With customer interest in electric vehicles growing more and more each year, utilities have evaluated different ways to enter this new market and innovate in their business models. Accordingly, they need to identify what stage of eMobility adoption they are in and determine what actions are required to continue embracing this transformation.
In this new era, utilities are motivated to change their business model to take advantage of the revenue opportunities generated by electric vehicles, understanding customers’ reasons for switching to this new kind of transportation: environmental and financial concerns. Several utilities have begun to create different initiatives to increase customer engagement through innovative offers with special rates, educational services about the use of electric vehicles, and partnerships with large EV manufacturers to promote EV adoption. According to the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), these initiatives are grouped into three different stages that underline all the efforts that utilities are making: early, intermediate, and late stages.
In the early stage, utilities will explore the benefits of offering electric vehicle services. Some companies will look at whether it is feasible to implement Time-of-Use programs (TOU) that help customers to monitor their usage at different periods while allowing utilities to control energy demand. In this stage, utilities will start to provide educational content to help customers learn more about available EV rates, charging equipment installation practices, and guidelines for obtaining permission to carry out equipment installation.
The utilities at this stage have decided or have been encouraged to implement plans and incentives for customers who own electric vehicles. When customers enroll in Time-of-Use programs, these utilities apply for rebates or credits on both the bill and the EV charging station installation fees.
They also provide plans with special rates to customers that load their electric vehicles at public or workplace charging stations. To do so, utilities have partnered with commercial or non-commercial companies to install on-site charging stations. Commonly, access to these charging stations is only for employees; however, the general public can access these stations as part of pilot programs.
At this stage, utilities are already considered leaders in the EV market. Several of these utilities have already implemented the services mentioned in the early and intermediate stages. Currently, these companies are working on other innovative EV services, such as demonstrations to implement Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G), which show the double-flow between EV and the grid, and pilot programs to manage the electric vehicle charging capabilities of the charging stations.
Considering the stages defined by SEPA, utilities may identify at which stage they are and investigate what other utilities are doing to continue implementing the services that will help them stand out in the EV market. However, each utility should note that their Customer Information System should be prepared to support the changes brought by this new EV business model. Utilities need to assess the tools that they have that will help them access specific information, such as insight into the EV load data so that they can design more tailored and affordable ground-breaking offers.