The shift toward electric vehicles is rolling forward in California among consumers, and regulators are weighing in. Just before Christmas, the California PUC overturned previous policy and issued a new decision allowing the state’s utilities to participate in providing electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
The CPUC envisions California utilities (including Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric) taking on a critical role in the transportation sector. This decision represents a new direction for the utility business model. [[[ OK TO ADD? ]]] It allows utilities to become, under certain conditions, the procurers, deliverers and suppliers of transportation fuel — in this case, electricity.
The Dec. 22, 2014 decision set aside the previous California requirement that utilities must demonstrate a “market failure” or “underserved market” as part of any request for authority to own EV charging infrastructure. This change allows for consideration of utility requests on a case-by-case basis.
This decision reaffirms the CPUC’s “balance test” — that is, the benefits of utility ownership of EV charging infrastructure must be balanced with the competitive limitation that could result from such ownership.