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Nissan Leaf 2013

Southern California Edison’s EV Charging Learning Points

Nissan Leaf 2013When customers with electric vehicles visit Southern California Edison’s website, the most sought after information is an estimate of how much it will cost to recharge their cars, followed by where charging stations are located, the utility says in a white paper.

The white paper, 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. The findings are based on the utility company’s experience with 12,000 plug-in EVs that its customers own or lease, which it says represents 10 percent of all EVs sold in the US.

Because California leads the nation in EV adoption, other utilities and the auto industry may find the information from the white paper useful, SCE says. The utility says it’s witnessing an uptick in EV adoption and is working with auto manufacturers, dealers and communities to help EV owners connect smoothly with an evolving electrical system.

Chief among its learning points is that its approach to coping with the onslaught of EVs is meeting customer needs. SCE bases this on the fact that out of 400 circuit upgrades it made in areas that serve EV customers, only 1 percent was to meet the needs of EV charging and the rest were routine maintenance to its infrastructure.

Other pointers include:

  • When EV owners use the “end charge time” programming feature, it helps prevent spikes in power loads. This is because the feature randomizes customers’ start times and this helps maintain grid reliability.
  • Sample surveys of Nissan Leaf owners showed that for early adopters that have had time to become familiar with their vehicle and its charging needs, range anxiety is no longer an issue. Charging their cars overnight at 240 volts was sufficient for their daily driving needs.
  • Despite the high interest in EVs, less than 5 percent of condos and apartments plan to install charging infrastructure, which poses a challenge for EV customers. SCE says, however, that there are many rebates and incentives that could improve this status.

The report also says the 180 cities within SEC’s service area have streamlined permitting and inspection processes and are supportive of EV customers.

While they still account for a very small percentage of total US auto sales, sales of hybrids and EVs are ramping up, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.

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