Massachusett’s Department of Public Utilities Considers Regulating Electricity as a Motor Vehicle Fuel

JAN 7 2014 BY ERIC LOVEDAY 22

Should Electricity Be Regulated as a Motor Fuel?

Should Electricity Be Regulated as a Motor Fuel?

It was bound to happen eventually, right?

Electricity as a Motor Fuel?!?!?

Electricity as a Motor Fuel?!?!?

In Massachusetts, the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is now investigating whether or not is should consider regulating electricity as a motor fuel.

The Boston Herald quotes Ann Berwick, the DPU’s chairwoman, as stating:

“We’re driving in that direction in terms of policies.”

“If you had a whole lot of electric vehicles charging at once, then you’d have questions about whether the electric grid at the moment can accommodate that,” Berwick said. “There are all kinds of questions related to how they charge, when they charge, what they pay for charging and whether they have special rates.”

As the Boston Herald reports:

“The DPU will look at how electric vehicles get charged — at people’s residences, at businesses for a fee, or whether utility companies should be allowed to own charging systems. It also will consider metering policies and rate structures that incentivize off-peak charging for residential customers with electric vehicles.”

At this stage, the DPU is merely investigating what it think should be done in terms of regulating electricity in the future.  There’s nothing set in stone.  The Boston Herald says that the DPU will “study whether it should regulate a local hotel or mall.”

Once again quoting Berwick:

“Should we regulate it differently depending on whether they’re charging for the power or not, or whether it’s a fee versus a kilowatt-basis charge?”

That seems to be the biggest ? right now.

Look for us to closely follow and report on this developing story.

Source: Boston Herald

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22 Comments on "Massachusett’s Department of Public Utilities Considers Regulating Electricity as a Motor Vehicle Fuel"

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But there are hardly any EVs in Mass.

Precisely. Par for the course:

Those who are the slowest in dragging their feet or even dragging down EVs – are also the quickest to come up with new ways to harass and “investigate” how they can penalize EV usage before it destroys our grid or something.

That’s why they are talking about national taxes on EVs and hybrids, and yet the Federal gas tax is stuck at its ridiculous 1993 level.

what about this says they’re going to penalize EV drivers? If anything, they’re saying they want to use this to offer lower off-peak rates for EV drivers, that’s good for everyone.

I guess that’s my reading comprehension. When someone in power says, (to quote from the article)

“If you had a whole lot of electric vehicles charging at once, then you’d have questions about whether the electric grid at the moment can accommodate that…”
“…There are all kinds of questions related to how they charge, when they charge, what they pay for charging and whether they have special rates.”

It doesn’t sound like they have *rewarding* EVs on their mind.

They are neither “punishing” nor “rewarding” EV owners. They are simply trying to understand the implications of a new, potentially large scale user on their systems. It’s called “management”. Geez, get a grip, people.

Nope. They’re trying to figure out how to monetize.

The vast number of EVs either do or can charge in off peak hours which is automatic money for the power companies. This should be revenue enough!

Same goes for trying to buy my solar generated power at wholesale.

Screw me on either one of these and I will spend the money on the currently inferior battery packs and never look back. This option currently is neither technically nor economically smart, but I am more than willing to make the principled move if pushed to do so.

I truly wish to have a long term symbiotic relationship relationship with my utility. But if they and others feel like I am not carrying my weight, know that I have options and will fight the principled fight.

Not to be confused with a method of collecting road/infrastructure tax for which we all are responsible.

Well, eventually if the penetration of EVs hits a high enough rate (won’t happen for a loooong time), then more states will have to consider some sort of add-on to their registration fees to account for road repair and highway maintenance. That, however, is not what MA is talking about. Which is funny, since last I was in Boston the potholes could have swallowed a Smart Car whole.

We’re already paying an extra $100/year per EV here in Washington State in our tab fees.

Because hey, we cannot be free-riders, right? There must be at least one pothole, somewhere, that was caused by an EV.

That’s from a legislature that hasn’t yet figured out how to create a state income tax. No, scratch that. They will fire all teachers and firefighters before daring to talk about a state income tax.

That sounds about fair, although one could sensibly argue that the timing is bad. Give it another 3 years, then start the tax.

Yeah… it’s all about the timing. They hurried to pass that bill already 2 years ago, sponsored by a Democrat no less, who started pushing it in 2011. http://www.plugincars.com/washington-senate-passes-bill-charge-electric-vehicle-owners-100-annual-fee-112580.html

At the same time, King County Metro, one of the nation’s most efficient and heavily used metro transit systems, warns that it needs a 15% increase just to meet current demand and mitigate the delays and overcrowding that already begin to plague it.

Instead, there’s a 17% budget shortfall, that the very same State Legislature so keen on getting our measly $100 has been neglecting to fund for some 4 years. In 2012 a last-moment deal by the county council, mostly funded by a $20 increase in tabs, provided a 2-year stopgap.

If they don’t come up with something real quick, the King County economy will suffer big time. The highway system simply cannot accommodate the return of a substantial chunk of transit riders to their cars.

But hey, at least they did what that MA jerk said in the article: made sure EVs don’t get a free pass 😉

oh, and btw… unless they closed that loophole since 2012, people with a Chevy Volt and PHEVs don’t need to pay the extra $100/year. Only BEVs.

Is Massachusetts considering regulations on collecting ‘fuel’ from the Sun and wind as well?

Electricity by definition is energy, not a “fuel”. There is no oxidizing chemical reaction when using electric energy. Fuel can be used to make energy, but energy can be extracted from a number of sources (eg: a moving mass of water, or slowing a moving vehicle)

EVs are a new paradigm breaking the traditional link between vehicles and fuels. Much of existing government infrastructure funding (local, state, and federal) comes from regulating fuel, not the vehicle. Part of funding issues has be more efficient vehicles (to lower emmissions) has also reduced fuel use and fees collected on fuel. Without a defined fuel sources EVs are forcing an overdue rethinking of our underfunded vehicle infrastructure.

A vehicles weight, distance traveled, and emissions may soon become more consistent parameters to regulate infrastructure funding.

This is why I do not like Hydrogen one bit. We’re replacing one fuel and hence one “drug dealer” with another.

Aside from that I’m interested to see what would happen in Beijing for example, if millions of cars were spewing out water vapour – e.g. Would it be permantly foggy? – Would the humidity rise? What effect would a damp atmosphere have on buildings etc? Would things rust?

Biggest question – would adding water vapour to an already warmer atmosphere have some other unknown effect on the climate / cause storms? Imagine this: Summertime, clear skies over Beijing since all ICE have been replaced with FCEVs. Big chunk of tarmac warms up, air rises, taking the moisture from millions of cars with it. As air rises, less pressure, air expands, gets colder. Air can’t hold said moisture anymore. Moisture condenses out, releases latent heat. Air rises further. BOOM! – and watch that Thunderstorm go……

I’m just playing devil’s advocate, i’d be interested to know what others think…

I’m not wild about Hydrogen simply because its just another fuel we do not need.

The fuel cells to use it have a high cost / mile.

There is no infrastructure for hydrogen, other than natural gas fired hydrogen machines. Seems like a wasted effort to me. CNG and LNG make far more sense since no new infrastructure, nor new technology is required.

Charging EV cars after midnight is about the most grid-friendly thing I can think of.

Unless you can afford solar cells. Or solar mirrors. One benefit, they are currently both cheaper and far safer than a new Nuclear Plant.

One of the byproduct of burning fossil fuels is already water vapor, so I don’t think that be a problem for the climate or the local infrastructure.

What do laws prohibiting the sale of watts from non-utilities and zoning laws for “hotels” and “malls” have in common with “motor fuel” laws? I don’t get the connection between what NY and CA are already addressing and the Conservative Herald’s choice of words “investigating the possible regulation of electricity as a motor vehicle fuel.” If we regard those states as “regulating electricity as motor fuel”, than OK, its done. That would be the first time I’ve heard it put that way. And, again, this is the Boston Herald. MA is definitely an on-grid state, for solar. We make Californians jealous for everything but the amount of sun, itself. Retail net metering, SRECs (that have capped out twice as high as anywhere else), property tax rebates, the same 30% fed credit. Batteries? Bad move here. I could buy a rental, near NH, put solar on it and net meter against my own use near Boston. There’s no way around keeping the currently capped amount of installs, and making the new 1.6GW single-state 3yr goal (yes, ~6 million panels). This is fertile solar ground, friends. Seriously, I don’t know why MA has lavished its solar panel owners, yet is so slow… Read more »

Considering many Volt and i-MiEV owners I read about still routinely use 120v EVSE to charge their batteries, wouldn’t the state have to have a separate smart meter on every outlet to know what was drawing the watts?

And I am worried with my solar panels???

all about money.

Exactly right!
They’re walking a fine line, wielding a double edge sword. In the 1980’s when solar electricity was price prohibitive they could get away with regulating electricity use. Today if they push too far there are many ways to go off grid. (Solar City with Tesla batteries) That would mean loss of business for them (electric utility companies).

NPNS!
Volt#671

We will learn soon that is the new master plan from Oil and Carbon industries. Well they have already politicians on the payroll.