EVs Galore at the New York International Auto Show



Fortnightly Magazine - June 2019

PUF's Steve Mitnick: Doug, you're from the New York Power Authority. What do you do there and why are you here at the Javits Center?

Doug McMahon: I'm the Vice President of Corporate Strategy, but I also head up several new decarbonization business lines for NYPA. One of those is our EVolve NY electric vehicle infrastructure program. About a year ago, our Trustees asked NYPA to take a greater leadership role in the decarbonization of New York States energy economy, and we identified two areas where we felt NYPA could play a truly impactful role. 

One area is focused on building carbon-free flexibility into the electrical grid with a focus on storage and demand response. The other is focused on decarbonizing the transportation sector in New York - hence why I am at the Javits center for the 2019 New York Auto Show.

More than forty percent of carbon emissions in New York State come from transportation, and since 1990 the number of emissions from vehicles continues to grow. We are aware that in order for the state to hit the ambitious GHG reduction targets laid out by Governor Andrew Cuomo, transportation is the biggest area of emissions that needs to be addressed.

NYPA has secured a quarter billion dollars from our trustees to invest in EV infrastructure across New York - initially to address range anxiety, which is one of the major reasons why consumers are not transitioning from internal combustion engine or ICE vehicles to EVs. What we want to do over the next five to six years is build out a strong, robust, convenient network of public fast-charging across the state.

From left, Doug McMahon, NYPA, Bob Stojanovic, ABB, Anders Sjoelin, ABB, and Matt Ketschke, Con Ed

During the Auto Show, we are working with our colleagues from NYSERDA, ConEd, and ABB to start promoting the state-wide EV infrastructure program and the Governor's Charge NY initiative that offers electric car buyers a Drive Clean Rebate of up to two thousand dollars for new car purchases or leases.

PUF: Matt, you're from ConEd. That's the electric and gas company for the city and parks, including Yankee Stadium. What do you do at ConEd and why are you here?

Matt Ketschke: I'm the senior vice president of customer energy solutions for ConEd. My job is to think about the products and services which our customers need today. We also need to consider what we need as we move forward, as the industry shifts, and particularly as state, local, and federal policies around energy and emissions shift, and how the products, services, and use of energy changes over time. We call that a utility of the future.

As we think about the future of energy, what our customers are looking for, and the direction that the state of New York is going from a policy standpoint, particularly on emissions, we see EVs as important. If you look at overall emissions, they have been trending down significantly over the last decade or so, especially in carbon emissions from the electrical production sector in New York.

At NYPA’s Auto Show booth

We're now at a place where transportation accounts for more of the carbon emissions in the state than electric production. In a continued path toward decarbonization, we're going to have to think about transportation as the next place we go.

It's a good target area because we are continuing to decarbonize the electric production sector. That includes goals like the state desire to achieve nine thousand megawatts of offshore wind.

PUF: Anders, you're from ABB. What do you do and what brings you here?

Anders Sjoelin: I'm leading the North American Power Grids Division for ABB, located in Raleigh, North Carolina. We are excited to be invited to co-present our solutions with our partners and customers to share our vision on e-mobility and to showcase what we're doing around e-mobility at the expo. We also brought our ABB Formula E exhibit to the show as the season finale will take place in Brooklyn, New York on July 13-14, where ABB is the main sponsor. 

At ABB’s Auto Show booth

Formula E is an exciting event that allows us to share our vision around e-mobility with our customers and general public as one of the areas to address decarbonization, emission control initiatives, and clean power goals in the northeast region.

The other reason ABB is here is to show our EV charging offerings. ABB is pioneering e-mobility technologies, and we are the world leader in fast DC chargers, offering smart and innovative solutions for electric city buses, known as TOSA.

Over the past ten years, ABB has invested over fourteen billion dollars in the United States into a number of technologies and companies. It allowed us to expand our local presence and focus on enabling electrification of transportation, industry automation, and energy generation as well as transmission and distribution and covering many parts of the electrical value chain going from source to the wheels, and I believe that it is very important to look at e-mobility's full electrical value chain, not just EV charging stations.

PUF: What do you mean by, source to the wheels?

Anders Sjoelin: The trend is going toward the decarbonization, emission reduction, and more renewables resources. E-mobility powered with low or no emission sources will be a critical part of achieving these goals. Renewable resources, like hydro or wind power, are usually located in remote locations, not close to the consumption points.

With that comes the need for efficient power grids, both transmission and distribution. You need to have an efficient solution and city in-feed points, as well as smart distribution systems that can manage and cope with these changes in load flows and more intermittent energy sources.

I also see New York, from a location standpoint, well positioned to optimize the generation mix and achieve outlined goals, thanks to renewable energy sources located both within New York State and in neighboring states.

PUF: Bob what do you do and why are you here?

Bob Stojanovic: I'm the director of EV infrastructure solutions. What that means to ABB is we don't just look at charging, but all the items associated with it. That includes storage if necessary, on-site generation, or microgrids.

It includes all the different aspects that we could bring to help make the successful site host for EV charging. Some markets act in two different ways. In some places, there's a customer portion where they procure everything on the customer side of the meter.

Then there are our partners in the utilities who supply everything behind the meter. Just because there's, maybe, a non-physical separation, meaning the line is the meter, doesn't mean you stop looking at the entire system.

PUF: EV drivers know the cars blow away internal combustion engine cars, but not many have been bought yet. Doug, how do we change that? 

Doug McMahon: First, we need a very robust fast charging network across the state, so that anyone who owns an EV knows that they can drive across the state or drive from New York City to Canada, or to other states, knowing that there are places where they can charge their vehicle if they need to. Second, we need to make EVs affordable. The Charge NY Drive Clean Rebate program helps in that regard by offering a two-thousand-dollar rebate for EV buyers or lessees, and the price of EVs is coming down as you can see by some of the twenty or so EVs here at the Auto Show this year.

PUF: People know cars go into a gas station, fill up, it takes a few minutes, you're there, you're out. Why use the term, fast charging? Because, charging, people think takes a long time.

Doug McMahon: Yes. Most charging will likely be carried out at work or at home - where the vehicle is parked for four-to-six-hours-plus. In these cases, level two chargers can charge the vehicle at a rate of up to two hundred and forty volts - replenishing forty to fifty miles of range per hour. But with maturing technology, we're starting to see much more powerful charging units that can significantly reduce the time it will take to charge a vehicle.

In New York, most of the deployed public fast chargers are in the fifty-kilowatt charging range. The next generation of charging stations will charge at a rate of one hundred and fifty-kilowatts, which for a typical EV should take somewhere about twenty to twenty-five minutes to fully charge your vehicle.

We understand that there is a behavioral challenge that will need to be addressed - around not wanting to be located in a place for an extended period of time in order to charge your vehicle. There's a convenience component to that. That is why NYPA will deploy fast chargers at a minimum of one hundred and fifty-kilowatts.

Building out a charging network of these fast chargers across the state is critical to reduce a lot of the range anxiety challenges that are preventing people from buying EVs. We've already started that process of installing fast charging sites at approximate forty- to fifty-mile intervals along key travel corridors throughout the state, a ten-charger hub at JFK airport, and urban charging in the state's most populous cities including Yonkers, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo. 

PUF: People have to see them.

Doug McMahon: We are starting to see more of these charging locations crop up around the state. Currently, they tend to be located on the major travel corridors and highways. But there are parts of New York State at the moment, certainly north of Albany, where the coverage is limited.

That is one area where an organization like NYPA can take a more patient view to making investment in fast charging, that allows us to build out a much more consistent and robust network where nobody has to travel more than fifty to sixty miles in the state without having access to one of these charging stations. We are aggressively building this network now.

PUF: Matt, how do we get this going?

Matt Ketschke: For ConEd, we serve essentially New York City, Westchester County. We serve some dense, urban infrastructure. While we partner closely with NYPA, our challenge is slightly different.

We're looking at serving essentially a vertical city. For our service territory, a lot of the vehicles are not garage kept. In New York City, about fifty-three percent of the vehicles spend some percentage of their time street parked.

How do we handle the EV problem in a city, and what do we need to make available to customers to help this work for them? Working with the New York City Department of Transportation, can we make curbside charging available?

This is publicly accessible charging, but publicly accessible charging in the slower charge rates. It's not exactly what Doug [McMahon] was talking about with DC fast charging, although we are working to facilitate DC fast charging in the city.

We're looking to put DC fast charging in, one in each of the boroughs using some of our own company property and leveraging New York City Department of Transportation properties. That's one step in the accessibility to DC fast charging. But then also looking at those curbside spots, we're piloting a program with the NYCDOT to install a hundred and twenty-five curbside chargers to allow for slower charging that, if you had a garage you might charge there but if you're a street parker, you can do on the street.

We're working our way through the DOT to start a pilot with at least a hundred and twenty units. The other is working with customers on how they think about charging, and the cost of charging when charging at home.

We offer a time-of-use rate that allows customers to take advantage of the lower cost of energy off hours. We recognize that not all customers would exactly know how to use that in the first year. Our time-of-use offering for an EV customer has a price guarantee, so you wouldn't pay more in the first year of having it than you would if you had stayed on the standard rate. 

We also have an incentive program called Smart Charge. It's a program that when you plug a device in the car, it allows the car to recognize when it's being charged and report back. It allows us to credit customers for off-hours charging, for any place that they did it inside our service territory.

The last is, we've worked with some of the other partners in the state who are looking to install DC fast charging that we don't necessarily own, to develop rate structures that work for fast charge providers. These would reduce, in the early part of the rates, both the demand charges and delivery charges.

Reduce those early-on costs and then gradually phase them out so that as adoption increases and you get more use of these DC fast charging stations, the costs match with the rates they're paying.

PUF: Anders, what can ABB do to accelerate this?

Anders Sjoelin: First of all, I think we will achieve progress through collaboration with all stakeholders and customers. We have to be there to support technical studies but also to make sure that stakeholders are aware of the latest technologies and solutions around EV implementation, where we can take learnings and experiences from our global EV references and technologies.

Ultimately, if we are setting goals to meet one hundred percent clean power requirements, it is a must to have renewable power sources in the power mix, and ABB has a number of solutions to support this transformation, with the power grid being the enabler of this transformation. 

To support these deployments, ABB has developed a number of technologies that allow not only to intelligently manage DERs but also make the grids more reliable and secure. Some of these technologies include high voltage direct current transmission systems, Distributed Energy Resources Management Systems, asset health management, integrated resource planning, advanced distribution management systems, and so on.

In addition, as I mentioned before, we have a broad portfolio of EV chargers: from 120-V AC chargers to 150- to 600-kW DC high power chargers that can charge vehicles in five to fifteen minutes. 

Matt Ketschke: I'm thinking about how we use technology from companies like ABB, that allow us to optimize the grid router. In the case of the non-wires alternative that we did in Brooklyn, we had constraints in our substation based on what would be the hottest day of the year and all of the need that comes from air conditioning load. 

We exceeded the capability of the substation with the growth going on in central Brooklyn and Queens and we would have needed a new substation. Instead, we were able to engage different forms of Grid Edge technology to levelize that demand more evenly on those peak days and avoid the need for a substation.

In the case of EVs, as we see more of these coming in, we'll be figuring out ways of using technology to smooth out the charging profile that customers have, so we don't have overloads and we can optimize the grid and still meet customers' needs.

Doug McMahon: For example, some of the fast charges, particularly in areas where they are going to be lowly utilized in early stages of projects, charges can contribute somewhere in the region of eighty to ninety percent of the monthly electricity bill for the chargers.

One of the ways for us to work collaboratively is to make sure that a lot of the infrastructure and variable electricity cost components that are related to these fast-charging units are managed in the most appropriate way for the grid and the consumer.

This, to me, is one of the most fascinating parts of trying to build out an EV ecosystem. How can we work charging systems into the electricity system in a way that is going to make the charging systems profitable without causing too much of an issue for the utilities? This is an area where all of us are going to be working together to try to build the necessary supports for a robust charging system, particularly as we start to get some success and critical mass around the number of chargers around the city.

PUF: What's going on in the chargers where it doesn't take that long?

Bob Stojanovic: There is a lot going on with the technology side. It pays to remember with EVs that we're, at best, ten years into a new technology and it's a race to make it a better experience for everybody. That's the bar. 

If you want to get the consumers to transition, you need to be more experienced. The cars are there, meaning the people enjoy driving the vehicles. I'll argue that maybe the fueling situation isn't at par if you're in a hurry. People want to fill up and be gone in less than six to nine minutes, typically. So that's the goal. 

There are limitations on the technology side, not from the charging side, but there are lithium ion batteries that are probably the most expensive piece of the car.

It's well protected by software to make sure they don't overheat. You get the most life out of them, just like your iPhone. Until that technology changes, there are limits to how much energy they can take in a short period of time, that's the constraint.

Assuming the EV drivers want to fuel the vehicle in less time than it takes to fill a traditional internal combustion powered car. You're going to need about approximately a megawatt of power. We're going to need a different physical interface technology when connecting to the vehicle to make that happen safely and reliably.

But there's also a key market difference in that you cannot gas up at home today. Very few people, possibly farmers, have a tank of gas that they use to fuel their tractors or maybe their cars. But, if you're in a suburban area, most people at least have access to a standard one hundred and twenty-volt plug, which at minimum can give most EVs a forty-mile charge overnight.

PUF: But I charge up at work. Is that the case, that most people are going to charge there anyway?

Bob Stojanovic: The fuel is everywhere. The question is what's the right location for EV charging infrastructure? There's no single answer because every environment and use case is a little different.

In the case for DC fast charging, it's most attractive for interstate travel or when you're going to be driving for more than a couple of hours and you're trying to get from point A to point B and it's more than say two hundred and fifty miles.

For shorter distances, the source is everywhere. It's a matter of figuring out, does it belong in the parking garage at work, at your house, or some other place?

Doug McMahon: This is what we're getting at in terms of the behavioral changes that are required. The way consumers traditionally fuel their vehicles is going to have to change. 

The way in which we're utilizing vehicles is changing, too. We're going to start to see vehicles being utilized more efficiently. Vehicles at the moment are utilized about four percent of the time. That means they spend ninety-six percent of the time sitting dormant.

That is ridiculously inefficient and part of the reason why Manhattan is challenging to drive in from six a.m. to six p.m. every day. There are so many vehicles on the road, particularly ones with a single occupant.

With the increase in popularity of ride share and likely introduction of autonomous vehicles, we can see a different utilization, an ownership model for vehicles, which could drive down the number of vehicles on the road. It's a cultural shift that will happen over the next decade, but the future is now. 

PUF: It takes everybody helping, right?

Matt Ketschke: This is a collaborative effort. When asked, what can ConEd do to help the EV adoption, we have a relatively small piece of a large picture. Represented here at the auto show, you have charging manufacturers, industrial companies, and control companies like ABB who are business-to-business drivers. 

It takes the local governments, state governments, and federal governments, on both the policies and incentives to drive some of these issues. It also takes our public power partners like NYPA, investor utilities like ConEd, and how we interface with our customers, and how we help our customers better understand what their options are.

Ultimately it will be up to customers to adopt what is a good technology. We're just at the beginning stage of people adopting them.

PUF: How does ABB try to work with everyone to be of service and stimulate this?

Anders Sjoelin: ABB has five divisions, or businesses, that support nearly all the industries where we closely collaborate with each other to make sure we provide the maximum value to our customers.

For example, Bob [Stojanovic] is working with his stakeholders to provide EV charging solutions, while my business focuses on the grid solutions with a strong business to the utilities. We all have a common goal though, finding the right solution at optimal cost for our customers so they can provide the best value to their customers.

Matt Ketschke: For me, it's the inherent value we have in the cables and in the grid. Call it the energy revolution or decarbonization or emission. Change how we go about and how we move. The value of the wires and the utilities play a role in making the EV experience the experience the customers expect.

PUF: This must be a great opportunity for ABB.

Matt Ketschke: We're excited. It's finding the balance, when to invest and how to invest. It's making sure you buy the right technology and have the technology so it's affordable.

PUF: Bob, you have to work with several folks, not only externally, but it's different, with these five divisions.

Bob Stojanovic: What we have to do is satisfy a couple of different customers. The utilities have certain requirements or wants or wish lists. This charger is a great interactive device. It needs to be dispatchable, it needs to be smart, and you're going to push data back and forth so they can make the right decisions on how to either scale up power or shift - depending on load or incentives - their customers' behaviors based on time-of-use rates and things like that.

You need to be able to incorporate that into the pricing model so the consumer can make a solid financial decision. Make it real time, in California if its nine p.m., this is probably a good time to charge as the electric time of use rates are low. It's six p.m. and it's peak time, so it's probably the most expensive time of day to charge.

Today at a gas station you've got regular, mid-grade, and premium. You're going to have something like that, but it's probably going to be associated with the speed that you're charging and time you're charging.

Doug McMahon: We've got to explore what that can look like. There's going to be a choice. It's going to be financially driven, but it could also be environmentally driven, or it could be based on how much time you are willing to wait to get your car recharged.

PUF: Doug, where is this going? In 2030, what would we be talking about here?

Doug McMahon: Putting the technology aside, we'll see a more decarbonized transportation system than we have today. The mandate in New York tells us we need to get to eight hundred and fifty thousand electric vehicles in New York by 2025. We have about thirty-five thousand on the road today.

We estimate to hit the 40-by-30 greenhouse gas reduction that the Governor set out that we actually need to be nearer to three million EVs by 2030. So that's a quarter of all light-duty vehicles on New York roads.

NYPA, through our EVolve NY program, is working with our partners in both the public and private sector and also with colleagues in the investor-owned utilities. Together, we are committed to building out, by 2025, somewhere in the region of eight hundred DC fast chargers across the state of New York.

We believe that will be a great way to encourage current vehicle owners to transition away from ICE vehicles and get in on the EVolution. 

PUF: What's 2030 going to look like in terms of transportation electrification?

Matt Ketschke: The analysis we look at is very similar to the analysis that Doug mentioned that NYPA has. By 2030 you could have somewhere between a quarter to maybe as many as a third of the new vehicles being sold being EVs.

That's the case if you look at the average turnover of the passenger fleet in New York, it's about every twelve to thirteen years. You could have somewhere around fifteen to twenty percent of the vehicles operating in our service territory being EVs at that