Pepco plans pilot programs for discounted electric vehicle charging

WASHINGTON — There are only about 600 pure electric vehicles registered in the District right now, but that number is expected to grow significantly, and Pepco wants to be ready.

Pepco is seeking Public Service Commission approval for a number of pilot programs aimed at managing electric vehicle charging demand on its grid — and reducing charging costs for EV owners.

Under one plan, Pepco will test programs that encourage customers to charge their vehicles at home during off-peak hours in exchange for discounted rates.

Research shows EV owners typically start charging their cars when they return home, with peak usage in late afternoon, the same time the grid on a hot summer day is experiencing peak demand. The Pepco plan would establish an off-peak window for lower EV charging rates.

“The on-peak time is from noon until 8 p.m. and the off-peak time would then be from 8 p.m. until noon the following day,” Pepco’s Rob Stewart told WTOP. “This would be plenty of time for EVs to be fully charged and ready to go for the morning commute.”

Managing grid demand for Pepco, and utilities in other cities with growing EV use, is important because the charging process sucks a lot of juice.

“A Level II charger tends to be the most popular with owners of electric vehicles. It equates to the output of an electric dryer. So … two of these chargers actually equates a house load,” Stewart said.

Per Pepco’s PSC proposal:

The proposal outlines a voluntary pilot program consisting of five key offerings to customers. Up to 100 residential customers with electric vehicles and installed Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) will have the option to select a special rate. Up to 50 qualified residential customers will receive a discounted installation of a Smart Level II charging station or EVSE and a special rate. Up to ten commercial customers who own or operate condominium/apartment complexes with garage parking will receive smart Level II EVSEs. Four D.C. fast chargers will be strategically placed in locations within the city. Up to additional 500 residential customers with electric vehicles will have the ability to choose a discounted “whole house” rate.

The timeline of the pilot program depends on the PSC approval process.

If approved, the Electric Vehicle Pilot Program will start accepting customer applications a month after approval and operate until the end of the third quarter of 2019.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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