Powering Strong Communities

Salt River Project offers home builders incentives for EV-ready homes

Salt River Project (SRP) is offering an incentive for home builders to install electrical vehicle chargers in new homes.

The move by SRP, based in Tempe, Arizona, comes as utilities are preparing for an expected surge in EV ownership. There will likely be at least 19 million EVs on U.S. roads by the end of this decade, Morgan Stanley analysts said in a report earlier this month.

SRP, which has about 1.1 million electric customers, expects to have about 100,000 homes with EVs in its service territory in the next two years, according to Rebecca Smout, SRP program manager for Energy Star Homes.

“This is the wave of the future,” Smout said.

SRP on March 1 started offering home builders that participate in the utility’s Energy Star Homes program a $300 incentive for installing Level 2 chargers in their new homes. The incentive builds on a $200 incentive SRP started offering last year.

Builders took advantage of the $200 incentive, but SRP wanted to see it used more, according to Smout.

“We're getting pretty excited because we have a lot of interest now and we're seeing communities that have changed,” Smout said.

The builders of four ongoing communities decided to become 100 percent EV ready, she said.

The builders of a large master community in Glendale, Arizona — Pulte Homes, Taylor Morrison and Lennar Homes — committed to building all the homes to be EV-ready, according to Smout.

Being an early adopter by building EV-ready homes gives homebuilders a way to differentiate themselves, she said.

The incentive for building EV-ready homes covers about half the typical cost of setting up a residential EV charger. Adding a charger to an existing home can be significantly more expensive than including it during the home’s original construction, Smout said.

SRP has used the results of annual surveys it takes of customers who have EVs to craft the incentive. The utility found that among more than 1,200 EV drivers, 70 percent have Level 2 chargers at home.

Level 2 chargers, which use a 240-volt power source, can charge a battery far more quickly than a Level 1 charger. They also support the most advanced charging technology available, including smart chargers and Amazon Alexa-enabled charging, according to SRP.

SRP’s most recent survey found that 84 percent of respondents in its service territory would recommend buying an EV to others and 40 percent said charging costs were lower or much lower than expected.

As part of its sustainability goals, SRP plans to support 500,000 EVs in its service territory and manage 90 percent of EV charging through price plans, dispatchable load management, original equipment manufacturer integration, connected smart homes, behavioral and other emerging programs.

Smout said the incentive fits into SRP’s Energy Star Homes program, which offers incentives to homebuilders that build highly efficient homes. Homes in the program can use up to half the energy and 20 percent less water than typical new homes built to meet current codes.

About 60 percent of the homes being built in SRP’s service territory across the greater Phoenix area are built under the program, Smout said.

SRP is meeting with homebuilders later this month to help them understand the requirements for installing EV chargers in their homes, according to Smout.

The utility is also preparing marketing material homebuilders can use to showcase the EV chargers in their homes, she said.