September 23, 2021

What should the cost of charging an electric vehicle be?

2 min read

The Executive Council authorized a $292,950 deal with Boston-based research firm The Brattle Group Inc. to explore time-of-use charges for charging electric cars. For work which the new Department of Energy (DoE) is outsourcing, experts at the company will be charged up to $575 for every hour.

They will explore charging electric vehicles at what’s known as time-of-use prices. When energy is in high demand, such as in the afternoons and evenings when individuals are home from jobs and utilizing lights, it is more expensive. Time-of-use charges inform customers that charging an electric car overnight is less costly. Because demand is lower overnight, it is less expensive for a utility to obtain power, and the time-of-use tariff would mean a consumer would pay less to charge during the night when lights are turned off

The Brattle Group became the only company to react in what was supposed to be a competitive bidding process as the commission sought proposals for the contract. It was determined that the deal was not a sole-source deal. The study’s cost will be covered by the 3 electric utilities involved rather than the state’s general fund. Costs incurred by utilities in dockets like these are usually passed on to the ratepayers.

The deal will last through 4 February 2023, with the possibility to extend it if granted. Research analysts will be paid $295 per hour, while a Brattle consultant called Agustin Ros will be paid $575 per hour. According to the contract, “out-of-pocket charges and expenses, such as travel, shall be charged at cost.” Clifton Below, Lebanon’s assistant mayor and a specialist on energy policy, has been researching time-of-use charges in the dockets, which the investigation will look into.

“I would assume that Department of Energy (DoE) staff, the interim commissioner, has determined that, for whatever reason, they don’t feel they have the in-house capability to analyze, in specifically, the Eversource as well as Unitil proposals,” he added. Joseph Kenney, Republican Councilor, questioned why the Volkswagen settlement funds were not being utilized to pay for the study during the meeting.

“We can only utilize the Volkswagen settlement cash for certain things,” said Jared Chicoine, temporary commissioner in charge of the Department of Energy. He claims that research isn’t one of them but that establishing charging infrastructure is. The $4.6 million set aside by Volkswagen for the development of electric car charging infrastructure has stalled. To the dismay of sustainable energy supporters in the state, the state has yet to invest the money after completing a mitigation program in October 2017.

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