The State of New York Public Service Commission (PSC) requested comments from interested parties regarding what regulation, if any, would help spur the continuing evolution of the market for plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and for supporting services, while maintaining the safety and reliability of New York’s electric grid.

As expected, businesses that develop, own and manage PEV charging station networks, including NRG and Chargepoint, were quick to comment. Many of the comments focused on two points: (a) the development and ownership of PEV charging stations should be treated as a competitive service and not be treated as a utility by the PSC, and (b) the lack of regulatory certainty regarding the amount of regulation a PEV charging station owner faces in New York has had, and continues to have, a chilling effect on PEV charging infrastructure development in the state.

Many commenters asked the PSC to stop viewing the energy distributed from the EV charging stations as the resale of electricity, but rather as fuel needed to ensure the continued use of a PEV. Others noted that charging stations, with their various pricing models and structures, are very similar in nature to other businesses that provided ancillary services to regulated industries (e.g, the development of Automated Teller Machine (ATM) infrastructure) without additional regulation. PEV charging station technology should be treated in the same manner, and not as a government-owned franchised monopoly. NRG noted that: “[t]he service provided by charging stations is not akin to a utility and therefore should not be subject to regulation. By way of analogy, The Home Depot rents power generators to customers for purposes of charging the customer’s appliances. Yet no one would argue that The Home Depot is a utility that should be subject to rate regulation.”

Regarding the need for regulatory certainty, Chargepoint noted that “[t]he most immediate thing the [PSC] can do to encourage the availability of charging stations in garages, parking lots, apartment buildings and work places is to provide assurances that the third parties providing PEV charging infrastructure and services (including landlords, employers, and parking lots as well as companies like Chargepoint) will not be regulated as utilities.”

The volume of PEV charging station development in other states that have excluded PEV charging station owners from utility/rate regulation demonstrates the need for New York to provide regulatory certainty. In California and Texas, the clear exclusion of PEV charging station developers from utility regulation has helped make these jurisdictions some of the earliest beneficiaries of significant PEV charging station infrastructure development.

With New York having the potential of being one of the largest markets for PEVs in the world, many PEV charging network developers are hopeful that the PSC, or in its absence, the New York State Legislature, provides the needed regulatory certainty as soon as possible.