Webinar: Utilities, Commissions, and State DOTs: Working Together to Deploy EV Charging (Text Version)
This is a text version of the webinar Utilities, Commissions, and State DOTs: Working Together to Deploy EV Charging presented on March 21, 2023.
Stephen Lommele, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Hello, everyone. Welcome to today's webinar. We're going to get started in just a second. Thanks, everyone, for joining. We're going to get started here in just a second. Hi, everyone, thanks so much for joining us today. I'm Steve Lommele, I'm the interim communications and education lead for the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, and I'm going to be facilitating today's webinar.
Today's webinar is focused on Utilities, Commissions, and State DOTs: Working Together to Deploy EV Charging. So, we've got some great panelists that you're going to be hearing from in a minute, and they're going to be sharing their experiences around deploying EV charging infrastructure. Before we get started, I'd just like to cover a few housekeeping points.
So, first of all, we are going to be taking questions via the chat today. So the controls are located at the bottom of your screen. And if they aren't appearing, you can hover your mouse over the bottom edge and you should be able to see the Q&A feature to be able to submit questions. And it's the Q&A window right there at the bottom of your screen. And today's webinar is going to be recorded. So, we're going to be recording this webinar and posting the recording on the joint office website, driveelectric.gov. We may also use it internally.
So, if you speak today during the webinar or use video, you are presumed to consent to recording and use of your voice and image. Again, we will be posting these slides on driveelectric.gov, so you will be able to view the slides and the webinar at a later date and of course, if you sign up for our email newsletter on driveelectric.gov, you'll get an announcement when the recording is posted. So, make sure that you all have an opportunity to view the recording afterwards.
So, our agenda for today is we're going to do a quick introduction from our executive director, Gabe Klein. And then, hopefully, hear from Chris Irwin with EVGrid Assist at the U.S. Department of Energy. I've got a few polling questions just to get a sense of today's audience and then I'll do introductions of our panelists, and we'll have a facilitated conversation among the panelists. And, again, I'm look forward to taking all of your questions, which will hopefully make this a lively and interactive opportunity for all of you to engage with today's panelists.
So at this point, I'd like to introduce our executive director, Gabe Klein. Gabe is the Executive Director of the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation. And previously, he served as the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation and director of the Washington DC Department of Transportation, where he revamped technology platforms and government processes, while focusing on putting people versus cars first on city streets. So, this included launching two of the first and largest solar powered bikeshare systems in the country and building protected bike lanes and better pedestrian infrastructure for vulnerable citizens citywide, as well as facilitating private services like carshare and rideshare to support the city's mobility goals. Gabe, thanks so much for joining us today, and I'll turn it over to you.
Gabriel Klein, Joint Office of Energy and Transportation: Great, thank you, Steve, Justin, Bridget, and the whole team, for putting this together. A core part of our role here at the Joint Office is to gather benchmarks—learnings from around the country, even outside of the country—and then to quickly share and figure out how we can benefit the most number of people. And I know we titled this with state DOTs, but with the CFI grants having just gone out, I would say if you're an MPO, if you're a city DOT, this will also be very helpful to you as well. And we really appreciate all of you taking the timeout on a Tuesday to join us, to hear from our great speakers, to share what they've learned.
I'm really impressed. We've had, I think, over 500 people registered. We've already got 300 people on, which is just excellent. And, again, props to our team for ramping it up and starting a webinar series weekly, although, this week I think we have four. So they're really doing quadruple duty.
I also want to mention that on top of these webinars, we're really working hard on a lot of fronts to accelerate this electrified transportation system to make sure that it's frictionless, and convenient, and reliable, and affordable, and accessible, and equitable. And whether we're looking at a national network, or you're thinking about your town, or your city, it's going to require a lot of local and regional coordination to serve the nation. In other words, it takes a village to build a national EV network.
Again, we're here to support, provide technical assistance. Any questions you have outside of this webinar, you can also go to driveelectric.gov. And we really believe in radical collaboration. We think it's crucial to the work we're doing, that you're doing.
And I'm really excited to introduce one of the smartest people, I think, in the Department of Energy, which is half of our office is DOE and half is DOT. And that is Chris Irwin, Program Manager for Transactive Energy, Communications, and Interoperability, in Smart Grid. Tell me that's not an awesome title. [LAUGHING]
And he and they are doing great work envisioning how electric vehicles will fit into the future of our electric grid. And I'm so interested in this topic. I'm going to stay for the entire webinar myself to learn from Chris and all of our other speakers. So, over to you, Chris.
Chris Irwin, U.S. Department of Energy: Excellent. So, can you hear me, Gabe?
Gabriel Klein: Yes, perfectly.
Chris Irwin: Good, good. So, it's excellent to be here and it's like—I think that we've already sort of acknowledged—is that transport electrification is sort of a society-wide endeavor, is that it's really going to transform a lot of different ways that we operate our society. And so, we sort of know already the number of entities, and organizations, and government elements, and things like that are going to be involved in the transition. And we've definitely been doing our part within the Department of Energy to recognize that same thing, is that we have the Office of Electricity that I work for and I'm responsible for electric grid research and development.
We have the Vehicle Technologies Office, part of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, looking at electrified transportation. We have cybersecurity offices. So, really, we recognize this, that all of us are going to be working on this challenge in our own ways and we need a way to make sure that we're as consistent as possible, that we're not reinventing anybody's wheels and that we're being as collaborative inside the building as we're asking everyone else to be collaborative outside of the building, as we go through this.
So that's really the mindset that I come into with this one, is, if there is a very grid-specific question that can be answered or research topic that can be pursued, I want the Office of Electricity to do its part and be a good neighbor for the Joint Office. We have an incredible opportunity and, really, just here to talk about that but really, hopefully, hear back about the things that we're headed towards. That's it for now.
Stephen Lommele: Great. Thanks so much, Chris and Gabe. Really delighted to have you both on and sharing some of the important resources that are available through the Joint Office as well as EVGrid Assist and the U.S. Department of Energy. So, thank you so much. What we're going to do now is some quick polling questions just to get a sense of our audience, and then I'll introduce you all to our panelists for today.
So, Justin, if you could pull up our first polling question, please. We're interested in understanding what sector you're from. So, if you can answer your question here, we'll get some results. Great. It looks like we've got a bunch of folks from state government as well as local and federal governments, and then some folks from the nonprofit sector.
Thanks so much, Justin. Can you advance to the next poll question please? Perfect. And another question here focused on, what region of the country are you from? Looks like we've got a pretty good mix. Folks from the Northeast, Southeast, upper, almost all across the country, that's wonderful. Give folks just another second here, Justin, and then you can end this poll and we'll look at those results too. Great. And a lot of people are on today, so thank you all for joining us.
All right. Thanks, Justin. We can go ahead and close that poll. Got good representation from across the country.
So, now I want to introduce our panelists. So, Chris talked a lot about the importance of collaboration across entities at the federal level. Today we're highlighting three perspectives. We've got a utility, a public utility commission, and a DOT. So, really great opportunity to kind engage with people who are responsible for transportation, electrification, and interaction with the grid from a variety of entities.
First, we've got Kaleb Vander Wiele. Kaleb is from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation and is the department's transportation electrification project manager. Kaleb has served in a variety of roles at WisDOT that have allowed him to focus on regulatory issues and policy development. In his current role in the Division of Budget and Strategic Initiatives, he has been tasked with leading WisDOT's effort and preparing for the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, or the NEVI Formula Program.
And then we've got Cathleen Lewis. So, Cathleen serves as the manager of e-mobility programs for the Office of Clean Energy at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. In this role, Cathleen oversees all EV-related programs at the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, including the Charge Up New Jersey EV Incentive Program, the Framework for the Utility's Role in EV Charging, and furthering of EV goals included in the 2019 Energy Master Plan. Cathleen utilizes her experience in transportation and charging driver behavior to increase EV adoption in all sectors. And prior to joining the BPU, Cathleen created and implemented policies that invested in infrastructure, encouraged safe sustainable and multimodal transportation, and invested in economic development.
And then finally, we've got Brian Wike. Brian is the Director of the New York Transport Electrification at National Grid, and his work focuses on project origination and development. Previously, he served as a program manager for the New York Wholesale Regulatory Strategy representing National Grid at the New York Independent System Operator, where he focused on wholesale market policy transmission, development, and regulatory strategy. Prior to joining National Grid, Brian was a project manager at Con Edison, and in that role he represented Con Edison at the NYISO and PGM, and worked on transmission development and energy policy. Brian began his energy career at the New York Power Authority and the Office of the CEO followed by other roles focused on energy policy, wholesale market strategy, and electric transportation.
So, thank you to our panelists, again, today for joining us. So excited to have you. And I just wanted to note that the Joint Office is working here to convene subject matter experts. So we're not necessarily endorsing any of the approaches by the individual panelists today, but we do recognize their subject matter expertise and they have a lot of great insight and information to share. So, with that, we're going to start off with some initial questions.
I'd like to ask each of the panelists to just describe your organization's role and responsibilities in deploying EV charging infrastructure and how you're coordinating cost, the DOT, utilities, and public utility commissions. So with that, we'll go ahead and start with Kaleb.
Kaleb Vander Wiele, WisDOT Division of Budget and Strategic Initiatives: Thank you so much, Steve. So, with the State of Wisconsin's approach to electric vehicles, we really began our coordination on the topic in preparation for the NEVI Program. This is, again—this has been foundational to us and WisDOT has been the lead state agency in preparation for the program. And we took, initially, three distinct actions that support our work towards the NEVI Program. First of all, we worked with a partnering agency in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. While WisDOT supported the plan development for NEVI, at WEDC we conducted an economic and supply chain analysis that really aligns our local industries preparing for EV.
The second thing that the state did was led the formation of an electrification steering committee, which brought together all of our state agencies that either have a technical or a regulatory role in EV charging, including our Public Service Commission, our Department of Trade, Agriculture, Consumer Protection, and our Department of Natural Resources.
The third thing that the state initially did surrounding the EV topic and EV is significant stakeholder outreach. This began with the preliminary EV guidance in February of 2022. We've, specifically, as a state, focused on the utility space, including meetings with our investor utilities, our co-ops, and many of our municipal co-ops.
We've also—at that time, we began discussions with industry and potential site hosts, where we think we're going to deliver these projects. And then we've also had a significant focus on coordinating with our supporting local governments. Overall, WisDOT's formative approach has been an attempt to develop the program in a collaborative space. This has really helped us identify what our challenge areas are as a state, and I'll talk about those in a little bit, but it's also really been a platform for successful plan development for the program.
Stephen Lommele: Great. Thanks, Kaleb. And same question to you Cathleen, if you could talk about your role and responsibilities in deploying EV charging infrastructure and how you've coordinated across entities in New Jersey.
Cathleen Lewis, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities: Sure.
Stephen Lommele: Go ahead.
Cathleen Lewis: Sure. I think our coordination started long before we got to NEVI, and I think we have been planning and trying to move towards that and be prepared for it when it came. I started at the Board in 2020, right as the pandemic started, and started picking up our programs. We were fortunate that we had a great infrastructure for that collaboration. Our DEP had been giving out EV charger grants for almost 10 years at that point.
And we had a governor, and we still have a governor, who had already created a Partnership to Plug-In, which really pulled together the DEP, BPU, DOT, and the EDA—so, economic development folks—to start looking at that transportation electrification early on. And so, when I came on board, I focused a lot on making sure that the utility piece fit in with all of those pieces and we look to understand each other. And so, we worked with the utilities and created utility-specific programs that were designed to work with what we hoped would be a future national program. And so, that meant that we created programs that allowed for utilities to cover the make-ready and we shifted all of our state programs to cover chargers so that they would stack easily with each other and start to prepare for a lot of the evaluation that would need to happen: Creating maps that showed capacity, all of those pieces.
And so, my job today is really to continue fostering that coordination. We've done that with our NEVI team as well. And then to make sure that our utilities are not only offering those incentives, but that those incentives are getting out there. And then looking towards the next phase of electrification. So for us here in New Jersey, that's the medium- and heavy-duty pieces that we're going to get to next.
Stephen Lommele: Great. Thanks, Cathleen. And then Brian, what has your experience been from the utility side in New York?
Brian Wike, National Grid: So, we as an electric utility doing business in New York, in Massachusetts, on the regulated side, have supported transportation electrification for the last five years. We as a company are electrifying our entire light-duty, medium-, heavy-duty fleet over the next 12 to 15 years or so. So, we're both experiencing as a customer and as a utility that are accommodating these plans that have been put together so thoughtfully by the states. We also recognize that we're very good at planning and building electric infrastructure but know very little about transportation planning. So about two and a half years ago, we started communicating with the New York State Department of Transportation and Massachusetts State Department Transportation, and I would say, with all due respect to my colleagues here, they weren't ready to have a conversation with us.
And I also would say that we found it difficult to kind of speak the same language. I don't know if the folks in New Jersey, in Wisconsin, found that to be true in their early days, but we think about things on a 10-, to 20-, to 40-, 50-year time frame as we build infrastructure that sticks around that long and even longer. And so it was hard, I think, for the DOTs to just solve getting those plans in, getting the approval and the money in a timely fashion, while also keeping an eye on the sort of MHDB sector as well as the next wave that was coming. So, I think, we've really tried to bridge the gap between transportation planning and the power sector. And I think we've done that successfully through our customer programs, our make-ready programs, that sort of add to and sort of lay on top nicely the NEVI funding that's come to our states.
But I do think there is a little bit of a chicken and egg thing here and there's also a need, I think, for regulators and state agencies to bring utilities into the room. We didn't see that in the first NEVI plans that were submitted. We know we have another opportunity, and we think we've found good partners in Massachusetts, in New York DOT that developed closer relationship with them, but the utilities have a really dense and specific understanding of our systems. And so, without having utilities in the room as you're putting together NEVI plans, I think you'll end up perhaps not being able to be as cost-effective and thoughtful with the money that comes from the federal government, and that the Joint Office has made available. So just as a utility plug it's selfish, but for those states that are still trying to figure out who to engage with the utilities, I would say, bring them into the room as you're trying to make decisions about how your NEVI plans sort of work and how to effectuate them earlier on. That would be, that'd be our learning.
Stephen Lommele: OK. Maybe as a follow up to that for all of you, when you're talking about bringing utilities into the room and connecting with DOTs, what should be the focus of the conversation?
Brian Wike: Yeah. I'll just start and then I'd love to hear from Kaleb and others. I think for us, we can tell you how long it takes for us to build things. Like, what is a reasonable interconnection time frame to think about other—they'll be—these things are very site-specific, as I'm sure we're all learning. There is no rule of thumb for interconnection. Every single longitude and latitude is going to be different based on the dynamics of the system, what's happening on our distribution system, what's happening on our transmission system.
But we can give you an idea. And we can also—in our case, we provided all of the underlying analysis for our highway electrification study to our state agencies. It may have been too dense for them to dig through it and maybe that was our problem. But I think that we can share and open up information to you all that we wouldn't be able to share, necessarily, with an individual interconnecting customer because of our obligation to serve load on an unbiased basis, but first agencies and authorities, we kind of treat you specially. So that's the kind of thing I think that would help inform NEVI plans to be as thoughtful, and as forward-looking, and as cost-effective as possible. That'd be my advice.
Cathleen Lewis: So, I think that one of the things that folks need to think about first and foremost is being open to understanding that people don't understand your systems. I came from a transportation background and I came over to the energy side and we have learned a lot from each other. Whether it is explaining to people how medium- and heavy-duty trucks aren't all owned by just one big fleet and how it doesn't work that way, to understanding the underlying implications of the grid. And so, I think one of the very first things that's been really helpful is having partners that are going to be willing to answer those questions and also having—I often refer to myself as a translator because I get to tap into all the energy knowledge in my office and then, sort of, make it easier to understand for other folks. But I think that some of the questions we started with were, well, if there's not energy, just put a solar panel on it. And a lot of people thought that was an actual solution to the problem. And being able to not just say, no, that doesn't work, but explaining those infrastructures and how many solar panels you need to actually do that is important. I spent a lot of time with my DOT talking about the implications of how much energy we're looking at so that they can understand what it is that we're providing. Thinking about not just the fact that, "Well, it's just four stations," versus "It's the same amount of power you need for 100 houses." That changes the dynamics of that conversation. And so, having those conversations early on is really important so folks understand the implications of what this is going to be.
Kaleb Vander Wiele: From the WisDOT perspective, in preparing for EV, we're leaving, kind of, a very formulaic approach to utility upgrades. Most of our utility interactions, as a department, happen within the right of light and very fixed loads, fixed costs, things that we commonly understand in the transportation space. I like to joke that a lot of my background is outdoor advertising and highway access. And when we move into the EV space and now we're dealing with variable loads, variable types of upgrades, things that are really outside of our skill set from with the WisDOT perspective, there's still always a foundational need to ensure that we're asking the right questions, to ensure that we're going to be able to collect the necessary information to be able to support these projects.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah, Kaleb. Maybe there's a follow up to that as you think about your first round of funding for the NEVI Program and your initial EV deployment plan. What has been particularly helpful in engaging with the utility commission or your local utilities in terms of identifying where you're going to be putting infrastructure?
Kaleb Vander Wiele: Absolutely. So, I think this goes back to the collaborative space that we've been utilizing to prepare for an EV. We've been working extremely closely with our Public Service Commission. So a core component of our approach and our program is going to be the information that they've provided us to ensure that when we get to releasing a program, that we are requesting the correct information of utilities, that the site hosts understand what they're going to be responsible for in ensuring that those grid upgrades are happening at their location. So that collaboration at that interagency level is really our ability to meet this technical need when we do get to that point of having those applications.
Stephen Lommele: We have a question here from one of our attendees today asking about demand charges. And I think it's actually phrased really well. So, demand charges evolved long before transportation electrification and we're seeing their high impacts on public charging, whether DCFC or Level Two, particularly in rural, low-utilization areas. So given these are communities that the federal funding is targeting, how can we solve the obstacle that demand charges create to constructing viable privately run charging in these rural areas? What's the approach there?
Cathleen Lewis: So, I'll start. In New Jersey, we required, back in 2020, as part of our minimum filing requirements for each of our utilities when they did their light-duty public charging, to provide what we referred to as a demand charge solution. And so, we are now evaluating those solutions and the intent was that every charger that receives funding from the utility as well as from the state or federal funds is required to share data with us. And so, we will understand the charging behaviors and the charging needs, which will allow us to create better rate design in the future. But in the meantime, the utilities had to come up with a solution that they thought would make the demand charge issue resolve in the short term.
And so, three out of our four utilities have some sort of rebate. They are declining rebates, over five years, and each utility has a slightly different rate, and design to it, and cap based on their own usage and their own rates. And then the last utility has a negotiated rate of, I believe it's 10.9 cents instead of having a demand charge. And so, we are going to be evaluating those over the next couple of years, as well as the data so that we can come to a better solution.
Kaleb Vander Wiele: So, WisDOT's approach through the DB program has been a really substantial alternative fuel corridor system that includes all of our interstates and in our ability to designate routes. Last year we designated a significant series of rural state highways and U.S. highways. Overall, we have about 2,000 miles on our alternative fuel corridor system. In many of our rural counties and many of our northern counties, we have no publicly available charging stations.
So we have a distinct need to ensure that our program is supporting charging stations in rural areas. Where this makes a connection into demand charges is really, conceptually, the fact that it was stopped, we don't have a formal role in the utility rate making process, but we've worked substantially, again, with our Public Service Commission to understand what programs are currently in place in the state. And our PSC has taken a fairly aggressive role since 2019 to put in place time of day rates, demand rate discounts, and advantage charging pilots. And maybe we think all of these options are, hopefully, going to be supportive of, again, where we get to some of these more rural areas, where there's going to be lesser utilization to, hopefully, make them a reality.
Stephen Lommele: So, that seems like that's been, maybe, an opportunity to work with the utilities to understand what exists currently and then communicate to the regulators where you see potential hurdles and how that could be addressed through the regulatory process. Is that right, Kaleb?
Kaleb Vander Wiele: Absolutely.
Stephen Lommele: OK. And Cathleen, so, from a regulator standpoint, how do those conversations go do? Does the New Jersey Department of Transportation come to you and kind of outline those, or do you have to help them understand where there may be challenges? What's that look like?
Cathleen Lewis: So, I think our DOT has been great on working with us through NEVI and I think that that's much of their first foray into that public space. We had already required—for instance, on demand charges we'd already made those requirements back in 2020. And so, our demand charge solutions have already existed. So we've spent a lot of time talking to our DOTs and doing some of that education about how those work. And it also, from our perspective, hopefully, helps to make our NEVI money go a little bit further.
We have demand charge solutions. A lot of other states, when we have these conversations, are talking about whether the NEVI money should be utilized for those. Our utilities are required to already fund that, and so that's helpful.
Stephen Lommele: Brian, do you have anything to add?
Brian Wike: Demand charges, that's sticky, tricky ground to tread for a utility. I would say New York and Massachusetts, both of those states, we've come up with an alternative that, and I'll talk about Massachusetts, specifically, because it's simpler. One thing I would say for those thinking about demand charge alternatives: simple is your friend. Complex demand charge alternatives, I think, confuse everybody, including the utilities but especially developers who really just want certainty. If they're going to try to get bankrolled from a bank or an investor for a particular project, they need certainty and clarity. And if there's a lack of it or the formula is far too complicated, then it's going to hurt their chances of getting funding. So, just a note of caution for those. But in Massachusetts, we have a demand charge alternative program that was recently approved. And it basically allows us to offer our commercial EV charging customers a 10-year program. And that program provides a tiered demand charge which discounts based on their annual average load factor, with discounts applied for each customer with load factors up to 15%.
So, it's a time-bound offering. So it's a 10-year program and that provides that predictability and certainty that I was just talking about for our customers and also some significant and sufficient discount so that the cost per kilowatt hour is comparable to customers with higher load factors, and which ultimately just allows for accelerated DCFC investment and reduces the risk for deployment, particularly, in rural areas where it's a massive issue. I think every jurisdiction in the country is going to encounter that and I think it gets very weedy very quickly. And I recognize that some people don't even know what a load factor is, so this is why it's important for us to try to speak the same languages and for me to not use complicated utility speak.
But as a general matter, I do think things like demand charge holidays, I think, are not a bad idea as long as they sunset after maybe three or four years because that's just something that everyone can understand and is very clear as day, and also is time-bound so that some of our customers aren't subsidizing other customers, which is what basically getting rid of demand charges will do. So, just it's important for people to think about, would EV charging developers want to subsidize our industrial customers, for example? And I think the answer would probably be, no. But we are dealing with a nascent market here that needs support on the regulatory front.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah, absolutely. And maybe to get back to something that I think you all mentioned earlier to just understanding available capacity. Cathleen, I think you mentioned that, maybe, in New Jersey you're making capacity hosting maps available, that kind of thing. I'm just kind of curious, from each of you, how are you working to plan for available capacity and this additional load of EV charging? And how do we prebuild infrastructure to anticipate that demand? And then, how do we shorten the time to interconnect the charging infrastructure once it's developed?
Cathleen Lewis: So, yes, we do have capacity maps. Each of our utilities is required to provide those capacity maps and update them on a regular basis. And those, essentially, show up to a megawatt of capacity right now. We have a strong proposal for a medium- and heavy-duty filing that will also create sort of that medium- and heavy-duty capacity map and that will go significantly higher, but we are not quite there yet. Some of the other things that we have done as we start working with our utilities is we have a few of the utilities that have started to test out programs. We like to refer to them as red light/green light programs.
I think everybody who's tried to build or is trying to work with somebody who tries to build, it can take a really long time to understand if there's actually capacity at your site. And so, one of the things that we've tried to do to shorten that as part of application processes for specific grants is to create sort of a red light, green light, yellow light. So you get a green light within, hopefully, a couple of months that says, "Yeah, there's plenty of capacity, we'll continue to work with you." Red light goes, "Nope, there's nothing. You're going to have to spend a lot of money and time on this." And a yellow light tells you, "There are some problems and you can start working on these solutions."
And so, that makes that turnaround time a lot quicker because you're not waiting months, and months, and months, you're waiting, maybe, two to three months to see if that particular site works or what solutions you'd have to have for that. And then, lastly, again, in our medium and heavy-duty proposal, one of the things that we have done is we are talking to the utilities about creating technical assistance for EVs. It started out as fleet-specific but in our latest proposal it, actually adds on public charging that is greater than five megawatts. So, it's very specific to that NEVI—or sorry, 600 kilowatts. So it's very specific to that NEVI piece so that they can get that technical assistance on the front end and understand it early on.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah. That red light, green light, yellow light approach sounds really helpful. Is that something that you've seen develop in other parts of the country? And I'm curious, Brian and Kaleb, if you've had anything like that in your areas?
Kaleb Vander Wiele: So we took a little bit of a different approach. And, again, this is based off of the level of expertise we've had in the EV issue. And, again, this concept that it's a DOT coming into a traditional space of our Public Service Commission. So, what we did in our plan, which we call our Wisconsin Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan, is we try to presuppose general locations that may be more supportive of an EV-type charging project than others on the entirety of the system. Our overall system of, again, almost 2,000 miles of alternative fuel corridors.
What we did is we looked for exits and interchanges on those systems. Once there's a certain level of commercial activity at an exit or an interchange, based on the level of amenities that are present, we make a general assumption that we may be able to support a project at that location. When you're talking about a state that has, on these routes, a lot of very rural segments of these corridors, we make general assumptions that an exit or an interchange where there's no economic activity, that grid capacity is not going to be present at that location. So our plan really does situate around general assumptions, the level of economic activity at an area versus activity, and we can make a general assumption that grid capacity potentially exists. This will eventually transcend into, again, our grid capacity maps that we will utilize to support the program.
Stephen Lommele: OK. Yeah. So, again, the assumption is, if there is, currently, economic activity at a location with retail, gas stations, that kind of thing, then there's more likely to be capacity from a grid standpoint?
Kaleb Vander Wiele: That's the assumption we use.
Stephen Lommele: OK. Brian, how does that resonate with you? Similar approaches but from a utility standpoint. Does that carry over?
Brian Wike: Yeah. We think we encourage people to use our public EV hosting capacity maps in New York and Massachusetts, they're a really good place to sort of get that red light, green light, yellow light idea in your mind, I think. But like, we really just caution people that those are—they do not reflect the very current state of play in our service territory. We could have gotten load requests in the last month that would completely flip those on their head. So, developers then come and make a service request and said, well, when I checked the hosting capacity map three months ago, it said there might be one megawatt here. I was like, well, yeah. And in the interim we've gotten 10 requests for DCFC there.
So, very good starting point for developers, but does not substitute for just reaching directly out to your utility and start having a conversation, an informed conversation, and being very specific about what your site is going to look like in the very near term, the mid-term, and the long term. That's just one piece that I think—and Kaleb was talking about this a little bit. I think we, as a company, and me, individually, from a planning and product development standpoint, we're starting to think that the states, and the federal government, and utilities, in some ways, at least as it relates to public DC fast charging for both passenger vehicles and medium heavy-duty trucks, needs to take a stronger central planning role.
I think when you think about operating assets for the next 100 years the way we do, just letting chargers go up wherever some developer has a piece of property is not—I don't think the most useful way to utilize federal or state funds because those chargers will become zombie chargers and be useless to customers in the next like eight years in many cases. No one's going to maintain them. They're not in the right place for drivers. Just because someone wants to put something somewhere and use some public money for it, I don't think we should necessarily let that happen. That may be a controversial thing for a utility to say. But I do think there should be some sort of centralized planning function that gets driven into some of this stuff. It's not just wherever developer wants to put it, it's like, where do we as a given state, and utility, and state DOT, and all agencies think it's the right place to put it? Particularly, for highway fast charging and large public fast charging from [INAUDIBLE] sector, we can save you, and the state, and ratepayers $6 million a mile in transmission and $10 to $20 million per substation if we put it in a place where it actually makes sense as opposed to just somewhere up the road where someone else wants to put it.
So, I think there's some short term and mid-term solutions that were discussed by the other two panelists, which I think are great for developers and for states to utilize. I also think we should all take a step back and say, as a society, how do we drive cost out of transportation electrification and project development? And one of those ways is to take a more centralized planning function, pick the places where it makes sense from electric and transportation planning perspective, and then go build to meet in anticipation of those big loads that we know are going to materialize at those places. And then build once. Rather than a series of distribution upgrades over 10 years, do it one time. So, that's just food for thought for state DOTs and state regulators.
Stephen Lommele: So once you've kind of identified that sweet spot, where you have a location that you think is going to be utilized and you think you have the grid capacity, you still need to put in that service request and then start working with the utility to actually make the station happen. And I think we've heard from some stakeholders that they're experiencing 12-to-24-month lead times in terms of getting those new service requests approved. So, how do we streamline that so that the connection and agreement process moves fast enough? And what are some of the obstacles?
Brian Wike: I'll go first, maybe in reverse order here. I would say we as utilities need to get faster at this. I would also just remind people that the electric system is a complex machine that's, basically, has the entire country, sort of, interconnected in all the little interconnections, be they generators, or load, or little cogs in that. And so, when you turn one over here, you can have all kinds of impacts over here. So, just keep that in mind. The reliability of the bulk power system is important to all of our customers.
So we don't want things to be too fast because there will be unforeseen costs that will be put on customers, or developers, or can endanger reliability and resilience. That's the first thing. The second thing is we absolutely need to get faster at this. We learned a lot from the Generation Interconnection DER experience we all lived through, where we were an impediment to that interconnection. I think the piece for developers and for state DOTs that might be running these programs is, try to think about what happens next. Give us the full picture, not just, "I want four chargers here." Tell us what happens in two or three years after that. What happens three or four years after that? Do you think this is going to be a site that's going to be 100 chargers or is this going to be a site between two larger sites? And if you tell us that, I think then we can come up with more comprehensive, thoughtful solutions, including things like energy storage, mobile energy storage, demand management, and managed charging.
But as a threshold, tell us more immediately and be transparent with us, and we can give you more information and do some of that, sort of, directing traffic to not here but over here. And then just try to think more comprehensively about what your strategy is for deploying these funds. And then grouping medium and heavy-duty vehicles with passenger vehicles where you can, because you can save states money by doing so.
Cathleen Lewis: So I would say there's a couple of pieces and I want to go back a little bit to something that Brian said too. I think that there's a real balance that we need to figure out. That centralized planning piece is really important but that whole market driven piece is also important. How do we make sure we're getting them in places where there's a market for them?
And I think that balance is going to be really important, and it's why in all of the grant solicitations that have happened so far in our state, they have very specific site-specific criteria evaluations. Because, so, for us in New Jersey, a very densely populated state, we often talk about how I can tell you that a charger at this location off of this exit is great but there are four corners and there are four very different capacities on those corners. And so, we need to be looking at not just, is there capacity there? But does somebody have a unique storage solution? Or are they planning to do something with renewable energy because of where that site is? Because it's a warehouse and so it has the ability to do that.
And so, we need to be looking at it that way. And I think that the other piece of that is we need to be making sure that as we have these conversations, as everybody says, we want to do these things faster, can we just have the utilities pay for more of these things? One of the things I spend a lot of time doing is reminding my partners in the state government that every time we have the utility do something, rates go up. It's not free money, it is ratepayer dollars, and we have to be very specific and very prescribed about how we are using those.
And so, I will say—and I know some of my colleagues are on the call, but I always feel like I've been a success for the day when I hear one of my colleagues from a different department go, "But isn't that going to have a rate impact?" And because we've drilled that in and we've had those conversations, and that's really important to understand those pieces. And so, we need to be balancing all of those to get us to a faster pace.
And then the other thing I'll say is, I know we're talking about NEVI, so we're talking a lot about public charging, but we do not want to have stranded assets. And so, we need to build out a comprehensive public charging system so people have the confidence to get into their EVs. But we also need to acknowledge that 80% of the charging is going to happen at home. And so, we need to be getting ready for both of those pieces. And Brian is shaking his head because that means he's got to do resiliency on the residential side and that's really scary too.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah. Thanks, Cathleen. Go ahead Kaleb.
Kaleb Vander Wiele: From the DOT perspective, this is, really, a question that gets into, conceptually, that WisDOT's had to find its role and responsibility in electrification. Really, where we have found our core role is kind of as a connector of stakeholders and a clearinghouse for information to, hopefully, create some of the connections that need to happen so the conversations can happen informally. And you have to remember, Wisconsin's new to transportation electrification. Informally, it's been simply reminding stakeholders, potential site hosts, organizations that are interested in electric vehicle charging to go have that base level conversation with the utility. Long before EV ever—we get to a paperwork process, making sure those conversations are happening has been a really important component of the state getting ready for this.
From a more formal perspective, we think we have a role in the actual procurement process under NEVI to ensure that process is requiring the correct free flow of information between utilities and the department for us to be able to make the correct decisions on the acceptance of awards under this program. But, again, this is still really a learning space for the state and, again, the foundational piece here is, again, making those additional connections. Most of our partners prepared for the NEVI Program. These will be the first EV charging stations they've ever supported. So there's a lot of learning, there's a lot of knowledge transfer that has to happen.
Stephen Lommele: So, Kaleb, does that mean the state kind of identifies priority locations, at an interchange, for example, and then you issue an RFP for site hosts or station developers, and then you're expecting the site host or station developer to have those conversations with the utility as part of the proposal process so they can understand capacity?
Kaleb Vander Wiele: Absolutely. And we can't pretend to fully assume in our planning process where utilities and potential site hosts may best be able to support projects. So the way that we've kind of approached this concept of every 50 mile charging has been a general preference and location. So, to be able to close a charging gap, there may be five or six potential locations that we perceive may be beneficial in closing that gap. And then allowing that general preference to hopefully build into a site host working with the utility on a confirmation of a potential grid capacity before that application is made to the department.
Stephen Lommele: Got it. And Cathleen, if I heard what you were saying correctly, I think if we were to identify a general interchange and there was an intersection there, there could be a site host or location on one of those corners that might have an advantage over the other three. Is that right?
Cathleen Lewis: There is, and there could be two of them, too. It really does depend—especially, in very built-out areas, it could be very different just down the street or across the road.
Stephen Lommele: OK. So, is there any advice, then, for potential site hosts? How would they go about having a conversation with their utility to understand what the timeline and cost look like if they wanted to respond to an opportunity?
Cathleen Lewis: So, I think—and I can see some of the chat too and I think I can tie a couple of pieces together. I think that what New Jersey is doing to help to facilitate that conversation better—because right now what happens is that conversation is with new business, that gets put into a queue, that could go for a very long time. And somebody may not understand EVs and that becomes a frustration.
Here in New Jersey what we're trying to do is that red light/green light approach will, hopefully, get you a much quicker response in the "Nope, that that's not going to work at all. Start with your capacity maps." Go, "Oh, it's green, or yellow. I'm going to have that conversation. Then I'm going to get the red light/ green light that reflects what has happened in the three months since that map was done." And then we are working on our medium and heavy-duty straw to have that technical assistance so you have EV-specific people who can have conversations about not just, is this where you want to build? But, are there better ways to build it?
Because there are also conversations that can happen on, well, you told me, you big box store told me you wanted your chargers closest to the road. That is going to cost you a whole lot more money because of how long I have to run that wire than if you put it in the back of the store. And having those conversations is going to become very important because that costs time and money.
Stephen Lommele: Absolutely. Brian, what about from the utility perspective?
Brian Wike: Yeah. This is a great conversation. I'm thoroughly enjoying it, which I think says strange things about me as a person but it's like my happy place. I just want to respond to two things, some things I see in the chat around like value of solar and storage rather than any kind of utility investment. First, I just think we as a National Grid, we think there's a false dichotomy that's been created between software, and managed charging, and storage, and solar, and then utility investment, be it wires or whatever. That is not true.
We as a company believe that all those things are going to be necessary. It is not either/or, it is both. And I would just remind people that we have wire in the air in New York that was put up with teams of horses before the internal combustion engine was even widely circulated. So, we made those investments, and they still work, and they still carry power, and provide fairly reliable service today. So a battery is a great idea, in term solution in certain places.
If it's both, even better. But that's $1,000,000 a megawatt and that's roughly a 10-year asset. So just keep those numbers in mind as you assess the value of storage at a given location. And then, again, some of the things Cathleen is saying is absolutely right. You need to get into the details, and think hard about your project, and what you're trying to maximize for. Are you trying to get customers in and out of your shop to make money on chicken sandwiches or are you trying to get customers to stay in your store and spend more money at a Target? That will determine the speed of charging and how flexible you might be around how many chargers you might need.
The other piece that I think is important is if you—I just think that, and I just want to go back to this, I think it's important—There is a balance between accommodating developers and the private market and taking a more centralized planning. I know it's self-serving for utilities to say this but integrated, re-integrated planning where you allow the utilities in concert with the state government to think more comprehensively about what is a statewide charging strategy look like? We don't have that in New York. We have a piece of legislation that's pending before the New York legislature right now to, essentially, bring all the implicated parties into the room, study that issue that like the way we did last year, and then send that report to our public Service Commission to start—essentially, has some utilities to build because we cannot catch up.
I can tell you before the Inflation Reduction Act, our distribution and transmission planning groups were very nervous about this. Now they're in a panic. We cannot build fast enough. Yes, we have to interconnect faster, yes, we have to be more responsive, but supply chain constraints and other things that are out of our control are going to make it very difficult for us to accommodate the hockey stick. And so, as people think about, oh, we need to dip our toe into this and see how it goes. That's fine, maybe, in certain parts of the state. In Massachusetts, in New York, New Jersey, much of the Northeast, Pennsylvania, I think utilities and state regulators need to be put on notice that this can either happen to us or we can come together and sort of shape it because it is going to happen.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah. Brian, have many utilities put forth plans of what they think an appropriate charging network would look like in their territories?
Brian Wike: So, we have some ideas. I think it's a balance, as Cathleen was saying, between utilities just responding to service requests of individual companies and developers who want to do things in certain places. And we want to catalyze the private market and that's our job as utilities under open access, we've got to serve every customer the same. We have an obligation to serve them whether we like it or not. And then also taking a step back and saying what's the cheapest thing for society?
So, we put out some ideas in that piece of legislation I mentioned. As far as I know, it will be a first if that piece of legislation passes in New York. It will launch us past California for the first time. I think, as it's talked about on this call, there's a whole ecosystem of charging. There's highway, there's fleet, there's depot, there is like at home.
And just one other thing to say about Cathleen's comment about 80%, absolutely 80% of charging happens at home today, because every customer that owns an electric vehicle today and most of them charge those EVs in their driveway, and they have those driveways because they're wealthy. 40% of our customers are not in possession of an off-street parking spot and so on-the-go, en route charging, workplace charging, to the extent they're the kind of person that actually goes to an office. Many of our customers don't go to an office. Those are good solutions.
So it is an ecosystem that as you twist one knob, another one needs to be rejiggered. So, I think there's a lot of creative thinking that we can do if we kind of unshackle ourselves from our traditional kind of roles of utility versus government.
Cathleen Lewis: I feel like—I just want to add to what Brian just said. I feel like we talk a lot about 80% happens at the residence. I think, maybe, at some point we will shift to 80% is Level Two charging because I think that's a lot of what we're looking at. How do we get on-street overnight parking? How do we get more workplace charging? All of those other pieces. And those are very different grid capacity needs and they're very different load as well.
Stephen Lommele: Yeah, a good point. And I know Gabe, at the beginning, talks about the charging and fueling infrastructure, our discretionary grant program, which is open now, which is an opportunity for a lot of communities to think about that.
We're about out of time. I wanted to give each of you an opportunity maybe just to share what you've learned in your experiences working across DOTs, utilities, and regulatory commissions. What have you learned and what do you think other stakeholders could take away from that and benefit from it as they're thinking about interacting across those three types of entities?
Kaleb Vander Wiele: So, I'll dive in first here. I've spoke a lot about industry site hosts, the utility connection, but one of the things that's been really important to us has been us listening to users of the system. EV drivers, enthusiasts, being inclusive of our disability advocates and non-drivers in the process and listening to our commercial vehicle operators. Those who spend the most time on the transportation system and those who have the most difficulty in accessing the transportation system, they really have important voices for state organizations and state agencies like WisDOT as we prepare to engage in a new EV space and a new type of project for the department. So, for us it has been, again, being inclusive of who we're working with, I think, has given us the best ability to move forward.
Stephen Lommele: Thanks, Kaleb. Cathleen?
Cathleen Lewis: Sure. I think that having these conversations and also really focusing on the ecosystem as a whole, not just how do we get a public charging network done. When we think about electrified transportation, this call, and the work that we are doing right now, is very focused on electric vehicles, cars. And that's what we are focused on. But the EV ecosystem is a huge change to our entire way that we move people, and goods, and services.
And we should be thinking about that all the time, because we are not trying to replicate gas stations. We are changing the way these pieces move. And so, we should be talking about not just what we need for today, but what we want our transportation systems to look like five years, 10 years from now, and how we get to those solutions. And that requires us to have real, sometimes difficult conversations with our partners. We want to get to our emissions goals, we want to get to our capacity goals, and, how do we do those all together?
Stephen Lommele: Yeah, and I think that resonates with something Brian said earlier, too, about "Help us understand what you see needing now. And if you can, tell us a story about what you might need in two years, four years, 10 years." Brian, parting thoughts from you?
Brian Wike: You can tell I have no strong opinions about any of this stuff. So, I would just say, I would remind everybody of two things. Transportation decarbonization actually puts downward pressure on rates. That is a pure fact of basic rate making. If you want to understand that, please call me and I'll explain it to you.
The second piece is, I think states need to start thinking, particularly, especially DOTs, anybody who controls an easement, that we need to start thinking harder about permitting and easement agreements. Those agreements, in our case, in New York, those predate—a lot of our assets actually predate the construction of Thruway and New York I-90 came after our alliance. And so, when you think about when we wrote those easement schemes together a long time ago, no one even thought about electric vehicles. So, I think if you want to introduce some cost savings and time savings to project development, revisit those agreements.
And finally, I would just say, if we lack the political will to take big steps and do bold things, we will slow this process down and it will take longer and be more expensive. So, yes, it will cost money. Yes, we still need to do it.
Stephen Lommele: Well, thank you so much Cathleen, Brian, and Kaleb, we really appreciate you joining us today. As I mentioned, this webinar will be recorded or is recorded and will be posted on driveelectric.gov. So if you want to revisit anything that our wonderful panelists shared today, we'll have that up on driveelectric.gov shortly. So, I want to thank you all again so much and to all our participants, thank you for joining us today. Thanks, everyone.
Brian Wike: This was fun. Thank you.
Cathleen Lewis: Thank you.
Kaleb Vander Wiele: Thank you.