Electric Vehicles

N.M. bill exempts EV charging firms from utility regulation

New Mexico’s legislature has passed a bill aimed at spurring the development of electric vehicle charging stations in the state.

The bill, H.B. 521, clarifies that independent electric vehicle charging companies will not be regulated as utilities and is now headed to the desk of Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her signature.

The bill amends the state’s existing public utility law by exempting any person who furnishes electricity service for their own use and not for resale or who engages in “the retail distribution of natural gas or electricity for vehicular fuel.”

Analysts say that the possibility of being regulated as a utility can suppress the appetite of companies that build electric vehicle charging stations.

The bill also requires the state’s investor-owned utilities to submit applications to the Public Regulation Commission for “transportation electrification” no more frequently than every two years.

The applications may include investments or incentives to facilitate the deployment of charging infrastructure and associated electrical equipment to support transportation electrification, including electrification of public transit and publicly owned vehicle fleets, rate designs or programs that encourage charging that supports the operation of the electric grid, as well as customer education and outreach programs aimed at increasing the awareness of the benefits of transportation electrification.

 H.B. 521 was ratified by the state’s House of Representatives 45-to-17 on March 8 and by the Senate 22-to-12 on March 15.

Grisham seems likely to sign HB 521, given her advocacy of clean energy issues. Last week she issued a press release praising the legislature’s passage of a bill, SB 489, that raises the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040 and requires the state’s investor owned utilities to provide 100% carbon dioxide free energy by 2045.

And in January, Grisham announced a Zero Emission Vehicle standard aimed at ensuring automakers make available enough electric vehicle models to achieve approximately 9% of new vehicles being zero-emitting electric-drive by 2025.

However, aside from charging stations installed by Tesla Motors, there are only six public fast-charging locations in New Mexico, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.