ORIGINAL REPORTING: Should Utilities Own EV Charging Stations?
How PG&E's EV charging pilot will test utility ownership models; The proposed $130 million plan aims to allow utility investment and a working free market
Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 5, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: This plan was approved.
The controversy over utility ownership of electric vehicle charging infrastructure could to come to a head in California…The state’s three dominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are acting on plans to build networks of EV chargers approved by the California Public Utilities Commission. They vary in the amount of charging stations owned by utilities and by independent charger providers. Advocates for utility ownership say their ability to rate base investments can help ensure charging infrastructure reaches all customers — not just higher-income ones who today own most EVs. But third party providers say that could squeeze them out of the market, and consumer advocates voice concerns about the cost-effectiveness of utility EV investments.
A recently-released proposed decision in the California’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle proceeding (A 15-02-009) focuses squarely on the question of whether utility ownership of charging infrastructure will unfairly impede private providers. “Where we seek to support the development of a now nascent market, our inquiry into the anticompetitive effects of utility ownership must take into account both actual and potential effects,” Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Darwin E. Farrar wrote. SCE is working on the buildout of Charge Ready, a $22 million, 1,500-site pilot where hosts will own the charging stations. SDG&E just completed the competitive bidding for Power Your Drive, a $45 million, 3,500-site pilot of utility-owned chargers. Farrar approved a $130 million ratepayer-funded expenditure for PG&E ownership of “make-ready” infrastructure for up to 7,500 EV charging stations — essentially extending the distribution system up to the site of the station… click here for more