This month's question: How is transportation electrification affecting your co-op?

Answer: In our rural corner of Colorado, La Plata Electric Association has not yet seen much impact on our business operations due to electric vehicles, with roughly 300 registered EVs in our territory. That said, we know that a combination of tax incentives, variable gas prices, education and growing EV options will lead to increased local adoption, and we are taking steps to prepare for that eventuality. To support travelers through our area, LPEA completed our portion of the Colorado Clean Energy Corridor in 2021, installing fast-charging stations in three locations. To support our members, LPEA has a growing managed EV charging program with 150 members. In 2023, we will launch a pilot program to test the load-shifting possibilities of EVs and other deployed DERs. Our long-term goal is to move this one-way member engagement to two-way engagement through more V2X (vehicle-to-everything) programs. As a first step, LPEA and our local school district collaborated to install and test the first vehicle-to-grid-enabled electric school bus in Colorado. This pilot has shown how we can discharge that battery when power rates are highest to avoid the purchase of expensive power and save our members money. We are still in the early stages of developing these programs, enrolling members, and practicing dispatching and two-way controls. We know these elements will be vital to ensure our system remains reliable, resilient and relevant in the coming age of electrification.

Answer: For Minnesota Valley, it's all about serving membership needs. As EV loads are added to existing infrastructure, having a “partner" mindset with EV owners helps us aim for high member satisfaction by ensuring we offer the most competitive electric rates with the highest reliability. With 46,000+ members in a diverse service area, we have many opportunities to work with members regarding EVs. 2022 was our busiest year with 149 EV installs, surpassing 400 in total. Adding EV load to MVEC's system is a win for both us and the membership when done correctly. We've worked diligently to create time-of-use rates that give members the most economical times to charge their EVs as part of our off-peak EnergyWise programs. MVEC has a dedicated energy specialist promoting and educating co-op members, dealerships and businesses regarding EV rates and programs, especially when complicated interconnections and detailed metering requirements are involved. This all leads toward the largest impact to our co-op regarding transportation electrification: a Carbon Free 2040 mandate requiring Minnesota electric utilities to serve 100% of retail sales without CO2 emissions by 2040. We understand getting ahead of this is key to the success of MVEC, and EVs play a crucial role in that. With that in mind, we've embraced the opportunity and challenges that come with more of our members opting for an electric vehicle as their transportation choice.

Answer: Simply put, the electrification of the transportation sector is the single biggest load-building opportunity since air conditioning. In fact, Wright-Hennepin finds that adding a single EV at home drives up electric consumption by 30%. Long-term, we estimate wide penetration of EVs will increase revenue by at least 20%. Beyond the numbers, our member-owners now rely on us to fill a new and consequential role: transportation fuel provider. In turn, this provides us with a once-in-generation opportunity to build connection and trust. We see the impacts of transportation electrification in three ways: 1) Communications: WH uses every communications platform to inform our members about EVs and EV charging, including print and e-newsletters, our website, social media, in-person Ride and Drive events and member meetings. The goal: educate, educate, educate; 2) Rates and programs: WH's rates are built to accomplish two goals: to incentivize charging but to do so during off-peak times. To accomplish this, we offer a time-of-use EV rate, a subscription program including the sale of a charger, and a classic off-peak program. We also offer up to a $1,000 rebate on chargers; 3) Infrastructure planning: WH must spend millions of dollars up-front to accommodate this massive new growth. Consequently, we're building a long-term capital and construction plan to ensure members can charge when and where they need to. After all, we have an obligation to serve!

Answer: Hoosier Energy works closely with our member systems to learn about electric vehicles as the technology progresses and member-consumers use and charge their vehicles. Through our “Cooperative Charge" program, we provide a level-2 charger to any co-op member who owns or purchases a new electric vehicle. In return, we receive usage data, which has been extremely valuable in planning to serve the needs of EV consumers as adoption increases. Hoosier Energy's fleet of over 100 residential and 25 commercial chargers tells us that the average residential EV owner charges their vehicle between 7 p.m. and 2 a.m. each day, and that time-of-use rates can incentivize shifting EV charging to off-peak times. We have also learned that average energy use increases by approximately 34% after installation of a residential charger. Hoosier currently has three EVs in rotation across all member systems so that member-consumers can experience them firsthand. We are also anxiously awaiting four Ford F150 Lightnings and believe the trucks will bring a new wave of potential EV owners that desire a pickup or larger vehicle. As Hoosier Energy continues to research, analyze and implement programs focused on EV technology, vehicle-to-grid, and power system improvements to better support EVs, we will continue to focus on educating members and their member-consumers to help make smart choices, helping them to improve their quality of life and save money.