How utilities can engage in an EV, clean energy future


By Center for Sustainable Energy

February 2, 2023

We are moving toward a more electrified future with all-electric homes and fully electric cars rapidly growing in popularity.  

For utilities, this means increased challenges to plan to meet growing and changing load demand. It also means opportunities to be catalysts for the adoption of new technologies and to leverage these technologies to manage demand. 

Here are some ways utilities that partner with the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) are engaging their customers today to accelerate a more electrified tomorrow. 


Utilities are offering EV rebates 

In addition to federal tax credits and state rebates to buy an EV, EV incentives are also being offered by some utilities. For example, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric both offer pre-owned EV programs that offer a $1,000 rebate to customers who buy or lease a used EV. Income-qualified applicants can get a $4,000 rebate.  

Why pre-owned? With average new car leases running three years, a used EV market is beginning to develop in California. Used light-duty vehicles are purchased by over half of Americans, especially by lower-income households. Offering a used EV rebate is one way to expand EV ownership, with all its benefits, to these households.  

Both programs are funded through the state’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard program, which encourages the use of low-carbon transportation fuels, including electricity, to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions. 


Utilities are stepping into EV charging 

While state regulations differ in how much they allow utilities to be involved in the business of EV charging, some utilities are already investing millions in charging infrastructure, including in underserved areas.  

Utilities are also trying to understand where, when and how much charging will occur as states begin to deploy $7.5 billion in federal funding

CSE administered a pilot project for PECO Energy Company that offered rebates to offset the cost of installing EV charging at commercial locations in southeastern Pennsylvania. The program, which was fully subscribed in six months, offered up to $2,000 per charging port or 50% of make-ready costs associated with Level 2 EV charger installations. An additional $1,000 per port or 75% of make-ready costs was available for projects within designated environmental justice areas.  

Analysis of data from the charger sessions using CSE’s Caret® EV Charging Knowledgebase will help PECO better understand when, where and how drivers are charging and what that means for the distribution grid to better plan for increased demand.  


Utilities are participating in energy storage programs 

Increased energy storage can allow EV drivers to charge at home from batteries that store abundant daytime solar and wind energy for later use.  

The Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) is a ratepayer-funded energy storage rebate program overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission and available to retail electric and gas customers of the major California investor-owned utilities. 

CSE administers the SGIP in the San Diego Gas & Electric service territory, which offers rebates to residential and nonresidential utility customers who install energy storage technologies. The goal is to reduce on-site electrical demand and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions during times when the grid may pull from dirtier resources. Another benefit of the program is to provide clean, reliable backup power for customers whose medical needs require uninterrupted electricity.  


Some new load will also be grid assets 

To prepare for a more electrified future, utilities need more understanding not only of how, where and when new demand will come, but also how clean technologies can be used as a grid resource. Incentive programs, including ones offered specifically to utility customers, can provide on-the-ground data. Coordinating EV, EV charging and distributed energy programs can help utilities reduce impacts of new load on the grid, address emissions responsible for climate change and better serve customers.