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Utility Providers Should Embrace EV Infrastructure to Remain Competitive

Posted on Oct 1, 2020 12:26:25 PM

It has become quite well-known that the utility industry has traditionally been slower to embrace newer technologies and innovative solutions due to a lack of competition. After all, why invest money into new offerings when your business has little-to-no competition within your market?

This has changed significantly in recent years. One huge shift has been the evolving expectation of customers. Utilities over the past few years have had to invest in operational technologies and customer-facing tools, such as utility customer portals, to build superior customer experiences. 

Another change is the growing competition that many utility providers are facing. That competition has come in the form of alternative energy technologies and the growth of environmentally-friendly utility firms. 

These challenges, however, can be turned into revenue opportunities for utility providers innovative enough to adopt them. In this blog, we are going to specifically look at electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and whether it’s feasible for utility providers to adopt this new tech into their existing business model to remain competitive.

The growing popularity of electric vehicles

Electric vehicles (EV) have become increasingly popular in the past couple of years, and this demand is set to grow even further as automotive manufacturers begin to find more cost-effective ways to build electric vehicles. 

In fact, it was only recently that Tesla founder,Elon Musks, announced that a more affordable version of the brand's electric vehicle would likely be ready in about three years - a move that is likely to make EVs more accessible to the general public.

The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) found that as of October 2018, there were more than 1 million EVs on US roads. This number is expected to reach more than 18 million in 2030 - a number that will represent around 7 percent of all vehicles predicted to be on US roads.

Is the electrification of vehicles a utility issue?

The electrification of vehicles represents an opportunity for utility providers to access revenue streams that they will miss out on if they don’t embrace it, according to a report from Frost & Sullivan - Impact of Electric Vehicles on Power Demand, Forecast to 2040 - A Perspective on Key Global Growth Markets

With the US likely to face a supply gap in the early-to-mid 2030s and EVs bringing considerable variable load onto the grid, electric vehicles provide a revenue opportunity for utility providers as long as there is investment in the 2020s to handle it, the report states.

The good news is that most jurisdictions have already agreed that utility providers should be permitted to build and own the infrastructure that delivers electricity to where EV charging stations can be installed. 

Right now, despite the utility, oil and tech industries all eyeing the space, no one so far has taken the lead due to the high cost of implementing EV charging infrastructure.

The other benefit for utility providers

There’s another benefit of embracing EV infrastructure that utility providers could realize, and that’s the ability to lower the bills for all other utility ratepayers that your organization services.

Having more EVs on a system could have benefits even for utility customers who do not own them, according to an article from Utility Dive. Widespread vehicle-to-grid charging technology can help utility providers to take advantage of rate arbitrage. 

Higher utility payments from EV owners could help cover a greater proportion of grid costs, lowering bills for everyone else and improving utility customer satisfaction. 

Are you interested in learning about other ways that you can improve your utility’s customer satisfaction and customer experience? Contact SilverBlaze today. Our innovative Customer Portal for Utilities was built specifically to improve utility customer service, emphasize customer engagement and lower operational costs.

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