From demand to supply, the players in EV infrastructure

Earlier this year we heard rapid-fire news of utilities making huge investments in EV charging infrastructure from the expected California, to the more surprising Missouri.

13310792553_2e143b2328_z.jpgIn Washington state, utilities recently got a boost as stewards of EV charging thanks to a newly-signed law that allows EV infrastructure to be included in the rate-base system. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Chad Magendanz, said in a statement that it’s a move meant to make EV charging as accessible as a cable box.

“Because there’s no upfront cost to the ratepayer or property owner, many of the current obstacles to charging at home or work will disappear,” he said. "The end result, we believe, will be more people driving EVs and fewer pollutants in our air.”

This encouragement of utility investment is still relatively new. Utilities in California were banned from owning charging infrastructure until recently, because they threatened to monopolize a still-tiny market. Keeping consumer costs low is a valid concern, especially as projections for revenues from EV charging services are around $11 billion in the next ten years.  But studies also support the idea that the increased demand for electricity from EVs will help to spread out the costs of maintaining the electrical grid, bringing down costs for all ratepayers.

In Washington, utilities are being pushed to lead the charge. In Minnesota, a private-public partnership is boosting workplace charging infrastructure.

The bottom line, however, is that there’s a desperate need for solid networks of EV infrastructure to ease into the transition to cleaner vehicles. Many believe there’s enough potential demand, once those initial investments are made, for many parties to have room to invest.  Allowing both public utilities and private companies to enter the market could promote competition and help to jump-start the market at the same time.