JEA calling for 100+ drivers for new study on EV charging habits

JEA needs dozens more people to be part of a study of electric vehicle charging habits.

The research, which includes 400 drivers, will last for one full year. JEA is looking for more than 100 people to still sign up. At this point, it has about 285 people committed.

Tony Reynolds, a strategic manager for JEA, says the study will use an app called “Optiwatt” to monitor when and where people charge their vehicles.

JEA says the data will help encourage other charging methods and prevent overloading on the thousands of transformers the utility company services.

Reynolds sees plenty of interesting trends.

“Really understanding at-home charging, away from home charging, like in public or the workplace,” he said.

Additional patterns Reynolds says the study will observe are whether drivers charge their vehicles daily, if drivers charge more before a hurricane strikes and how people charge during different seasons throughout the year. JEA recommends charging vehicles during “off-peak” hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Monday through Friday.

The typical lifespan of a transformer is 20 years, and Reynolds wants to make sure JEA would not have to replace thousands of transformers sooner.

Reynolds says overloading through “cluster charging” can cut that life expectancy down to between 10 and 15 years.

“If you get two or three cars charging on the same transformer, cluster charging is what we would call that,” Reynolds said. “We really need to understand whether or not we should be concerned about the infrastructure that we have now.”

Currently, there are an estimated 8,000 battery-only electric vehicles in the area.

“Right now, based on recent growth trends out to 2030, we are estimating a little over 40,000 electric vehicles,” he said. “When we start reaching that level, that penetration of electric vehicles, we are going to start seeing a lot more cluster charging.”

JEA is eyeing possible changes to manage or shift charging in the future to protect its infrastructure.

Each participant in JEA’s study will be paid $7 a month once it starts. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.

JEA says it needs to have all 400 people signed up before it can begin the research.

It is targeting to launch the study in January 2024.

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