EV Charging Networks Benefit From Competitive Market, Report Finds

Utility ownership of EV charging stations is a losing situation for taxpayers and EV drivers alike.

May 18, 2023

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A new report sponsored by NACS concludes that EV charging stations will better serve EV owners if lawmakers and regulators enable a level playing field for competitive providers.

“Utility ownership of EV charging stations is generally not in the public interest,” the report states, adding that “allowing monopoly utilities to own public EV charging stations will provide less efficient, lower-quality service and choice to EV owners, resulting in unfair cost shifting to other electricity consumers.”

The overall effort to electrify transportation depends on a strong EV charging system. Extending the monopoly position of utilities hurts the EV charging public, slowing down the widespread adoption of EVs.

The report made the following recommendations:

  1. Regulated Rate Policies – Regulators need to consider the impact of regulated rates and rate design on EV charging stations and station owners.
  2. Utility Ownership – Regulators should ban or disfavor utility ownership of charging stations.
  3. Distribution Planning – Regulators should support an increased focus on planning using state-of-the-art tools and should allow for proactive, rather than reactive, development of the distribution systems.
  4. Interconnection Policies – Regulators should support the development of dedicated interconnection personnel, work with utilities to standardize and streamline timelines and processes, allow more flexible policies with respect to inventory and supply chain issues and ensure that nonutility owners of charging stations receive fair and equal service from the utility when developing charging stations.
  5. Private Sector Access – Regulators should work with utilities to develop, train and certify third parties to work with private investors to build out the distribution network, where feasible.
  6. Cost Allocation – Regulators should create cost-allocation policies fair to all parties to recover the costs of developing the infrastructure required for robust EV charging.
  7. Meeting Public Need at the Lowest Cost – If a public need arises, regulators should look for solutions other than a utility to meet the need.
  8. Divestiture of utility-owned charging stations – Regulators should have utilities sell any utility-owned EV charging stations to nonutility entities.

“Regulators and legislators will serve the EV charging public best if they provide for a competitive and nondiscriminatory environment for public charging stations,” said Rob Gramlich, President of Grid Strategies and one of the four co-authors of the study. “We should enable the market to work if we want to build-out EV charging infrastructure and give drivers the best prices and services possible along the way.”

Frank Lacey, a co-author, emphasized a key finding in the study: “Regulators should proclaim EV charging to be a competitive service and then focus on policies to support the development of the charging network. Competition in charging will lead to the best results for the build-out of EV charging, for consumer pricing of electricity, and for service of EV drivers. The time to make these policy choices is now, before charging becomes monopolized.”

The 52-page report is titled “Serving Customers Best: The Benefits of Competitive Electric Vehicle Charging Stations.” It can be found on the Grid Strategies website here or the Electric Advisors Consulting website here.

NACS has long stressed to policymakers and other stakeholders that convenience retailers are anxious to offer electric vehicle charging services that are both affordable for drivers and profitable for c-stores. A December 2021 NASCS Magazine cover story focused on the challenges of demand charges.