Electric vehicle (EV) fleets are expanding exponentially, and advocacy for adopting sustainable sources of energy is increasing rapidly across the U.S. For EV developers, communities and transit agencies wanting more transit electrification, it's important to keep in mind what kind of challenges are involved in altering an aging power grid to meet growing demand. To tackle concerns and identify opportunities, it's important for utilities and transit agencies to work together and build a common understanding of the complex issues involved in transforming the grid.

Understanding Potential Concerns and Mitigation Strategies From a Utility Perspective

To fulfill the growing demand of charging stations for transit vehicles, utilities must minimize potential impact to the grid and enhance customer experience. They are not just evaluating public transit electrification; they are challenged with forecasting and evaluating electrification across the entire system. Grid impact is a major concern with the advancing EV market because of the diverse types of EV participants — public/private fleets, public charging stations, residential charging and more — that will grow significantly in number in the coming years. This would involve more detailed planning and better forecasting.

Any challenges related to communication and management should be addressed before the power grid is modified to support charging of EVs. Additionally, consistency, safety and utilization of grid resources and power should be considered during the design process.

When and Why Should Transit Agencies Engage With the Local Electric Utility?

Timely communication between local utilities and transit agencies is extremely important for a grid modernization project to be successful. This helps the parties focus on critical issues such as reliability, data management, security and more. Transit agencies should involve the utility from the beginning of the project, giving them sufficient time to evaluate equipment, transformers, conductors and system components required for powering the electric stations, and to calculate the return on investment.

As EVs continue to transform the U.S. transportation fueling system, there is a lot of dependency on a power grid that supports these changes. Meticulous planning, analysis and incorporation can create a more seamless transition and increased opportunity for utilities and transit agencies.

 

Learn more about forecasting, utility peak demand and the long-term impacts of EV charging.

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Kory Sandven is a project manager at 1898 & Co., part of Burns & McDonnell. He specializes in developing business strategies with a focus on data integration around system planning, particularly involving infrastructure for system improvement planning, reliability planning and technology adoptions.