Garage of the Future: Supporting America’s New Re-Fueling Station

As consumer adoption of electric vehicles accelerates, electric co-ops prepare for a changing demand environment

DENVER (March 10, 2022)—The shift toward electric transportation will require more than just dealership sales. Electric cooperatives, homebuilders and other community stakeholders will need to prepare for the expected influx of electric vehicles (EVs) with new or upgraded electric distribution assets and sufficient infrastructure for both at-home and public vehicle charging. 

U.S. electricity generation systems are equipped to adequately support the transition to electric vehicles. However, it is less clear the distribution system is prepared to deliver the 30% increase in electricity mass adoption of EVs will require. Widespread uncontrolled charging, whether from residential or commercial electric cooperative members, could inevitably overwhelm local systems, according to a new report from CoBank

“The challenge for electric cooperatives is to figure out when member drivers will charge their EVs and how to influence that point of charge,” said Teri Viswanath, lead energy economist with CoBank. “The good news is research on community charging behaviors indicates there will be a good deal of load flexibility and co-ops will be able to vary EV charging load up or down, balance load and maintain system stability.”  

Pricing signals such as time-of-use rates could influence charging behavior and shift loads during periods with low system cost. Offering an EV-specific electric rate to engage members, both residential and commercial, could encourage such load shifting, added Viswanath. 

The greatest opportunities for electricity demand growth from EV adoption is at-home charging. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, over 80% of EV charging today happens at home, where EV owners have set up their own chargers. Other than heating and cooling equipment, EV charging will draw the most power in a home, likely increasing household load up to 40% depending on miles driven.

For at home charging, the key for cooperatives will be to spread out the charging overnight. And, while there is likely less flexibility with at-work charging and diminishing options for retail outlets, pilot projects that involve sending intra-day price signals to commercial establishments might expand the field of load flexibility options.   

While most EV charging takes place in home garages, thoughtful planning on the placement of public chargers could be an economic boost to local business, keeping an even greater share of consumer spending in the community.

The additional revenue that electric cooperatives earn from community charging will eventually offset the increased investment needed for new and upgraded distribution assets. However, this investment is needed now, which puts electric cooperatives under pressure to manage growth as more members ultimately adopt EVs.  

Read the report, Garage of the Future: Supporting America’s New Re-Fueling Station  

About CoBank

CoBank is a $170 billion cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America. The bank provides loans, leases, export financing and other financial services to agribusinesses and rural power, water and communications providers in all 50 states. The bank also provides wholesale loans and other financial services to affiliated Farm Credit associations serving more than 76,000 farmers, ranchers and other rural borrowers in 23 states around the country.

CoBank is a member of the Farm Credit System, a nationwide network of banks and retail lending associations chartered to support the borrowing needs of U.S. agriculture, rural infrastructure and rural communities. Headquartered outside Denver, Colorado, CoBank serves customers from regional banking centers across the U.S. and maintains an international representative office in Singapore.

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Julie Davis
Corporate Communications

Leslie Hagele
Corporate Social Responsibility

Dave Harding
Knowledge Exchange