Energy Managers Can’t Stand in the Way of Electric Vehicles

by | Nov 7, 2016


The emergence of electric vehicles (EVs) will impact energy and facility managers, who will be called on to provide the electricity to recharge employees’ and, perhaps, guests’ vehicles while they are in the building.

Things are progressing slowly. But EVs are on the road to becoming as common as gas-fueled vehicles. When this happens, reorganization of parking facilities  and addition of EV charging stations will become necessary.

This will be a big deal when it happens. Energy managers should follow the evolution of charging technology. Duke Energy – as a utility and as a owners of a large mobile fleet – is aware of the issue. “Duke Energy has more than 100 plug-in vehicles currently,” spokesman Randy Wheeless told Energy Manager Today. “As our fleet becomes more EV-based, we will have to modify our own infrastructure to have more charging stations available within the company.”

That future is closer to Duke than many other companies. Last week, the Workhorse Group said that it had signed non-binding letters of intent with two entitites — Duke and City of Orlando (FL) — for the use of its Workhorse W-15 light duty design, which the company says is an extension of the current EV technology used in its medium-duty pickup trucks

Energy managers should be aware of the current parameters of the technology, though it is bound to change as more EVs hit the street. At this point, there are three approaches to charging stations, according to EV Safe Charge. Level 1 is simply a charger plugged into an electrical outlet. It clearly is not a solution for commercial or industrial use. Level 2 chargers – which the story says are far more common and are recommended for small businesses – are compatible with battery electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (BEVs and PHEVs). Level 3 devices also are known as “DC Fast Charging” stations and can do the job in about 30 minutes, the story says. They are more expensive – but certainly can be an option for businesses called upon to recharge many vehicles daily.

There also are issues of how to charge for energy. In general, of course, organizations don’t pay commuting expenses. Most do, however, pay for extra travel. How expensing is handled at the corporate policy levels must be decided by the organization once it becomes the provider of energy for the vehicle. Energy managers likely will have a big role in implementing whatever decisions are made. This fundamental issue is alluded to by Lauren Suedkamp, a spokesperson for the Electric Vehicle Charging Association, in The Detroit Free Press.

That future, however, it will roll out, is quickly approaching. Last week, the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) established 48 electric vehicle “charging corridors” on highways. The press release says that the initiative covers 25,000 miles in 35 states. The administration made a number of other announcements that focused on public/private coordination aimed at pushing EVs into the mainstream. As this trend emerges, more and more EVs will need to be recharged in the parking facility as the vehicles’ owners work upstairs. The same dynamic also will occur in apartment buildings and even shopping malls and anywhere people stayed parked for long periods of time.

EVs are coming. There are signs beyond the announcement by the DOT that EVs are becoming more deeply ingrained at the federal level. The states are getting involved as well. Last month, for instance, New York said that 300 charging stations would be installed across the state.

Energy managers’ job is to make technology work. There are lots of reasons to believe that EVs will gain considerable momentum in the near future. The time to being preparing is now.



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