The British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) recently established an inquiry to review the regulation of electric vehicle (EV) charging services in the province.
The inquiry evolved out of an application by FortisBC Inc. for approval of a $9.00 per half hour EV charging rate for service at FortisBC-owned charging stations. FortisBC stated that the proposed rate would recover the incremental costs of services associated with the charging stations over 10 years. FortisBC is installing the stations as part of the Accelerate Kootenays project, a community-driven initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the adoption of EVs in the region. The BCUC approved the requested rate on an interim basis in January 2018. In its decision, the BCUC noted that the rate design and rates for EV charging are in an early development stage in BC, and that other entities may emerge to provide EV charging services. The Commission adjourned the FortisBC application in favour of conducting the general inquiry.
The inquiry will accept input from the public and interveners on a number of regulatory questions, including:
- Do EV charging stations operate in a competitive environment in BC or are they a natural monopoly service?
- Are the customers of EV charging stations captive or do they have a choice?
- Should the Commission regulate the services provided by EV charging stations? What are benefits and detriments to such regulation?
- Should the rate design of EV charging stations be established under a public utility’s traditional cost of service model or some other model? And within that context, what are the customer pricing options (e.g. energy-based rate vs. time-based rate)?
- Should the EV charging station service rate be based on a public utility’s existing wholesale or commercial retail rate or some other rate?
- Should public utilities include EV charging stations in their regulated rate base or through a separate non-regulated entity?
- If public utilities provide EV charging services within their regulated business, is there a risk of cross subsidization from other rate classes to support this new service and if so, is the proposed rate design potentially unduly discriminatory?
The Commission has adopted principles established in an early BCUC proceeding relating to the offering of alternative energy solutions1 for this inquiry – the Commission will only regulate where necessary, and regulation should not impede competitive markets.
Community input sessions are currently being held across the province. Intervenors have until March 16, 2018, to file their evidence.