Power Grid Sufficiency for Electric Vehicles

For the last 100 years, automobiles, trucks, busses and most other motorized vehicles that have traveled our roadways have primarily used petroleum-based fuels. This is not likely to change dramatically in the foreseeable future, although the Federal government and many state governments are promoting alternative-fuel vehicles to reduce the use of gasoline and diesel fuels as well as limit pollution. Alternative fuels include ethanol, biodiesel, compressed natural gas, propane, hydrogen, and even compressed air. Currently, fully-electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf or partial-electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt represent some of the most common alternative-fuel vehicles on the road. Electric vehicles (EVs) may become more commonplace as drivers, fleet managers, municipalities and others take advantage of preferential tax rules and other subsidies that encourage their use.

While fully-electric EVs can reduce non-point air pollution levels, decrease our reliance on imported oil and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they still must be fueled (i.e., recharged) through the local and regional electric distribution system. If EVs significantly grow in popularity, these vehicles will impose increased demands on our electrical system. Local municipalities have limited abilities to influence the generation and distribution of electricity, but they can help create local conditions that will make recharging EVs more convenient and reliable. This tool discusses some of the actions that local municipalities can take to plan for the potential increase in EV use and the resultant demand for recharging facilities.


Planning for Power Grid Sufficiency for Electric Vehicles provides the following advantages:


Municipalities that want to plan for power grid sufficiency for electric vehicles must understand that this technology has unique limitations. Municipalities can influence the provision of adequate charging facilities by first understanding the barriers confronting EVs:

How to Use This Tool

Municipalities can encourage the use of EVs by helping to reduce the barriers to their widespread use. The following actions can be taken by municipalities:


The City of Philadelphia allows EV owners to obtain a dedicated parking spot, and applicants can also apply to the City's Department of Licenses and Inspections for a curb site electric outlet. However, this parking space is not for the exclusive use of the applicant; anyone with an EV can park in the spot. The City's EV parking program can be accessed online.

Related References

nrg® — a Fortune 300 and S&P 500 Company is one of the country's largest power generation and retail electricity businesses, and promotes energy efficiency, including EV usage, through its website.

ECOtotality — The United States Department of Energy partly funded the installation of EV chargers through The EV Project, and chose ECOtality as the project manager. ECOtality will oversee the installation of 15,000 commercial and residential Blink charging stations in 16 cities and major metropolitan areas in six states and the District of Columbia. This program can be accessed online.

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