This month, Duke Energy filed its “Electric Transportation Pilot Program” proposal before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The three-year, $15.8 million proposal is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in Ohio and includes funding for residential, commercial, and public electric vehicle chargers, as well as school and transit buses. The pilot would cover all of Duke’s southwest Ohio service territory.
Electric utility companies have viewed the developing wave of electric vehicle adoption as a unique opportunity for expansion. In 2018, AEP Ohio rolled out its own $10 million electric vehicle charging station incentive program which has already done much to expand Ohio’s charging infrastructure. Duke hopes to join AEP in this national and regional utility trend that has directed over $63 million towards electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in the Midwest alone.
Duke Energy and electric vehicle owners are not the only ones celebrating this proposal, but utility customers as well. As a recent study by Synapse Energy Economics demonstrates, electric vehicle charging increases revenues to a larger degree than the associated costs, which leads to downward pressure on electricity rates for everyone. Expanding revenue, greater access to charging, and lower electricity rates translate to a win-win-win for utilities, electric vehicle drivers, and electricity customers alike.
If approved by the PUCO, the Duke program is expected to direct $12.5 million toward electric vehicle charging - $5 million of which would fund up to 100 direct current “level three” fast-charger locations in coordination with the Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana Regional Council of Governments in Cincinnati. This investment would address potential electric vehicle drivers’ “range anxiety” (the fear of running out of charge), which is a leading barrier to adoption.
Multi-unit dwellings would also be eligible for charging rebates, addressing another common electric vehicle adoption barrier: lack of residential charging in apartment and condominium buildings. As part of this strategy, Duke Energy would commit to funding at least 16 charging units at multi-unit dwellings in low-income neighborhoods with the hope of dispersing the broad benefits of electric vehicles in an equitable fashion.
$2.15 million would be directed toward electric school bus rebates to public school districts in Duke’s Ohio service territory. An alarming 2019 study conducted by Georgia State University has linked exposure to diesel bus exhaust to lower test scores. As more research into the harmful health effects of local diesel pollution builds, the importance of zero-emission school and transit buses will only grow.
With Ohio electric vehicle sales increasing by 113% from 2017 to 2018, the state will face unique and novel challenges to keep pace with change. Duke’s proposal represents a substantial and comprehensive step toward a more electric-vehicle-ready future for Ohio.
Electric vehicle adoption effect on electric rates: https://www.synapse-
Diesel exhaust exposure link to lower test scores: https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/georgia-schools-opt-for-propane-buses-amid-concern-about-diesel-fumes/cJTrqFHQhkXoNcvxSzLDLL/