Alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), such as electric vehicles (EVs), operate on alternative fuels rather than traditional petroleum fuels. The development of cleaner alternative fuels and advanced power systems for vehicles has become a high priority for many governments and the automotive industry. For instance, Chevy has committed to offering more than 20 electric vehicle models by 2023 and Ford is committing $900 million through 2023 to revamp production facilities for an increasing electric vehicle lineup.
EVs, which include both plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and battery-only electric vehicles (BEVs), are much less expensive to operate and maintain than their gasoline or diesel-powered counterparts. Although the purchase price of EVs may be higher than comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, the reduced cost of ownership of EVs more than offsets the incremental purchase price.
Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicles
PHEVs have the ability to use battery-stored electricity for short-range operations. The vehicles can also use the gasoline engine for the remainder of operations until the battery is sufficiently recharged.
Battery-Only Electric Vehicles
BEVs operate solely on electricity stored within the batteries. As battery technology has continued to evolve, the driving range of BEVs has expanded significantly in the last few years. Most BEVs now boast driving ranges well over 200 miles, with some over 300 miles, before requiring recharging.
PUC Actions in Support of EVs
To keep pace with growing consumer interest and demand for EVs, many organizations have sought to develop publicly accessible EV charging stations. Some had questioned whether providing electricity to consumers via these charging stations would mean the provider is an electric utility. The PUC adopted a policy statement and several pilot programs to clarify this issue and help further foster the deployment of EV charging stations and sales of EVs in the Commonwealth.
Policy Statement on Public EV Charging Stations
On November 8, 2018, the PUC adopted a Policy Statement at Docket Number M-2017-2604382 declaring that electricity sold for the purpose of vehicle propulsion shall not be considered electric resale/redistribution as defined in the Public Utility Code. Since this action all major electric distribution companies have filed and received approval of tariffs reflecting this policy. Such a policy will ensure that dynamic rates can be offered by EV charging stations. PUC Press Release
EV Charging Rate Design Working Group
In response to a Petition filed on February 4, 2022 by ChargEVC-PA, the PUC adopted an Order at Docket Number P-2022-3030743 initiating a proceeding that will result in the issuance of a Policy Statement on electric utility rate design for EV charging in Pennsylvania. Order adopted on November 10, 2022 and entered on December 1, 2022.
- Joint Motion of Chairman Brown Dutrieuille and Vice Chairman DeFrank
- Statement of Commissioner Zerfuss
- Statement of Commissioner Yanora
The Commission issued a Secretarial Letter with Agenda on December 21, 2022, to establish and convene an EV Charging Rate Design Working Group. A meeting of the EV Charging Rate Design Working Group was scheduled for January 25, 2023, from 9 am to 11 am. This meeting will be held in person and virtually in the Keystone Building in Harrisburg.
- EV Charging Rate Design Working Group Meeting Presentation
- Synapse Energy Economics Study Presentation – Rate Design to Maximize the Benefits of Transportation Electrification
- EV Charging Rate Design Working Group Participant List
The next entirely virtual Working Group Meeting is scheduled for February 16, 2023 from 10 am to noon (agenda details to be announced later).
EV Charging Pilot Programs
On December 20, 2018, the Commission approved a pilot program submitted by PECO at Docket Number R-2018-3000164 that will encourage the installation of publicly available and workplace accessible DC fast charging stations through reduced demand charges. PUC Press Release
At that same time, on December 20, 2018, the PUC approved a pilot program submitted by Duquesne Light at Docket Number R-2018-3000124 that will encourage the deployment of EV charging stations, EV registration incentives, consumer education and development of fast charging stations to be used by Duquesne Light and the Port Authority of Allegheny County for electric bus evaluation. PUC Press Release
On December 16, 2021, the Commission approved a pilot program submitted by Duquesne Light at Docket Number R-2021-3024750 that includes programs for public, workplaces, multi-unit dwellings, fleet and transit system charging, along with specific outreach to low-income communities and providers who serve those communities. The fleet portion of the pilot will support the installation of infrastructure with participation capped at 10 new customers per year. The transit portion of the pilot will support the Pittsburgh Regional Transit’s efforts to electrify its bus fleet by installing infrastructure and providing rebates for DC fast charging stations. PUC Press Release
EV Charging Rate Pilot Programs
On January 14, 2021, the Commission approved a pilot project submitted by Duquesne Light at Docket Number P-2020-3019522, as part of its default service plan, to make EV Time of Use (TOU) Rate available to all residential, small commercial, and medium commercial customers with an EV. The pilot includes three tiers of rates and is designed to incentivize charging overnight. In doing so, Duquesne Light will be able to optimize existing grid and generation capacity by shifting EV charging to off-peak times. Participation is based on customers having a separate meter installed to monitor EV charging.
On October 28, 2021, the Commission approved revised EV make-ready charging infrastructure tariff provisions, submitted by UGI Electric, at Docket Number R-2021-3023618. The provisions include service to EV supply equipment. Qualified EV charging stations will be accessible to the public for charging access; UGI Electric shall provide all required investment without contribution and will design and install the required infrastructure facilities necessary for operation of such qualified EV charging stations. Charging stations shall be defined as one to four DC fast charge stations of 50 kW or greater, or at least four Level 2 charging stations, which are compatible with UGI Electric’s distribution system. Qualifying Level 2 chargers must be ENERGY STAR certified.
EV Charging One-Time Electric Utility Bill Credits
Duquesne Light and PECO offer a one-time bill credit to customers when notified that a customer purchased an EV. The intent is to improve the situational awareness of the electric utility as to where the EV charging will take place. Details can be found at the Duquesne Light EV and PECO EVSmart websites.
Alternative Fuel Vehicle (AFV) Programs Across the State
Within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, multiple agencies have supported the deployment of EV charging stations and natural gas vehicle (NGV) fueling stations. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) deployed numerous stations for both fuels through the Alternative Fuels Incentive Grant Program and with the use of settlement funds from the Volkswagen litigation.
Additionally, an initiative of the DEP called the Drive Electric Pennsylvania Coalition has put together a diverse stakeholder group of state and local government agencies, electric utilities, auto manufacturers, EV charging infrastructure manufacturers, alternative fuels and clean energy advocates, and others. The group focuses on moving EV transportation in Pennsylvania forward. It prepared a “Pennsylvania Electric Vehicle Roadmap,” that discusses the needs and targets for the increased adoption of EVs in the Commonwealth.
The Department of Transportation, in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration, is adding signage to specific highways in Pennsylvania that will be designated as “Alternative Fuel Corridors”. The signage is intended to inform motorists of the opportunity and availability to travel throughout the state and country using alternative fuels, such as natural gas and electricity.
Learn More About AFVs
For more information on AFVs, check out the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC). To find locations of natural gas fueling stations or public EV charging stations, go the AFDC station map.
You can also visit the Pittsburgh Region Clean Cities and the Eastern Pennsylvania Alliance for Clean Transportation websites. These two entities work to promote all alternative fuels and are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program.
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