As EV adoption increases, you should identify customers who use Level 2 chargers to help in your distribution planning. You should also offer them programs to minimize the chargers’ impact on the grid.

Identifying and segmenting your Level 2 EV charging customers

You often don’t know when residential customers purchase EVs and install Level 2 chargers, which can stress your peak demand periods if you don’t manage the loads. And in the 2020 E Source Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey, we found that only 38% of respondents who own an EV reported charging their vehicle during off-peak hours (figure 1).

Figure 1: Few EV owners charge during off-peak hours

In the 2020 E Source Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey, 38% of respondents indicated that they charge their EV overnight.
This graph shows when respondents said they prefer to charge their vehicles. The respondents could select all that applied. Thirty-eight percent said they would prefer to charge overnight; 36% said they prefer to charge in the evening; 31% said they prefer to charge in the afternoon; 29% said they prefer to charge in the morning; and 9% said they prefer to charge whenever the car needs to be charged. There were 964 respondents from the US and Canada. The question was 'Thinking about your typical daily routine, what time of day do you prefer to charge your vehicle at home? Select all that apply.' This graph doesn't include the 'I don't know' and 'I wouldn't charge my vehicle at home' response options because less than 1% of respondents chose those responses. The data is from the 2020 Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey.

Identifying these customers will also help in your distribution planning. Because Level 2 chargers draw more power than Level 1 chargers, they’ll increase residential load and you’ll need to replace grid infrastructure sooner.

We can help you locate these customers. If you have advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), we can use your customers’ daily meter data to identify who’s using a Level 2 charger. For utilities without AMI, we can combine customer demographic data with standard billing data to identify them. We used both methods to identify customers who use Level 2 chargers in PPL Electric Utilities’ territory.

How we identified PPL customers with and without AMI data

With AMI data. To identify customers with Level 2 chargers in PPL’s territory, we asked utility staff if they had one and analyzed publicly available data—we identified six customers. We analyzed their daily AMI meter data from September to December 2019 to understand what the customers’ meter data looked like when they charged their EV. We then used software to analyze data from all 1.2 million residential customer AMI meters to identify customers that had the same daily load characteristics as the six known customers with Level 2 chargers. We assigned each residential customer a score from 0 to 1 to indicate the likelihood of that customer having a Level 2 charger in their household, with 1 being the highest likelihood. Figure 2 shows the location of customers with a score of 0.9 or higher.

Figure 2: Locations of customers who are most likely to have a Level 2 charger

We used the known load shape characteristics of customers with Level 2 chargers to identify other residential meters that most closely matched those load shapes. Each dot on the map represents a customer who had a likelihood score of 0.9 or higher, with 1 being the highest likelihood.
This image shows a map of PPL Electric Utility's service territory. Red dots indicate customers who likely have a Level 2 charger. There are over one hundred identified customers, with clustered customers around Allentown, Lancaster, Harrisburg, and Jackson, Pennsylvania.

We used the Level 2 EV charger load shapes to create a template that the utility could use to identify other customers. Then we ranked variables that predicted whether a customer had a Level 2 charger, such as the shape of the load and the number of daily peaks. We identified 359 meters (1% of PPL’s residential customers) that had the distinct Level 2 charger load shape and were likely to have Level 2 EV chargers.

Without AMI data. If you don’t have AMI meters, we can still help you identify customers with Level 2 chargers in your territory. To identify PPL customers without using the AMI data, we used a combination of:

  • Income data
  • Average bill amount
  • Kilowatt-hour usage
  • EV registration data

This method was 99% accurate. And we can apply this model to specific data from your territory, or we can generalize our model and apply it to your territory without additional data from you.

How we can segment your customers

Once we have identified customers using Level 2 chargers, we use the data to understand those customers’ other behaviors, like what time of day and how frequently they charge their EV. We combine our data with market research and segmentation data to determine what types of programs you should offer these customers and how to target specific customer segments.

Offering the right EV charging programs

Once you understand which customers own Level 2 chargers, you can start targeting them with programs that will help them save money and charge more efficiently while helping you manage loads. You should also consider initiatives that will educate potential EV or EV charger buyers.

Managing load and reducing cost

To make EV ownership and charging as cost-effective for customers as possible, offer a combination of special pricing and incentive programs to your EV customers.

Offer your customers special pricing and incentive programs to encourage them to charge their EV during off-peak hours and reduce their costs. These programs can work together to help you manage EV load and increase charger efficiency.

Time-of-use programs. EV time-of-use rates offer EV customers a cheaper rate during certain off-peak hours to encourage them to charge then. Some programs offer customers an EV rate that uses the existing house meter. Others require customers to install a second, dedicated utility meter for EV charging. Some utilities pay for the second meter and others require customers to pay for it.

Managed charging. You can manage residential EV charging to shed load during peak demand events. Behavioral, or passive managed charging programs use special rates—like TOU rates—coupled with incentives to encourage customers to charge their EV when it’s beneficial for the utility.

Some programs offer customers an EV rate that uses the existing house meter. Others require customers to install a second, dedicated utility meter for EV charging.

To participate in passive managed charging, EV owners voluntarily set charging times that align with off-peak periods using a timer on their EV or through a computer within the EV. Check out Mopping up the solar spill: Using optimized managed charging to absorb excess solar generation for more details on managed charging program options.

ENERGY STAR equipment rebates. Help your customers charge more efficiently by offering incentives for ENERGY STAR–certified EV chargers. You can require customers enroll in a demand response or special pricing program to receive efficient charger incentives.

Educating customers

Some of your customers might be slow to adopt Level 2 charging because they don’t understand the technology. For example, we found that 63% of customers that are considering purchasing an EV think that proper electrical equipment must be installed to charge an EV at home (figure 3).

Figure 3: How are EVs charged?

Only 37% of respondents considering purchasing an EV and 48% of respondents that own an EV know that you can charge an EV at home by plugging it into a standard three-prong outlet.
This graph shows how respondents think they can charge an electric vehicle. There were 1,016 respondents who have a battery-electric vehicle or a plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle. Of those respondents, 55% said you can charge an electric vehicle at a public charger in your community, if available; 48% said you can charge an electric vehile at home, but proper electrical equipment must be installed first; 48% said you can charge an electgric vehicle at home by plugging it into a standard three-prong wall outlet; 44% said you can charge an electric vehicle at work if there is a charger there; and 1% said they didn't know how to charge an electric vehicle. There were 3,965 respondents who were considering an EV. Of those respondents, 69% said you can charge an electric vehicle at a public charger in your community, if available; 63% said you can charge an electric vehile at home, but proper electrical equipment must be installed first; 37% said you can charge an electgric vehicle at home by plugging it into a standard three-prong wall outlet; 56% said you can charge an electric vehicle at work if there is a charger there; and 8% said they didn't know how to charge an electric vehicle. The question was 'A standard gas-powered vehicle refuels at a gas station. How can you charge an electric vehicle? Select all that apply.' The respondents were from the US and Canada. The data is from the 2020 Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey.

Your EV education initiatives will help potential EV buyers better understand how EV charging works and the benefits of using a Level 2 charger. In our survey, we found that those considering an EV preferred Level 1 charging to Level 2 charging when cost was a factor, but the majority of EV owners prefer Level 2 chargers regardless of time or cost (figure 4). To educate your customers, partner with EV dealerships and target specific customer groups with marketing campaigns. You should start educating EV buyers as early as possible because many customers install Level 2 chargers either before they buy an EV or soon after (figure 5).

Figure 4: Customers’ preferred chargers

Respondents who already own an EV prefer Level 2 chargers whether or not cost was a factor (A), but respondents who are considering an EV prefer Level 1 when considering cost (B). The difference in preference between EV owners and those considering an EV is likely because EV owners understand that charging an EV with a Level 2 charger is still less expensive than gasoline. They’re also less likely to change charging habits that they already have and they might have higher incomes than potential EV owners.
There are two graphs. One shows which charger respondents who already own a battery-electric vehicle or plug-in-hybrid would prefer to use at thier home if time were the only factor, and if cost were an additional factor. If time were the only factor, 34% would prefer Level 1 charging; 64% would prefer Level 2 charging; and 1% said they wouldn't charge at home. If cost were an additional factor, 43% said they would prefer Level 1 charging; 53% said they would prefer Level 2 charging; and 4% said they wouldn't charge at home. There were 1,004 respondents. The questions were 'If time were the only factor, which charging option would you prefer to use at your home?' and 'If cost were another factor, which charging option would you prefer to use at your home?' The other graph shows which charger respondents who are considering an all-electric vehicle would prefer to use at thier home if time were the only factor, and if cost were an additional factor. If time were the only factor, 22% would prefer Level 1 charging; 75% would prefer Level 2 charging; and 3% said they wouldn't charge at home. If cost were an additional factor, 57% said they would prefer Level 1 charging; 38% said they would prefer Level 2 charging; and 5% said they wouldn't charge at home. There were 3,662 respondents. The questions were 'If time were the only factor, which charging option would you prefer to use at your home?' and 'If cost were another factor, which charging option would you prefer to use at your home?' The data is from the 2020 Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey.

Figure 5: When customers install Level 2 chargers

Just under a quarter of respondents with an EV and Level 2 charging said they installed their Level 2 chargers before they purchased an EV. Almost half said they installed it within the first month of having an EV.
This graph shows when respondents installed Level 2 chargers in their homes. Forty-nine percent said they installed one within a month of purchasing or leasing their electric vehicle; 24% said they installed one more than a month after purchasing or leasing their electric vehicle; 24% said they installed one before they purchased or leased their electric vehicle; 2% said there was a Level 2 charger already installed at their home when they moved in; 1% said there is one available at their multiunit building complex; and 1% said other. There were 274 respondents. They were from the US or Canada, have a battery-electric or plug-in-hybrid electric vehicle, and have Level 2 charging. The data is from the 2020 Electric Vehicle Residential Customer Survey.

Contributing Authors

Staff Writer II

Liza Minor began working as a Staff Writer II on the Content Strategy and Production Team in the summer of 2020. Previously, she used E ...