The proliferation of electric cars fights for control of charge

Electric vehicles are widely viewed as the future of the automobile industry, but there is a battle going on in states across the US over who should control charging stations that can gradually replace fuel pumps.

From axon Corp.

  For Southern California Edison, utilities have sought regulatory approval to invest millions of dollars in upgrading their infrastructure to prepare for charging and in some cases to own and operate the Chargers.</p><div> <p>The proposals have been raising concern with consumer advocates about high electricity tariffs and rivalries for subsidies to oil companies.  They are also attracting opposition from startups, who say that the successors of gas stations should be open to private sector competition, not controlled by monopoly utilities.

  This debate has been going on in regulatory commissions throughout the US as states and utilities have adopted electric vehicles widely.  According to energy consulting firm Wood McKenzie, a total of more than $ 13 billion is expected to be charged on infrastructure investment over the next five years.  It will cover around 3.2 million charging outlets.

  Calvin Butler Jr., who heads Exxon's utilities business, said many states are more open to the idea of ​​utilities that have become big players in charging as electric vehicles struggle to land in the US, Where they make only about 1% new.  Car sales

  "When utilities are engaged, there is early adoption because the infrastructure is there," he said.

  Major auto manufacturers including General Motors<span class="company-name-type"> Co.</span>

  And ford motor<span class="company-name-type"> Co.</span>

  Electric vehicles are accelerating production, and many states have set ambitious EV targets - most recently California, which aims to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035.  But a charging-station network remains a massive handicap for EV adoption.

  Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has called for the creation of more than 500,000 new public charging outlets over a decade as part of his plan to tackle the change.  But exactly how this will happen is unclear.  According to the Department of Energy, there are currently fewer than 100,000 public outlets in the US.  President Trump, who has undermined federal telepipe emission targets, has not pushed forward the electric-vehicle charging scheme, although he has supported the 2019 transportation bill that included a grant for building alternative fuel infrastructure, including electric vehicles Would have provided $ 1 billion.

  Charging access currently varies widely by state, as do utility partnerships, which can range from providing rebates on domestic chargers to preparing sites for public charging - and even electric vehicles. Also owning and operating the equipment required to deliver juice.

  As of September, regulators in 24 states had signed a utility investment of approximately $ 2.6 billion in transportation electrification, according to Atlas Public Policy, a Washington, D.C., policy firm.  More than half of that spending was authorized in California, where electric vehicle adoption is the highest.

  About a decade ago, California blocked ownership of most charging devices, citing concerns about potential charging competition.  But the country's most populous state overturned in 2014, leading to electrification.

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Number of electric vehicle registrations per public charging outlet *


  Regulators across the country have been grappling with similar questions since then, which are causing problems in the rules.

  Maryland regulators have signed a pilot program last year that allows Axelon and First Energy subsidiaries<span class="company-name-type"> Corp.</span>

  To own and operate public charging stations on government property, provided that the drivers using them cover at least some of the costs.

  Months later, the District of Columbia rejected a request from a subsidiary of Exxon to own the public chargers, stating that independent charging companies had covered it.

  Some charging firms argue that utilities should not be given a monopoly on car charging, although they may need to play a role in connecting rural customers and stations where they would otherwise be non-economic.

  "The utility may be a supplier of last resort. There are more than 800 charging stations operating in 34 states," said Kathy Joi, chief executive of charging network Evago Services LLC.

  Utility charging investment is generally expected to increase customers' electricity bills at least initially.  California recently approved the largest charging program ever by a single utility: a $ 436 million initiative by Southern California Edison, a branch of Edison International<span class="company-name-type">.</span>

  The company said it expects the program to increase the average residential customer bill by about 50 cents.

  But utilities and other advocates of electrification have pointed out to the study that more EV adoption may indicate that electricity rates can help reduce over time, more to help utilities upgrade system cover Revenue is given.

  Proponents of utilities building charging networks also argue that they have the scale to do so more quickly, which will lead to faster EV adoption and environmental improvements such as greenhouse gas emissions and cleaner air.  Jill Anderson, senior vice president of Southern California Edison, said the investment helps EV owners the most, "they generate immediate profits for all".

  Some consumer advocates have declined to approve extensive utility investment in charging, citing the cost of ratepayers.

  Stephanie Brand, who advocates on behalf of ratepayers for the state of New Jersey, said, "Pay me now, and maybe someday your rates will come down," in electric vehicle charging.  "I don't think it makes sense that it is expected that they will come."

  Groups representing oil and gas companies, which stand to lose market share as people embrace electric vehicles, have also criticized utility charging proposals.

  "These utilities should not be able to use their monopoly power to use their customers' resources to build an investment that will certainly not benefit everyone, and at this point may not be affordable either. Maybe, ”Derrick Morgan, who heads federal and regulatory affairs at the US fuel and petrochemical manufacturer, a trade organization.

  Utility executives said their companies have long used government policy objectives to advance public interest, such as improving energy efficiency.

  "It's not just about letting market forces work," said Mike Calviou, senior vice president for strategy and regulation at National Grid plc's US division.

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      At Tesla's "Battery Day" event, Elon Musk planned a $ 25,000 electric vehicle using cheaper, more powerful batteries.  The company eventually aims to produce 20 million electric cars a year - potentially the world's largest auto manufacturer.  Photo: Susan Walsh / Associated Press

  <strong>Write </strong>Rebecca Elliott at [email protected]

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