Dive Brief:

  • Consolidated Edison is preparing to roll out a curbside electric vehicle (EV) charging network pilot across New York City’s five boroughs, and expects 60 dual-charger posts (for a total of 120 Level 2 plugs) to be available beginning this fall.
  • The network is a Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) demonstration project and is being rolled out in partnership with the New York City Department of Transportation and charging network developer AddEnergie. According to the utility, a lack of publicly-available charging is a barrier to consumer adoption of EVs in the city.
  • The project carries an estimated cost of $13 million and is designed to incentivize EV ownership, but charging costs above gasoline-equivalent prices has some experts doubting whether that will be the case.

Dive Insight:

ConEd says the project aims to test how EV charging in public parking spaces can satisfy drivers, host communities, and charging network developers. But the price to charge will exceed equivalent gasoline costs, the utility told regulators in an implementation plan filed Feb. 10.

“The base pricing plan for the demonstration includes a $2.50 per hour rate for EV charging,” the utility said.

That is equivalent to about $0.40/kWh, given that one hour of charging will deliver 6.2 kWh, ConEd explained in documents filed with the New York Public Service Commission. “Assuming EV fuel efficiency is 3.5 miles per kWh, and conventional vehicle fuel efficiency is 28 mpg, the equivalent gasoline price is $3.20 per gallon.”

“If you’re above the price of gas, that’s too high,” Plug in America Executive Director Joel Levin told Utility Dive.

According to GasBuddy.com, gasoline prices in New York City are below $2.50/gallon.

A precise comparison between EVs and gas-fueled cars is difficult, Levin said, because different cars will charge at different rates. That makes prices based on the energy delivered to the car preferable to charging by time, he explained.

“New York City is a really difficult place to have an EV because nobody has a driveway,” Levin said. Because fewer EV owners can charge at home, “probably this [charging network] is intended for people using it on a regular basis. If it’s more than gasoline, that’s going to be a bit of a discouragement.”

ConEd said the charging prices were set based on publicly available information from plugshare.com.

“The $2.50 per hour is on the low side for the NYC area. Charging costs are structured in a variety of ways. In general, fees come to about 59 cents to 69 cents per Kwh. Ours is equal to about 40 cents per Kwh,” the utility said in an email.

Of the total chargers rolled out in the curbside pilot, 20 chargers are exclusive to NYC fleet vehicles and the rest will be open to the public.

“The demonstration will test strategies to integrate EV charging into host communities so that it is welcomed by both EV drivers and non-drivers alike,” the utility told regulators. The project will also help to determine “the role curbside charging plays in NYC EV charging infrastructure; and quantify the business opportunity of Level 2 curbside EV charging.”

Curbside charging is relatively new, said Levin, “and we don’t want to discourage it.”

“It’s innovative and not too many places are doing it,” Levin said. “But it’s better to charge by the kilowatt-hour so you know what you’re getting.”

The demonstration project will use FLO curbside charging stations manufactured by AddEnergie. The company says one of the most advanced deployments of the stations is in the city of Montreal, which originally started a pilot project in 2014.

“Following positive feedback by EV users, [Montreal] has increased its commitment to deploy over 1,000 AddEnergie curbside charging stations by 2020,” Travis Allan, AddEnergie’s vice-president of public affairs and general counsel, said in an email.

Allan also said Los Angeles has deployed a pilot of 75 FLO curbside charging stations, “which are already seeing positive feedback from users. FLO’s curbside stations are also in use in the cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, London, Kitchener and many others.”