The power generation sector has made great strides in creating decarbonized energy, with transportation overtaking the power generation sector as the largest CO2 producer in 2017. This change did not occur as a result of transportation emissions increasing or Americans using less electricity. The decline in power sector emissions is largely attributable to the switch from coal to natural gas and the growth in renewable energy generation, particularly wind and solar.
However, with fossil fuels still generating over 60% of U.S. electricity, and many energy industry leaders publicly pledging carbon neutrality by 2050, the transition toward cleaner energy production will need to accelerate in the coming years, and both electric and gas utilities will be key contributors to this transformation to decarbonized energy.
Throughout the U.S., the energy generation mix varies widely. Currently, 24 states and the District of Columbia have established economy-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets, with some of the cleanest energy states having aggressive goals for 2030 and beyond. California’s goals are the most ambitious, pledging 40% reduction from 1990 levels by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2045. Washington, Oregon and New York, also among the cleanest energy states, have reduction goals of 40-45% by 2030 and 80-95% by 2050. To achieve these goals, utilities must increase renewable generation, electrify transportation and proliferate energy efficiency programs.
In states where the energy mix is dominated by petroleum and coal, such as in the top coal-consumption states of Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, natural gas conversion continues to be the primary path to decarbonized energy. Burning natural gas for energy results in GHG emissions that are 50-60% less than coal and 30% less than oil to produce an equal amount of energy.
The transportation sector accounts for the highest level of U.S. GHG emissions (29%), and therefore must be a major focus for all utilities. Cars and light-duty trucks account for 58% of total transportation sector emissions, making widespread adoption of electric vehicles essential to decarbonized energy for transportation. Utilities are in a position to drive EV growth, particularly among residential customers, by offering services to address some of the key pain points of EV charging, which is currently a disjointed experience that leaves consumers largely on their own.
A recent survey of North American utility professionals conducted by Bidgely found the primary barriers to greater adoption of EVs are insufficient charging infrastructure in their territory (67%) and lack of customer awareness of EV benefits (58%). A HomeServe 2021 study of prospective and current EV owners found similar results, with nearly 50% of respondents unaware of utility rebates and time-of-use programs. Additionally, 74% of prospective EV buyers responded that they were concerned about the potential for their level-2 charger to break. When EV owners were asked where they turn for electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) support, the number one answer was their utility, more so than vehicle and device manufacturers.
In partnership with utilities, HomeServe offers utility customers first-to-market EV charger support plans. The EV Charger Protection Plan includes reimbursement for a broken charger and coverage for the repair or replacement of wiring and components that are damaged due to normal wear and tear. The EV Charger Convenience Package includes charger installation, protection and guidance on related utility offers including any available incentives, time-of-use rates and demand response programs.
Utilities also have an opportunity to support increased adoption of solar – a key component in grid stability and renewable generation – by partnering with HomeServe to offer services to keep residential rooftop solar systems running optimally. A recent HomeServe survey of rooftop solar owners found that 89% would be interested in a maintenance plan from their utility. Solutions are also needed for the growing number of “orphaned” rooftop solar customers, whose installers have gone out of business, and are now lacking in promised post-installation support.
HomeServe’s Rooftop Solar Maintenance Plan fills the gaps of panel and inverter manufacturers’ warranties and helps to ensure proper system functioning. The plan includes annual inspection, pest removal, panel cleaning credit and discounted on-demand repairs by vetted solar professionals.
In addition to offering plans that help to increase adoption of EVs and solar, HomeServe plans protect utility customers against the expense and inconvenience of HVAC, gas and electric lines, water heater and other home emergencies by providing affordable coverage and quality local service from vetted local contractors. As customers with a plan are more likely to repair or replace inefficient systems and proactively address issues, our solution promotes overall energy efficiency, reliability and safety. For more information, contact us.