Customers Lead the Way in Determining How SCE Prepares for Electric Vehicles

SCE’s 12,000 electric vehicle customers provided data for the utility’s white paper, ‘Charged Up’.

August 06, 2013 | By Vanessa McGrady

SCE-EV White Paper      Charged Up News Release

When it comes to electric vehicles, the top three things customers want to know are how much it will cost to charge their vehicles, where the public charging stations are located, and the environmental benefits of these non-gas guzzling cars.

These are just a few of the findings of a white paper released today by Southern California Edison (SCE) that took a look at its 12,000 customers who currently drive electric vehicles and how they can shape what the company does to get ready for widespread adoption of these eco-friendly vehicles. 

“My sense is that SCE is a very forward-thinking company and will do what they can to help their customers make the change to home-vehicle charging,” said Marc Gebauer of Lawndale, who took part in the research for the white paper, “Charged Up: Southern California Edison’s Key Learnings about Electric Vehicles, Customers and Grid Reliability."

As a leader in electric vehicle and battery research for more than 20 years, “Charged Up” shares information based on data provided voluntarily by customers and utility operations gathered since SCE began to prepare the distribution system for its customers who opt to plug in to fuel their vehicles.

Some of the six major findings in the white paper include:

1. SCE’s approach to managing plug-in electric vehicle-grid impact is meeting customers’ needs.

Since 2010, of all the nearly 400 upgrades SCE made to (or identified for) circuits that serve plug-in electric vehicle customers, only 1 percent of that work was required due to additional power demands from plug in electric vehicles. The rest of the work was required under SCE’s regular infrastructure upgrade and maintenance schedule.

2. Using the ''end charge time" programming feature is good for electric vehicle customers and their neighbors.

It’s better for grid reliability and neighborhood circuits when drivers program their charging to be completed 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.

3. What SCE customers want to know most about electric vehicles:

When 15,000 customers visit SCE’s electric vehicle website monthly, about 46 percent 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 the link to the U.S. Department of Energy’s map, watch videos on electric vehicles and read background materials on environmental benefits and home electric infrastructure requirements.

4. Initial findings show early adopters of battery-electric vehicle technology demonstrate consistent and predictable behavior.

A sample of Nissan Leaf owners has indicated that any "range anxiety" had been eliminated after driving their new battery-electric vehicle over time. Most reported their overnight charging at 240 volts was sufficient to support their daily driving patterns.

5. Multi-unit residents may face complex challenges.

Despite high interest in electric vehicles from condominium and apartment dwellers, fewer than 5 percent of building owners or condominium associations are even considering installing the necessary charging infrastructure. There are multiple rebates and incentives in the works to improve the situation.

6. SCE and the cities it serves are charged up and ready to go.

Virtually all of the 180 cities in SCE’s service territory are committed to helping their residents plug in by streamlining permitting and inspection processes.

To learn more about SCE’s work in electric vehicle readiness, please visit www.SCE.com/PEV.

Our Media Relations representative Vanessa McGrady can be reached at: @SCE_VanessaM.

Topics: Customer Service