A state senate committee today advanced a measure urging the Public Service Commission to promote the rapid development of a statewide electric vehicle charging network.
The original version of Senate Bill 460 by Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, would have established a new state law. Senators amended the bill at the request of Ward, who says he doesn’t want to create legal problems by appearing to usurp the PSC’s constitutional authority.
Yet Ward says he be back next year with more legislation if the PSC doesn’t act, adding gas station owners need to begin adapting to the alternative fuel transition.
Under current law, says Ward, only power companies like Entergy are allowed to sell electricity. That means utilities control the rollout of EV charging stations, which critics say stifles growth, forces ratepayers to cover installation and enable utilities to capture a new profit stream.
Ward would like to allow gas stations to sell electricity to consumers without being classified as utilities. He also wants to see a level competitive playing field, rather than one in which the power companies can undercut retailers.
“I don’t think the gas stations want to become power companies, and I don’t think the power companies want to become fuel stations,” Ward says. “We’ve got to figure out how to make everybody involved comfortable.”
Federal infrastructure dollars could be available, though state or private-sector matches will be needed. If there’s uncertainty about the regulatory framework, Ward warns, people will be reluctant to invest.
More Louisiana residents, he adds, would drive electric vehicles if more charging stations were available.
Entergy representatives were unable to provide comments about SB 460 in time for this report.
The PSC has begun considering new rules related to EV charging stations. Commissioner Craig Greene, while not taking a position on Ward’s proposal, says he wants businesses to have a “fair opportunity” to provide charging stations, according to his Chief of Staff David Zito.