Amid EV Surge, Austin Eyes a New Way of Doing Business — Episode 48 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

A ‘Next-Wave Mobility Plan’

Popham’s vision lines up with an innovative, wholesale push for electrification approved by the Austin City Council last year. The “next-wave mobility plan” prioritizes electric, shared, and autonomous vehicles in the city’s transportation plans. City leaders and staff, including Popham, are working together now to map out specific solutions that further the three-pronged approach.

The Business of EV Charging

Austin Energy estimates the city’s drivers do 85% of their car-charging in personal garages and carports, behind the meter. The public network, however, provides another option. And the opt-in “membership” program encourages drivers to use it. Some auto dealers hand out a prepaid membership when they sell electric vehicles off the lot. But even drivers who don’t the six-month buy-in can use the public chargers anytime, for $2 per hour.

Promising Demand Response

As part of its push to maximize the benefits of electric vehicles, Austin Energy has also tested demand response technology, methods that allow the utility to encourage or require drivers to charge during times when it’s best for the grid. The utility runs a similar program using smart thermostats, to regulate air conditioners when electricity demand ticks toward its peak.

Fleet Electrification

Austin’s transition to a more electrified transportation future doesn’t stop with its private customers. In fact, the city itself is at the center of the plan. Austin plans to integrate 330 electric vehicles into its municipal fleet between now and 2020, a move expected to generate $3.5 million in savings — including fuel and maintenance costs — over 10 years.

What’s Next?

The economics of vehicle electrification are increasingly compelling, especially as battery costs plummet (indeed, battery packs are expected to clock in at just one-quarter of their 2010 price by 2022, a reduction that on its own could cut the price of electric vehicles by 25%).

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Inst: Local Self-Reliance

Inst: Local Self-Reliance

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance has a vision of thriving, diverse, equitable communities. To reach this, we build local power to fight corporate control