To fight climate change and support the transition to a zero-emissions transportation sector, the U.S. is setting out to build a huge fleet of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. But EV charging equipment is expensive, and how to pay for it is not straightforward. This Article explores the emerging law and policy of using the bill payments of millions of electric utility customers to solve the problem. State utility regulators, in obscure technical proceedings, have begun directing billions of ratepayer dollars toward EV chargers. Is this an unfair and risky social spending experiment, as its opponents argue? Or is it a sensible economic investment that will save ratepayers money, even while responding strategically to shifting market conditions, supporting domestic manufacturing, and achieving environmental goals, as its proponents contend? State regulators, one by one, have been reaching the same conclusion: the environmental, energy, and economic policy considerations are aligned, and the ratepayer funding approach makes sense. To shine light on these developments, this Article presents the findings of a fifty-state review of regulatory proceedings, revealing the full extent of authorized utility spending, the wide variety of EV investment program elements, and the broad range of reasoning that regulators have found persuasive. Key findings include that support for utility EVSE spending is not the sole province of states with progressive climate politics; that new federal funding is augmenting, but not displacing, utility investment; and that utility EVSE investment provides benefits, from rural investment to ongoing maintenance commitments, that are unlikely to be provided by the private or public sectors.
Adam D. Orford,
Rate Base the Charge Space: The Law of Utility EV Infrastructure Investment
, 48 Colum. J. Env't L. 1
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.uga.edu/fac_artchop/1454