‘Drive the Dream’ Takes an Up Close Approach to Plug-in Electric Vehicles

SCE’s work with the California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative looks at emerging market trends and challenges.

September 18, 2013 | By Vanessa McGrady

Electric vehicle sales hit a record in August. That, combined with rising gas prices, makes it more important than ever to create a reliable infrastructure and seamless user experience for those drivers who decide to fuel up at the plug.

That’s why Edison International and its regulated utility, Southern California Edison (SCE), are working with Governor Jerry Brown’s “Drive the Dream” plug-in electric vehicle (PEV) effort that includes elected officials, automakers, utilities, environmental organizations and research institutions. The California Plug-in Electric Vehicle Collaborative collaborates on emerging PEV market trends and works to address challenges. 

“We’ve been working for more than two decades with automakers, battery companies and others to evaluate the system impact of PEVs on the grid, and to help ready the electrical infrastructure for customer PEV adoption,” says Ed Kjaer, SCE’s director of Transportation Electrification. “As PEVs become more mainstream, we want to make sure we’re anticipating the needs of our customers, and that the power grid can handle the extra power demands required of an increasingly plugged-in population.”

SCE’s Electric Vehicle Technical Center — unique in the utility industry — provides a broad range of electric transportation services, including system impact evaluation, battery storage evaluation, fleet prototype evaluation and technical support to SCE’s PEV fleet that has achieved more than 21 million EV miles since it started.  

The utility’s PEV Readiness program, launched in 2009, has helped to prepare the SCE system for increasing EV adoption, and to educate customers on how to safely, reliably and cost-effectively connect and fuel electric vehicles from the grid.

Part of the research includes the construction of about 85 workplace chargers at SCE-managed facilities to demonstrate demand response technologies, evaluate system impacts and learn about employee behavior related to PEV charging. The yearlong pilot will help the utility advise its business customers on the costs and benefits of workplace charging.

The effort will also inform future workplace charging deployment at SCE facilities. SCE’s parent company, Edison International, is also evaluating EV car sharing opportunities and collaborating with other utilities to explore how to create a seamless charging experience across the Southern California region.

For more on SCE’s EV research, see www.bitly.com/SCEChargedUpNews. To learn more about getting ready for EVs, see www.sce.com/EV.

Topics: Customer Service