The future is electric

Electrification of the transportation sector is about creating a better energy future with less expensive, cleaner, and more sustainable ways to move people and goods. In June 2019, Avista completed a 3-year pilot program to understand how light-duty electric vehicles (EVs) will affect the power grid, the economic and environmental benefits of electric transportation, and how Avista may best serve all customers as transportation is electrified over time.

During the pilot program, a total of 446 EV charging ports (including 7 DC fast chargers) were installed in a variety of residential, workplace, fleet and public locations across eastern Washington. For a map and detailed information on public charger locations, visit Avista’s EV pilot programs correlated to an increased rate of EV adoption in the region, which has now caught up with the state average. This helps demonstrate that effective utility programs can help support early EV adoption and transportation electrification in general.

Installation costs varied according to specific locations and configurations, with average costs ranging from $1,766 - $128,084. Networked EV chargers which can communicate wirelessly, transmitting data and enabling user payment transactions demonstrated considerably higher installation costs, higher ongoing operations and maintenance (O&M) costs, and lower reliability. This was an important finding that helps quantify and rationalize the use of non-networked chargers where possible, and the importance of improving costs and performance for networked chargers as is expected as the industry matures.

Data obtained from the program showed that substantial economic and environmental benefits may be realized from electric transportation, as the cost of driving an EV is less than $1 per gallon of gasoline equivalent, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent, and local pollution from tailpipe emissions by 100 percent. The pilot further showed that the grid impact of light-duty EVs should be manageable over at least the next decade, especially if more EV charging is accomplished during off-peak times of the day and night. While the loads should be manageable in the near term, it is also clear that Avista must develop effective ways to manage loads over the long term, in order to maximize benefits for all customers. A detailed report of the pilot’s findings, as well as answers to other frequently asked questions about electric transportation and helpful web links can be found online.

Avista is committed to supporting electric transportation for the benefit of all customers and is now in an excellent position to propose new programs following the pilot, in the form of a comprehensive Transportation Electrification Plan. This will include programs to help customers install EV chargers in homes and business locations, education and outreach, programs benefiting disadvantaged communities and residential customers, load management and grid integration, commercial EV rate design, and other tools and resources to help commercial and public organizations evaluate technology and best practices in electrifying fleets, including commercial applications beyond light duty EVs such as forklifts, mass transit buses, school buses and other medium and heavy duty electric vehicles that are expected to become viable over time. If you have any questions or suggestions regarding Avista’s Transportation Electrification Plan, please email – we want to hear from you!

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