As more electric vehicles (EVs) come on the road, utilities are looking to managed charging and time-of-use (TOU ) programs to effectively integrate this new load onto the grid. These programs have the potential to shift high levels of load, but utilities are experiencing enrollment and participation challenges. While regulators project that about 80% of eligible customers will enroll in a managed charging program, most programs assessed have less than 33% of targeted enrollment.
SEPA’s report, Managed Charging Programs: Maximizing Customer Satisfaction and Grid Benefits emphasized the importance of considering customer behavior, pre-existing notions, and comfort level with EV program participation. New EV owners are undergoing a fundamental shift in the way they “fuel” their cars. They may have privacy concerns and be skeptical of sharing data. They can also have concerns about giving up charging control and shifting their load for fear of damaging their EV or simply not wanting to change their schedule.
According to SEPA, “Careful design of the customer proposition, demonstration of the effectiveness of the system in action, and prioritizing customer requirements has shown to reduce customer concerns around battery health from 61% to 24%.” As EV owners get more comfortable, they adapt to active or passive managed charging and have fewer DR event opt-outs.
The report discussed the efficiency of enrolling customers into EV programs at vehicle or charger points of sale. The report states, “If a utility has an optional opt-in, or “pre-enrollment,” to a managed charging program at vehicle and/or EVSE checkout, we see a 76% conversion rate onto EV managed charging programs.”
One of the featured case studies, NYSERDA’s Charge Smart managed charging program illustrates this high conversion rate. This partnership between ORU, Uplight, and Enel X wanted to remove barriers to EV adoption while promoting better grid integration through managed charging.
With ORU’s Charge Smart program, customers can receive a $450 instant rebate on their JuiceBox charger on the ORU Marketplace when they enroll—removing the barrier of Level 2 charger adoption while giving customers a smarter way to charge their car at home. From 2021 to 2022, 99% of EV chargers sold included enrollment in a managed charging program—demonstrating that bundling an offer with seamless enrollment drives greater program conversion.
Engaging and educating customers is critical for enrolling them into EV programs and keeping them enrolled while reducing opt-outs. Capturing customer attention at the point of sale will increase enrollments. For most customers, owning an EV has a learning curve–requiring time and education to get comfortable with vehicle charging. Read more research, case studies, best practices, and takeaways for utilities, regulators, OEMs, and technology providers in the full report from SEPA here.