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Southern California Edison (SCE) has released a new white paper offering insights gleaned from the utility's electric vehicle (EV) readiness program.

The paper, titled "Charged Up: Southern California Edison's Key Learnings about Electric Vehicles, Our Customers and Grid Reliability," shares information based on customer data and utility operations gathered since SCE began to prepare the distribution system and its customers for widespread EV adoption in its service territory.

Currently, SCE says its customers lease or own more than 12,000 plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs), which represent about 10% of national EV sales.

“The Southern California region - and SCE’s service territory, in particular - is seeing significant uptick of early plug-in vehicle adoption,” comments Ed Kjaer, SCE director of Transportation Electrification. “SCE is partnering with auto makers, dealers and the communities we serve to help educate our customers on ways to seamlessly connect their new EVs to an ever-changing electrical system.”

According to SCE, key findings in the report include the following:

SCE says its approach to managing PEV-grid impact is meeting its customers’ needs: Since 2010, of all the nearly 400 upgrades SCE has made to (or identified for) circuits that serve PEV customers, only 1% of that work was required due to additional power demands from PEVs. The rest of the work was required under SCE’s regular infrastructure upgrade and maintenance schedule.

Using the “end charge” time programming feature is good for EV customers and their neighbors: It’s better for grid reliability and neighborhood circuits when drivers program their charging to be complete by a specific time. When customers set an “end charge” time for charging to be complete, they randomize the start time of their charging, which prevents a large number of vehicles from coming online at the same time — avoiding power-load spikes that potentially could affect the local distribution system.

What SCE customers want to know most about EVs: When 15,000 SCE customers visit the company’s EV website monthly, about 46% make their first stop with the Plug-In Car Rate Assistant Tool, which helps estimate charging costs. Customers also click to find out more about public charging station locations from a link to the U.S. Department of Energy’s map, watch videos on EVs and read background materials on environmental benefits and home electric infrastructure requirements.

Initial findings show early adopters of battery-electric vehicle (BEV) technology demonstrate consistent and predictable behavior: A sample of Nissan Leaf owners have indicated that any “range anxiety” had been eliminated after driving their new BEV over time, SCE says. Most reported their overnight charging at 240 V was sufficient to support their daily driving patterns.

Multi-unit residents may face complex challenges: Despite high interest in EVs from condominium and apartment dwellers, SCE says fewer than 5% of building owners or condominium associations are even considering installing the necessary charging infrastructure. The utility adds there are multiple rebates and incentives in the works to improve the situation.

The full white paper is available here.



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