Pennsylvania’s combination of guiding principles, legislation and collaboration among a broad array of stakeholders may show how to move the EV market into its next phase of development.

Pennsylvania’s breakthrough collaboration of private sector, utility, legislative and regulatory leaders may be the template for a national transportation electrification program that can drive the next wave of market expansion.

Supportive policies in California, New York and Washington have led to market-leading EV sales. But policymakers in states like Ohio, Maryland, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are working on laws, regulations and guidance to drive the next stage of growth. Some say Pennsylvania has put together the right mix.

Pennsylvania has already taken three big steps. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)-led Drive Electric coalition drafted an EV Roadmap. A November Public Utility Commission (PUC) ruling clarified private sector charger providers’ rights to set their own prices. And a utility’s pilot charger deployment proposal was endorsed by a major private provider because of the principles it embodies.

ChargePoint, the global charging station leader, supports the six Guiding Principles in the Duquesne Light Company proposal to own and operate charging stations, Director of Policy Kevin Miller told Utility Dive. Among current state policy efforts, these principles “are a landmark in utility program design because they allow utilities to complement the competitive market and increase customer choice,” he said.

Growing EV markets

The PUC ruling, the Drive Electric Pennsylvania coalition’s collaboration and the Duquesne Light proposal’s principles are the kinds of things that grow EV markets, Miller said. The Duquesne principles are particularly important because they “preserve site host control over charging stations” and, therefore, “fit with the many kinds of programs needed for the many different kinds of utility service territories.”

A further element in the mix, and a prime focus of the collaboration, has been House Bill (HB) 1446. It would accelerate electric vehicle (EV) adoption, charging station deployment and supporting policies. It did not get out of committee in 2018, but Republican Senators Bob Mensch and Robert Tomlinson have announced a new push is coming in 2019, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Transportation Policy Analyst Noah Garcia told Utility Dive.

HB 1446 could “help Pennsylvania stake out a leadership position in electric vehicle policy nationally,” Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) Market Development VP Matt Stanberry emailed Utility Dive. By making clear the state’s commitment, “it would provide an important welcoming signal for new investments.”

Though still in its early stages, the national transition to electricity-powered transportation is accelerating, with more EVs sold and charging stations deployed every year. The U.S. now has more than 1 million EVs on its roads, with California in the lead, followed by New York, according to the Edison Electric Institute.

“We’re at a tipping point toward mass adoption of transportation electrification and states are working on the many ways utility programs can be structured to complement the private market.”

Kevin Miller

Director of Policy, ChargePoint

But it is Pennsylvania, 12th in 2017 EV sales, where the combination of guiding principles, legislation and collaboration among utilities, private providers, policymakers and regulators may add up to a template for how to move the market into its next phase of development.