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Pepco Holdings promotes EVs in Northeast

Posted on Aug 06, 2020 by Austin Tannenbaum

If you are an electric vehicle enthusiast and one of Pepco Holdings, Inc.’s (PHI) 1.9 million eastern seaboard customers, you have a lot to look forward to. The Exelon subsidiary operates in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and Washington DC and is bringing substantial EV initiatives to each state.

Electric Car Insider spoke with EVsmart Program Manager Jennifer Grisham and Marketing Programs Manager Nate Gillespie to get the specifics.

Our conversation began with a discussion of Time of Use (TOU) rates, which reward customers that recharge during off-peak demand hours. Grisham gave the example of PHI’s Managed Charging PID program, which employs a TOU rate specific to EV charging. The program services 137 customers across the Maryland service territory and is an extension of PHI’s successful 2014-2016 pilot program that held demand response events to reduce charging output at times of high demand. Currently, ChargePoint and Siemens chargers are approved for the program, with additional residential chargers on the way as PIH finalizes negotiations with multiple vendors.

PHI also offers robust commercial charging incentives for property owners and fleet managers. Applicants fill out a form detailing their site information and undergo a site inspection. If approved, they will receive a 50 percent discount on eligible chargers and up to $7,500 in installation costs. In addition, owners of multi-family dwellings, workplaces, and fleets that install a fast charger on their premises will receive a 50 percent reduction in demand charges through 2023 via a monthly usage credit.

Apart from outright discounts and credits, fleet owners may also receive an electricity rate reduction at PHI-branded public chargers. The current electricity rate at public chargers is 34 cents per kWh. Fleet owners who own at least five EVs registered in the state are eligible for a 25 percent discount off of that base rate. Approved fleet owners are given an RFID card that will apply the discount at Pepco and Delmarva chargers.

PHI has ambitious plans to build out its public charging infrastructure on the eastern seaboard—an area currently deficient in charging stations. Over the next four years, PHI will install an estimated 350 chargers: 250 in the Pepco service territory and 100 in Delmarva service territory. PHI’s sister utility, Baltimore Gas & Electric Company (BG&E), will undergo a 500-charger initiative over the same period. PHI will enlist local assistance to install the chargers while retaining ownership and control; a decision Grisham stated was based on the desire to guarantee reliability to PHI’s customers. PHI has selected Shell subsidiary Greenlots to be the network provider for its stations.

Direct incentives constitute only half of PHI’s EV promotion efforts. The other half is dedicated to outreach and education. Gillespie stated that in addition to traditional advertising, PHI endeavors to attract EV-curious customers to its website, which offers helpful information and tools to help prospective EV owners figure out if EVs are right for them. PHI also attends in-person gatherings such as the National Drive Electric Week (NDEW); last year, staff members participated in four NDEW events in the PHI service territory to spread the word about PHI’s EV initiatives. PHI also sponsored the Washington Auto Show from January to February of 2020 and ran a five-vehicle EV test drive booth for attendees. Gillespie reported that PHI had about 2,200 interactions and at least 300 test drives and emphasized the initiative’s importance in promoting EV ownership:

“We realized that being in the community is critical to have a face where somebody can come and ask questions and to walk them through what it is like to own an EV.”

PHI parent company Exelon will convert 30 percent of its utility fleets to electric by 2025 and 50 percent by 2030.