The Nevada Public Utilities Commission last week settled a big question for the state’s bourgeoning electric vehicle industry, allowing NV Energy to own and operate charging stations and to include them in its rate base.
Regulators created an Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Demonstration Program anddirected the utility to set aside $15 million to develop stations. Most of the funding would go toward a program aimed at reducing range anxiety,the Nevada Electric Highway.
Consumer advocates maintain the charging pilot oversteps the intent of the legislation that authorized it, Senate Bill 145, the Nevada Independent reports.
The PUC’s order also directs NV Energy to set aside funds for an energy storage and low-income solar plan, but the electric vehicle charging portion is the largest and likely most significant. Rocky Mountain Institute’s Chris Nelder told the Independent it is “probably the most contentious topic right now in the [electric vehicle] infrastructure space.”
NV Energy can own and operate stations, but the order specifies that those “will be reviewed for prudence in a future rate filing.” The utility also agreed the commission would regulate any EV charging rates rates levied at stations owned by NV Energy,though stations operated by third parties would not be regulated.
Opponents of allowing NV Energy to own stations point to the potential cost on ratepayers and say it is inappropriate for the regulated monopoly to be moving into another business area.
Regulators noted the state is already involved in testing driverless cars, and “as such, Nevada must continue to be a key player in self-driving EVs to ensure the continued flow of economic benefits and to remain a national leader in this technology.”
The PUC also directed NV Energy to set aside $1 million annually, for six years, to develop solar generation resources that benefit low-income customers. The utility will direct $5 million each towards two categories of energy storage: residential and small commercial, and large-scale systems between 100 and 1,000 kW.