EPB Gets Update On Growing Electric Vehicle Market – The Chattanoogan

EPB Director of Business Intelligence Bill Copeland  gave an update of the growing electric vehicle market at the EPB board of directors meeting on Friday. This industry is not new but it is important to know where it is today because as the use of electric vehicles increase, EPB will be adapting to play a bigger role in it, said David Wade, EPB president and CEO.


EPB has been following the industry since 2015 and Mr.

Copeland said the market is increasing as more businesses and governments move into electric transportation. Big trends include the fact that now 60 plus EV models will be coming into the market in multiple configurations to match what people are looking for in a vehicle. Plans by Ford, General Motors and Volvo are planning to go to all electric by 2025, said Mr. Copeland. Even places where pickup trucks are favored will be affected since some electric pickups are also coming to market.


The Chattanooga area will be impacted economically since there is an extensive supplier network in and around this area. Volkswagen, which is a leader in EV technology, has three electric vehicles in the pipeline, said Mr. Copeland. With the shortage of chips that are needed for manufacturing new cars, he said that car manufacturers have realized they can control their profitability and not offer incentives because supply and demand is in their favor.


Projections for EV purchases nationally are that 30 percent of new cars will be electric by 2030 and 70 percent by 2040. With those increases, there will be a bigger need for electric charging stations. Mr. Copeland said that the federal government, the state and private investors are coming together to establish more of them. Across Tennessee, he said there is state and TVA funding to help.


People want to see fast EV charging stations, he told the board, but the number of people who will be using this infrastructure is really unknown. He said 85 percent of charging EVs takes place at home. This leaves 15 percent of charging to do at commercial stations. The price of charging a car at home is one third the price of filling a car up with gasoline. The daily average distance that a car is driven is seven and a half miles. A full charge can power a car for 200-300 miles which is well above what is typically needed. At this time there are more savings since a $7,500 tax credit is available now.


EPB is seeing a trend of the increase in multi-unit dwellings and subdivisions, said Mr. Wade. How to include charging stations at those developments is a challenge. At this time there are very few available charging stations at these sites. When the new developments are built, EPB has started putting in conduit for the possibility that stations will be built there in the future. There is also the possibility that charging stations could be offered to homeowners outside of the developer, such as placing a charger at an assigned parking spot to be paid by the owner.


Electrifying transportation puts a greater reliance on the power grid, said Mr. Copeland, and the increase in use puts downward pressures on electric rates, he said. Additionally, EV use has a positive impact on the environment by leaving the air cleaner.


EPB is already doing things to affect use of electric power for vehicles, said Mr. Wade, first by creating awareness to help people understand what an EV is and to clear up misunderstandings about them. Incentives are being created for installing public charging stations.  And there is a policy to make provisions for building charging stations at new homes when they are constructed.


The board passed a resolution on Friday to authorize rates for commercial electric charging stations starting Feb. 21. The intention of the resolution is to help people who are interested in building these facilities to get in the market.


A special rate will be established for EV charging that does not include demand charges. To build a charging station is a challenge because the number of people who would be using it is unknown. The new rate that EPB will offer to developers of these stations will be minus a demand charge, which is a surcharge for spike usage. The new rate structure creates a predictable rate for the company who is planning and building a station. Those who will be developing commercial charging stations will be able to opt into this pricing structure that includes no demand charge. They will be paying more but the rate that is paid will be more predictable, said Mr. Wade.


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