Overcoming the Three Common Obstacles of Fleet Electrification: A Utility’s Viewpoint

April 10, 2023

In the U.S., the transportation sector is the largest source of carbon emissions. Nearly 25% of that comes from commercial and freight trucks. Electrifying fleets is a considerable and complex journey, and utilities are uniquely qualified to help businesses make this switch.

Xcel Energy was the first electric and gas utility to set ambitious greenhouse gas goals across all the ways our customers use energy: electricity, heating, and transportation. We continue to roll out new programs for customers and communities to enable more electric vehicles (EVs). In 2021, we launched a record 14 new clean transportation programs in Colorado and Minnesota, and in early 2022, rolled out a suite of new EV programs for customers in New Mexico to join programs already offered to customers in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

We are helping fleet customers with the infrastructure and energy to support their transition to EVs. Here are some of the initial challenges we saw in the market:

#1 Opportunity Awareness

While EVs for individuals and families have drawn plenty of attention and funding, many businesses and organizations are unaware of the benefits of EVs for commercial fleet use.

Environmental benefits

Fleet electrification can help reduce air pollution, which can help improve the quality of the air we breathe. EVs can also help reduce CO2 emissions, allowing fleet organizations to meet or exceed sustainability goals.

Business advantages

Fleet electrification can also help businesses save money on fuel, maintenance, daily operations, and financial forecasting. Electric rates have been more stable than gasoline or diesel pricing, allowing for greater budgeting certainty.

Additionally, electric fleet vehicles require less maintenance and offer lower labor costs than gasoline or diesel vehicles, as the drivetrain in a fully electric vehicle contains fewer moving parts than a comparable gasoline or diesel vehicle.

#2 Understanding Infrastructure

The inner workings of infrastructure and the power needs of a fleet electrification project can be complex

The installation cost and equipment, such as chargers, wiring, and other components, can be significant factors in installing EV charging infrastructure. The location of the charging infrastructure and the availability of power sources, need to be considered. Also, the maintenance of the charging infrastructure and security measures are part of the equation.

Designing a fleet electrification roadmap and installing infrastructure

Xcel Energy’s no-cost EV advisory services begin with a fleet assessment. Data gathering from fleet operations informs the best path to electrify the fleet. With this valuable data from the assessment, EV advisors guide customers through the next steps to a customized fleet EV plan, including vehicle research, site design, charging infrastructure, rate structure and charging equipment installations. After planning, our teams will manage the installation of infrastructure and charging equipment needed for that fleet.

The process can be complex. Partnering with our trained EV advisors can make projects easier and more affordable, every step of the way.

#3 Walk the Talk

We continue gaining working knowledge by electrifying our own fleet.

As part of our transportation vision, Xcel Energy’s goal is to enable one out of five vehicles to be electric in the areas we serve by 2030. In addition to launching our EV charging programs to spread awareness and provide charging solutions that reduce up-front costs for our customers, we are electrifying our own fleet. Highlights of our fleet electrification goals include:

  • Electrify all our sedans by 2023, all light-duty trucks and 30% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2030, and meeting our goal to have a zero-carbon fleet by 2050.
  • Xcel Energy was the first energy company in the nation to add all-electric bucket trucks to its fleet. Our crews are collecting data from real working conditions in Minnesota and Colorado, and we will share these insights with our customers and offer OEMs opportunities to improve these vehicles.

The Xcel Energy Method: Learning from pilots to introduce strong customer programs

Xcel Energy has developed various programs to support fleet electrification:

  • Fleet Electrification Advisory Program – Provides no-cost assessments and advisory services for vehicles and charging infrastructure to businesses and communities who are electrifying their fleets.
  • Electric Vehicle Services Infrastructure – Provides no- to low-cost turn-key construction services for EV charging infrastructure for qualifying customers, including design and build-out where Xcel Energy installs, owns, and maintains EV supply infrastructure.
  • Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment – Provides customers with the option to purchase their own qualifying vehicle chargers or rent chargers at a monthly fee that includes installation and maintenance.
  • Small Business Rebate Program – Provides rebates to qualifying Colorado businesses to add EV supply infrastructure for their fleets.
  • Fleet Pilots in Colorado – Through research and learning, we are helping communities add vehicles such as electric paratransit buses and refuse trucks to their fleet.
  • Electric School Bus Pilot – Helps qualifying school districts in Colorado to fund procurement of electric school buses and providing the installation of the school bus fleet charging infrastructure.

Equitable opportunities as part of our commitment to driving EV adoption.

Making these programs accessible to everyone is important to us, so we’ve dedicated more than $20 million to support EV adoption in underserved communities within Colorado. We’ve also expanded our rebates for fleets within Higher Emissions Communities and income-qualified neighborhoods to make it more affordable for fleet electrification.

Ready to answer your questions at ACT Expo

Xcel Energy is a major U.S. regulated electric and natural gas company that serves approximately 3.7 million electricity and 2.1 million natural gas customers across parts of eight Midwestern and Western states.

Xcel Energy will be at ACT Expo on May 2-4, 2023, in Anaheim, California. Visit our booth #7011 to learn about how we can help you in your fleet electrification journey. You can also connect with our EV advisors via the intake form on our website.