EV's are Popping Up Everywhere
(By Bill Andrews, Barrister & Solicitor representing BCSEA in BCUC proceedings)
- BC’s Zero Emissions Vehicles Act was enacted on May 30, 2019. It requires ZEVs to be 10% of sales of new light-duty car and truck by 2025, 30% by 2030, and 100% by 2040. Regulations to make it happen are being developed, and BCSEA is participating.
- BC Hydro’s most recent load forecast addresses the new ZEV targets. The “mid-load” scenario assumes the targets are met; the high-load scenario assumes the targets are exceeded. Under the mid-load scenario, BC Hydro has surplus electricity until 2038. However, under the high-load scenario, BC Hydro would have an energy deficit starting in 2029. Both dates are after demand-side management and Site C coming into operation.
- The drum roll continues for the government to issue a regulation requiring the Utilities Commission to allow BC Hydro and FortisBC (electric) to provide public EV fast-charging stations using revenue from regular customers to supplement revenue from EV drivers ‘at the pump.’ There aren’t enough EVs in BC yet for public EV fast-charging stations to break even on revenue from EV drivers. BCSEA had asked the Commission to allow the electricity public utilities to tap their general revenue to backstop public EV fast-charging stations until the EV sector matures in BC, but the BCUC refused. BC Hydro and FBC do already have some public fast-charging stations in place, but there’s a holdup in terms of ‘who pays’ and whether can they add new stations.
- EV charging has also come up as a side issue in the Commission’s hearing on amendments to BC Hydro’s Net Metering Program. BC Hydro wants the Commission to finalize the interim ban on new net metering participants with generation facilities sized large enough to expect an annual net surplus of energy to the grid. Hydro proposes to adjust the ban to allow extra generation in case the customer does EV charging in the future. BCSEA’s approach is that the ban should be lifted entirely, and the price Hydro pays for annual surplus electricity should reflect the value of the power to other customers. The proceeding continues...
- Meanwhile, BCSEA has asked BC Hydro to include a ‘Net Metering Plus” concept in its examination of supply-side and demand-side resources for the development of its next Integrated Resource Plan (due to be submitted for approval by the BCUC in 2021). At this “resource options” stage, BC Hydro estimates the costs and benefits of potential resources, such as new wind power, commercial-scale PV or capacity-focused demand-side management, without yet deciding which ones will be needed in the long-term plan. Net Metering Plus (not an official term!) refers to net metering in which annual net surplus generation is actively encouraged. This resource would be a small, clean distributed generation that offsets load and contributes net energy to the grid. Hydro’s assumption is that this would be too expensive to be viable compared to, say, conventional DSM or commercial-scale renewable generation. However, BCSEA says many customers are eager to participate in helping to meet their own energy needs and BC Hydro should seriously examine this approach.
- BC Hydro has applied to the Commission for approval of new optional rates for power sold to large customers for the purpose of charging EV fleets. BCSEA supports these proposals. The regular rates for large customers are very expensive for fleet EV charging because the rates include a “capacity” charge based on the customer’s monthly peak demand. When a company is first converting its fleet to EVs the peak demand is high but there are relatively few charging sessions to spread the cost over. The proposed rates will make it more affordable for bus, trucking, courier and other transportation companies to transition to EV fleets. BC Transit and Translink have each committed to replacing their diesel bus fleets with electric buses over time.Speaking of the price that a customer pays for the electricity they use for charging an EV, BC Hydro’s Residential Inclining Block (RIB) Rate has come under criticism because a customer who charges an EV may well be paying the Step 2 price (14 cents/kWh) for the extra load. It is said that the RIB Rate discourages EV adoption (although it is debatable if this is more theoretical than real). BCSEA has always supported the RIB Rate because it encourages conservation and efficiency. Most customers pay more for consuming more energy and save more for reducing their consumption than under a flat rate structure. However, BC Hydro’s latest research indicates that the conservation and efficiency impacts of the RIB Rate may have diminished. In response to an information request from BCSEA, BC Hydro says it will review the RIB Rate within two years.
BC Hydro RIB Rate: Exhibit B-6, pdf pp.810-812, 2072
Appendix AA, DSM Verification and Evaluation, Evaluation of the Residential Inclining Block Rate: F2013-F2017, pdf p.2333+