US energy providers are pitching electric cars to customers and electric buses to schools as the sector charges ahead with $US1.5 billion ($A2 billion) worth of investment aimed at electrifying transport.
Nearly 50 electricity companies have plans either underway or awaiting approval to encourage EV adoption, Edison Electric Institute reported in its biannual update of electric transportation.
From offering rebates for buying electric cars, to doling out cash to schools to buy electric buses or businesses to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure, energy providers see the acceleration of the transition to electric transport as an opportunity to boost energy demand, Bloomberg Green reports.
Nothing on the scale of the US, but rightly so. Compared with Australia’s paltry 18,000 electric vehicles, there are now more than 1,5 million electric vehicles in the US. Almost half of these are in California, the home of EV pioneer Tesla.
All projects worth more than $US100 million are located within the western state of California, with projects upwards of $US25 million located in eastern states including New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Delaware.
The largest such project that has been filed for approval is by Southern Californian Edison, for a grand total of $US760 million ($1 billion) which will see 32,000 charge ports installed in multi-unit dwellings, destination centers, fleets, and workplaces, while Duke Energy is offering$US265,000 ($A367,500) for each electric school bus approved under its program.
With half of oil demand in the US used for petrol and diesel, the acceleration of electric transport is a threat to big oil.
Greater adoption of electric transport will pitch big energy against big oil, but Bloomberg notes that energy companies also see the transition to EVs as a chance to make the grid more efficient.
It could even make electricity cheaper for consumers, says Max Baumhefner, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Speaking with Bloomberg, Baumhefner explained that, “The grid is built for the one hour of the year when electricity demand peaks,” and that by charging electric cars at home after work this could improve grid efficiency by smoothing out peaks and troughs.
Of course, the boost in demand for electricity would also be welcomed by energy providers, Bloomberg notes. Electric cars are expected to account for 10% of energy demand by 2030 according to BloombergNEF predictions, and will fill a gap in demand left by more efficient appliances.
It’s just as well then, that the renewables energy sector is the fastest growing sector in the US energy industry.
As reported by Sophie Vorrath for RenewEconomy, coal was beaten down by US renewables for the first time in 134 years in May, signalling along with the transition to electric transport and end to the heydays of fossil fuels.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.