Consumer group applauds infrastructure expansion, but says utility customers shouldn’t foot the bill.
Utility companies in Maryland are proposing to spend $104 million to support a statewide network of electric vehicle charging stations. The program is intended to build out a network of 24,000 residential, workplace and public charging stations, constituting the nation’s largest except for California’s. Utility customers would be asked to pay 25 cents to 42 cents more a month to support the program, currently a proposal pending before the state’s Public Service Commission.
Emily Scarr, director of Maryland PIRG, issued the following statement:
“Electric vehicles (EVs) are coming to Maryland’s roads — and that’s a good thing. They have the potential to address critical public health and environmental challenges in our state. EVs are far less polluting than gasoline-powered cars, with half the carbon footprint over their lifetime, as well as fewer emissions of the pollutants that contribute to smog and particulate matter.
In order to keep up with growing consumer demand and help to meet the state’s goal of having 300,000 EVs on the road by 2025, we need to significantly invest in charging infrastructure. The state, utilities, and private companies should all be involved, we should incentive EV ownership, and help build a competitive charging marketplace.
Electric utilities have a particularly important role to play when it comes to managing the impact of EV’s on our electrical grid, and we are glad to see MD utilities’ quick out of the gates on this front. Moving forward, however, we are deeply troubled by the proposed rate increases for utility ratepayers to invest in charging infrastructure. Utility companies should not use EV charging stations as a tool to pad their profits at the expense of ratepayers. Furthermore, the use of ratepayer dollars to subsidize the utilities’ investment in charging stations gives the utilities and unfair market advantage, may stifle innovation and undermines a competitive EV marketplace. We agree with the call from the Office of the People’s Counsel for a full evidentiary proceeding on the matter, and barring that cannot support the pending proposal.
It is critically important that the state increase investment in charging infrastructure in addition to the utilities’ plan. Doing so will help to reach greenhouse gas reduction goals, smooth the transition to EVs, and bolster the competitive charging marketplace. The Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Trust, set up as part of the settlement with Volkswagen over emissions cheating, is a great opportunity to jumpstart Maryland’s transition to electric vehicles. The state should invest the maximum allowable amount (fifteen percent) in electric vehicle charging infrastructure.”
Maryland PIRG’s mission is to deliver persistent, result-oriented public interest activism that protects consumers, encourages a fair, sustainable economy, and fosters responsive, democratic government.