//// As the Clean Charge Network Celebrates Year Three, Other Utilities Follow
When KCP&L launched the Clean Charge Network in January 2015, it was the first major electric vehicle infrastructure network implemented by a public utility.
Now, as Clean Charge celebrates its third anniversary and completion of the network, several utilities have followed the example it set by planning charging infrastructure investments in their communities.
The three largest investor-owned utilities in California have proposed spending a collective $1 billion on EV infrastructure. Utilities in Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington and Utah are also considering significant public charging plans. When EV charging stations eventually become as ubiquitous as gas stations, it’s likely utilities will be closely involved.
Many of these same utilities have reached out to KCP&L for best practices, both in the successful deployment of charging infrastructure and in encouraging EV adoption. After all, Kansas City is first in the nation in EV growth, with a 79 percent increase from 2016 to 2017. Membership in the Clean Charge Network has increased 70 percent, and the network’s efforts were recognized with four national and two local awards in 2017.
The Clean Charge Network demonstrates in practical terms what recent studies show: investing in public charging stations can make a significant difference in EV adoption. A white paper from the International Council on Clean Transportation pointed to grid-connected charging stations — as well as pricing incentives for consumers — are closely linked with EV uptake. Both these elements have been key to Kansas City’s own emergence as the fastest-growing EV market in the nation.
An electric utility can be uniquely qualified to take a leadership role in developing charging infrastructure:
- It has an intimate knowledge of how best to integrate EV infrastructure into the electric grid.
- It’s well-positioned to share the benefits of an electricity-based technology to customers.
- It’s beneficial to a utility’s business in a time when the grid is underutilized up to 80 percent of the time. Increases in electricity use from EVs could mean lower power bills for all customers.
This conversation is just beginning across the country, and not everyone agrees. (For instance, regulatory agencies have shown a preference for private sector investment.) But a recent study from global consulting firm Deloitte argues that utilities should be aggressively embracing EVs, because they can be key to balancing electricity supply and demand, adding critical flexibility to the grid.
And investing in the drive electric revolution can be a smart choice. A sustainable nonprofit recently released study results showing that the benefits of increased investment in EV charging infrastructure outweighed costs by more than 3 to 1.
The future of transportation is electric — how will infrastructure keep pace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
//// Meet an EV Driver: Karl Bloss
Strike up a conversation with Karl Bloss and, more than likely, the talk will eventually turn to electric vehicles. It’s equally likely he’ll offer a ride or drive in one of his family’s two EVs. That’s because he firmly believes the electrification of the transportation grid is inevitable — and he relishes the chance to help people experience the benefits of driving electric.
“When someone goes to purchase their next vehicle, I want to them to think back to that ride and say, ‘I think that could work for me.’ Especially in Kansas City, driving electric is such a good option,” he says.
Karl and his family returned from an ex-pat assignment in Germany in 2014. They needed cars — and chose to use the chance to start over with fuel-efficient vehicles. Karl bought a used 2012 Nissan LEAF for his commute, then added a 2015 Tesla Model S for the family’s second car based on his positive experience. The family has since upgraded to a longer-range 2016 LEAF.
“The LEAF is charged at home, at our favorite Hy-Vee or Price Chopper and the Tesla is charged mostly while I work,” Karl says. “When heading into town, we know we can find charging stations at City Market, the Union Station area and the Plaza.” Karl has also driven electric on road trips, both to regional destinations like Branson and St. Louis and on longer trips to Pennsylvania and Michigan.
“Once you experience driving electric, range anxiety turns in to range awareness,” he says. “We have collectively driven about 70,000 electric miles and we have never run out of juice.” Karl also loves waking up to a fully-fueled car every morning and enjoys how cheaply he can power his vehicle. It costs him about $30 to drive 1,000 miles a month.
Minimal maintenance is another major benefit. “We go for more than a year without visiting a service shop, because you can do most things yourself,” he says. “Gone are the days of oil changes, tune-ups, frequent brake jobs and keeping all the bottles of fluid in the garage.” Karl also values the environmental benefits of EVs and — with solar panels on his house — he drives emissions free.
Karl is a frequent contributor to the EV community, from volunteering at events to maintaining a KC EV and Plug-In Enthusiasts Facebook group. (All are welcome there, he says!) He loves the camaraderie he’s experienced among EV drivers — and is gratified to see the community grow. “Three years ago, it was a big deal to see another EV in Kansas City, and we would wave frantically to get their attention,” he says. “While we still wave to other EV drivers, it’s now common to see several EVs on every local trip.”
Interested in being profiled for our next issue? We’d love to hear from you.
//// Preparing Your EV for 2018
The Clean Charge Network is your source for information about driving electric in Kansas City. In this issue and at cleanchargenetwork.com, learn more about:
The move to a host site or EV driver paid model in 2018.
After three years of free charging, the Clean Charge Network has moved to a host site or EV driver paid model. What does this change mean to you? More FREE charging in many locations, thanks to a partnership between KCP&L and host sites to cover the cost of electricity. (An updated list of free stations is available at the Clean Charge website.) For locations that elected the driver paid model, the cost of charging will be paid by the driver on a per kWh rate using the ChargePoint portal. Questions about the change? We’re here to help. Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tips for driving electric in wintry weather.
Winter is coming. All cars — electric or gas — become less fuel efficient in colder weather, but a little preparation can help you be ready.
- You will get less range in very cold temperatures, so plan your trips accordingly. Use your vehicle’s eco mode or lower energy-usage setting if it has one. Eco mode can also limit torque, allowing for better handling on snow and ice.
- Preheat your vehicle; a warm battery is more efficient, plus you’ll be more comfortable. (Bonus bragging points: you can do this remotely from your smartphone app, or safely within a closed garage.) To conserve the most battery, preheat while plugged in.
- Rely on seat/steering wheel heaters when you can; they’re a more efficient method than a cabin heater to keep you warm.
- Take every opportunity to plug in, at home or at public chargers. Even if you don’t need the range, this charge can be used to warm the battery and preheat the cabin.
- Keep your EV parked in a garage overnight, if you have access to one. This will help lengthen battery life by protecting from extreme cold.
- As with any car, keep your tire pressure at the recommended psi.
Upcoming Clean Charge Network EVents.
We’re planning our 2018 calendar of Clean Charge Network Events. Have an idea for us? Let us know in the comments. Want to be sure you don’t miss out on future events? Join the Clean Charge Network today.