6/9/2015 | 1 MINUTE READ

DOE Partners with Utility Consortium to Speed EV Usage

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The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and U.S. Dept. of Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on promoting and accelerating the adoption of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

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The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) and U.S. Dept. of Energy have signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on promoting and accelerating the adoption of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

The agreement calls for joint research, infrastructure, education and outreach programs. One of the first action items is to conduct a national study to determine the economic impact of electric transportation on the U.S. economy.

The partners will work with the White House and federal agencies, that include the Dept. of Transportation, General Services Administration and Council on Environmental Quality. DOE and EEI also vow to help lower infrastructure barriers at the state level.

The partnership will also seek ways for utilities to partner with the DOE's year-old Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium of 17 U.S. national laboratories to analyze how electric vehicles impact the electric grid.

Sales of EVs and hybrids fell to a four-year low of 2.8% of the American passenger vehicle market in January-May compared with 3.5% in calendar 2014 and 3.7% in 2013, according to Edmunds.com. The online auto data provider attributes the slump to low fuel prices and the improved efficiency of conventionally powered cars and trucks.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to push for increased use of EVs and hybrid vehicles. An executive order signed earlier this year directs federal agencies to make half their new passenger vehicle acquisitions zero emission or plug-in hybrid vehicles by 2025 and cut fleetwide per-mile greenhouse gas emissions 30% by that time.

EEI is advancing its own plans. Last year, the trade group's 70 electric company members committed to invest at least 5% of their annual fleet budgets about $50 million in plug-in vehicles and technologies. EEI says that initiative will total more than $90 million in 2015, adding about 800 new plug-in vehicles and 740 new charging ports to utility fleets.