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Utility Rate Cases and Electrified Infrastructure in New York

What’s relatively invisible to consumers, sometimes complex and a huge factor in electric vehicle adoption? If you guessed utility rate cases for electric vehicle adoption, then you probably deserve an additional tax credit. Whereas manufacturers are doing their part to use economies of scale and increased R&D to drive down component and vehicle prices, state regulators and utilities are also hard at work laying the groundwork for more EV infrastructure through smarter rate cases.

These rate cases should treat EV infrastructure as something different from legacy rate structures in use for conventional commercial/industrial applications. Rate cases should incentivize more infrastructure growth, which in turn should incentivize more utilization by drivers and would-be EV drivers.  In New York, a recent petition by over 36 industry groups to accelerate the pace of EV infrastructure buildout is a perfect example of that need. The petition supported by automakers, bus manufacturers, charging service companies and other advocates makes the case that the New York State could see almost $18 billion in benefits from more EV infrastructure by 2050.

A primary catalyst for improving EV buildout would be the modification of rates and rate cases that directly address the issues of vehicle electrification. Utility rate cases and rate structures are were not setup with charging stations in mind. From high demand charges that can be particularly onerous at underutilized charging stations, to the alteration of what constitutes peak or off-peak pricing, the petition seeks to create a new approach to rates including “finding a track outside of utility rate cases to consider transportation electrification issues.”

But in parallel with rate cases, New York has pledged to build fast charging public EV hubs in all five of New York’s Boroughs. This will assist with another lofty goal for the Big Apple; 20% of new car registrations to be electric by 2025.

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