- Connecticut utilities kicked off 2022 with the launch of a new electric vehicle (EV) program designed to spur the deployment of more than 60,000 charging ports by 2030, along with rates and demand response solutions to help manage the growing load.
- The Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) approved the nine-year program in July, clearing the way for Eversource and United Illuminating (UI) to offer $500 off the cost of a networked residential charger along with incentives for fast charging, fleets, multifamily buildings and other EV market segments.
- "It's quite a comprehensive program," Stefanie Keohane, who supervises PURA's Clean and Affordable Energy Unit, said Tuesday at a meeting of the EV Club of CT where the new offerings were detailed.
EV enthusiasts are excited about Connecticut's charging program, but warn that utilities will need to explain the new incentives thoroughly in order to create more electric converts.
Utilities may "face a little bit of a challenge" in explaining concepts like managed charging and demand response, Barry Kresch, president of the EV Club of CT, said before the meeting kicked off.
"There's a certain amount of complexity to this program," Kresch said. "I'm seeing comments on social media about this program. And a lot of these people just have no idea what it's about. ... I think this message requires heavy frequency."
Connecticut finished 2021 with 21,382 EVs registered in the state, according to the group's web site, representing an almost 55% year-over-year increase. The state's long-term transportation strategy calls for 500,000 EVs on the road by 2030.
The new charging incentive program is targeting 50,000 residential installations by 2030, almost 5,000 "destination" chargers at locations like stores and shopping malls, more than 7,000 in workplaces and serving light-duty fleets, and 550 direct current fast chargers. The number of chargers that will ultimately be placed in multifamily dwellings is still being studied.
Along with the $500 charger rebate, homeowners can access $500 in funding for necessary electric wiring upgrades. Participation in a utility demand response program, to shift charging to off-peak hours during the summer months, gets customers a one-time $100 payment and a $200 annual bill credit,
For level 2 commercial charging, baseline rebates up to $20,000 are available, inclusive of make-ready costs. Those incentives can double in underserved communities. Baseline incentives for DCFC are $150,000, rising to $250,000 in underserved communities.
There are "additional program objectives" beyond the rollout of chargers, Keohane said, focused on integrating electric vehicle charging "to realize potential electric system benefits."
The EV charging program fits within a broader initiative PURA has spearheaded, to develop an "equitable, modern grid framework," she added. There is also an energy storage program launching this month that includes average upfront incentives for residential customers around $200/kWh, up to $7,500 per project.
"It's important to PURA ... to achieve an equitable transition as we get to wide-scale deployment of electric vehicles across all communities in Connecticut and not just certain communities or customers are benefiting," Keohane said.
Hitting Connecticut's EV goals will be a "heavy lift," Charles Spence, Avangrid manager of customer programs and products, said at the meeting. Avangrid owns United Illuminating. But, he added, "we've built this program up to get as many people participating as we possibly can," and the utilities are committed to informing customers of their options.
Customer outreach and education "are key to the success" of the state's EV charging program, an Eversource spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
"We will be leveraging multiple channels including webinars and digital advertising as well as working closely with key external partners like contractors, EV charger manufacturers and dealerships," Eversource spokesperson Mitch Gross said.
The UI and Eversource charger incentive programs are substantially the same, with some minor differences, Spence and Keohane both said.
"It is an interesting program," Spence said. "It's a little on the complex side. ... There's a lot of process and setup that went into making this program. So certainly there's a learning curve for everybody."
Despite the work ahead, advocates remain optimistic.
Connecticut's new EV charging program is "a big step forward and will send a really good signal that the charging side of owning an electric vehicle can be attainable and affordable," said Kresch.
"While the state has set aggressive targets, we are optimistic about our ability to achieve these goals and advance cleaner transportation in Connecticut," Gross said.