto Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CPAU), for example, offers comprehensive home audits and free concierge service that customers can call with any question about energy use. The service is just starting to take off as CPAU hones its message and outreach strategy. “Ongoing customer communication is critical, and not just for specific programs,” observed CPAU Key Account Manager Bryan Ward. “The issues are complex and education is tough, but the more customers understand, the more they can make good decisions for themselves.”

When the customer is ready to install a solar array, the utility has a vested interest in making sure the job is done right. Roseville Electric Utility’s Trusted Solar Advisor program has been highly successful in helping its customers make educated decisions about solar installations. The “Solar Guy,” Energy Program Technician David Dominguez, has even become something of a local celebrity. Roseville is considering expanding the program to other services, like electric vehicles and energy storage. The moral of Roseville’s story is that personalizing a program can take it to a whole new level.

EVs, rate design central to discussion
Of course, you can’t have a discussion about new utility services without the subject of electric vehicle charging stations coming up. Roundtable participants represented a number of different approaches to this service. Burbank Water and Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. installs level 1 (standard household) charger outlets on customers’ property and offers a rebate to customers to install a level 2 (240-volt) outlet.

CPAU facilitates permitting and filing for residential and commercial charger installation and for transformer upgrades. Multifamily units, nonprofits and schools are eligible for rebates for chargers, but high-tech businesses in CPAU’s territory didn’t need an incentive to install the technology. The important thing, most agreed, was that utilities need to be involved in pushing out EV chargers, both for the new revenue stream and to ensure effective deployment and implementation.

EVs and technologies like home automation—another behind-the-meter product utilities could offer—lend themselves to load shifting, especially in residential settings. To take full advantage of such demand response strategies, utilities will have to design rates that give customers a reason to participate. The Public Utility Commission of California You are leaving WAPA.gov. has called for robust time-of-use rates, which would present utilities with another customer education challenge. Power providers will also want to make sure that vendors of behind-the-meter services are giving consumers honest and accurate information and appropriate support.

Energy efficiency ain’t easy
The final roundtable issue was one that is relevant across the country, but again with special significance to California: What hurdles are you encountering integrating and managing more energy efficiency in your mix?

In addition to the state getting half of its electricity from green energy by 2030, California buildings must also increase energy efficiency by 50 percent. As any utility program manager can tell you, the more successful you are at reducing your customers’ energy use, the harder it is to find new savings. The overall trend toward higher efficiency standards for appliances and equipment, along with some of the toughest building codes in the U.S., is already making it more difficult to design effective efficiency programs.

Encouraging customers to make energy-efficiency improvements is further complicated by the fact that electricity rates may continue to rise anyway. Consumers don’t generally care about the intricacies of load resource balance or system optimization, issues that resist simple messaging. To make matters worse, third-party vendors rarely bother to explain to their customers how installing a measure will actually affect their home utility bills—if they, themselves, understand.

When the subject is energy efficiency, talk always circles back to flat and falling revenues, something affecting almost everyone on the panel. Sacramento Municipal Utility District You are leaving WAPA.gov. attributes a noticeable decline in sales to building codes. EV charging and electric water heating could help to make up some load, especially since most water heaters in the state are still gas units. But CPAU found few takers for a pilot program offering customers a generous rebate to install electric heat pump water heaters.

Change still only constant
There is still plenty of low-hanging efficiency fruit that utilities have not yet picked, though participants acknowledged that it may be getting more expensive to reach. The “free” electricity from a solar array is a lot more appealing to customers than elusive “savings” from an energy-efficient appliance. It is enough to make utilities wonder if the best days of energy-efficiency programs and incentives are behind them.

And yet, industry research shows a strong correlation between energy efficiency and customer satisfaction. Such programs give utilities a chance to interact with customers in a way they wouldn’t get to otherwise. Board members may continue to support a traditional program that does not contribute much to financial or operational goals because they see the public relations value of it. If utilities are going to phase out traditional energy-efficiency programs, they will need to find other ways keep customers engaged and happy.

The two hours scheduled for the UEF Pre-Forum Roundtable passed quickly and—spoiler alert—we did not resolve our most pressing issues. That is likely to take trial, error and perhaps an appetite for risk that is hard to square with our historic mission of reliability and affordability. But it did remind us that customer relationships must be viewed as part of the solution.

University of Utah among green power competitors in EPA challenge

When it comes to sustainability, colleges and universities have some of the most aggressive and comprehensive plans in the nation, and WAPA is proud to count some of those institutions as customers. One of our customers, the University of Utah, You are leaving WAPA.gov. is putting its climate action plan to the test in the 2016-17 College and University Green Power Challenge, which encourages higher education institutions to increase their use of green power.gpchallenge

Throughout the academic year, the Green Power Partnership tracks the collegiate athletic conferences with the highest combined green power usage in the nation. The challenge, an initiative of the Environmental Protection Agency, is open to any conference in the United States. Currently, 89 schools from 34 athletic conferences are participating in the 2016-17 Challenge. The PAC 12 conference, of which UU is a part, has used 79,173,575 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power so far this year.

Drawing up plan
The University of Utah has been pursuing carbon neutrality since 2007 when the university president signed on to the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment You are leaving WAPA.gov.. In 2010, the school set its official goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2050 as part of its first Climate Action Plan.

The comprehensive plan created the university Sustainability Office and sustainability committees to coordinate education, research and initiatives to reduce the university’s carbon emissions. The carbon commitment works hand in hand with a resilience commitment to strengthen UU’s ability to survive disruption and adapt to change. These commitments combine to form the whole of the plan’s climate commitment.

To meet its stated goals, the plan sets forth structures for guidance and implementation, and decision-making criteria for carbon reduction measures prioritized in an inverted pyramid. Avoiding and reducing emissions top the pyramid as the actions likely to have the greatest effect. Efficiency, resource replacement and offsetting fossil fuel use follow in that order. Every five years, UU will review, revise and resubmit the plan, a process that is currently underway.

Getting started
The first step on the road to carbon neutrality was gathering data on all wholly owned buildings and land area of the university and its subsidiaries. Leased facilities were not included in the accounting.

The difficulty for UU was that metering was only available at campus level when the initiative launched. “We have been working to get building-level information to better understand where we should focus our efforts,” said Myron Willson, the university’s deputy chief sustainability officer.

Data collection has led to an increased emphasis on commissioning and re-commissioning buildings and on major building system retrofits. The Sustainability Office is now looking into district-level energy planning on its health sciences campus.

In 2008, the students unanimously voted for a $2.50-per-semester student fee, the Sustainable Campus Initiative Fund, to support sustainability projects. Since then, SCIF has received proposals ranging in focus from food systems to solar energy, and has allocated more than $400,000 in grants to more than 100 projects. There is now support for turning the fund into a revolving loan program that could help to provide the initial capital needed for energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Power supply plays its part
Although the plan prioritizes avoiding emissions and improving campus efficiency over using green power and offsetting fossil fuel use with renewable energy purchases, those strategies still have a place. UU installed a combined heat and power plant in 2008 that provides 6 megawatts (MW) of power. There is also about 1.5 MW of distributed solar directly on campus, and another 2 MW under contract for three projects on the university’s Research Park.

The university’s latest project brings together the entire community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, neighbors and friends for a community solar energy installation program. U Community Solar offers members the opportunity to purchase rooftop solar panels and installation for their homes at 20 to 25 percent below market rate. In return for the significant discount, participants can voluntarily donate their renewable energy credits back to the university. “So far, more than 85 percent of participants have agreed to do so, generating almost 1.8 MW in the first round,” said Willson. “The second round is nearing 1 MW of power. We register those RECs through WREGIS You are leaving WAPA.gov. [Western Renewable Energy Generation Information System].”

So far, so good
In addition to leading its conference in the Green Power Challenge, UU is making progress on its carbon neutrality goals. Its emissions have remained fairly constant since the baseline survey in 2007, but the university has experienced tremendous growth in that time frame. “Our per capita and per-square-foot energy use is down in our latest report, too,” Willson added.

The university continues to move forward with aggressive building standards for new construction and for remodels that are 40 percent better than code and a solar-ready roof initiative. Demand-side incentives from Rocky Mountain Power You are leaving WAPA.gov., the university’s utility, help support efficiency and clean energy projects. “We are able to roll the funds over into next project,” explained Willson. “We have also taken advantage of several Blue-Sky grants to install solar PV.”

To tackle emissions from transportation, the U Drive Electric program offers U community members and Salt Lake City residents the opportunity to purchase or lease electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles at discounted prices. The collaboration between UU, Salt Lake City and Utah Clean Energy You are leaving WAPA.gov. has facilitated the sale of 92 electric and plug-in hybrid cars this year.

The University of Utah’s U Drive Electric program has facilitated the sale of 92 electric and plug-in-hybrid cars since the beginning of the school year. With almost 50 percent of Utah’s urban air pollution coming from tailpipe emissions, electric vehicles represent an important tool for improving air quality in Salt Lake City.

The University of Utah’s U Drive Electric program has facilitated the sale of 92 electric and plug-in-hybrid cars since the beginning of the school year. With almost 50 percent of Utah’s urban air pollution coming from tailpipe emissions, electric vehicles represent an important tool for improving air quality in Salt Lake City. (Photo by Sustainable Utah, Green News at the University of Utah)

Willson acknowledged that the 5-year review will bring evolution to the plan. “It is hard to know in the first years what combination of steps will bring the best result,” he said. “But we are currently working with consultants to evaluate several purchase power agreement opportunities for both on- and off-campus generation. This has helped us look at reducing peak demand, opportunities for storage, such as thermal and battery, and how to plan for future campus growth.”

WAPA wishes the University of Utah the best of luck in this year’s Green Power Challenge. But as with most energy competitions, it is not whether you win or lose; it’s how many opportunities for energy savings and load management you discover. In that, UU is already a winner.

If your college or university is interested in joining the 2016-17 Green Power Challenge, check out the steps to join Green Power Partnership for more information. To be listed, a conference must have at least two Green Power Partners and an aggregate green power purchase of at least 10 million kWh across the conference. Partner data deadlines are Jan. 4, 2017, and April 5, 2017.

Detroit auto show highlights growing range of EVs

From economy models to luxury cars, electric vehicles (EVs) claimed their place alongside the usual displays of horsepower at the 2014 North American International Auto ShowRedirecting to a non-government site in Detroit. Almost all major automakers exhibited at least one gas-electric or full-electric vehicle.

2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year (Photo by Superdupercarpix)

2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year (Photo by Automobile Review)

No longer just a niche product for “super-green” consumers, alternative-fuel cars now offer the same features, much of the power and all of the slick design of conventional cars. Even Joel Klassen, an internal combustion engine devotee and graphic designer on Western’s Public Affairs staff, was impressed.  “The first hybrids looked more like science experiments,” he admitted. “There wasn’t much about them to excite car enthusiasts, but some of these designs are as good-looking as anything at the show. The all-electric Tesla Model S is the world’s first premium electric sedan. It won high acclaim as Motor Trend’s 2013 Car of the Year,” Klassen added.

The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive topped ACEEE's "Greenest" list with a highest-ever score of 59 out of 100. (Photo by Joel Klassen)

The Smart ForTwo Electric Drive topped ACEEE’s “Greenest” list with a highest-ever score of 59 out of 100. (Photo by Joel Klassen)

Pictures taken by Klassen, who makes an annual pilgrimage to Detroit in January to attend the event, show the range of what is available in EVs.  The Mercedes Benz Smart ForTwo Electric Drive, named one of the greenest cars of 2014Redirecting to a non-government site by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, is the smallest, shortest plug-in electric car sold in the U.S., and the least expensive.

BMWi3

BMW’s i3 city car offers style and performance to go with good mileage and low emissions. (Photo by Joel Klassen)

There are no shortage of options for those who like a flashier ride, from the Tesla to the high-performance, gas-electric Porsche 918 Spyder. Another big hit at the show was the handsome BMW i3 electric compact city car, with a range of up to 100 miles. The manufacturer claims it can sprint from 0 to 60 miles per hour in seven seconds—faster than many traditional gasoline vehicles on the market.

Joel Klassen pays his respects to DOE's entry into the auto show.

Joel Klassen pays his respects to DOE’s entry into the auto show. (Photo provided by Joel Klassen)

The EcoCar2 stood in contrast to all the glamor and gadgetry, as if to remind attendees that solid engineering must come first. The Department of Energy and General Motors are sponsoring a three-year challenge in which college students compete to reduce the environmental impact of a 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. The project is intended to advance the technology that will make EVs more efficient and affordable, and to train the workforce that will design and build tomorrow’s electricity-powered fleet.  

Even as the combustion engine continued to dominate the International Auto Show, the message from the auto industry to the utility industry is clear. The market for electric vehicles is growing and it is offering more options to appeal to more consumers. Utilities must prepare for the challenge and opportunity of meeting this new demand.

Virtual Summit addresses EV charging future

Webinar
Thurs., June 27

A recent white paper Redirecting to a non-government site from the Edison Foundation asserts that more than five million electric vehicles (EVs) will be on U.S. roads by 2035. Depending on battery technology advances and the price of oil, that number could reach up to 30 million. As consumers get a wider choice in EV models and adoption rates climb, utilities will be facing a significant new residential load. Now is the time to start preparing for plug-in electric vehicles, and the considerable energy management challenges they represent for electric utilities.

The third annual Electric Vehicles Virtual Summit Redirecting to a non-government site on Thursday, June 27, is a one-day, online conference that will delve into the challenges and issues surrounding the successful implementation of intelligent charging infrastructure for the emerging EV market. Speakers will discuss the latest advances in EV battery capabilities, consumer uptake and behavior, and correctly designing intelligent support and charging infrastructure for EVs. This event can help utility executives, smart grid managers, planners and engineers for an emerging technology that promises to have a big  impact on their systems.

Electric Car Tops Greenest Vehicle List for First Time in 12 Years

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released its 14th annual Greenest Vehicle rankings for 2012, and there is a new leader of the pack: Mitsubishi i-MIEV.  

The list, posted at GreenerCars.org, saw a considerable shake-up, as the battery electric vehicle claimed the top spot from the Honda Civic Natural Gas, which has held on to first place for eight years in a row.

In its model year 2012 debut on the American market, the i-MIEV earned a score of 58, the highest Green Score awarded since ACEEE began ranking vehicles in 1998. Its combined city and highway fuel economy of 112 miles per gallon equivalent outpaces all other vehicles currently sold in United States. “Even taking into account the emissions generated from the electricity used to power the i-MIEV, it still handily outscores other vehicles on the market today,” said ACEEE lead vehicle analyst Shruti Vaidyanathan.

Despite its improved fuel economy this year, the Honda Civic Natural Gas slipped to second place, tying with the Nissan Leaf. The Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Smart ForTwo rounded out the top six performers.

This year, hybrids dominate the “Greenest” list, occupying half of all spots. Highly efficient conventional gasoline vehicles also continue to have a presence on the “Greenest” list, claiming three of the top twelve spots. This year saw the arrival of a number of new hybrid options for drivers from Hyundai, Kia and Infiniti, but none broke into the top twelve.

Vaidyanathan noted that earning a spot on the “Greenest” list is getting tougher as automakers employ a greater variety of vehicle technologies.  “It’s increasingly obvious that automakers are fully invested in providing consumers with the widest possible array of vehicle choices,” he said. 

GreenCars.org ranks vehicles with a “Green Score” that incorporates unhealthy tailpipe emissions, fuel consumption and emissions of gases that contribute to climate change. ACEEE made a number of updates to the Green Book® methodology this year to more accurately reflect vehicles’ environmental impacts. Improved emissions estimates for the vehicle manufacturing process, changes reflecting current natural gas extraction practices and consideration of upcoming shifts in the generation mix for the electricity used to power electric cars are now factored into the vehicle’s score.

Charging stations spring up around the country

While utilities conduct projects to learn more about electric vehicles (EV), businesses are already moving to fill the need for filling stations for cars that run on electricity.

Walgreen’s drugstore chain has submitted plans to the city of Colorado Springs to install four electric vehicle charging stations around the city. The proposed stations are part of the chain’s larger plan to install 800 facilities around the country, giving EV drivers a convenient place to recharge.

The first of the stations became available in December 2011, and the rest of the facilities should be completed early this year. Walgreen’s, which is partnering with charging network developer 350Green, has plans for about 25 such stations across Colorado. The cost of the power at the stations will depend on local electricity rates.

Santa Monica, Calif., is working with EV Connect to create the infrastructure to support EVs and make the city “plug-in friendly.”  EV Connect is installing publicly accessible charging stations at seven sites and numerous residences around the city.  The high-traffic locations chosen for the stations include Santa Monica Place Mall, Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Civic Center and Santa Monica Airport.

A report from Global Energy Watch anticipates that the market for EV charging stations will grow significantly over the next eight to 10 years as production of the vehicles increases. Governments and military installations are adopting EVs to meet environmental and efficiency mandates, driving the deployment of more charging stations. That, in turn, encourages consumers to buy EVs as they become confident that the infrastructure exists to allow them to charge their cars when- and wherever they need.

While there are still challenges to EV adoption, charging stations clearly represent a potential economic development opportunity for private companies, municipalities and even utilities.

Virginia pilot program offers lower rates for electric vehicle charging

Dominion Virginia Power recently introduced a program that gives electric vehicle owners a rate break if they charge their cars overnight.

The Richmond Electric Vehicle Initiative, as the pilot program is called, offers utility customers two options to charge their vehicles:

  • Under the vehicle-only option, the power company installs a second meter in the customer’s home that measures the energy used only for recharging the vehicle. The cost for the meter is $2.90 a month. An overnight charge, good for about 40 miles, would cost the customer about 54 cents.
  • The whole-house option offers a lower rate for all household electricity use overnight, including recharging vehicles. Dominion Virginia Power will replace the customer’s meter with one that records energy use in 30-minute intervals, allowing the utility to apply pricing rates at specific time periods. This option would charge the vehicle for 51 cents in the summer and 61 cents in the winter under the second.

Using Dominion Virginia Power’s standard residential rate of 11 cents per kWh, the cost of an overnight charge is about $1.10. The special rates will help offset the higher cost of purchasing electric vehicles, which begin at $30,000.

Each rate option is limited to 750 people, and each participant will have to stay enrolled in the program for a minimum of one year. So far, 17 customers have signed up for the program.

The program runs through Nov. 30, 2014. Each year the pilot is in effect, the utility will submit an annual report to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) that details the number of program participants, an assessment of the feasibility and implications on the public interest of continuing the program, and other relevant information.

The initiative received a $429,051 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to help develop a local network of charging stations for electric vehicles. Partners in the program include the utility, Virginia Clean Cities, the Richmond Regional Planning District Commission and J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The program is designed to test whether the rate structure will motivate people to charge their vehicles during overnight off-peak hours. It could also help balance the growing demands of electric vehicles on the grid, and promote the building of charging stations.  

What is your utility doing to get ready for electric vehicles? Are you ready for the challenges and opportunities the technology presents to power providers? Tell us in the comments section.

EPRI publishes electric vehicle guide for consumers

Consumers can now find answers to their questions about electric vehicle technology and performance in a new guide, Plugging In: A Consumer’s Guide to the Electric Vehicle, from the Electric Power Research Institute.

With gasoline edging toward $4 per gallon, potential buyers are eyeing the growing number of electric and hybrid technologies commercially available, and wondering if the time is right for an electric vehicle. This eight-page guide defines and compares driving range, charging times, fuel requirements and effects of weather and driving conditions. It also highlights vehicles available for purchase today and models scheduled to be available later in 2011 and in 2012.

A question-and-answer section explores some of the most common questions consumers have about electric vehicle technology compared to hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. This section also covers charging—a topic of great interest to utilities that may be wondering how widespread adoption of electric vehicles would affect demand.

The guide offers a basic overview of hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles. Mark Duvall, director of EPRI’s Electric Transportation Program, explained that the publication is a starting point to help consumers evaluate their options as they consider purchasing electric vehicles. It is not intended to be an exhaustive report about the technologies or the manufacturers and vendors supporting the industry.

DOE announces funding, partnership to promote electric vehicles

To accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, the Department of Energy has made available $5 million in new funding for community-based efforts to build electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and charging stations. The initiative also includes a partnership with Google, Inc., and more than 80 EV stakeholders to help consumers find charging stations nationwide.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the initiative on a conference call recently with Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and St. Paul Mayor Christopher Coleman – leaders of three of the nation’s nearly 100 Clean Cities Coalitions.

“The Department of Energy’s Clean Cities initiative is bringing together local governments and industry to demonstrate the benefits of advanced technology vehicles and help communities use less oil and gasoline to power their vehicles,” said Secretary Chu.

The funding and the partnership are the Obama Administration’s latest steps in its broader push to reduce U.S. oil imports by one-third by 2025.  Read more.

Source: U.S. DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 4/19/11