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Corporate Actions Playbook

The following represents an initial release of the ZEROgrid Playbook, a living document that will be expanded and revised over time to reflect new insights.

Grid-Enhancing EV Charging Infrastructure 

Context: Why is it important to companies?  

Electric vehicles (EVs) are driving the decarbonization of the transportation sector and, assuming ongoing advancements and fast adoption, could constitute over 60% of global car sales by 2030. This represents a major driver of load growth. RMI analysis estimates that the number of light-duty EVs will grow from 2 million in 2023 to 44 million in 2030, adding an annual demand of ~200 TWh to the US electric grid — roughly the total annual electricity consumption of Spain. 

The implications of managing the transition to smart EV charging infrastructure are profound. A mismanaged transition risks escalating grid costs due to capacity and transmission and distribution expansion, curbing EV adoption and its associated emissions reductions, and jeopardizing grid reliability. Conversely, an adeptly managed rollout of smart, grid-supportive EV charging can curtail the need for grid upgrades, boost EV adoption (lowering operational costs and Scope 1 emissions for fleets), and provide essential services to enhance the integration of renewables. This approach not only supports a more resilient grid but also propels us toward a sustainable transportation future. 

Large companies have several important roles to play in encouraging the shift to EV charging policies, technologies, and rate structures that support clean, reliable grid decarbonization. One key step is for companies to accurately track and forecast their EV charging needs over time and communicate these needs to their electric utility to support proactive, efficient planning. This topic is discussed in more detail in the Proactive Load Growth Planning implementation guide. The remainder of this guide will focus on how companies can engage in policy conversations and stakeholder engagement actions to support deployment of grid-enhancing EV charging infrastructure.  

Challenges: What obstacles should companies expect to encounter? 

When engaging in policy conversations to support smart EV charger deployment, companies, particularly charging companies that are partnering with utilities to plan for expanded adoption, can expect the following key challenges.  

Financial Viability and Equity Concerns. Deploying EV chargers, particularly fast chargers with grid-enhancing capabilities to support public charging needs, is critical to enabling EV adoption and addressing issues around range anxiety, as well as providing visibility and flexibility to the grid. However, it can be difficult to justify the investment in chargers, especially in areas with low population density and low utilization of chargers. When these investments are made, it can also be challenging to structure the business models to avoid creating an additional burden on low-income and disadvantaged communities. 

Regulatory Constraints on Rate Design. EV chargers often have high power (kW or MW) requirements but can suffer from periods of low usage, which can lead to high utility bills based on existing rate structures. As a result, creating new utility rates that allow for profitable operation of these chargers is a critical component to accelerating smart EV charger deployment, particularly Level 3 chargers. However, developing and implementing new rates can be a lengthy process, often spanning multiple years. Disruptive rate design mechanisms, such as Level 3 EV charger rates may require extra coordination to avoid imposing significant new costs on ratepayers. While a “demand charge holiday” could sometimes offer a transient, stopgap remedy, the industry must also work to identify longer-term strategies.  

Solutions: What should companies do? 

The Evolution of EV Infrastructure at General Motors

GM’s engagement with EV infrastructure deployment has evolved over time to encompass both facility operations and strategic policy engagement.  

Launched in 2019, GM’s workplace charging program has undergone rapid evolution, shifting from a static approach of allocating a fixed number of chargers per facility to a dynamic, data-driven strategy. This transition, fueled by historical usage data and projections of EV adoption, has improved efficiency and supported proactive infrastructure planning. 

When expanding the program, one key challenge for GM was integrating EV charging infrastructure with existing facilities. Traditionally, parking lots have not been designed to support large power loads, making it costly to install electrical upgrades and chargers. Another challenge is the long lead times for equipment delivery and construction. These challenges can be mitigated by mobile chargers as interim solutions, working with utilities on proactive planning, and implementing a data-driven strategy.  

GM is entering the next phase of workplace charging by focusing on installing chargers at high-demand locations and investigating new systems that increase the functionality of the charger network. In the future, GM looks to incorporate demand flexibility into its operations and explore V2G technologies. This would involve utilizing smart charging strategies to optimize charging schedules and reduce peak demand, thereby helping to enhance grid stability. Simultaneously, GM is exploring V2G technology where EVs could supply energy back to the grid as dynamic energy storage solutions contributing to grid reliability during peak times. 

To build upon and complement this work, GM has been actively engaging in policy discussions and advocacy efforts to create a supportive policy environment for EV infrastructure deployment and ongoing operation. GM’s policy work has focused on engaging utilities and state regulators in business model and rate design discussions, influencing the development of National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure programs, and participating in public utility commission hearings to explain the need for fast charging and the proactive role utilities must play in investing in the necessary improvements in transmission and distribution to support rapid deployment of chargers.  

Policy and Engagement

Companies can focus on the following policy and engagement actions to support wider deployment of smart EV charging infrastructure: 

  • Engage utilities and state regulators in business model and rate design discussions: To support smart EV charging infrastructure expansion, discussions with utilities and state regulators should focus on effective rate design strategies. The Rate Design for EV Fast Charging: Demand Charges white paper by the Alliance for Transportation Electrification recommends approaches like temporary demand charge relief and incentives based on station utilization. These solutions aim to address the economic challenges of deploying commercial EV charging stations, balancing the need for cost-effective infrastructure with the growing demands of the EV market. 
  • Engage in policy conversations around creating regulatory environment to realize V2G potential: To harness the full potential of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technologies, it is essential for companies to engage in policy dialogues that advocate for the deployment and fair valuation of distributed energy resources, including bi-directional EV chargers. Key focus areas should include promoting technology-neutral policies, ensuring fair compensation for V2G services, and supporting regulations that align V2G initiatives with broader goals of grid resilience and sustainability. Additionally, fostering transparent market access and prioritizing customer-centric policies are crucial steps to facilitate the widespread adoption and effective operation of V2G technologies.  
  • Create coalitions with peers: Foster partnerships and provide support for smaller contractor fleets to facilitate their transition to electric vehicles, including integration of best practices around flexible charging, shared investments in EV charging infrastructure, and collaborative planning for electrification strategies. A notable example is the ChargeScape initiative, a collaborative effort by BMW Group, Ford Motor Company, and American Honda Motor Co., Inc. Utilizing the Open Vehicle-Grid Integration Platform, ChargeScape connects electric utilities, automakers, and EV customers to streamline energy management.