Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure: Navigating Choices Regarding Regulation, Subsidy, and Competition in a Complex Regulatory Environment
Journal of Energy and Environmental Law, Forthcoming
30 Pages Posted: 23 Jun 2013 Last revised: 20 Apr 2014
Date Written: June 4, 2013
This article considers how electricity utility regulators should treat infrastructure investments related to electric vehicles. It begins by analyzing investments using traditional utility regulatory policy norms. Next, the article analyzes whether utility regulators should broaden their consider include positive externalities from electric vehicles such as reducing U.S. petroleum imports and greenhouse gases when making judgments about electric vehicle infrastructure. Finally, it analyzes two key limitations placed on energy regulators under existing state and federal regulatory statutes.
Ultimately, the article concludes state utility commissions are probably not best suited to make decisions about subsidies for EV adoption, but they have important roles to play in ensuring that EV infrastructure investments are made in a sound manner. Utility regulators might also consider pro-EV policies as a tie-breaker when traditional regulatory principles do not provide a clear policy outcome. Because of the complex, overlapping regulatory authority governing the U.S. energy sector, state and federal utility regulators should work collaboratively with each other, as well as keep abreast of the energy and climate policy developments outside of the electricity sector which might influence EV policymaking.
At this point in the history of the electric vehicle industry, regulators should generally adopt a light-handed approach to regulation, encouraging a nationally competitive market for EV charging services. Competition should promote lower prices within the EV charging market and incentives for service innovations that consumers might find attractive. Regulated utilities should not be prohibited from participating in the market for public charging, but they should not be given exclusive monopoly authority to provide public EV charging services. As we learn more about the technology, the economics, and the social costs and benefits of EVs, regulators should adapt their policies accordingly.
Keywords: electric vehicle, energy, utility regulation, competition, natural monopoly, regulated industries, infrastructure, climate change, energy security
JEL Classification: D42, D43, D62, D63, D73, D78, D81, H23, H41, H42, H54, H56, H71, K23, K32, L12, L41, L43, L62, L91
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation