Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Utilities Seek Larger Part in Charging Station Rollout

Last week, Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D) signed HB 1853 into law, making it possible for utilities to rate-base spending on electric vehicle charging station installations, Greentech Media reports. (Credit: utilitydive.com)  Click to Enlarge.
It's unsurprising that electric utilities stand to benefit from the sale of plug-in vehicles, providing a bump -- even a small one -- for flat-lining sales.

Utilities throughout the country that are looking for authority to spend millions of dollars building out charging networks say their customers will benefit, too -- even those who don't own EVs.

Just in the past six months, the state of Washington passed legislation allowing utilities to put EV charging infrastructure in their rate base.  In California, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison are proposing huge investments in EV charging infrastructure.  In the Southeast, Southern Co.'s Georgia Power subsidiary is spending $12 million on a pilot program to install as many as 50 public EV charging stations by the end of 2016.

The proposals are surfacing in the Midwest, too.  In Illinois, Commonwealth Edison is lobbying for a bill that would allow it to build 5,000 charging stations.  And Kansas City Power & Light is asking utility regulators in Missouri and Kansas to recover costs for a 1,000-station EV charging network.

The proposals follow the release of a white paper by the Edison Electric Institute a year ago, calling electrification of the transportation sector essential to the long-term health of the industry.
At its core, the plan addresses the biggest challenge faced by the utility industry and -- by extension -- its customers.  Electricity sales growth is flat. But costs, including those required to meet more stringent environmental regulations, are increasing.

Helping stimulate adoption of plug-in vehicles helps address the disconnect by enabling use of existing power plants that sit idle much of the time, Caisley said.  That means an increase in off-peak kilowatt-hour sales, helping the utility recover costs.  And spreading fixed-cost recovery over more units of energy means lower kilowatt-hour rates.

There will also be environmental benefits as plug-in vehicles replace gasoline-powered cars.

Read more at Utilities Seek Larger Part in Charging Station Rollout

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