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If electric vehicles are the future, your cooperative will be ready

Oct 10, 2022

Electric vehicles (EVs), and the emergence of new charging technologies, will increase demand on electric providers nationwide. Unprepared providers might struggle to manage higher loads, leading to higher electric costs and stressed infrastructure.

Look no further than the state of California. Residents were warned in September of potential rolling blackouts and asked to conserve energy during late afternoon peaks (when, as it happens, the renewable energy that the state increasingly employs is less reliable). Californians were asked to delay electric vehicle charging. So, after introducing more electric vehicles into their power grid and banning the sale of new gas-operated vehicles by 2035, California has proven it cannot manage the demand electric vehicles place on the state’s system.

Your cooperative, however, will be prepared.

While it’s clear that EVs have grown in prominence in Alabama and Florida, PowerSouth – member-owned and member-focused – is working to balance the arrival of EVs with the 24/7 promise of reliable, affordable power. Why? To avoid ending up in a situation like the one we’re seeing in California, where reliable power is apparently not a major concern.  

PowerSouth is not anti-EV. If implemented responsibly and planned for, EVs can certainly be a great decision for some buyers and a potential economic boon to state and local economies.

Blake Hardwich, Executive Director of the Energy Institute of Alabama, confirms as much.

“EVs will be at the forefront of change to Alabama, the nation’s fourth largest auto-manufacturing state,” she says. “Alabama is positioning itself to capitalize on this new era in EV technology. Gov. Ivey and the Alabama Legislature have provided funding, incentives and resources to take advantage of this emerging industry.”

Indeed, they have. Hardwich mentions 18 grants from 2021, totaling more than $4.1 million, to finance installation of EV charging stations across the state… “a critical component to alleviating range anxiety and increasing EV adoption in Alabama.” In addition to grants, there have also been huge private investments in the state’s EV market.

PowerSouth and the Alabama Rural Electric Association (AREA) have been actively involved in the development of The Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs’ (ADECA) updated EV Infrastructure Plan, which should help the state take advantage of federal dollars allocated for public charging infrastructure. PowerSouth is also supporting the Alabama Mobility and Power (AMP) Center – a research and development hub for EVs at the University of Alabama.

In Florida, the EV market has experienced a growth in EV sales and the installation of new chargers, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.

Florida is currently second in the nation for EV adoption and in direct current fast chargers (DCFCs), offering more than 1,300 publicly available DCFC ports. Since 2020, the number of available DCFCs has increased by 55 percent.

These numbers show that EVs are here. The technology is improving, and people are buying these vehicles. Again: PowerSouth isn’t anti-EV. But rushing to implement new technologies with no caution and no plan is the surest way to do irreparable damage. Pairing forced EV adoption with unreliable, renewable energy is simply not the correct way to proceed.  PowerSouth cautions against such hasty actions on renewable energy that might prevent us from making the most economic and reliability-focused decisions in generation planning.

With Alabama and Florida poised to take advantage of EV technology, this is a critical time for cooperatives to understand what investments will be needed to meet the basic charging infrastructure needs associated with electric vehicles, and help support consumer education around EVs. This is a time for PowerSouth to focus on safety, reliability and affordability and make decisions accordingly.

The cooperative mission has always been to increase quality of life for communities, and cooperatives want their members to make choices that benefit themselves and their families. If the right choice is an electric vehicle, PowerSouth’s system will be ready.

I hope you have a good month.

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