SALT LAKE CITY — A bill unveiled Wednesday would allow businesses or cities that provide a charging station for electric vehicles to recoup their costs without fear of being viewed as a “utility” and regulated by the Public Service Commission.
Such a concern may seem unwarranted, but under Utah law as it exists now, that worry could become a reality as electric vehicles become more mainstream in the state.
Rep. Patrice Arent, D-Millcreek, told members of the Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee that her measure would set in place assurances that someone providing a plug-in station for electric vehicles and being compensated would not run afoul of the state’s utility regulator.
She said the issue has been studied by the legislatively created Economic Development Task Force as one cost-effective way to make a dent in the air quality problem that plagues the Wasatch Front by encouraging the use of alternative fuel vehicles.
The measure, if it receives the endorsement of the full Utah Legislature in the upcoming session, is anticipated to facilitate the installation of charging stations so owning an electric vehicle is more convenient.
She pointed to the circumstances of a Salt Lake-area resident who owns a Nissan Leaf with a range of 80 miles who would like the opportunity to visit rural areas of the state, but the infrastructure doesn’t exist.
Vicki Bennett, Salt Lake City’s director of sustainability, said the city has had six free electric vehicle charging stations for a number of years, but the 110-voltage delivered to the cars doesn’t provide enough of a charge to be worthwhile. Use of the stations has been sporadic for that reason as well as the relative rarity of that type of vehicle in the city, she said. (…)