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Rural Electrics Showing Increased Interest in EVs

Randy Sukow Nov 13, 2019

Brad Seibert, NRTC’s VP, Next-Generation Energy (pictured), said electric cooperatives are getting increasingly interested in electric vehicle (EV) solutions during a panel session at REVOLUTION Connected NYC in New York. REVOLUTION Connected is a series of conferences that examine the state of EV development and the progress toward integrating them into everyday home and business life. NRTC currently is evaluating the EV business with an eye toward offering a possible solution for rural utilities sometime in 2020.

“We’ll do pretty much anything we can to help rural electric co-ops achieve opportunities that they wouldn’t be able to achieve on their own,” Seibert said yesterday during a session titled, The Strategic Role of EVs for Utilities. “Right now, I’m trying to figure out what the right strategy for EVs or EV chargers should be.”

Panelists from utilities nationwide said they devote much of their energy on consumer education and generating excitement for EVs. “How do you get to that piece of the population that still doesn’t know what an EV is? That’s probably our biggest hurdle,” said John Shipman, Department Manager of Electric Vehicle Programs for Con Edison.

The problem is magnified in rural areas where cooperative GMs often perceive that their member owners would not benefit from EVs due to the longer driving distances and a lack of available recharging stations. However, in some communities, both rural and urban, electric utilities are the ones that are introducing small EV fleets or establishing recharging stations fo local EV owners.

“I guess I would say we’re trying to catch up,” Seibert said during the session. “In the last year, it’s really shifted where [co-op GMs] are saying there’s a real opportunity. They’re seeing EVs show up in their service areas and they’re getting hit up with questions from their consumer members … They’re getting more and more pushback from members saying they want green solutions.”

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