- A Missouri appeals court gave utilities in the state a path to include electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure in their rate base, finding that state regulators do have jurisdiction over the stations.
- The Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District concluded last week that charging stations are similar to gas stations, siding with Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L). The state Public Service Commission (PSC) had argued last year that the stations provided a charging service rather than the sale of electricity, preventing another Missouri utility, Ameren, from developing its ports.
- While the decision likely means KCP&L will again request to recover investments it has made in EV infrastructure, the court's order made clear that regulators have a range of mechanisms to ensure their authority results in fair rates for all customers.
The court's decision is a victory for utility efforts to own EV infrastructure in Missouri. Last year's decision by the commission, which ruled regulators do not have jurisdiction over the infrastructure, left utilities with little motivation to invest.
KCP&L said it had no comment on the court's decision. The utility reached a goal of installing 1,000 EV charging stations earlier this year, an endeavor it had initially launched three years before. But thus far it has not been allowed to recover those investments.
The commission, in declining KCP&L's request, described EV charging stations as "facilities that use specialized equipment, such as a specific cord and vehicle connector, to provide the service of charging a battery in an electric vehicle."
"The battery is the sole source of power to make the vehicle’s wheels turn, the heater and air conditioner operate, and the headlights shine light," the PSC said, in claiming it lacked authority over the stations. "The charging service is the product being sold, not the electricity used to power the charging system."
The court, however, said the PSC's argument "cannot withstand scrutiny." Judge Alok Ahuja wrote for the three-member panel that the charging stations "operate much like self-service gasoline stations."
"Just as in the case of a self-service gasoline station, what takes place at one of KCP&L’s electric vehicle charging stations is not the service of charging a battery; instead, it is the sale of electricity to the vehicle owner, for use to power his or her electric vehicle," Aluja wrote.
The decision may bring additional charging infrastructure for Missouri, though utilities appear intent on encouraging adoption one way or another.
Earlier this year, Ameren asked regulators to approve a plan to encourage electric vehicle adoption in the state, including incentives for home and workplace chargers and the replacement of commercial equipment. The plan was a departure from previous proposals for the utility to own the stations.