- The Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) last week established a proceeding to consider the development and impacts of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure on the state's grid.
- Regulators requested information on the development and projected growth of EV infrastructure, rate design, storage issues and ownership models for public charging stations.
- The SCC opened its investigation amid two other significant EV-related actions: approval of a smart charging pilot Dominion Energy proposed as part of its grid modernization plan, and suspension of a proceeding considering a residential charging pilot floated by Rappahannock Electric Cooperative.
Rappahannock in January filed for approval of an EV pilot program that would test the ability of residential chargers to supply electricity usage data without a dedicated meter. In March, however, the utility told regulators it needed to "further investigate the technology protocols of electric vehicle chargers to ascertain which protocols will be compatible with the Cooperative's Customer Information System, Advanced Metering Infrastructure, and Meter-Data Management systems."
"We wanted something unique and different, to take advantage of emerging technology and to encourage off peak charging," David Koogler, Rappahannock's senior vice president of member services and external affairs, told Utility Dive.
"We want to meter the whole house," Koogler said. "And instead of putting in a separate utility meter, we wanted to use the smart charger and then wirelessly, through the WiFi network in the member's home, we wanted to pull that data into our meter management system."
Rappahannock's proposal included a bill credit of $0.04/kWh if all charging was done in off-peak hours.
"The concept is great, but the technology is not quite there yet," Koogler said.
The SCC issued an order suspending the procedural schedule for Rappahannock's pilot on March 18. On March 24, it launched its generic proceeding to investigate EV charging. Then, on March 26, regulators approved Dominion's $51.1 million smart charging pilot.
The EV investigation order "speaks for itself as to why the Commission established this proceeding," an SCC spokesperson told Utility Dive.
Dominion's pilot will consist of rebates for infrastructure and upgrades at EV charging sites, incentives for equipment that enables managed charging, and company ownership of four charging stations to support electrification in the rideshare market.
Ownership models for public charging stations are one issue SCC wants to tackle in its investigation.
The commission's order asks, "is the market for providing public charging stations competitive or should it be considered a natural monopoly with service provided exclusively by regulated utilities? ... What is the proper role, if any, of utility investment in the deployment of public charging stations?"
Other issues SCC wants to address include:
- the current level of demand being put on the distribution grid by electric vehicle charging, and how that is expected to grow;
- how rate designs should be structured to incentivize off-peak EV charging;
- how EVs can provide battery storage for the electric grid, and at what scale.
Regulators said they recognize that the increased deployment of EVs "presents several issues that potentially could affect the affordability and reliability of electricity service delivered to consumers by regulated utilities."
As for specific utility plans, Dominion officials say they are still "digesting the order and not ready to comment on it yet."
Rappahannock is hoping to restart its own EV charging pilot proceeding later this year. "This is just a temporary pause," Koogler said. "Our hope is to have the kinks in the technology worked out in about six months and potentially approved by the end of year."
"But that's a hypothetical timeline," Koogler added. "Right now we have to see how it works out."
Comments on the larger EV proceeding are due June 23 and a public meeting on the issues is slated for July 8.