Fleet Electrification: Educate and Collaborate with your Customers
Utilities are essential to fleet owners in the transition to electric vehicles (EV). Starting conversations early allows utilities to plan for future charging load while giving fleets the information they need to succeed. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) have created unprecedented opportunities for fleet electrification. Utilities who move quickly to build relationships with fleets can capitalize on this momentum and help shape aggressive and achievable plans that will deliver shared benefits for many years to come.
In our last article, we discussed how utilities can understand fleet customers in their local area and evaluate opportunity size. Now we’ll look at how to position yourself as an essential advisor and service provider.
Lead with your strengths
Utilities may not feel prepared to strike up a conversation with fleet operators. When contemplating the first move, a variety of questions tend to arise: Do we have the right resources? Do we need regulatory approval? Are we inviting load we’re not ready to serve? The questions are legitimate, but don’t let them stand in your way of taking some first easy steps. Fleet electrification is happening, and your expertise is needed.
Utilities are the undisputed experts of the electric grid and all that it entails. Most fleet operators have only a basic understanding of the grid’s role in their EV transition. Rate structures, service connection procedures, and supply mix details that are second nature to utility teams are of great interest to fleet operators. Educating fleet owners about these aspects of how the grid works and its value to them is a great place to begin the conversation.
Providing information you already have is an easy way to establish you as an essential partner. From this place of trust, you can work collaboratively with customers to share information and transition their fleets.
Help plan their transition
Before creating a roadmap, fleet owners need to understand the impact electrification will have on their budget and business. Empowering fleet owners with tools to configure their fleet transition will benefit everyone. Look for systems that make it easy for fleet operators to share electrification plans directly from the platform, allowing you to anticipate and manage their future vehicle charging load.
With proper information and tools, owners can examine and forecast different scenarios. For example, if they create a plan using relatively low power, level 2 chargers, schedule the charging during off-peak hours, and stagger vehicle charging, they can minimize demand charges. However, this may not fully meet their needs if they need to “top off” some vehicles during the day, so they can fold in some higher-powered units and see how it impacts their costs. Utilities offering resources like ChooseEV’s digital toolkit are able to let fleet owners create and compare scenarios, then send their results back to utility teams directly.
Provide the right incentives
Comprehensive planning tools can accelerate fleet-utility conversations and help uncover valuable customer insights to enhance the utility’s fleet database. This aggregated information can be used to inform program offerings, support new rate plans and begin aligning incentives for fleets so they’re able to enhance grid utilization and reliability.
A first wave of fleet programs has emerged from utilities that took the step to start a conversation with fleets. NYSEG/RGE’s Fleet Assessment and Make Ready program is one example that offers access to technical assistance and infrastructure incentives. Utilities like Dominion and SDG&E are already piloting vehicle-to-grid projects with school buses. As utility-fleet cooperation grows, additional opportunities will emerge to deliver shared value.
As fleet owners begin to recognize utilities as partners, utilities can use this open line to communicate offers and resources as they are developed.
Our fleet electrification tools and services empower utilities with the insights, plans and execution to lead the energy transition in their service area. If you’d like to discuss how you navigate your fleet electrification transition or schedule a ChooseEV demo, contact our transportation electrification team to get started.
For the first articles in this series, read Why Fleet Electrification is a Necessary Investment and Getting started with Fleet Electrification: Evaluate Your Market.