Top Seven Ways Energy Regulators Should Prepare for EV Surge

This week industry association Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) noted that while EV adoption is still small, its growth rate is accelerating. As a result of this accelerating growth rate, public utility commissions (PUCs) are finding EVs on the agenda at their meetings.

To help state regulator prepare for the surge in EV adoption, AEE released an issue brief —EVs 101: A Regulatory Plan for America’s Electric Transportation Future — that outlines seven steps state regulators can take to get ready for the influx of electric vehicles. The steps are outlined briefly below.

  1. Establish an electric vehicle regulatory framework. PUCs should use a collaborative process to gather information, then put out its viewpoint in a white paper on the key regulatory issues for EVs to reduce uncertainty in the marketplace. An open, collaborative process allows everyone to participate, ensuring that the best information is brought forward.
  2. Consider roles for various stakeholders in electric vehicle charging infrastructure ownership and financing. Regulators need to clearly define appropriate roles for utilities and third-party companies to play in owning and financing charging infrastructure. Both utilities and third parties have critical roles to play and should be able to develop, own, and operate charging facilities under appropriate rules and market conditions.
  3. Adjust utility planning and operations to fully integrate electric vehicles. As the EV market grows, utility planning and operations will need to incorporate EV load forecasts, make modernization investments for smart charging, adopt streamlined interconnection processes, and ensure interoperability standards are observed for public charging stations.
  4. Implement rate designs for an electric vehicle future. Regulators should consider EV-only tariffs and well-designed time-varying rates to encourage off-peak charging. In the early stages of market development, regulators should also provide relief from excessive demand charges under EV-only rates to support the use of chargers.
  5. Ensure that vulnerable populations are not left behind. As the EV market unfolds, particular attention should be given to low-income and other vulnerable populations. Regulators should take steps to improve the ability of these communities to access the EV market and apply longstanding principles of consumer protection to ratemaking decisions with cost implications.
  6. Educate consumers. Given the important role that consumer awareness plays in EV adoption and utilization of charging infrastructure, regulators should allow utilities to use their unique relationship with customers and experience in customer engagement from energy efficiency programs to improve access to EV information.
  7. Prioritize consideration of medium- and heavy-duty fleets. Vehicle fleets have the potential to provide electrification at scale in the near term, with substantial benefits to the grid and society, and some operators are already starting to make large commitments to electrifying their fleets. Commissions should explicitly look at fleets in the context of the regulatory issues outlined in this paper.

Download EVs 101: A Regulatory Plan for America’s Electric Transportation Future here.

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Jennifer Runyon has been studying and reporting about the world's transition to clean energy since 2007. As editor of the world's largest renewable energy publication, Renewable Energy World, she observed, interviewed experts about, and reported on major clean energy milestones including Germany's explosive growth of solar PV, the formation and development of the U.S. onshore wind industry, the U.K. offshore wind boom, China's solar manufacturing dominance, the rise of energy storage, the changing landscape for utilities and grid operators and much, much, more. Today, in addition to managing content on POWERGRID International, she also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH, a globally recognized conference for the transmission and distribution industry. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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