The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved a pilot program for Union Electric Company dba Ameren Missouri to promote fast DC electric vehicle (EV) charging stations along highway corridors in Ameren Missouri’s service territory in an effort to expand EV adoption in the state.
In approving the plan, the commission found that creating a sufficient charging network throughout Ameren Missouri’s territory and the state as a whole will decrease “range anxiety:” a major obstacle to greater acceptance of EVs around the nation. Under the program, Ameren Missouri will provide incentives to those entities seeking to build EV charging stations. Items eligible for incentives include line extension and the upfront cost of charging equipment. The commission stated that that without financial incentives, it is not feasible at this time for the private sector to implement public fast charging stations along Missouri’s highway corridors anytime soon.
The EV Charging Program originally proposed by the utility consists of four independent sub-programs: corridor charging; multi-family charging; public charging (also known as “around town charging”); and workplace charging. The proposed program set a combined incentive limit of $11 million for all four sub-programs and set a cap for each of the four sub-programs.
In rejecting all but the highway corridor component of the program, the commission found that the evidence presented left too many questions about the margin per EV, the numbers of EVs the program will encourage, and how many EVs the incentivized chargers would be able to serve to support a finding that the Public Charging Program, Workplace Charging Program, or Multi-Family Charging Sub-Program will increase EV adoption rates in sufficient numbers to constitute an appropriate promotional program even on a relatively small scale.
With regard to the EV Charging Corridor sub-program, however, the commission found that other benefits besides the addition of load in off-peak hours will accrue to ratepayers, the company, and to the general public by encouraging a more rapid build out of an EV charging corridor along Missouri’s highways. The program has a budget of $4.4 million and is designed with a reverse auction approach to determine the amount of incentives that would be available for each site with a cap of $240,000 per site or $360,000 per site for charging ports with a capacity of 105 kW or greater. Items eligible for incentives are the line extension, demand mitigation solutions, “make ready” costs, and the upfront cost of charging equipment. The reverse auction component of the plan allows for the competitive market to determine the amount of incentive necessary to actually build the charging station.
Addressing the issue of costs versus benefits associated with the limited pilot the commission pointed out that the goal of the program is to transform the EV market by removing as many barriers to EV adoption as possible in order to increase the number of EVs that will ultimately be doing most of their charging at home during off-peak hours. The commission emphasized that it is not the goal to make a profit from sales of electricity from each individual charger, and therefore the program need not be financially cost effective to be successful. It said that even if the sales of electricity from the corridor charging stations do not completely compensate for the entire cost of the program, the other benefits, such as decreasing “range anxiety” and, thereby, increasing EV adoption, can justify the expense, the commission concluded. Re Union Electric Co. dba Ameren Missouri, File No. ET-2018-0132, Tariff Tracking Nos. YE-2018-0104 & YE-2018-0105, Feb. 6, 2019 (Mo.P.S.C.).