Xcel Energy’s $102M plan to boost electric vehicle use gets hearing by state

State regulators opened hearings Thursday into Xcel Energy-Colorado’s proposal to spend $102 million over three years on getting more electric vehicles on the roads.

The Colorado Public Utilities Commission will consider the plan by Xcel Energy, Colorado’ largest electric utility, to invest in charging stations, incentivize homeowners to install charging equipment and provide support for converting government and business fleets to electric.

The utility has said the plan would support Gov. Jared Polis’ goal of having about 940,000 electric cars in Colorado by 2030. The move to more electric vehicles is seen as essential to meeting state and local goals of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and addressing climate change.

“It’s critically important that we tackle the transportation sector because it’s the No. 1 source of greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a huge source of asthma-inducing smog pollution and the brown cloud,” said Danny Katz, director of the Colorado Public Interest Research Group and the CoPIRG Foundation.

Xcel Energy’s proposal is a key component because one of the biggest things keeping people from buying electric vehicles is the fear that there aren’t enough charging stations or not knowing how to install one in a home, Katz said.

Other utilities across the country have become involved in helping make the transition to electric vehicles, and Xcel Energy’s plan would be a big step in doing that in Colorado, Katz added. “We think the writing is on the wall. We’re headed toward an electric-vehicle future. so let’s get there more quickly.”

First, the plan must be approved by the Colorado PUC, which regulates Xcel Energy. The Colorado Office of Consumer Counsel, which represents the public before the PUC, generally supports the plan, said Joseph Pereira, the agency’s deputy director.

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However, there are several questions about how the plan will be carried out and what the impacts on customers will be, Pereira said.

“What we’re really advocating for is a plan that maximizes the benefits (for the rate payers) at the right cost,” Pereira said. “If the PUC adopts a plan heavy on investment but does not optimize the benefits, we could see rates go up quite a bit.”

It will be important for Xcel Energy to provide incentives to customers to charge vehicles when demand for electricity is low, he added.

Katz agreed. He said the utility can structure the program to encourage customers to charge vehicles overnight when there’s typically excess capacity on the grid.

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A 2019 law required Xcel Energy and other regulated utilities to submit plans to the PUC if they want to build charging stations and recover their costs. The law removed a prohibition against a regulated utility …read more

Source:: The Denver Post – Business


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