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LES announces partnerships, grant funding for electric vehicle study

LINCOLN — Lincoln Electric System has begun collecting data for its electric vehicle study, and it will have the help of professional and academic researchers to dig for insights, as well as national funding.

The electric utility is joining forces with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to investigate the data of customers’ charging and driving behaviors in the Lincoln area. The American Public Power Association’s Demonstration of Energy & Efficiency Development program awarded LES a grant of $46,075 to help support the project.

LES started gathering data Nov. 1, 2018, following several months of recruiting customers to participate. FleetCarma, a leader in studying electric vehicle fleets, is helping facilitate the study by providing the data collection platform and anonymizing the data for customer privacy. The study — with 90 customer-owned vehicles representing 15 different all-electric or plug-in hybrid electric models — will reveal when and where customers charge; when and how far they travel; and the energy consumed while both traveling and recharging.

“Our service territory has about 300 plug-in vehicles, and nearly a third of those drivers are represented in this study,” said LES CEO Kevin Wailes. “We’re excited to have that level of interest from our customers, and it’s a true testament to their engagement with LES and our shared commitment to prepare for a plugged-in future.”

NREL, a U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory located in Golden, Colorado, will team with LES to analyze the data being gathered over the next two years.

“While limited plug-in electric vehicle evaluations have been conducted across the country, few if any have focused on an area like Lincoln,” said Chris Gearhart, director of NREL's Transportation and Hydrogen Systems Center. “Nebraska’s capital city and the surrounding area are a snapshot of the Midwest — a midsized area that experiences the extremes of all four weather seasons. The high-quality charging and driving data collected through LES’ study will be greatly beneficial to the industry going forward.”

Locally, the UNL’s College of Engineering will also be involved. Faculty and students in its Electrical and Computer Engineering department will have the opportunity to access and leverage data for further analysis.

For more information about the study, contact LES at 402-475-4211. Follow LES, a not-for-profit, public power utility, on Facebook and Twitter for study updates.