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Case Study

How can a public utility plan for EV growth when it could hurt the bottom line?


  • Electric Vehicles
  • Strategic Planning
  1. Identified long-term vision for the utility’s transportation electrification (TE) roadmap.
  2. Crafted a prioritized matrix of customized strategies, using utility tools, to achieve long-term goals.
  3. Developed deep-dive resources on key topics in transportation electrification, including public fast charging, electric vehicles (EV) rates, and electric transit bus technologies.

About the Client

The client is a public utility with some of the lowest electric rates in the nation. As EV registrations approach 5% of new vehicle sales, and the state legislature provides new direction of utility involvement in transportation electrification, the utility seeks to develop a comprehensive roadmap for TE strategy.

The Situation

Thanks to abundant hydropower resources, our client produces a significant share of their revenues through sales of surplus generation. The utility uses that revenue to reduce rates for customers within the service area. However, this means that added system load from EVs reduces the amount of surplus power the utility can sell on the wholesale market. Where most utilities can easily encourage EV growth as new load puts downward pressure on rates, our client sees the exact opposite effect. The utility seeks to reduce negative rate impacts to non-participating customers, while staying ahead of customer interests in a market where EVs are starting to grow.

Our Approach

EMI Consulting used a strategic planning framework to develop a long-term roadmap for transportation electrification, and near-term actions the utility can take to begin implementing the plan. First, we assessed the current state of utility planning and strategy, the EV market nationally and locally, policy drivers, and consumer perception using primary and secondary research.

Second, based on interviews with the utility’s executive team and line-of-business staff, we identified a future-state vision and guiding principles for transportation electrification. We conducted a SWOT analysis on those principles to identify Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats to achieving those goals, and interviewed key external stakeholders to gain perspective on light-duty and fleet electrification needs.

Informed by the current state and the SWOT analysis, we developed a series of strategies, sub-strategies, and concrete actions that the client could employ to build toward those goals. These strategies were based on existing utility tools: rate design and incentives, infrastructure, and customer or stakeholder engagement. We conducted a workshop with staff to review and prioritize the strategic approaches and chart the path forward.

Finally, we provided a set of tools to evaluate rate impacts of EV charging and track EV adoption, as well as topical deep-dives on key areas of interest regarding the EV market.

The Result

Our research and prioritized strategic roadmap will help our client take initial steps toward incorporating transportation electrification into its utility planning and customer programs, complementing their already robust energy conservation portfolio. While many utilities around the country are pursuing similar new EV programs to develop public or home charging infrastructure and new rate designs to promote fuel savings, our client’s business model required a more tailored approach to support customers while promoting equity and avoiding rate impacts to all customers. The strategic plan we developed with our client will help ensure their future EV initiatives support customer needs while considering their unique business constraints and the policy environment they operate within.

Interested in learning more?

Contact us to talk with a team member.

(206) 621-1160

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