Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are receiving a great deal of attention in the media, and waiting lists for the Nissan Leaf, Tesla Model S, and Chevy Volt are growing. It is clear that both consumers and manufacturers are interested in the potential for PEVs, especially with the rise in gas prices, CAFE standards, and general concerns for the environment.
But before PEVs can be widely adopted, charging infrastructure must be in place. At this stage, consistent federal- or state-level planning for such an infrastructure is lacking, and is instead being left to consumers, businesses, and local governments. Of these groups, municipalities (munis) will play the most critical role in the development of PEV-charging infrastructure, through urban planning, direct investment, and the development of favorable permitting processes. At the same time, utilities are strongly motivated to get involved in early stages of planning this infrastructure. PEVs will place new demands on the electric grid, and broad adoption of PEVs will likely require new investment in grid capacity, stability, and information management.
In this Solution Deployment Brief, we describe why PEV-infrastructure development is being addressed in the near-term and why munis are playing a lead role. We illustrate this leadership with a profile of the approach taken by the City of St. Paul, Minnesota, to plan and deploy a municipal PEV infrastructure. We then discuss the impact of PEV infrastructure on the electric grid, and what utilities are doing, along with munis, to encourage effective deployment.