The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Program, or NEVI, offers an exciting opportunity for travel center owners and operators to future-proof their businesses, and lowers the barrier to entry for participating in the energy transition. While business owners’ first thought is to procure chargers, they often overlook how much energy the chargers consume during EV charging. The massive increase in energy usage will invariably affect the facility’s overall energy costs, especially if the local utility has high demand charges during peak consumption hours. Further, the expected energy demand for EV chargers often exceeds the existing service capacity available on-site.
Travel center owners and operators may experience any combination of the following project obstructions:
- Uncertainty around demand charge costs
- Difficulty determining how to normalize the electricity costs of DC fast chargers
- Avoiding a costly and time-consuming utility upgrade
- Ensuring appropriate energy capacity on-site
Distributed energy resources (DERs), such as on-site stationary battery storage, in conjunction with smart controls and a renewable energy source like a solar array, that powers the chargers during peak demand hours, can address all the above concerns. Fortunately, Federal NEVI guidance includes funding opportunities for DERs. Some states offer more specifics, outlined in their state-official NEVI plans, for how to take advantage of NEVI funds to subsidize DERs (a combination of DERs is sometimes referred to as a microgrid). This interactive map shows a state-by-state summary for DER funding in the US.
You may already be aware that the NEVI Program defines a “Corridor Ready” fast charging depot using the following criteria:
To put the 600 kW power capacity minimum criterion mentioned above in perspective, a mid-sized travel center without any charging stations can have an average hourly electricity load of 120 kW and a peak load of 200 kW. Adding charging stations in compliance with current NEVI guidance could triple or even quintuple a travel center’s power needs in the near future. Design and construction best practices should plan for future upgrades to 350 kW or greater, additional charging stations, and considerations for medium/heavy-duty vehicle charging.
The reality of installing EV chargers is not as easy as just buying and installing chargers. Consider addressing the following questions to improve the EV charging station installation process at your travel center:
Federal guidance currently includes battery storage and solar in their program funding if these resources directly provide for EV charging and reduce the costs of overall EVSE operations. Many states are including DERs in their plans for a variety of reasons, including cost savings, emergency resiliency preparedness during grid outages, and the added sustainability benefit.
Oregon DOT for example, mentions
“The NEVI program guidance allows for spending on renewable energy generation and storage technology if it leads to lower overall construction and operating costs. So, ODOT will prioritize onsite renewable and energy storage technologies at sites expected to have complex and expensive grid-connection costs, or sites with expected low use rates.”
West Virginia DOT emphasizes the importance of battery storage in resiliency and emergency preparedness:
WVDOT will continuously explore opportunities to incorporate emergency preparedness into NEVI program planning and implementation. Examples include the incorporation of EV stations along major routes as a scoring criteria or promotion of battery storage (an eligible expense with NEVI funds) as part of station development. Reliability is a goal for the NEVI program in West Virginia. Reliability includes the use of EV charging stations during emergency events.
The NEVI Program is fairly robust and will provide up to 80% of charging infrastructure costs. As a complementary pairing, Scale Microgrids has a team of DER/microgrid experts that can help answer any utility, solar & battery storage, and project economics questions that arise in the process. We analyze travel centers’ current operations and future plans to determine the most optimal mix of energy assets and maximize NEVI funding, with the ultimate goal of reducing day-to-day operational costs.
Contact us to connect with our experts or schedule a free consult for your facility today!
EV Sales Engineer, Scale Microgrids
About Scale Microgrids: Scale is a vertically integrated distributed energy platform, with a core focus of designing, building, financing, owning and operating cutting-edge distributed energy assets that offer cheaper, cleaner, and more resilient power. Their team of energy and financing experts accelerate growth in distributed energy projects by providing financing to technology providers, energy developers, and OEMs, while also directly helping large energy-consuming customers to take charge of their energy infrastructure and future-proof their businesses.