Electrification of transportation is exciting and challenging. Market forces are already pushing us in the direction of electric vehicles (EV), but our electric “refueling” infrastructure is lagging. Public and private investments are being made and more are coming in the form of grants, incentives, and substantial federal investments. In North Carolina alone, VW Settlement funds will bring ~$10 million this year. And the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) National EV infrastructure program (NEVI) will invest more than $109 million each year over the next five years in North Carolina.
Now, our challenge here in North Carolina is to prepare for this influx of funding, to ensure we are ready for it, and that we use it effectively and efficiently. This guidance document helps the reader understand how to get ready and where to find detailed guides for different aspects of building the new EV charging infrastructure.
There are many many “guides” already published, so we sorted through them to find the best and give pointers to them all. Now, you can easily find the best resources for you in our guide to the guides: Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging. We encourage local government planners, managers, fleet officers, and finance & purchasing administrators to be aware of this “guide to the guides.”
Let’s get ready!
What You’ll Find in The Guide
Getting North Carolina Ready for Electric Vehicle Charging covers:
Charging for homeowners
Charging for renters (apartment, townhome and condo dwellers)
Charging at work
The state of EV charger deployment in North Carolina
Locally-sourced North Carolina EV charging guides
Links to several valuable guides from organizations like:
The U.S. Department of Transportation
The Cadmus Group (in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Transportation)
Electric vehicles (EVs) have the potential to be more than just a means of transportation now that more automakers are selling vehicles compatible with vehicle-to-grid technology, like Nissan LEAF, Ford F150 Lightning, and the Thomas Built C2 Jouley school bus. Bidirectional capable charging stations can transform electric cars, buses, garbage trucks, fleet vehicles and more into mobile energy storage banks.
Preliminary findings from a demonstration of two-way, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology in North Carolina show the economic potential for using bidirectional charging technologies to feed energy stored in electric vehicle batteries back to charging sites, especially when the grid is experiencing high demand.
The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) is coordinating with Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) to demonstrate and evaluate the economic case for the use of a two-way charger made by Fermata Energy, maker of the first EV charger certified for the North American standard for bidirectional charging. The project also benefits from support from partners including Advanced Energy, Clean Energy Works, and Environmental Defense Fund.
REC’s headquarters in the rural town of Ahoskie, NC, is the demonstration site for the project, where technicians for the utility’s growing broadband business use the utility’s two Nissan LEAF electric vehicles. The cooperative provides electricity and broadband services to a wide variety of industrial, recreational, educational, community and other interests in addition to farms in northeast North Carolina.
The two-way “smart” charger provides power to Roanoke Electric’s two EV cars, and it is one of the first chargers delivered from Fermata’s manufacturing site in Danville, Virginia. This charger not only curtails a vehicle’s charging in response to peak system demand, but also, it can discharge the energy stored in a connected EV to meet some of the demand at the site when demand on the grid is high.
The V2G charging technology was thoroughly tested by Underwriters Laboratory to meet the North American standard for bidirectional charging. The purpose of this current demonstration has been to illuminate the value potential of V2G for fleet managers, energy professionals and utility companies— and the project is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.
A common question from fleet managers is, “how can I be sure the vehicle will be fully charged when I need it?” In summary, the intelligence of the bidirectional system’s software enables it to be programmed to meet the fleet owners’ needs.
When the V2G system is responding to system-wide peak demand events, they are scheduled in advance, so a fleet manager can choose to reserve the vehicle for the grid (or the building) at that time as if it were reserved for another driver, while simply leaving the vehicle plugged in. The impetus for this decision is knowing how much it would be worth to leave the vehicle plugged-in for grid operations at that time. After the bidirectional event, the system allows scheduled recharging to be programmed in a way that meets the fleet operator’s needs while providing transparency about the monetary value the vehicle can provide at different times for grid operations.
Fermata Energy’s FE-15 is capable of providing 15 kilowatts of power both to the car and back to the site served by the grid. REC schedules dispatch of the on-board battery in response to predicted peaks, which usually lasts two to three hours. Using only one of REC’s Nissan LEAFs, the V2G system has been able to reduce the utility’s load, on average, by 14.14 kW during the entirety of the 85 event hours to date, across a variety of operating conditions.
As an example, during a window of recent events, the two-way EV charger discharged the EV battery at 14 kW on average, and it saved the cooperative nearly $440.
The results from this small window suggest savings of over $2,660 a year per two-way charger. The value of this single unit hints at the potential for much bigger savings when multiplied by many units, serving multiple EVs or integrated with entire fleets of EVs. While some chargers may not have an EV connected during every peak period, utilities will develop experience over time with a minimum fraction of availability across thousands of EVs and two-way charging stations, accessing hundreds of MWh of energy storage on-board local EVs.
In addition to system-wide savings, V2G chargers can also create savings for non-residential customers that pay demand charges. Despite having relatively modest demand charges of $9.50/kW, Fermata’s software and charger strategically dispatched the Nissan LEAF battery to reduce REC’s headquarters building demand charges by $234 over a two month period. At larger facilities, Fermata has demonstrated the FE-15 is capable of capturing the full 15 kW in savings possible, and in parts of the country where demand charges can surpass $20/kW, customers could realize savings of over $300 a month.
For REC and its members, and any utility with demand charge and demand response programs in which V2X technology can participate, the benefits of system-wide savings as well as customer savings can be realized simultaneously. Using REC’s local and system demand charges, each FE-15 operating at maximum capacity could result in $3,500 to $4,000 of savings each year.
Roanoke Electric has also been able to demonstrate another application that V2X technology makes possible for improving energy assurance and reliability. REC’s facility has an on-site generator that allows it to isolate itself from the grid, and Fermata’s V2X charger can discharge the Nissan LEAF battery to partially power the facility either by dispatching stored energy when the site’s usage is highest, or by reacting to scheduled discharges for a set duration. The ability for smart charging to respond to an islanded load powered by the generator increases the resilience of sites that use generators as back-up power systems.
These results have important implications for the affordability of electricity, both for grid operators and for the member owners of the electric cooperative. REC’s CEO Curtis Wynn has underscored the improvements to grid utilization that the utility can attain when distributed storage is available to member-owners on the Roanoke Electric grid.
The Potential of Vehicle-to-Grid Technology
As public and private fleets in the United States replace internal-combustion engine vehicles with EVs, integration of V2G technology could enable EVs to serve as energy reservoirs to help keep the grid running smoothly during demand peaks and during system outages.
In this demonstration at REC, the dollar savings appear to nearly offset the cost of the EVs. The cooperative’s two new Nissan LEAFs with 62kWh battery capacities are leased at less than $250 per month, and the demonstration has documented a generated value of as high as $230 a month. The implications for dropping the net cost of electric mobility to Roanoke Electric member-owners is tremendous.
On a residential scale, electric vehicle drivers could use vehicle-to-building technology to power their homes during lengthy blackouts. With a bidirectional charging system, homeowners could pull power from their electric vehicle batteries to keep fridges, lights, the internet and heating and cooling systems on in their homes, especially when jeopardized by heat waves or hypothermia as seen this year in Texas.
Vehicle-to-building technology could also keep the power on for critical services such as hospitals and shelters during extreme weather conditions and other emergency outages, reducing or even eliminating the cumulative numbers of hours these essential systems have to use backup diesel generators.
As the demonstration continues, REC staff are exploring a pilot application of the technology with commercial customers, focusing first on locations having higher voltage service — in line with the design of the FE-15 device.
John Bonitz, a specialist for NCCETC’s Clean Transportation Program, said, “Preparing for a future where fleets of electric buses and cars will be electrified, this demonstration at Roanoke Electric Cooperative is helping prove the benefits and economic value of integrating V2G technology to shave peaks, improve grid utilization and increase resilience – all while helping the cooperative and its members save money. And we’re honored to be involved.”
ABOUT THE TEAM
This demonstration is possible only due to a unique partnership between six organizations: Roanoke Electric Cooperative serves about 14,000 accounts in Northeastern North Carolina out of their headquarters in Ahoskie, NC. Fermata Energy is a company created for the dual purposes of accelerating the adoption of EVs and accelerating the transition to a renewable energy future, and it is their bi-directional EV charger and proprietary software system that allow electric vehicles to earn money while they are parked. Clean Energy Works provides advisory services for accelerating investment in grid-edge solutions. Advanced Energy is a nonprofit energy consulting firm that assists utilities with program design and electric transportation initiatives. Environmental Defense Fund, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems, including supporting policies that accelerate transportation electrification to create a zero-emission future. The NCCETC’s Clean Transportation Program is supporting the demonstration with analysis, technical assistance and facilitation. NCCETC also hosts the largest outreach and engagement events in the region on sustainable fleets, the Sustainable Fleet Technology virtual conference series.
Before the Carolina Hurricanes vs. the New Jersey Devils hockey game on November 2, guests checked out a lineup of electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles outside of the PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC.
We visited the University of North Carolina at Charlotte last year to talk to Chris Facente, Automotive and Motor Fleet Supervisor, about the university’s fleet of electric vehicles. Check out our video on it here.
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has 115 electric vehicles on its campus, including Polaris GEMs and Nissan Leafs. Facente said they’d like their fleet to be 25 percent electric in about two years.
Electric vehicles are cheaper to run because they don’t require gas and require less maintenance – and they produce no harmful emissions.
Join us for an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tailgate before the Durham Bulls baseball game on Saturday, July 13 from 5:30-6:35 p.m. outside of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park stadium! Check out a lineup of alternative fuel vehicles, which may include electric, hybrid/plug-in hybrid electric, propane, natural gas, biodiesel or ethanol.
New, free Sustainable Fleet Technology Webinar: Ethanol as Part of Your Fleet’s Fuel Strategy on February 27
On Wednesday, February 27from 2 to 3 p.m., please join us for another free Sustainable Fleet Webinar on Ethanol as Part of Your Fleet’s Fuel Strategy. Hear from industry subject matter experts and fleets that have successfully integrated ethanol into their fleet fueling options, and learn about deployment considerations and best practices.
Industry subject matter experts will provide a general overview of ethanol fuel basics, properties and benefits. Several fleets from different vocations will tell their stories regarding their decision to integrate ethanol, their experiences, and lessons learned. There will also be a round table opportunity to have myths dispelled, and questions and concerns answered.
EnergyWire recently featured an article “7 Takeaways From a Wild Year for EVs,” covering the biggest news related to electric vehicles in 2018. While electric vehicles are still mostly absent from showrooms, the article stated, signs of progress were apparent in many places last year. In the U.S., the 1 millionth EV was sold, and battery prices continued to drop.
The top 7 takeaways from 2018:
Tesla news: Despite controversy involving Elon Musk’s negative publicity, Tesla hit its 5,000-a-week goal in September, and the Model 3 is by far the top-selling pure-electric car in the US.
New EV pickup truck in the works: Rivian, an auto technology startup, is producing an all-electric pickup truck and SUV with a large amount of specs, including 400 miles on a charge, towing 11,000 pounds, and more. It is expected to arrive around year 2020 or later.
EV charging gets funding: Investment is coming from several quarters, including Volkswagen. Major utilities, seeing an opportunity to sell electrons, are also getting in on the act.
Policymakers and regulators get on board: Many policymakers around the country have made major transportation announcements, including Gov. Jerry Brown calling for California to add 5 million EVs by 2030.
“Invasion of the scooters”: Electric scooters have spread to dozens of cities and have been ridden millions of times, and the companies making them are now worth billions of dollars.
Heavy vehicles make progress: The falling cost of batteries and changing attitude toward carbon emissions and policy changes have moved up the timeline for electric buses and trucks. Dozens of school districts and transit districts also announced they are buying electric buses.
Incumbents step in: GM announced it would lay off thousands of workers, and one reason for it was to double its investment in electric and autonomous vehicles in the next two years. President Trump expressed negative opinions on electric vehicles, and a bill to kill the $7,500-per-vehicle EV tax credit was introduced.
Worldwide and in the United States, electric vehicles had a big year of news and changes – and the state of North Carolina was no exception.
Total EV registrations (both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles) in North Carolina were at 7,946 in 2017, and in 2018, the numbers jumped to 10,001 just through June, representing a 26 percent growth, according to EVadoption.com.
In August 2018, the US Department of Transportation announced that North Carolina’s City of Greensboro, the Research Triangle Regional Public Transportation Authority (GoTriangle), and Chapel Hill Transit were to be awarded a total of $4,225,000 in federal grants for its Low or No-Emission (Low-No) Bus Program Projects, which supports deployment of electric buses into their fleets.
In October 2018, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 80, which calls for the State of North Carolina to protect its environment while growing clean energy technologies. Cooper called for the number of zero-emission vehicles (“ZEVs”) to grow at least 80,000 by year 2025, according to a press release from Gov. Cooper.
Also in 2018, NCCETC unveiled new EV policy research tools with DSIRE Insight, which provides research and analysis services to energy industry professionals. These reports provide concise, useful information concerning state legislative and regulatory developments, along with actions on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The series of quarterly reports is available by subscription here.
Last Friday and Saturday, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s Clean Transportation team ended National Drive Electric Week with an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Demonstration & Tailgate for the NC State vs. Virginia Cavaliers football game.
The event began Friday, Sept. 28 with a driver meet-up and car show. There were about 20 plug-in electric, hybrid and biofuel vehicles on display, both from local dealerships and from electric vehicle owners and enthusiasts, including several Tesla models, BMWs, Mitsubishi, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Toyota and more.
Owners enjoyed showing off their vehicles to guests who were curious to learn more about them, and the Clean Transportation team were able to answer questions and hand out fact sheets and studies done by the Center.
There was even a Tesla Model X that did a dance!
Saturday was the NC State game outside of the Close-King Indoor Practice Facility where many of the same alternative vehicles were on display for guests to look at inside and out. Nissan representatives were also on site and guests played the “Run the Route Challenge” and the “Blind Spot Challenge.”
Last weekend, the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s Clean Transporation team kicked off National Drive Electric Week with an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Demonstration & Tailgate for the Wake Forest University vs. Towson State University football home opener game!
The kickoff events started on Friday, September 7 with the driver meet-up and car show. Several plug-in electric vehicles and hybrids were on display for guests to check out, and members of the Clean Transporation team, Heather Brutz, Rick Sapienza, Allison Carr and John Bonitz, answered visitor’s questions about alternative fuels.
Saturday, September 8 was game day in Winston-Salem, where a long line-up of plug-in vehicles and a biofuel vehicle were displayed, including brands and names such as BMW, Mitsubishi, Volt and Bolt, and Tesla.
Clean Transportation Director Rick Sapienza accepted the game ball from Wake Forest’s mascot the Demon Deacon and spoke in a live radio interview to discuss alternative fuels, the Center and what it does (listen here).
The next and final Alternative Fuel Vehicle Demonstration & Tailgate will be September 28 and 29 at the NC State University vs. Virginia Cavaliers football game! Come check out a line-up of some of the latest plug-in electric vehicles and other alternative fuel vehicles.