Transportation Electrification’s Impact on the Electric Distribution System

High demand in EV charging stations is impacting how electric distribution systems will be planned, designed, and operated.

An electric utility serving a major U.S. city recently shared with the industry its findings on how actual charging station usage compared with prior assumptions. Almost every county in its service territory already meets or exceeds the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) minimum number of Direct Current Fast Charging (DCFC) plugs per 1,000 EVs registered.

Based on data mined from an array of Tesla charging stations installed outside a convenience store in a high-traffic area, usage grew to over 80% of the aggregate nameplate capacity of the charging-station array.

With input from studies performed by the industry’s research arm, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the utility’s planning criteria was revised to accommodate anticipated growth from increased penetration of EVs in both residential and fleet use cases.

With incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, more electric vehicle (EV) charging stations are being installed, which will change how electric distribution systems will be planned, designed, and operated in the 21st century.

Tangibl is helping improve analysis and decision-making about long-term substation transformer capacity investments with impact modeling.

Anticipating this trend, Tangibl recently demonstrated how this can be accomplished for the Joint Action Agency to which one of our municipal electric system clients belongs.

Specifically, we used the model of that Town’s power system Tangibl built in ETAP® for capacity planning purposes to demonstrate the impact of not only EV charging stations, but also Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) on their system.

With our model in place, including actual load data at the circuit and transformer level, distribution circuit reinforcement and rearrangement projects can be planned as customer commitments are made.

Subsequently, better decisions about long-term substation transformer capacity investments will be made, helping the Town plan such long-lead-time projects in a challenging resource and supply-chain environment.

By utilizing simulation tools and data-driven decision-making, Tangibl’s Utility Engineering and Consulting team can accurately identify the problem and help you make informed choices regarding circuit reconfiguration or reinforcement on your system.

Enabling Electric Distribution Grid Modernization and Planning based on solid data is the essence of Tangibl’s value proposition. We welcome any discussion or questions you might have on this subject, so reach out to us at your convenience. Contact Tonia Graham for more details or to schedule an exploratory call.