When it comes to charging commercial battery electric vehicles it takes a bit more than plugging them into a wall socket. And while charging CBEVs is not rocket science, the process to get proper infrastructure in place can be time-consuming.
That was one of the conclusions reached by the study team that produced NACFE’s Guidance Report, Amping Up: Charging Infrastructure for Electric Trucks.
One reason for the time issues is that you will want the utility company in your area to be involved in the planning and implementation processes as partners. You need to remember that they are subjected to much regulation and government bureaucracy, and that can slow things down. The reality is planning and permitting can take over a year to complete.
The good news is that the utility company can be a good resource providing you with information on your current distribution-level and on-site electrical infrastructure from the substation to your transformer to your meter. In addition, they also should be able to let you know about any programs or special tariff structures they offer for commercial and industrial customers.
Best of all, utilities are the ones most likely to know about local funding opportunities such as grants and rebates that might be available to you. This type of information is good to have because it could influence not only what type of charging infrastructure you choose but also what vehicles you purchase. As an example, some grants are only good on vehicles that are made (or at least assembled) in the U.S.
Another thing to remember is that the utility company in your area may already have experience working with other fleets so you can benefit from lessons learned and best practices of those fleets that went before you.
One last point: don’t necessarily rely on what you are hearing from other fleets in other parts of the country. There are 3,300 electric utilities in the U.S. and each has varying tariff structures, demand rates, time of use energy charges — you’ll want to have an understanding of those concepts too — and programs to work with fleets on electric vehicle charging. This means you need to work with the latest information from your particular utility.
If this sounds daunting, don't let it get in the way of you adding electric vehicles to your fleet. Just make sure you engage your utility company early and leverage their resources so that when your electric trucks are delivered, you’ll already have the infrastructure in place to ensure they can be charged and ready to hit the road.
NACFE will be engaging with the industry specifically on charging CBEVs at the upcoming ACT Expo in Long Beach during the week of April 22nd. Join our workshop there and many other great events to dig deeper into this.