NATSO and trade groups representing fuel retailers urged Maryland to reject a proposal from utility companies seeking to spend more than $100 million on a statewide network of electric charging stations. The trade groups urged the state to work with the fuel retail industry to deploy electric charging infrastructure via the existing privately developed motor fuels infrastructure because it's the most efficient way to accelerate the adoption of alternative fuels.
In an April 10 letter to the Maryland Public Service Commission, NATSO along with the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) said that if Maryland wants to encourage the use of electric vehicles it should work with fuel retailers to develop an electric charging infrastructure and that the proposal by the utility companies would create an alternative refueling monopoly, destabilize the competitive nature of the refueling marketplace and harm consumers.
“If Maryland wants to encourage the use of electric vehicles, the state should work with fuel retailers to develop an electric charging infrastructure,” the associations wrote. “Fuel retailers are located in the highest traffic areas that allow motorists the most convenient locations to fuel their vehicles. The most efficient way to create an electric charging infrastructure is to incentivize sellers of motor fuel to invest in the alternative fuel marketplace.”
Maryland is seeking to expand the number of electric vehicles in use in the state to 300,000 by 2025, up from just over 10,000 in 2017. In a proposal to the Maryland Public Service Commission, BGE, Potomac Electric Power Co., Delmarva Power and Potomac Edison Co. among others proposed spending $104 million on a statewide network of charging stations and asking utility customers to pay between 25 cents and 42 cents a month to support the program.
The utilites think the proposal should serve as a model for other states seeking to expand charging infrastructure. Maryland is one of eight states signed on to a Zero-Emission Vehicle Memorandum of Understanding, a coordinated action to boost the adoption of EVs.
NATSO, NACS and SIGMA said that allowing utilities to preempt consumer demand for electric vehicle charging will destroy any incentive for private sector investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and that granting a defacto monopoloy on refueling services would lead to higher prices for consumers.
The groups further stated that any benefit that Maryland may afford, such as tax benefits, should be available to anyone looking to enter the electric charging marketplace.
“If Maryland, or any other state, provides special incentives to a public utility that allow it to provide motor fuel (electric or otherwise) at a cost with which the private market cannot compete, it will naturally limit the private sector’s desire to invest in the alternative fuel marketplace,” the associations wrote.
The commission is expected to make a decision in the next few months on its path forward.
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