The digital utility era is now: Charging ahead with EV analytics

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Note: Today’s utility industry is in upheaval. All of the assumptions the business has run on have been turned on their heads. This post is the second in a three-part series looking at how analytics are helping utilities navigate this challenging landscape and find new opportunities for improvements in operations, customer satisfaction and revenue.

Electric vehicles can’t seem to stay out of the headlines. Whether it's Elon Musk being, well, Elon Musk, or reports on the growing number of EVs on the road, EVs will soon become less of a novelty and more the norm. Let’s consider one challenge and one opportunity as the utility industry prepares for this new dynamic (yes, vehicle-to-grid is also a use case with much potential, but is a bit further out in terms of practical and widespread adoption).

The main challenge utilities face with the growing number of EVs is grid stability and reliability in taking on new loads -- especially during peak times. Will EV owners use a conventional 110-volt charge? How many will use high-speed charging stations, which draw considerably more power? There are challenges to managing this new dynamic. Depending on the existing load of a residence, adding an EV to the mix could double or triple a residential load.

Analytics will be key in meeting these grid reliability needs. Real- to near-real-time scheduling of charging based on models could turn this challenge into a benefit ... spreading out the load.

But the EV story for electric utilities is more than just navigating the challenges. EVs represent the first significant growth opportunity utilities have had in a long time, arguably decades. In an era of flat or declining revenues, this should be the EV headline in the utility industry.

The figure below shows the business opportunities for utilities as the EV footprint grows. Utility leaders need to capitalize on these new business opportunities, something utilities have not traditionally done well. But this is one opportunity that sets up nicely for the industry. Generating and distributing power? Check. Good at building out electric infrastructure? Check. Good at navigating a highly regulated market? Check. Good at marketing to and engaging customers? Might need some work on that one.

Electric Vehicle Business Model Lanes*

How soon will we see a world filled with cars that are fueled by Duke Energy or PG&E instead of Chevron or Shell? Or utilities and automakers partnering on analytics to better serve their mutual customers? It may be sooner than you think.

To learn more about EV analytics, check out this white paper from SAS and Navigant: Charging Ahead with EV Analytics.

*Source: Navigant

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About Author

Mike F. Smith

Mike Smith is a 26-year veteran of the utility ‘smart grid’/IT/automation, information services and media business, and is currently the Utilities Principal Industry Consultant for SAS, where he is involved in client engagement, thought leadership, and business development activities to drive growth of the business unit. Immediately prior to joining SAS, Mike was Vice President, Sales & Marketing at E Source. He was previously Vice President, Utility Analytics Institute where he has been responsible for product development, business development, and growth of the division. Mike is a graduate of San Jose State University (BA, Economics) and is a veteran of the US Army (Captain, Infantry).

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