Electrical Business

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Utility fleets can lead the charge toward transportation electrification


July 24, 2014
By Anthony Capkun

July 24, 2014 – Edison Electric Institute (EEI)—an association representing all U.S. investor-owned electric companies—released a white paper, “Transportation Electrification: Utility Fleets Leading the Charge,” focusing on the electric power industry’s effort to accelerate the expansion of electric transportation in commercial and retail markets—beginning with electric utility fleets.

“Electrifying our fleets is about showing consumers that plug-in technology is thriving and delivers real benefits that make sense for us and our customers,” said Tony Earley, chair, CEO and president of PG&E Corp.

The paper (download below) encourages investor-owned electric utilities to meet an industry-wide goal to spend at least 5% of annual fleet acquisition budgets on plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and technologies.

“The electric power industry is a tremendous leader in supporting electric transportation, but we must continue to strengthen our efforts and lead by example. One way we can do that is by leveraging our industry’s buying power to purchase more PEVs for our fleets,” said EEI president Tom Kuhn.

According to the paper, electrification of the transportation sector is a potential ‘quadruple win’ for electric utilities and society, and will enable electric utilities to support environmental goals, build customer satisfaction, reduce operating costs and assure the future value of existing assets.

EEI says the expansion of electric-based vehicles in utility fleets will help them:

• Reduce operating costs for fuel and maintenance.
• Extend useful lives of the units based on their mechanical simplicity.
• Improve crew safety through noise reduction.
• Extend work hours of crews performing non-emergency work in communities with noise restrictions.
• Reduce carbon emissions.
• Provide another avenue to engage customers about the products and services electric utilities provide.

“Plug-in cars and trucks can make good business sense whether you’re a utility or any other business that operates a fleet of vehicles,” said Jim Piro. “At [Portland General Electric] we’ve been working hard to support electric vehicle policy and infrastructure in Oregon, but we’ve also done the internal analysis and piloting needed to confirm it’s time to build fleet electrification into our own budget. We encourage other utilities to do the same.”