Xcel Energy's Transportation Electrification Plan

September 21, 2020

In 2019, the Col­orado State Leg­is­la­ture passed the Sen­ate Bill 19–077, which requires the state’s reg­u­lat­ed elec­tric util­i­ties, name­ly Xcel Ener­gy and Black Hills Ener­gy, to devel­op Trans­porta­tion Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion Plans (TEPs). The aim of the bill is to accel­er­ate the tran­si­tion away from fos­sil fuels and to ush­er in an elec­tric trans­porta­tion sys­tem. Tran­si­tion­ing towards elec­tric­i­ty as a trans­porta­tion fuel will pro­vide an oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­bat cli­mate change, improve air qual­i­ty, improve nation­al secu­ri­ty by divest­ing in fos­sil fuels, and save con­sumers mon­ey on trans­porta­tion and ener­gy bills.

In Col­orado, trans­porta­tion emis­sions account for 25 per­cent of statewide emis­sions, lead­ing to wors­en­ing lev­els of air pol­lu­tion across the state. The Col­orado Front Range is dan­ger­ous­ly out of attain­ment for atmos­pher­ic Ozone lev­els and is steadi­ly get­ting worse. Switch­ing to zero-emis­sion vehi­cles, includ­ing elec­tric vehi­cles (EVs), is one of the key solu­tions to com­bat­ing smog­gy skies and poor air qual­i­ty across the state.

Xcel Ener­gy filed their Trans­porta­tion Elec­tri­fi­ca­tion Plan in May 2020, kick­ing off a 6‑month hear­ing process at the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion (PUC). In the TEP, Xcel Ener­gy iden­ti­fied three key chal­lenges to EV expan­sion: a) a lack of infor­ma­tion and aware­ness regard­ing EVs, b) high upfront costs asso­ci­at­ed with pur­chas­ing EVs and charg­ing infra­struc­ture, and c) sub­op­ti­mal incen­tives to EV charg­ing when it is most ben­e­fi­cial to the elec­tric grid.

Under the plan, Xcel pro­posed a $102 mil­lion invest­ment over 3 years in elec­tric vehi­cle charg­ing infra­struc­ture, advi­so­ry ser­vices for cor­po­rate and gov­ern­ment fleets, and an EV edu­ca­tion and aware­ness pro­gram for cus­tomers. About half of the total invest­ment, up to $48 mil­lion will be used to build charg­ing sta­tions at com­mer­cial build­ings for both employ­ees and fleet EV charg­ing. Addi­tion­al­ly, Xcel Ener­gy has pledged 15 per­cent of the invest­ment towards edu­ca­tion and sup­port for low-income customers.

The plan is divid­ed into five port­fo­lios: res­i­den­tial, mul­ti-unit dwellings (MUDs), com­mer­cial, advi­so­ry ser­vices, and research, inno­va­tion, and part­ner­ships (RIP).

Res­i­den­tial Pro­grams include:

  • Home wiring rebates for stan­dard and low-income homes for Lev­el 2 charg­ers, or
  • A home charg­ing ser­vice fee, which will pay off the infra­struc­ture in segments.
  • Choice of join­ing an opti­miza­tion pro­gram, which incen­tivizes the con­sumer to charge their car dur­ing off-peak hours, when rates are low­est and elec­tric­i­ty demand is down. 
    • Cus­tomers will receive an annu­al incen­tive for on-going par­tic­i­pa­tion in opti­miza­tion programs.

Mul­ti-Unit Dwellings Program:

  • Offers a choice between installing their own charg­ing equip­ment or select­ing equip­ment from Xcel Energy's pre-approved list. Indi­vid­ual EV dri­vers will then be charged the res­i­den­tial rate for ener­gy con­sump­tion bun­dled with a cus­tomer charge that cov­ers the cost of the equip­ment and installation. 
    • In oth­er words, over time, EV dri­vers will be pay­ing for the instal­la­tion of the device in their MUD.
  • Low-income rebates are avail­able to hous­ing units that meet the income qualifications.
  • New con­struc­tion on build­ings that exceed code require­ments are also eli­gi­ble for rebates.

Com­mer­cial prop­er­ties have mul­ti­ple par­tic­i­pa­tion programs:

  • Fleets and Workplaces: 
    • Xcel Ener­gy will pro­vide EVSE and the com­mer­cial enti­ty would pay a month­ly fee for use of the infrastructure.
    • Low income rebates are avail­able for both Lev­el 2 and fast charg­ers (DCFC) here.
  • Com­mu­ni­ty Charg­ing Hubs: 
    • Xcel Ener­gy will part­ner with munic­i­pal­i­ties that pro­vide EVSE at low­er upfront costs (i.e. rebates).
    • This type of pro­gram aims to facil­i­tate wide­spread adop­tion of EVs across trans­porta­tion net­work com­pa­nies, like Lyft and Uber, local tran­sit author­i­ties, and car share services.
    • Xcel will also solic­it appli­ca­tions for pub­lic DCFC charg­ers 4x annu­al­ly through a grant program.
  • Final­ly, Xcel pro­pos­es to own and oper­ate their own pub­lic charg­ing sta­tions to sup­port areas that may not be met by a com­pet­i­tive mar­ket, par­tic­u­lar­ly in low-income or rur­al regions.

The Research, Inno­va­tion, and Part­ner­ships Pro­gram is meant to boost cre­ative approach­es to advanc­ing the elec­tri­fi­ca­tion mar­ket. A great exam­ple of this is pro­mo­tion of a school bus grant pro­gram for school dis­tricts through­out the state.

Final­ly, Advi­so­ry Ser­vices will be avail­able to res­i­den­tial cus­tomers, fleet cus­tomers, com­mu­ni­ties, and diver­si­ty-groups (includ­ing access to mate­ri­als in both Eng­lish and Spanish).

The hear­ing process to secure approval for Xcel Energy’s EV invest­ments at the Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion is cur­rent­ly under­way. A final deci­sion is expect­ed in ear­ly 2021.

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