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MLGW is supporting the Electric Vehicle EVolution!

The electric vehicle (EV) industry has experienced numerous starts, when it seemed that EVs were on the brink of becoming significant players in the transportation market, only to have consumer and manufacturer interest wane. The 2020s are changing all that!

As of 6/30/2023, there are 3,689 electric vehicles (battery as well as plug-in electric hybrids) registered in Shelby County, which is a 62% increase in the last 12 months. Auto manufacturers — especially in the light-duty car, truck and SUV segment — have announced billions of dollars in investments to re-tool or build new factories to increase the number and variety of EVs available. With numerous models today and scores more in development, EV options include compact cars, mid-size sedans, luxury sports cars, nimble crossovers, spacious SUVs and equipped pick-ups.

While the leading EV brand makes up 55% of local EV registrations, Shelby Countians have purchased models from 36 different manufacturers, so you’ll see a variety of electric vehicles on local roadways. New and used EVs are available in a range of price points to meet diverse buyer needs. These are all signs that EVs have arrived as major players in the automotive market, with sales expected to skyrocket this decade.

Members of Drive Electric Tennessee (DET) — an organization that includes the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), TVA , numerous utility companies (including MLGW), universities, auto manufacturers, EV charging companies, EV enthusiasts and others interested in the EV field — have joined together with the common goal of reaching 200,000 EVs on Tennessee roads by 2028. (There are 30,704 EVs registered in Tennessee as of 6/30/2023.)

To achieve that goal, DET members are focusing on initial obstacles such as consumer awareness of EV benefits and charging infrastructure availability.

  • TDEC and TVA announced grants available to local power companies to create the Fast Charge TN Network, with public-access DC Fast Chargers located at least every 50 miles along interstates and major highway across the state. TDEC awarded MLGW funding to install, own and operate DC Fast Chargers at two locations in Shelby County—filling gaps in the I-40/I-69 corridor (downtown/medical center) and the I-269 corridor in Collierville. MLGW has released a Request for Proposals to select one turnkey vendor to provide engineering, procurement and construction services. Expect to hear more about these projects in 2024. Meanwhile, private investment in EV charging continues to grow; several auto manufacturers announced plans to cease use of the Combined Charging Standard (CCS) fast charging port and adopt the previously proprietary Tesla port design (now called the North American Charging Standard, NACS) beginning with 2025 models; and seven auto manufacturers announced plans to develop their own joint charging network in 2024. And new federal money has flowed to the state to implement the Tennessee Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (TEVI) grant opportunity, which is open to private businesses, governments and non-profit organizations.
  • TVA filmed a great video series, In Charge: Life with an Electric Vehicle, with drivers demonstrating the speed and agility of today’s EVs while discussing cost savings, cargo capacity, charging and other features that make zero-emissions EVs not only cool technology but viable options for your next vehicle purchase. Look for some familiar sights in the Memphis/West Tennessee episode filmed in 2022.
  • DET has designed a special Drive Electric license plate, which the state is reviewing for introduction as a new vanity plate design. A portion of each plate’s proceeds goes to support DET’s work, so look for the option when it’s time to renew your vehicle registration.
  • MLGW hosted a 90-minute virtual forum, Plugging into Electric Vehicles, to educate customers on EVs. Representatives from MLGW, TVA, TDEC and DET discussed EV technology, environmental benefits, operating costs (including reduced maintenance expenses), charging infrastructure and other details about the rapidly evolving EV market. Watch the recording. In May 2023, MLGW co-hosted a Community Forum about EV Charging and a Driving EV Leadership Workshop for fleet operators to bring customers the latest information on state and local EV planning efforts, available EVs and charging technology, federal and state incentives—and the opportunity to see a heavy-duty electric tractor and two electric step vans (package delivery vehicles), plus pick-up trucks, crossover vehicles and sedans. Thanks to all the dealers, TVA and others who provided EVs!
  • MLGW is working with local EV owners and enthusiasts to create a Drive Electric Tennessee chapter in the area to increase awareness through communications and events, including future Ride & Drive opportunities.
  • MLGW is assisting fleet owners in planning for EV fleet adoption, including sharing available grant opportunities, handling new service requests to accommodate onsite EV charging infrastructure and evaluating companies’ long-term plans to ensure the electric system will be ready to support massive new electric loads. Access the new Electric Vehicles and Fleets section of Business Energy Advisor. (While the content focuses on fleets, there are links to great resources that can help all vehicle owners evaluate the benefits of EVs before making their next vehicle purchase.)
  • MLGW partners with TVA and other local power companies across the Tennessee Valley to offer the EnergyRight program, which features EV information as well as resources for saving energy at your home or business. With great graphics, the website offers easy-to-understand information on EV purchase, maintenance, charging and more.
  • MLGW has been involved in public-access EV charging for over a decade. MLGW hosts a public-access Level 2 charger on the second floor of its Beale Street Landing parking garage, located at the corner of South Front Street and Dr. M.L.K. Jr. Avenue; helped Shelby Farms Park install Level 2 chargers in 2012 through a grant from TVA and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI); and assisted dozens of businesses in installing Level 2 chargers during the federally funded EV Project.