State Legislatures Tackle Electric Vehicle Charging Network Expansion

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Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Who Should Lead the Way?

As electric vehicles (EVs) become increasingly popular and predictions for their growth over the next decade intensify, the race is on to build more public EV charging stations. However, a crucial question remains: should electric utilities or private businesses lead the way in constructing these charging infrastructures? This article explores the pros and cons of both options, including legislative precedents, potential challenges, and ways in which the two sides can work together to ensure EV adoption and charging availability for all.

Private Businesses and Retailers: A Natural Fit

The Charge Ahead Partnership, which includes fuel retailers, grocery chains, convenience stores, and gas stations, believes that private businesses are best suited to make the switch to electric chargers. They argue that these entities have experience selling fuel to motorists, convenient locations for drivers, and an established customer base. However, they also express concerns about competing with monopoly electric utilities, which can build charging infrastructure using ratepayer funds.

Examples of legislation that limit utility involvement in EV charging can be found in states such as Oklahoma, Georgia, and Texas.

Electric Utilities: An All-of-the-Above Approach

On the other hand, proponents of utility-owned EV charging stations argue that there’s a place for both private businesses and utilities in building the necessary infrastructure. They believe that an all-of-the-above strategy will ensure that all aspects of the market are covered, including low-income apartment complexes and other areas where private companies might not invest.

Katherine Stainken, Vice President of Policy at the Electrification Coalition, believes there is too much variation across states and markets to dismiss utility ownership as an option. She sees the debate as an opportunity for the industry to grow and adapt.

Furthermore, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) argues that the predicted surge in EV adoption requires an “all-hands-on-deck approach,” and that restrictions on electric companies’ ability to invest in charging infrastructure are counterproductive.

Charging Rates and Demand Charges: Finding a Fair Solution

Beyond the debate over who should build and own EV charging stations, there are other challenges that must be addressed. One key issue is determining the appropriate charging rates for private businesses that install EV chargers.

Angela Holland, President of the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores, highlights the need for utilities to establish a fair EV charging rate that enables businesses to profit from their investment in charging infrastructure. In some cases, demand charges, which are meant to compensate utilities for maintaining generation and transmission capacity, can pose a barrier to profitability for businesses offering EV charging services.

Developing solutions that balance the interests of private businesses, utilities, and ratepayers will be essential in ensuring that EV charging infrastructure continues to expand in response to growing demand.

Story at – 2023-06-18 16:18:24

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