Electric Vehicles

Austin Energy EV efforts get boost with city council funding

Public power utility Austin Energy is preparing to hit the ground running to expand electric vehicle charging stations and electrify the city's transportation sector with the aid of $3.2 million approved by the Austin City Council in August.

Specifically, the funds will provide for the installation of EV charging stations that support multiple initiatives. For instance, Austin Energy intends to deploy 10 public fast charging EV stations while providing charging infrastructure to support the city of Austin’s plan to replace 330 gas vehicles with EVs over the next three years.

Over the next year the city-owned utility expects to spend about $2 million on projects with the balance split evenly at around $600,000 in the second and third years of the program, according to Karl Popham, manager of electric vehicles and emerging technologies for Austin Energy.

Popham said the project "demonstrates strong City Council and community support we have to electrify our transportation sector to help achieve Austin's climate protection and clean air goals." The city aims to become carbon neutral by 2050.

“All public and fleet charging in Austin is provided by 100% renewable energy from Austin Energy's GreenChoice program while saving the city millions of dollars in fleet costs”, he said adding “DCfast is an excellent complement to our existing 700 level-2 public charging stations as it enables high mileage applications such as intercity travel, electrifying taxis and transportation network mobility, and eventually self-driving or autonomous EVs.”

Austin is the state’s capital and located in Travis County, which has become the most popular EV county in the Lonestar state. As of the last quarter, there were 5,313 electric vehicles in the area which is experiencing an EV annual growth rate of about 55%, Popham said.

Austin, as well as most of Texas, is part of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT, which manages the electric flow to more than 25 million customers, representing about 90% of the state's electric load.

Popham pointed to ERCOT projections of steady 20% annual growth in the use of electric vehicles over the next decade or so. For Texas, that would translate in 2031 to about 1.6 million EVs total on the state's roads.

Such an expansion would have significant implications for Austin, generating an estimated $128 million per year in e-fuel revenue for the city’s utility. It also would mean about 320,000 EVs in Austin, driving 1,280,000 MWh of new load each year.

The Austin area currently represents 22% of the Texas EV market.