- Comments to the Missouri Public Service Commission last week reveal Ameren Missouri's proposed "Charge Ahead" electric vehicle (EV) incentive program has mixed support, with the Office of the Public Counsel conditioning its blessing on a performance-based approach to the utility's cost recovery.
- Ameren wants to incentivize charging ports as a means to load growth via wider EV adoption. Though the majority of stakeholders support the proposal, OPC says it will back the proposal only if Ameren's ability to recover the cost of running the program is tied to meeting EV adoption goals.
- Staff of the PSC is opposed to the Charge Ahead proposal and in a Nov. 27 filing told regulators that Ameren is "requesting $11 million of ratepayer dollars with absolute and unfettered discretion as to how many chargers will be installed and other metrics."
Ameren officials pushed back on program criticisms and OPC's recovery proposal, asserting that Charge Ahead is cost effective and provides benefits that outweigh customer costs.
"As part of our core regulated business, it's appropriate for Ameren Missouri to ensure the electric infrastructure needed to serve all customers is available," Steve Wills, director of rates and analysis, told Utility Dive in an email.
The OPC's cost-recovery proposal "seeks to impose a different standard for cost recovery on expenditures made to benefit customers," Wills said. Several states, including California, Utah, Massachusetts and Ohio, have already approved EV programs, according to him, "where costs are included in the rate recovery mechanism, without the kind of risk imposition on Ameren Missouri that the OPC is now proposing."
ChargePoint, which has been supporting Ameren's proposal, declined to comment on OPC's proposal but pointed to its testimony in the proceeding where it told regulators that "rebates provided through Ameren will incent development of charging infrastructure in a way that will stimulate technology innovation, encourage competition in the market, and enable customer choice for EV charging equipment and services."
Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council said the commission should approve Ameren's proposal, with some modifications. Renew Missouri supported the plan, and the Missouri Department of Economic Development said supported a revised proposal that supported infrastructure in underserved and low-income communities.
Ameren has struggled to bring charging infrastructure to its territory: Almost a year before Ameren proposed Charge Ahead, the PSC had declined to regulate charging equipment, effectively ending Ameren's efforts to install and own charging ports.