Electric Vehicles

N.J. regulators seek input tied to EV infrastructure policies

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has accepted a consultant’s recommendations and plans to set up a stakeholder process to solicit comments and input to assist it in developing electric vehicle infrastructure policies for the state’s electric distribution utilities.

The BPU says the New Jersey Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Stakeholder Group will not necessarily support EV adoption but look into what infrastructure upgrades, if any, would be needed to the state’s distribution system, if electric vehicle adoption rises.

The BPU has directed the stakeholder group to prepare a draft report on recommendations for potential EV policies within 180 days.

The consultant’s report, Getting From Here to There: Regulatory Considerations for Transportation Electrification, was prepared by the Regulatory Assistance Program. In it, the consultant said there currently are relatively low penetrations of electric vehicles, but that makes it “an opportune moment” for regulators to evaluate utility services that could provide alignment with the public interest.

The BPU commissioned the report in keeping with Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) Energy Master Plan to advance the electric vehicle market.

Under a 2004 law, New Jersey adopted the criteria of the California Low Emission Vehicle program, which requires aggregate vehicle emissions reductions. But in 2016, fewer than 1,000 electric cars were sold in New Jersey, putting the state at risk of not meeting the electric vehicle emission standard targets, which calls for 5% of the cars sold in the state in 2018 to be zero emission vehicles powered either by electricity or fuel cells.

Part of the problem is that New Jersey has only about 500 public charging stations, according to Department of Energy data, far fewer than its neighbors to the east and west.

The Regulatory Assistance Program report also found that electric vehicle charging stations can provide economic benefits for the electric grid and for all ratepayers.

The report cites a California Public Utilities Commission study that found that electric vehicles can be potential grid resources because they have dual functionality, that is, they can both draw load from the grid and can discharge energy into the grid. Also, they have low capacity utilization rates because they are idle 95% of the time, allowing drivers to shift charging times to different times of day.

The Regulatory Assistance Program report also suggested that properly designed electricity rates can help mitigate problems electric vehicles can cause to the grid by sending signals to customers that encourage them to charge their vehicles during low demand periods.

In that respect, the report said time of use rates with critical peak pricing represent a “logical design” for pricing rates for electric vehicle charging.