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Prepping for EV adoption: Infrastructure, incentives, and more

May 1, 2023
The electric vehicle (EV) revolution continues to accelerate at an astonishing pace, though there are several moving parts to do it right. Here's what fleets should know before making the costly and complicated move.

With New York City announcing a staggering $900-million investment plan to expand its EV fleet and charging ports, and thirteen states already implementing zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) programs, it's no wonder that commercial fleets are projected to include as many as eight million EVs by 2030, which would amount to 10-15% of all fleet vehicles.

Amid this encouraging EV landscape, fleet owners face the formidable task of swiftly deploying their EV fleets and charging infrastructure to ensure compliance with local and federal regulations, decrease overall operating costs, and support sustainability goals. Time is of the essence, and securing heavy-duty EVs is only one step. Ultimately, how fleet owners develop their EV charging infrastructure will determine the extent to which EV fleets become an asset or a liability for their businesses.

Read more: How to smooth the road to electric work trucks

To realize success, fleet management needs to outline a comprehensive strategy that includes selecting advanced technologies across storage and renewable energy, leveraging the best funding opportunities, and accessing the right tax incentive programs. This article will outline all the right steps for successful EV charging infrastructure.

Crafting a holistic EV fleet strategy

Securing an EV fleet is just the first step in a well-rounded EV strategy, which needs to include charging infrastructure. It’s important to remember that EV charging infrastructure goes beyond just the charger itself; it’s about thinking through all the available opportunities and potential challenges that can amplify charging infrastructures or hinder them altogether. In any strategy, diversification is key. Generally, leveraging the electric grid to support charging makes sense. But with increasing demands and constraints on the grid, charging infrastructures must have alternative strategies to avoid fleet disruptions.

Scale is also worth considering. To support growth, businesses must implement scalable charging infrastructure solutions that can accommodate multiple charging stations. By adopting smart, advanced, and integrated technologies, companies can not only streamline their operations but also continuously adapt and optimize their EV fleet management.

When designing and building their charging depot, fleets need to assess factors such as charging station demands, grid reliability, and energy surge pricing. These variables differ based on location and can considerably impact the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the charging network. To address these concerns, companies can explore integrated solutions that include distributed energy resources (DERs) like solar panels and battery energy storage systems (BESS). These technologies can make EV charging more stable and cost-effective. For instance, the fleet can charge even when the power goes out and fleet owners can potentially sell electricity back to the grid when it’s not needed for the fleet, offsetting the cost of charging even more.

An integrated approach to electric vehicle charging infrastructure, which encompasses interoperable solutions, is essential to capture and maximize EV value streams. By collaborating with proven partners in solar, energy storage systems and AI-driven software, businesses can generate real-time, actionable insights for optimizing operational, economic and environmental value.

States such as California and Texas have already recognized on-site energy storage systems as potential EV charging strategies that ensure grid stability, high reliability, and minimized demand charges. Furthermore, businesses can leverage intelligent, integrated platforms that continuously learn from EV charging behaviors and optimize the control of batteries, solar photovoltaics (PV), and microgrids. This ultimately broadens the number of sites capable of supporting high-speed charging economically at scale, promoting a more sustainable and efficient transportation infrastructure.

As one example, leading transportation logistics provider Penske Truck Leasing now uses AI-powered software to optimize EV charging, ensure efficient energy usage, and access a real-time snapshot of system operations at an EV fleet charging depot in California’s Inland Empire. Penske was also able to tap into the benefits of battery storage leading to a 40% reduction in peak energy consumption at the site, significantly trimming costs and shaping their long-term, fleet-wide EV charging strategy.

Navigating Funding Opportunities

Historically, budget constraints have often hindered the progress of EV projects, as financial decision-makers decided they were too expensive to pursue. However, the increasing availability of federal and state funding and incentives programs for EV fleet and charging infrastructure development now makes these projects more viable and cost-effective business strategies in both the short and long term.

Read more: NACFE sets out to study how fleet depots are scaling up EV adoption

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (NEVI), which is part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), are two pieces of legislation driving EV adoption with very attractive incentives and funding. Specifically, the NEVI Program allocates $5 billion over five years to strategically deploy EV charging infrastructure, creating an interconnected network that facilitates data collection, access, and reliability. Overall, NEVI can help offset up to 80% of EV charging project costs. These substantial investments in electric vehicle infrastructure illustrate the commitment to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and efficient transportation future.

However, evaluating project qualifications and navigating the application requirements can be daunting for many businesses. The good news is that fleet owners don’t need to leave money on the table. Choosing a partner to help navigate these programs and their associated complexities is crucial when formulating EV strategies and designing charging infrastructures to guarantee that no financial benefits slip through the cracks. By partnering with energy experts well-versed in funding programs and tax incentives, fleet owners can traverse the intricacies of these programs and maximize the financial rewards of their EV fleet investments.

Harnessing Renewable Energy to Achieve ESG Goals

While EVs alone may not guarantee significant environmental, social and governance (ESG) savings, fleet owners can play a crucial role in driving sustainable change by prioritizing renewable energy sources in their EV operations. It’s important to note that EV fleets typically rely on their own charging stations, developed to address specific fleet needs, rather than public charging infrastructure.

As a result, fleet owners have the opportunity to integrate renewable energy sources, such as solar, and use advanced energy storage systems to ensure reliability. By leveraging the right data and software solutions, they can maximize the use of renewable energy sources from the grid, ultimately slashing greenhouse gas emissions and contributing to a more sustainable future. This proactive approach to sustainable fleet management is essential for meeting and exceeding ESG goals.

Fleet owners can join forces with energy consultants and technology providers to weave more renewable energy sources into their EV charging infrastructure. Until very recently, renewable assets were limited to when the sun shines and the winds blow. Now, powerful AI-driven analytics paired with energy storage can help manage energy generation, storage and consumption.

This empowers businesses to use renewable energy when and how it makes the most sense, factoring in a variety of real-time data streams about the assets and external factors like weather, grid constraints. By employing AI-enabled, data-driven strategies for reporting and monitoring energy use, businesses can demonstrate their dedication to environmental stewardship and boost their ESG performance.

Conclusion

The rapid surge of EV fleets is revolutionizing the automotive and transportation sectors. To meet ESG goals, accelerate business outcomes and maintain fleet reliability, fleet owners can craft holistic EV fleet charging strategies that maximize operational, economic and environmental value. They need to account for various factors, including infrastructure, funding, renewable energy integration and scalability. Establishing robust partnerships with energy and EV experts and technology providers will be essential in navigating the complexities of EV charging operations and ensuring long-term success.

With careful planning and strategic investment in their charging infrastructure, fleet owners can position their businesses for a more sustainable and profitable future in the era of electric vehicles.

As Vice President of eMobility at Stem, Inc., Tad Glauthier is responsible for leading the strategy and execution of Stem’s participation in the electrification of transportation.

About the Author

Tad Glauthier | Vice President of eMobility, Stem

As Vice President of eMobility at Stem, Tad Glauthier is responsible for leading the strategy and


execution of Stem’s participation in the electrification of transportation. This includes leading

Stem’s creation of an Athena-interoperable ecosystem of partners within the Electric Vehicle

Charging sector, as well as developing and executing on Stem’s strategy with key strategic

accounts building long-term decarbonization roadmaps. Tad holds an MBA from Stanford

Graduate School of Business. He is a founding executive at Stem and has been with the

company since 2009.