While driving around town nowadays you may have noticed more and more electric vehicles (EVs) on the roads, and you are not alone. Xcel Energy has also taken notice and is now looking to expand their services to support the growth of the EV market.
Xcel has proposed a pilot to build out charging infrastructure to support both public charging ports and charging ports for business or government vehicle fleets. Because the pilot will be paid for by Xcel’s electricity customers, it must be approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Xcel says the proposed pilot would cost ratepayers $25 million, though the impact on rates would be small.
Xcel is asking to allocate $9.2 million to support about 70 public charging centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Xcel would build out the electrical infrastructure up to the stations, but the company would not own or maintain the actual charging equipment. The goal is to support developers of public chargers. This infrastructure is expected to be able to support about 350 public charging ports. Xcel has also proposed another $14.4 million be used to support fleet charging in partnership with the state of Minnesota, city of Minneapolis, and Metro Transit.
CUB is currently evaluating the pilot. From a utility consumer perspective, we want to support utility programs that are as effective as possible in enabling people to switch to electric transportation while ensuring that customer funds are spent in ways that benefit all customers, whether or not they drive EVs or ride in electric buses. By charging at times when electric demand is low and renewable energy generation is high (especially overnight), the increased power use from EVs can bring electricity costs down for everyone – if programs are well designed and well managed.
You can learn more about Xcel’s proposed pilots in this article from the Star Tribune. The Public Utilities Commission is currently accepting public comments on the proposal (under Docket number 18-643), and will then schedule a hearing at which to consider approving, modifying, or denying it. Stay tuned for updates from CUB.