AEP Sustainability - Beneficial Electrification

Beneficial Electrification

Electrification of end-use technologies in industry, buildings and the transportation sector, combined with cleaner electricity from the grid, creates a clear pathway for a low-carbon future and universal access to clean energy. The road to electrification is complex and challenging, but the long-term reward is significant for the environment, society and business.

Electrification technologies, such as electric vehicles (EVs) require effective planning to ensure the technology and infrastructure are in place to meet our customers’ needs. We must also have the right policies and regulations in place to support them. We are working with technology and research partners, customers, policymakers and other stakeholders to understand the implications and opportunities of large-scale electrification as we transform to a digital economy. This engagement will allow us to identify and support these technologies, maximize customer benefits and ensure development of policies and regulations that help our customers and communities.

In 2018, AEP launched a new website as part of our new beneficial electrification program for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers. The intent is to highlight the economic and environmental benefits of using electricity to improve their operations. The website provides easy access to a portal of useful information on:

  • Infrared (IR) curing and drying – IR is commonly used to dry textiles and paper products, heat metals and plastics, and dry and cure paint. Electrifying this process is more energy efficient and flexible in terms of achieving the desired heating intensity compared with using natural gas.
  • Pipeline compression – Compressor stations for natural gas pipelines serve as a type of engine that compresses gas (increases its pressure) to provide the energy needed to move the gas through the pipeline. Electrification of compressors can improve efficiency and operations, as well as reduce air emissions.
  • Induction surface treatment – Induction hardening uses electromagnetic fields to induce electric currents into metal, rapidly heating the steel and then rapidly cooling (quenching) it to increase hardness and durability. The power and frequency of the electromagnetic fields can be adjusted to regulate the depth and temperature of surface heating. Underlying metal layers remain unaffected.
  • Forklifts – While forklifts have historically used internal combustion engines and fossil fuels, electric technology advancements allow users to achieve substantial benefits. In addition to being more energy efficient, they are better for the environment, allow service in challenging enclosed spaces and reduce noise while increasing safety.
  • The electric mobility revolution continues to accelerate throughout the world and in our service territory. Electric vehicle (EV) adoption provides substantial environmental and economic benefits for society. It will also have substantial impacts on many major industries, including the electric utility industry.

    According to a 2018 study by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), there are more than 1 million EVs on the road today. Another million EVs are expected over the next three years, and by 2030, the total number of EVs will climb above 18 million in the U.S. AEP is working to help customers and communities achieve the benefits and rewards of electric transportation by improving customer awareness of and education about EVs, supporting EV charging options where we park, and helping to mature transportation corridors to enable long-distance electric travel for all drivers. We are seeing greater adoption: at the end of 2018, there were more than 10,000 registered EVs and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) across our service territory, with nearly half of those in Ohio.

    We are also providing tools and guidance to our customers on how to better manage their fleet. These analytical tools show that replacing a vehicle with a similar EV that is on the market can provide a 50 percent reduction in first-year fuel cost, as well as a 40 percent reduction in first-year tailpipe emissions. When fleet managers understand these benefits specific to their needs, they are empowered to make decisions to adopt EVs that benefit their business, customers and communities.

    We are working today to identify and deploy technologies, solutions and programs to address the challenges and opportunities that EVs will present. Our objective is to increase adoption of electric transportation in our service territory and provide charging options that optimize the use of the grid for the benefit of all customers. This will require leading by example with our own fleet transformation, customer outreach and education; managing charging to optimally integrate EVs with the grid; increasing public infrastructure; and engaging with our legislative and regulatory stakeholders to get the rules right.

    We believe we are well-positioned to play an important role in supporting EV market development. We are actively working with policymakers and customers to develop and implement incentive programs to help jump-start and support adoption of EVs in our service territories.

    2018 EV Accomplishments:

    In 2018, AEP began expanding the use of EVs throughout our own company, including integration of EVs into our fleet of work vehicles. We have a program in place to prioritize EV charging stations, with approximately 100 ports installed across our facilities and plans to install more. This workplace EV charging system received an Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Technology Transfer Award in 2018, demonstrating its applicability across our industry.

    In April 2018, AEP Ohio received regulatory approval to implement an EV charging station incentive program. The program offers incentives for up to 375 charging stations at government-owned properties, workplaces, multifamily housing units and in low-income neighborhoods. In 2018, 54 projects were approved through this program, representing 136 Level 2 charging ports and nine DC Fast Charging Stations. Read more in Smart Columbus.

    As we optimize our existing grid assets, we are offering customers options and rates that encourage the efficient use of the grid. Our goal is to simplify charge-at-home options and enable our customers to charge their EVs in an affordable way. For example, having a special rate for night-time charging would make it more cost-effective for customers to recharge their EVs later at night to save money. It would also help us better manage the demand on the grid to ensure reliability.

    Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) received approval to update its EV tariff to improve home charging options and make it easier for customers to gain access to EV infrastructure. This type of policy change is what’s needed to enable quicker adoption of EVs and the supporting infrastructure.

    Following a legal settlement between Volkswagen and the federal government over violations of the Clean Air Act, Volkswagen agreed to provide $2.7 billion to the states for environmental mitigation projects. AEP continues to advocate for using these funds to support EV charging infrastructure.

    An AEP team received a Technology Transfer Award from EPRI in 2019, recognizing the team’s use of standards and methodologies created by EPRI to figure out how to deploy a network of vehicle charging stations at a workplace in an economical and scalable way. Access to charging at work can be an important enabling factor in wider adoption and leverages one of the longest vehicle idle time applications, second only to residential charging. The team led the installation of EV charging infrastructure at AEP’s corporate headquarters, which is one of the largest workplace installations in the country, proving a pathway for reducing the cost of incremental port additions and slashing the installed cost by over 70 percent compared to traditional approaches.