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California PUC Will Not Regulate EV Charging Services Providers As Public Utilities

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) today concluded that companies that sell electric vehicle charging services to the public will not be regulated as public utilities pursuant to the Public Utilities Code.

The CPUC is evaluating alternative-fueled vehicle policies to ensure California’s investor-owned electric utilities are prepared for the projected statewide growth of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles throughout California, per Senate Bill 626 (Kehoe, Chapter 355, Statutes of 2009).

The CPUC’s actions today provide clarity regarding the CPUC’s regulatory role in the market for electric vehicle charging services. The CPUC’s decision finds that the sale of electric vehicle charging services to the public does not make a corporation or person a public utility solely because of that sale, ownership, or operation. The decision also identifies ways in which the CPUC can exercise its regulatory authority to ensure that electric vehicle charging occurs in manner that is consistent with the capabilities of the electric grid.

Since providing electric vehicle charging services does not make an entity a public utility, an electric vehicle charging service provider will generally be an end-use customer of a CPUC-jurisdictional (i.e., regulated) load-serving entity. A charging service provider that is connecting to the transmission or distribution system of an investor-owned utility will, at the very least, be a retail transmission and distribution customer of the utility, the CPUC noted. The charging service provider’s load-serving entity could be the investor-owned utility, and electricity service provider, or a community choice aggregator.

One aspect of the current decision is that if a provider of electric vehicles charging services attempts to procure electricity on the wholesale market, rather than purchasing electricity from a load-serving entity (e.g., a regulated public utility), the charging provider’s purchase of electricity will constitute a “direct transaction” and will be subject to all the obligations and limitations that apply to direct transactions.

In other words, it is illegal for an electric vehicle charging services provider to procure electricity on the wholesale market if the entity selling the power has not complied with the procurement requirements that apply to the utilities. The Commission will exercise its authority in the area of electric vehicle charging to ensure the law is complied with.

Comments

SJC

Well, that is about a clear as mud. All I see is the charing company can charge sky high rates and there is nothing anyone can do about it.

lensovet

Same way it is with gas stations today. Don't see why this should be any different, really.

SJC

It depends on how bad you need it. If I can chose from many fueling stations but only a few charging stations, those charging stations can charge what ever they want and I have to pay it, I need to get to where I want to go.

Reel$$

Something seems a bit backwards here. I think the PUC's should encourage independent purchase of say wind or solar at wholesale, so it can be resold as "Green-E" on the retail market.

How many people would stop at the "Green-E" charge point if they knew the electricity there came from renewable (or mostly renewable) sources?? IF the idea is for competitive charge points offering EV owners a variety of benefits - wholesale purchase should be encouraged.

This appears to be a protectionist move benefiting the established utility structure. Electrification will require many alternative sources for electricity - solar, wind, geo, and waste-to-"Green-E" sources. Not to forget a prime resource of CHP in the home that charges your EV overnight off-grid. Utils fear this progress.

SJC

Reel is right, the first people owning PHEV/EV might be interested in renewable electricity. Go with the flow and provide the services people want.

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