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NY proposal aims to cut barriers to EV charging station installation

New York regulators and the state's investor-owned electric utilities can take new steps to continue encouraging the development of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, according to a recent white paper.

The white paper, prepared by New York State Department of Public Service, or DPS, staff and dated Jan. 13, calls for the state Public Service Commission to create a program that would provide incentives to light-duty electric vehicle supply equipment and infrastructure for certain publicly available charging stations.

It also calls for utilities such as Avangrid Inc. subsidiaries New York State Electric & Gas Corp. and Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. to incorporate electric vehicle charging scenarios into their annual capital planning processes. New York's other investor-owned electric utilities, which also would be subject to that mandate, are Consolidated Edison Inc. subsidiaries Consolidated Edison Co. of New York Inc. and Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc.; Fortis Inc. subsidiary Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp.; and National Grid Gas PLC subsidiary Niagara Mohawk Power Corp.

In the white paper, DPS staff said its plan leverages the utilities' "expertise and unique position" to promote the adoption of zero-emission vehicles. The proposal comes as New York aims to have 850,000 zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025 and meet a goal for economywide net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the white paper noted.

The so-called "Make-Ready Program" would cover up to 90% of the costs to prepare a site for Level 2 and direct-current fast charger stations that are publicly accessible. Such costs include those related to electric transformer upgrades or running conduit or cable to certain areas and require a big upfront investment from developers, the paper said. The low penetration of electric vehicles now on the road and low utilization of stations makes recovery of installation costs from charging revenues difficult.

"By stimulating station development now and assuaging range anxiety, drivers will be more likely to transition to EVs early, accelerating achievement of the state's goals and realizing the benefits associated with EVs," the paper said.

The roughly $582 million program would run through 2025.

To "future-proof" the investments, DPS staff recommended that the commission require any installations made under the program be oversized to accommodate possible upgrades to the quantity or capacity of chargers.

"DPS staff believes that ratepayer-funded investments in make-ready work should support both near- and long-term capacity requirements and should be approached in a manner that will mitigate the potential for additional trenching and other costly work in the future," the paper said.

The commission already has approved initiatives to encourage the use of zero-emission vehicles, including residential time-of-use rates for electric vehicle charging and annual per-plug incentives to reduce the cost of installing publicly accessible direct-current fast charger stations. Regulators also have approved electric vehicle demonstration and pilot projects, while the utilities have developed the framework needed to roll out electric vehicles.

The recommendation for the utilities to incorporate charging scenarios — referred to as an "EV Charging Infrastructure Forecast" in the paper — is aimed at encouraging "thoughtful" charging infrastructure siting and would require the utilities to identify locations suitable for electric vehicle supply equipment and infrastructure siting. The utilities also would have to proactively educate developers on synergistic cost-saving opportunities. DPS staff further recommended that the utilities establish common suitability criteria to identify potential public charging sites.

DPS staff plans to hold a conference that will give stakeholders a chance to provide feedback and discuss alternatives to the proposals. (New York PSC Case 18-E-0138)