Welcome to the EV Edison blog, focusing on all aspects of fleet charging and EV Edison’s work! This first blog is an interview with David Daly, who joined EV Edison as President after 38 years in the electric utility industry. David sat down for some questions and answers about EV Edison and the importance of fleet charging.
You made a career change from the power production to the power customer side of the industry. Why do you think fleet charging represents such an important segment of the market?
When you look at the clean energy transition that’s taking place, and the options for reducing carbon emissions, the transportation sector is the number one source of carbon. In 2017, it overtook power generation, which at that point was the leading source. And so, there are a number of different things in the transportation sector that need to happen in parallel. There’s no one piece that’s the solution, but among the short list of actions that we really need to pursue aggressively is EV charging. And in addition to EV charging, obviously there’s nuclear power and energy efficiency; with those three, there’d be less need for fossil fuels for both power generation and transportation. But EV charging is among the top three items because of the size of the emissions [from vehicles] and the fact that the technology is there, has arrived, and is continuing to improve.
Why are fleet operators so interested in EVs and charging?
Well, electric vehicles themselves are improving very significantly and companies that operate fleets almost all have embraced decarbonization as part of their core operations – particularly the larger companies with large fleets and the public companies under pressure by investors to decarbonize. And if you are a company and you have any kind of fleet operations, vehicle emissions are almost always going to be your number one source of carbon, and therefore the only place that you would logically go first to reduce your emissions. Companies that have large fleets have dedicated groups to manage vehicle replacement cycles. They look at lifecycle costs and basically, a vehicle on average lasts 10 years, which means you’re replacing about 10% of your fleet every year. So, they’re looking at it and going, “well, I’ve got to get rid of all these fossil fueled things and if every time I go buy a new vehicle, I buy an EV, it would take me 10 years to change out the fleet.” But they’ve made goals, and they are under a lot of pressure to get to 100% much faster than that – a lot of them have goals for getting to, say, 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2030 – so they’ve accelerated whatever the normal regular lifecycle replacement would be.
With that in mind, what are they asking you for?
They run up against two things. One is that the charging infrastructure is often something that they are not in the business of; they just have garages that trucks back up to. So, they come to us to help them put the infrastructure in place and manage that infrastructure, and they wonder about how much the electricity will cost that’s flowing through those chargers. It’s just a new business for them, and they’re looking for us to provide a service. They say, “I’ll spend the money on buying my trucks and buying them on an accelerated basis, but you help me, EV Edison, understand how to outfit my garage with EV chargers, how to negotiate a deal for the bulk power purchases from the local utility at the lowest cost,” and so on. Because there’s a science behind electric utility tariffs and a lot of other variables, and you can optimize your electric costs if you’re smart, or you can pay more if you’re not so sophisticated or smart. We help them with EV charging infrastructure design and consulting services because it’s just not a business they are familiar with or necessarily want to be in.
And then secondly, even if we were to come in to install the chargers or they were to do it themselves, the utility often tells them they won’t have the power available in any accelerated timeline; they can get it to the customer, but it could be three, four, or five years away. That’s where the mobile storage offering comes in. Through the mobile storage offering, we can provide them a solution to bridge that gap in time between when they need the infrastructure available to meet their accelerated timelines for switching to an all-electric fleet and the time it takes the utility to bring the power online. So, we are really doing two things: were bringing a skill set on a pretty complicated new technology and, when the infrastructure is delayed, we can bring battery storage solutions for charging infrastructure that allow them to meet their aggressive EV conversion timelines by providing the stopgap solutions along the way.
At this moment, what are you most looking forward to?
Well, I think about the impact of EVs, and particularly with the work we’re doing at EV Edison in the New York-New Jersey Metro region, which is one of the most highly congested regions in the nation and has a huge number of commuters. And there are studies that are very well documented in the tri-state area showing that incidences of asthma and other respiratory impacts are higher closer to congestion. So, where we come in is reducing emissions and pollution. The average commute is somewhere between 40 and 50 miles round-trip which is ideal for passenger light-duty EVs, and the medium and heavy-duty segment in and around the tri-state area does day trips, which is also ideally suited for EVs. When you think downstream and you have significant levels of penetration of sustainable fleet charging solutions, the air will be significantly cleaner. And you’ll see an improvement in public health through that cleaner environment; you’ll see an improvement in noise, less noise pollution, a cleaner environment, and a quieter environment. And so, it’s exciting to look downstream and know that you’re working on something that really is so critical for climate change and for the planet, and that will have a very direct measurable impact, particularly in this region where it’s just so heavily congested with vehicles. Just by having that significant penetration of EVs, you really are going to clean the air and clean the environment noise-wise and otherwise.