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GreentechMedia: California Regulators Open a New Chapter in Utility EV Charging Policy

Posted by Jeff St. John on Dec 19, 2018

GreentechMedia  covers CPUC's unanimous vote to address issues that surround utility investments in electric vehicle charging infrastructure that support the state’s goals for transportation electrification. AEE’s Matt Stranberry comments on the market impact., and AEE members' letter of concern is cited. See excerpts below and the full GreentechMedia story here.

A new CPUC docket on EV charging doesn’t freeze funding for years, as industry groups feared. But it will introduce questions about utilities’ role in the state’s electric transportation future.

Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to open a new proceeding aimed at addressing the many questions about how billions of utility dollars should be spent on building out an electric vehicle charging infrastructure to meet the state’s lofty transportation electrification goals.

And fortunately for the EV industry, it doesn’t contain a poison pill that could freeze the needed funding to solve all these challenges

Last week’s Order Instituting Rulemaking to Continue the Development of Rates and Infrastructure for Vehicle Electrification and Closing Rulemaking 13-11-007 (PDF), to use its full title, caused quite a stir when EV charging companies noticed a single sentence that implied a threat to one of the state’s chief sources of EV infrastructure funding. 

The CPUC has approved roughly $1 billion in programs to incentivize residential, workplace and public charging from Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. Those utilities still have another $1 billion in requests for more transportation electrification investments across eight open dockets, and that spending would not be affected by the order’s creation of a new proceeding to take over the CPUC’s previous policy guiding that work...

[Aspects of the first draft order] in short, “would effectively put a freeze on all new utility transportation electrification applications for at least two years,” wrote groups such as Advanced Energy Economy, BYD, eMotorWerks, Greenlots, Proterra and Siemens in a strongly worded letter (PDF) to the CPUC last week.

“The way it’s written, to the entire transportation electrification space, it signals that the California Public Utilities Commission is not comfortable receiving new utility applications until this process wraps up,” Matt Stanberry, AEE’s vice president of market development, said in an interview last week.

Thankfully for the groups concerned, the California Public Utilities Commission was quick to point out that this was not the intention of the order...

AEE’s Stanberry said that all of these issues indicate “this is going to be a pretty energetic discussion. Embedded in the order are questions about the role of the utilities, rate design, a lot of issues people care about. All of those conversations have taken far longer than anticipated."

In the meantime, “in the transportation electrification space, there are a lot of different agencies and parts of government working on this, not to mention the private sector,” he said. That includes the California Energy Commission’s role in broader transportation infrastructure policies, big grant programs and standards development, and California Air Resources Board’s role in overseeing tax credits, emissions standards and other key issues.

“We’re sympathetic to the idea that it would be helpful for the state to develop more of a roadmap for reaching its goals,” said Stanberry. “It’s not necessarily the case that the CPUC is the right place for that conversation to happen. But that being said, we’re definitely sympathetic to the notion.”

See the full Green Tech Media story here.

Topics: AEE In The News