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Webinar – EV Purchase incentives and Free Charging

EV Purchase Incentives, EVSE (charging equipment) Subsidies, Free Charging

This past Tuesday, July 27th, the EV Club presented a webinar jointly sponsored with Sustainne, LLC, Sustainable Westport, and the Town of Westport on how to save money when buying and charging an EV.

The speakers were Analiese Paik, CEO of Sustainne, Paul Vosper, CEO of JuiceBar, and Barry Kresch, President of the EV Club. These were the areas we covered:

  • Latest changes to CT CHEAPR program of EV purchase incentives
  • Update: There is a recent change to the CHEAPR program not reflected in the webinar. EV buyers can now receive 2 rebates beginning with June 2021, meaning if you had previously received a rebate, you can receive 2 more. They must be spaced at least 24 months apart.
  • Federal purchase incentive
  • Newly release EV Rate Design from the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) that directs the utilities to offer a range of subsidies for residential, Multiple Dwelling Units, commercial, fleets, and municipalities. These include subsidies for the purchase and installation of level 2 or level 3 chargers and discounts on electric rates.
  • Many automakers offer some level of free charging with the purchase or lease of a new EV. They vary a lot and are either miles or time-limited. There are also numerous options for free level 2 public charging.

A written summary of the PURA program is here.

Link to the blog post with the latest CHEAPR rebates is here.

We have been receiving positive feedback. The webinar was recorded and is now available on our YouTube channel.




New EV Rate Design Released by PURA

Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) Directs Utilities to Offer EV Charging Incentives

The final rate design adjudication was released on July 14th. Even though it is the final version, it actually isn’t quite final yet. We now know a lot about the program, but the document creates working groups to fill in unfinished gaps on some important details, such as some rates, approved equipment, etc. The PURA doc is uploaded to the website as a blog post here. It doesn’t exactly read like Jurassic Park, but we need this kind of thing if we are to wean ourselves off “dino juice.”

The program is quite comprehensive, containing incentives for residential and commercial, the latter including workplace charging and fleets, and which also applies to municipalities. The incentives cover hardware, service upgrades, make-ready, demand charge mitigation, and discounted electric rates.

It is important to note that this program takes effect in January 2022. It is not retroactive. If you purchase a charger tomorrow, it will not be eligible for the subsidies.

Below is a summary of the incentives referenced in the chart at the top of the blog post. These are hardware and installation-related discounts:

  • A residential incentive of up to $500 for the cost of an EV charger. This incentive is for a smart charger, which is a WiFi-connected charger. EV charger prices vary, in part depending upon how many amps are drawn by the charger, but according to MYEV.com, the range for a smart charger is $600-$800. ┬áIf you take advantage of this incentive, you are required to participate in a managed charging program. The point of the connected charger is to enable the utility (which is also known as an Electric Distribution Company or EDC) to see and communicate with the charging unit.
  • Also for a residence, there is a subsidy to help with the cost of an electric service upgrade if that is necessary if your current panel does not have the capacity to accommodate the added amperage of an EV charger. The amount of the subsidy is not yet determined.
  • There is no mention in the chart of a subsidy specifically for installation, so we assume for now that the $500 applies to both hardware and installation. Installation costs can vary considerably depending on how far your panel is from your garage. It could be as much as $1,000.
  • There are similar incentives offered for multi-unit dwellings (MUD), workplace chargers, and make-ready. The incentive is 50% of the cost of the charger subject to a cap for the site and a minimum number of charging ports. Note that this is ports, not chargers. There are dual-port charging units. There are higher site caps for MUDs, public level 2, and DCFC charging in underserved communities.
  • There is a 100% make-ready incentive, which means the EDC will pay to bring the power to where the chargers will be installed. This is a big deal.
  • Finally, there is a subsidy of 50% for the installation of a DCFC charger, which is short for DC current fast charger, also known as a level 3 charger. These are commercial, high voltage units that can quickly charge an EV capable of accepting a fast charge, which applies to most battery electric vehicles.
  • There will be a list of specific approved charging equipment. This is necessary for the utilities to be sure they are able to get the information they need from the charger. This list will be finalized later in the year.

Residential Incentives for Electricity Usage

As noted in the first bullet about residential charging, a household can receive an incentive for participating in a managed charging program. There are 2 levels, called basic and advanced. As mentioned earlier, receiving the incentives for the hardware require participation, along with giving the EDC permission to capture data from the charger.

  • Basic incentive. In this program, a consumer will be notified of an upcoming demand response event (i.e. when the EDC is expecting there to be a high demand for electricity and they need to take measures to avoid brownouts or blackouts). The consumer has the option to decline participation. However, the default setting is opt-in. Incentives are awarded for participation. The particulars are still being developed, but there is a cap of $200 per year, which will be sent as a direct payment to the consumer.
  • Advanced (direct load control). The consumer will set charging sessions (via app, web portal, email or text) and the EDC has the right to throttle the rate of charge. The particulars of the incentive are still under development. Your participation level will influence the size of your incentive. We hope this is not too burdensome a level of admin for the consumer.
  • The Authority has directed the EDCs to submit recommendations for EV rates for MUDs, which could involve sub-metering.

Note: A common way of protecting the grid, which is used in other places but is not part of this program, is time of use (TOU) charging. We are disappointed that this isn’t part of the program because it is a very simple, easy to understand, no maintenance approach. If you charge during off-peak hours, you get a lower rate. Easy. The adjudication specifically states that it doesn’t foreclose moving that way at some future point. There are regular evaluation points built into this 9-year program. And there is nothing to say that TOU can’t be combined with managed charging. Theoretically, if every EV (assuming many more of them than there are today) started a charging session at the first minute of the off-peak period, there could be a demand surge, but managed charging could mitigate that.

There is an existing installed base of EV chargers, and many of these, my guess is almost all of them, are so-called dumb chargers. They are not WiFi enabled so the EDC can’t see or interact with them. The program tasks the utilities to develop a workaround to include these chargers as it could jumpstart program participation. There are existing programs at other utilities, Con-Ed comes to mind, that do just that. With Con-Ed, the driver gets a flash-drive type device to install in the car’s USB port, or with some manufacturers, there is the ability to connect directly to the telematics of the vehicle with the owner’s permission, and incentives will be developed to reward off-peak charging. This actually comes a little closer to time of use. Finally, a recent development is that there is equipment coming on the market that can add connectivity to a dumb charger. PURA is aware of this, as well as developments in better accessing vehicle telematics, and there is the potential for this part of the program to evolve.

The $200 cap on residential demand response rebates seems low to us. The concern is the lack of differentiation between one and two (or more) EV households. We want to see all vehicles participating.

Demand Charges

Demand charges affect commercial establishments. If the demand for electricity spikes for a period of time above normative levels, electric rates increase substantially. Demand charges have been a barrier to the installation of level 3 charging stations. The adjudication directs the EDCs to maintain a temporary rate-rider to mitigate demand charges while taking the time to develop a more permanent and sustainable solution. Demand charges were originally developed so that those putting the most strain on the grid contribute disproportionately to necessary upgrades. These rules were developed long before the modern EV and definitely need to be re-thought.

Outreach

On balance, this is a strong program. We look forward to seeing, and if possible, being a part of, how it evolves. We intend to keep our members informed and hope the outreach, in general, is effective so it hits the ground running in January!




Carbon Credits for EV Charging Stations

Forth EV Offsets Flyer (1)

This link to the CT Green Bank has more information




Speaker From FreeWire to Address Next Meeting on October 27th

Upcoming Meeting to Feature a Speaker From FreeWire

There is a virtual club meeting via Zoom scheduled for October 27th. John Erdman, Head of Strategic Accounts for FreeWire, will be speaking to us about their latest charging solutions. John joined FreeWire this past August after having spent 9 years with ChargePoint.

One of the new mousetraps developed by FreeWire is a level 3 charger with a self-contained 160 kW battery that continuously draws power at the rate of 20kW per hour. This avoids the power consumption spikes typical of level 3 chargers, which are what cause facility owners to be subject to utility demand charges. We have seen first-hand in CT how that has become a major obstacle to expanding EVSE infrastructure.

We will also be providing an update on the latest information regarding proposed changes to the CHEAPR EV purchase-incentive program. Some of the proposed changes, which we have blogged about numerous times, such as here and here, are controversial and, as of this writing, have still not been resolved. It is possible they will be by the 27th.

If you are interested in joining us and do not receive the club emails, please fill out the website contact form.

We look forward to virtually seeing many of you.




Demand Charges – The Silent Killer

Utility Demand Charges Keep Level 3 Charging Stations Dark

We have quite a few posts addressing range-anxiety in its various forms. Even though most EVs have enough range to get you through your typical day, we all have occasions where we drive to a destination that exceeds the range of the vehicle. Without the certainty of being able to charge en-route, there is the danger of the battery turning into a very heavy brick. This possible low frequency, but high impact, event is enough to give pause for many folks considering an EV purchase.

A particular CT flavor of this can be found at rest areas on I-95 and the Merritt Parkway. For example, the I-95 southbound rest area in Darien and the Merritt Parkway northbound rest area in Greenwich have CCS and CHAdeMo level 3 chargers that aren’t working. (Presumably, this is the case at other rest areas that we haven’t been to). These charging stations are not broken. They are just turned off.

The reason is simple: demand charges.

What are demand charges

Utilities build out their infrastructure to handle anticipated peak demand. Demand charges are what pay for that. For non-residential classes of clients, the utility imposes demand charges based on their peak power usage and they are substantial. Whereas a residential user pays a cost per kilowatt-hour charge typically of approximately 17 – 20 cents, demand charges could be over $13 per kWh, plus a higher distribution fee. If you would like to see for yourself, here is the (complicated) rate structure used by Eversource.

Demand charges have been around for around 100 years, since the early expansion of electric service throughout the country. Aside from paying for infrastructure expansion, they are intended to spread demand into non-peak usage times in order to lessen the need for that expensive infrastructure.

Electric vehicle charging stations obviously draw current, especially the level 3 DC fast chargers that are needed along the Interstates to facilitate a long drive. The power-draw required to obtain an 80% charge in 15 – 30 minutes is sufficiently high (especially if multiple chargers are in simultaneous use) that the threshold for demand charges may kick-in. Our information is that the companies that run the food and gas service at the rest areas did not install the chargers, and it was a shock (electricity makes for way too easy puns) to them when they saw what demand charges were doing to their electric bill. So they turned them off.

Why Demand Charges for EVs Require Rethinking

While demand charges have served a purpose, it is time to rethink how these are handled with respect to EVs for a few reasons.

  • Lack of charging infrastructure is a major barrier to EV adoption, and EVs are an important factor in mitigating climate change. In this sense, an inability to charge undercuts a social good.
  • Utilities are the new fuel stations. They stand to reap a tremendous amount of business with widespread EV adoption. With EV charger demand charges, they are working against themselves.
  • EVs will stimulate use in off-peak hours. Most charging, over 80%, is done at home, and most of this is done at night. In other words, EVs bring load-management benefits to the utilities. If there were a more robust time-of-use rate card available in CT, this would be even more true. Also, at a presentation done at DEEP in January 2019, Dana Lowell of M.J. Bradley Associates stated that the excessive (for want of a better term) net revenue resulting from EVs in this heavily regulated industry would be returned to the ratepayers. In the EV nirvana of 2 million EVs registered in the state, he estimated it would amount to $150 annually per household.
  • This is speculative at this point, and a little off-topic, but it is technically possible for EV batteries to be bi-directional, also

    Electric school bus funded by Con Ed that is being used to test vehicle to grid bi-directional charging
    Electric school bus funded by Con Ed that is part of a test of vehicle-to-grid charging protocols.

    referred to as V2G (vehicle to grid). At times of peak demand, the energy residing in charged EV batteries could be tapped to fulfill demand, and then be recharged when demand subsides. The part of this that is on point is that there needs to be a lot of battery capacity out there to make this a viable strategy. A pilot study intended to test the bi-directional technology, underwritten by Con-Edison, is being run in Westchester County with electric school buses.

The bottom line is that EVs come with more ramifications with respect to the grid, and more opportunities for society as a whole, than a factory or commercial building. Other states are further along than CT in bringing innovation to approaching this dilemma.

To be sure, demand charges are just a single piece of the larger EV policy puzzle. It is a subset of what is referred to as “rate-design.” DEEP produced a 71-page “Draft EV Roadmap” that does a good job of covering the waterfront in terms of all related policy areas, though the language in this document, released in October 2019, is worded in terms of evaluation or investigation. In other words, there is still a long way to go. The section on demand charges is on page 44.

Tesla Chargers

There are Tesla chargers on the Interstates and these do work. That is because Tesla takes responsibility for them. They may be carrying a contingent liability, but their forward-thinking decision to install their own charging network and not wait for the rest of the world to catch up means that Tesla drivers have a wider array of charging options.

Waiver

There is an Eversource program to grant a demand charge waiver for independently metered charging stations that are open to the public, but that the waiver is temporary. It substitutes average per kWh charges. We don’t have a sense that this has been promoted aggressively. The waiver was for 3 years, but the clock has been ticking and it is currently closer to 2 years. A temporary waiver doesn’t really accomplish much unless there is something in place to address the underlying problem when it expires.

There are options other than an outright waiver to address this. We reached out to Eversource and were advised that the Public Utility Regulatory Authority will review the rate after the 3 year period ends and decide if changes are needed to the rate structure.




Free EV Charging Stations Through CT Green Bank C-PACE Program

The CT Green Bank Financing Program for Commercial Properties Offers Free Charging Stations

Get your energy-saving upgrades with a side of charging station.

The CT Green Bank offers a 100% financing program for energy-saving upgrades to commercial buildings that goes by the acronym C-PACE. They have introduced an offer that, depending upon how much is financed, includes free charging stations. A minimum financing amount of $150,000 will get you one free charging station. The maximum number available through this offer is 3. This is the link to the program page on the Green Bank Website. This is an article in the New Haven Business Journal with a more detailed description.

Those interested must apply for C-PACE financing by May 15 in order to qualify for the charging station promotion.

C-Pace financing offers a number of advantages, including off-balance sheet treatment for the property holder and no inter-creditor agreements, among others.

If you are interested in this financing, do not contact the Green Bank. It is necessary to work through an underwriter. We happen to have one who is a club-member: CounterpointeSRE. Contact Marshall Breines at mbreines@csre-corr.com




Town of Westport to Get 10 New or Upgraded Charging Stations

New EV Charging Stations in Westport Coming Online in 2020

The EV Club has learned from Westport Chief of Police Foti Koskinas that there will be 10 new or upgraded charging stations coming to town next year.

  • The four level 1 chargers on the New Haven-bound side of the Saugatuck Metro-North depot will be upgraded to level 2.
  • There will be 2 additional chargers added to station parking on Franklin Street.
  • Four new chargers are slated for the Greens Farms Metro-North station.

Koskinas mentioned that there is an increasing demand for places to charge. He mentioned something else that we found interesting, which is that the train station chargers are receiving considerable use during off-hours, possibly by EV owners who don’t have ready access to home charging?




Free of Charge

As in charging your EV for free!

As reported in Elecktrek, the charging station company, Volta, announced the upcoming installation of 150 level 3 DC fast-charging stations nationally with no fee-charging for the first 30 minutes (equates to roughly 175 miles). The first of these will be local, in Norwalk, CT, at the new mall that we’ve all seen under construction near as we’re sitting in traffic near exit 15 of I-95.

The mall is called The SoNo Collection and the scheduled opening is October 9th. So by the time you see this blog post, it should be ready to go.

Volta uses the CCS standard.

The article that we’ve linked to has all of the details, but we think it’s pretty cool that free EV charging is being used by businesses to attract customers. Also, the charging stations carry advertisements, and from their website, we see that media sales revenue┬áis part of the company’s business model.

Their slogan, as can be seen in the photo above, is “Fast is Now Free.”