Charging at home is currently the most widespread and convenient option for a majority of electric vehicle (EV) owners, but this trend could change as more workplaces offer charging. In the evolving landscape of electric vehicle integration, the focus on workplace charging is already gaining prominence, reshaping daily commutes, and driving the adoption of sustainable practices.
Businesses are increasingly ready to commit to offering a workplace EV charger as a perk, but despite the growing demand, challenges and opportunities lie ahead, with utilities playing a central role in offsetting installation costs and fostering collaborative solutions for workplace electrification.
In this article, we explore the relationship between businesses, utilities, and the electrification landscape, highlighting the multifaceted benefits and collaborative efforts shaping the future of workplace charging.
As many employees return to working in offices full-time or with hybrid schedules after working remotely throughout the pandemic, over 68% of Americans now drive to work in a passenger car. Research suggests that having access to Level 1 charging at home combined with a Level 2 business EV charger at work would meet the needs of more than 90% of the population, making workplace charging crucial to widespread EV adoption.
In spite of the existing demand, relatively few businesses offer charging as a perk, and only 17% of fleets use EVs. Workplace EV charger adoption will become more common as businesses explore the many benefits associated with electrification.
Employee satisfaction tops the list of these benefits. With lack of charging being cited as an obstacle to EV adoption by close to 80% of Americans, having access to a business EV charger would be a game-changer that makes EVs more accessible. Workplace charging can also attract talent and improve employee retention, especially among those who have strong environmental values.
EV charging creates an innovative business image while providing the organization with tangible and measurable ESG benefits. It also paves the way for future workplace electrification projects, such as taking advantage of bidirectional charging to support the local energy infrastructure and facilitating fleet electrification.
Utilities have a role to play as electricity providers and as strategic partners who can help offset the cost of installing a business EV charger. In some cases, utilities can support electrification by installing chargers they own and operate on commercial property, creating a long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnership between the utility and the commercial property owner or owners.
Existing programs can help inform new programs being implemented by utilities by showcasing the different strategies utility companies can use to support business electrification. Here are a few examples of previous utility-supported electrification projects for workplace and commercial charging stations.
Washington-based utility company Avista offers extensive educational materials designed to help businesses perform a cost-benefit analysis at the beginning of their electrification journey. This is a great method of empowering businesses to embark on their electrification journey with confidence and informed decision-making.
By providing comprehensive educational materials, utilities can position themselves as a valuable partner in guiding businesses through the crucial step of conducting a cost-benefit analysis. This commitment to education aligns with the broader mission of fostering a sustainable and electric future.
This electricity provider also offers a commercial program that covers the cost of the charging equipment and up to 50% of the wiring cost, further supporting commercial charging programs and making EV charger installation more accessible for businesses looking to electrify their property.
Hawaii Energy is in charge of distributing over $66,000 in funding from the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission. The utility company is issuing rebates of $2,000 per Level 2 business EV charger, helping incentivize businesses to adopt electric vehicle charging infrastructure within the community.
This funding program is also inclusive of DC fast-charging stations and retrofitting projects, further creating a comprehensive approach to supporting workplace electrification by acknowledging the diverse needs and preferences of businesses and promoting a more versatile and widespread adoption of electric vehicle charging solutions.
Pacific Power’s approach proactive approach to supporting electrification through the Oregon Clean Fuels Program grants is a commendable strategy with far-reaching benefits. By actively assisting businesses in applying for these grants, Pacific Power is not only contributing to the widespread adoption of electric vehicle chargers but is also addressing a crucial aspect of the electrification process—the financial barrier.
These grants can cover the entire cost of installing EV chargers, including the planning process. Navigating the landscape of grants and incentives can be complex for businesses, especially in an area as innovative and rapidly evolving as EV infrastructure. Pacific Power’s hands-on assistance simplifies this process, making it more accessible for commercial users who may be unfamiliar with grant writing.
Smart Columbus is a collaborative project involving over 100 different entities, including utilities, businesses, non-profits, and more.
The project includes different initiatives designed to develop a clean public transit network, make renewables accessible, and more. Businesses can leverage the Smart Columbus electrification toolkit to plan their EV charging project and qualify for a rebate offered by AEP Ohio.
The Smart Columbus project serves as a shining example of how utilities can foster workplace charging and develop projects that align with the unique needs of a community by facilitating collaboration, providing practical resources, and incentivizing businesses.
Most of these examples show how utilities can make a difference by sharing the upfront cost of installing a workplace EV charger. These examples also underscore the extensive role utilities can play in advancing workplace EV charging beyond financial contributions.
By offering businesses reduced charging rates, collaborating on custom charging schedules, ensuring guaranteed uptime through advanced grid management, and sharing real-time data for demand adaptation, utilities contribute significantly to the efficiency and attractiveness of workplace charging infrastructure.
This multifaceted approach not only incentivizes businesses to embrace electric mobility but also optimizes operational costs, enhances reliability, and allows for seamless adaptation to dynamic charging demands.
Utilities and businesses can work together to assess potential challenges and find innovative solutions.
Installing a workplace EV charger represents a significant upfront cost for the business, but there is also an upfront cost for the utility. Electricity demand could increase by 18% before 2030, partly due to EV adoption.
Energy providers can address this challenge by investing in new grid-scale projects to amp up energy production. Offering net metering programs can turn homeowners and business owners into valuable partners who can support the community’s energy needs with affordable solar power.
Permitting and zoning can be an issue when installing a workplace EV charger. Municipal parking rules will also apply if a business doesn’t have private parking.
Additional regulations, such as the obligation to serve that applies to utilities, limit the possibility of having energy providers own and operate EV chargers.
As a utility or local business, reaching out to legislators and municipal governments can pave the way for an updated regulatory framework. Some utilities are also partnering with local governments to power municipal fleets, public transit, or school buses.
A sound pricing model can offset the upfront cost of electrification. However, utilities and businesses should open a dialogue with the community to assess the best approach to billing.
Utilities can introduce new pricing models that support EV charging in the form of TOU rates and charging schedules. Businesses can adopt hourly billing or monthly subscriptions.
Businesses have to consider how a workplace EV charger will integrate with the existing parking infrastructure, determine if a panel upgrade is needed, and address questions of safety and accessibility. Working with a licensed electrician is a great starting point for planning an electrification project.
Utilities can play an important role in fostering adoption by offering programs and incentives. Sharing case studies can help local players make informed decisions, and offering free expert assessments can also make a difference.
A successful electrification project requires an ongoing management strategy that covers billing and maintenance.
Energy providers can help by sharing data from similar projects, and businesses can get help by forming new partnerships with electrification leaders, licensed electricians, non-profits, and other local players.
Energy providers have a role to play in the future of electrification. The demand for workplace charging will continue to increase, with experts predicting that EVs could represent close to a third of new car sales by 2030.
Utilities can support adoption by increasing their energy production capacity and optimizing distribution. They can go further with incentives and partnerships that help offset the cost of electrification or connect businesses with resources.
Energy providers will also be instrumental in fostering the adoption of the next generation of electrification technology, including smart chargers that share data with the grid or faster charging solutions.
Collaborative efforts are key. Utilities, local businesses, and other players need to work together to bring electrification to the community in the form of workplace charging. Partnerships similar to the Smart Columbus project are proving to be an effective way of developing innovative solutions that align with the unique needs of the community.
The demand for EV charging at work will continue to increase, and utilities will play a central role in helping employers offer this perk through incentives and other programs.
As an energy provider, now is the right time to start building partnerships for the future. Qmerit has been shaping electrification since 2016 and with the largest network of certified energy transition technology installers and licensed electricians, we’re worked with homeowners, businesses, and utilities to install over 269,000 EV charger stations across North America.
As an electrification leader, Qmerit makes a difference by actively developing a nationwide network that creates value by connecting electrification players, including utilities, technology marketplaces, fleet managers, and more. Partnering with Qmerit’s network is the first step to bringing you closer to your electrification goals and helping you create a more sustainable future.
Contact Qmerit today to learn more about planning for an electrified future and seamlessly navigate collaborative solutions for workplace EV charging in your community.