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Third Party Electric Vehicle Charging—Resale/Redistribution of Utility Service; Doc. No. M-2017-2604382

[47 Pa.B. 3790]
[Saturday, July 8, 2017]

 The Public Utility Commission (Commission) issues this letter seeking comments from all interested parties regarding tariff provisions of electric distribution companies (EDC) concerning the resale/redistribution of electric power to third parties. Specifically, the Commission seeks comments with regard to how those provisions may affect the operation of—even the viability of—electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

Background

 According to the Department of Transportation, the number of EVs registered in this Commonwealth has steadily increased from 1,653 in 2013 to an estimated 3,600 in 2016. There are currently 723 EV charging stations in this Commonwealth available to the public for recharging EV batteries. Evidence indicates that the number of EVs purchased throughout the United States will continue to grow, which means the need for EV charging stations will increase as well.

 EV charging station owners purchase electric power from an EDC and resell it to EV drivers. As with any other commercial activity, EV charging stations can exist only if the owners are able to earn a profit on the business. However, in this Commonwealth independent owners of EV charging stations may face resale/redistribution restrictions from: (1) 66 Pa.C.S. (relating to Public Utility Code), see 66 Pa.C.S. § 1313 (relating to price upon resale of public utility services); and (2) the EDCs resale/redistribution tariff provisions.

 Section 1313 of 66 Pa.C.S. requires that when an entity—such as an EV charging station—purchases power from an EDC and resells it to consumers, the price charged by the entity ''to any residential consumer shall not exceed the amount which the [EDC] would bill its own residential consumers for the same quantity of service'' under the EDCs existing tariff. On its face, 66 Pa.C.S. § 1313 would not appear to impact an EV charging station because it is reselling power to EV drivers as opposed to ''residential consumers.'' However, when viewed in conjunction with the resale/redistribution provisions of some of the EDCs tariffs, 66 Pa.C.S. § 1313 may restrict the ability of EV charging stations to earn a profit, which in turn would serve as a significant barrier to entry into the market.

 Resale/redistribution tariff provisions differ among this Commonwealth's EDCs. The tariffs of some EDCs do not include any provisions regarding the resale of power.1 The tariffs of other EDCs allow power to be resold under limited circumstances, but require that the rates charged be consistent with 66 Pa.C.S. § 1313.2 One EDC's tariff broadly permits the resale of power as long as it is done consistently with 66 Pa.C.S. § 1313.3 None of these tariffs expressly consider the resale of power by a third-party EV charging station operator.

 The tariff of one EDC, Duquesne Light Company (Duquesne), expressly allows EV charging stations to resell power.4 Duquesne does not consider the operation of EV charging stations to fall within the meaning of resale/redistribution, so stations in Duquesne's service territory can operate without restrictions from 66 Pa.C.S. § 1313 or Duquesne's tariff. Duquesne has stated that its resale/redistribution tariff provisions are meant to protect its residential electric customers from being charged rates in excess of those in its tariff (for example, by a landlord in a multiunit building with a single meter), not to prohibit an EV charging station from providing service to third parties.

Request for Comments

 The Commission recognizes that each EDC must design a tariff unique to its relevant characteristics and circumstances. However, the Commission believes that it would be beneficial to have each EDC include in its tariff express provisions regarding what restrictions, if any, it intends for the resale/redistribution of power by EV charging station operators. The Commission also believes it would be beneficial to consider the practicality of designing: (1) uniform tariff provisions for EV charging stations to establish regulatory consistency across this Commonwealth; and (2) tariff provisions that do not restrict dynamic pricing by EV charging stations.

 Given the steady increase in the number of EVs registered in this Commonwealth and the resulting need for more EV charging stations to power those vehicles, the Commission believes that all stakeholders should take steps to foster increased investment in EV charging infrastructure. To that end, the Commission is requesting comments from all interested parties on the following topics:

 • What restrictions, if any, each EDCs existing tariff places on the resale/redistribution of electric power by third-party EV charging.

 • The advantages and disadvantages of specific tariff provisions permitting unrestricted resale/redistribution of electric power when done for the purpose of third-party EV charging.

 • Whether it is appropriate to encourage EDCs across this Commonwealth to move toward a tariff design, such as that of Duquesne, which includes provisions permitting the resale/redistribution of electric power for third-party EV charging.

 • What other resale/redistribution tariff provision designs may aid in establishing clear rules for third-party EV charging stations.

 • What other regulatory options may aid in establishing clear resale/redistribution rules for third-party EV charging stations.

 Comments referencing Docket No. M-2017-2604382 shall be submitted to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Attn: Secretary, Commonwealth Keystone Building, 2nd Floor, 400 North Street, Harrisburg, PA 17120 within 45 days of the publication of this Secretarial Letter in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

ROSEMARY CHIAVETTA, 
Secretary

[Pa.B. Doc. No. 17-1145. Filed for public inspection July 7, 2017, 9:00 a.m.]

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1  Pennsylvania Power Company, Metropolitan Edison Company, Pennsylvania Electric Company and West Penn Power Company (collectively known as FirstEnergy).

2  PPL Electric Utilities Corporation and UGI Utilities, Inc.

3  PECO Energy Company.

4  Duquesne Light Company Tariff Rule 18 and Rule 18.1.



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