July 24, 2019

The battery of an Electric Vehicle (EV) needs charging and then recharging, and as more and more EVs are sold and hit the roadways in the U.S., the need for charging stations across Missouri and across the country is exploding … sort of.

Missouri has been slow to shift to electric vehicles. According to testimony filed in a recent Missouri Public Service Commission case, about 4,450 of 5.6 million registered vehicles in the state are powered by electricity. That ranks Missouri 34th in the nation in terms of adoption.

Gas stations outnumber public charging stations by about seven to one in the U.S. It’s no wonder people might get nervous about driving an electric car. Studies show, however, that consumers are more likely to buy an electric car when they see charging stations around town. It’s not just consumers, but more charging stations are a boon to automakers, which want to sell EVs, as well as power utilities, which want to sell more electricity.

An Electric Vehicle Charging Station (EVCS) entails equipment that connects an EV to a source of electricity to recharge EVs, neighborhood electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Charging stations are also called Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) and may be provided in municipal parking locations by electric utility companies or at retail shopping centers or other business locations by private companies. These stations provide special connectors that conform to the variety of electric charging connector standards. Fees for using EVSE may vary from monthly or yearly flat rates to per-kWh to hourly rates. Charging stations can be free and sometimes are subsidized by the local government. (WhatIs.com)

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, to get the most out of a plug-in EV, an owner must charge it on a regular basis. While most drivers do more than 80 percent of their charging at home (it is often the least expensive option), workplace and public charging can complement residential charging.

There are three major categories of chargers, based on the maximum amount of power the charger provides to the battery from the grid:

Level 1: Provides charging through a 120 V AC plug and does not require installation of additional charging equipment. Can deliver 2 to 5 miles of range per hour of charging. Most often used in home, but sometimes used at a workplace.

Level 2: Provides charging through a 240 V (for residential) or 208 V (for commercial) plug and requires installation of additional charging equipment. Can deliver 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of charging. Used in home, workplace, and for public charging. Commercial Level 2 chargers, which can connect to a network, recognize customers, and enable billing, cost about $10,000.

Level 3, DC Fast Charge: Provides charging through 480 V AC input and requires highly specialized high-powered equipment as well as special equipment in the vehicle itself. (Plug-in hybrid EVs typically do not have fast charging capabilities.) Can deliver 60 to 80 miles of range in 20 minutes of charging. Used most often in public charging stations, especially along heavy traffic corridors. Such Level 3 stations can cost $100,000 or more.

As demand grows for more publicly accessible charging stations, there is a greater need for equipment that supports faster charging at higher voltages and currents that are not currently available from residential EVSE.

Charging times range from less than 30 minutes to 20 hours or more based on the type of EVSE, as well as the type of battery, how depleted it is, and its capacity. All-electric vehicles typically have more battery capacity than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, so charging a fully depleted all-electric vehicle takes longer.

In addition to the three types above, wireless charging uses an electro-magnetic field to transfer electricity to an EV without a cord. The Department of Energy is supporting research to develop and improve wireless charging technology. Wireless chargers are currently available to use with certain vehicle models. (U.S. Department of Energy)

State Legislatures and Public Service Commissions are tackling EV-related topics with subsidies for vehicles and questions concerning how the charging infrastructure will be built out, who should own it, and who should pay for it.

The federal Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy outlined details of a settlement with Volkswagen regarding Clean Air Act violations in some 580,000 model year 2009 to 2016 diesel motor vehicles. VW has agreed to spend up to $14.7 billion to settle allegations of cheating emissions for 2 litre engines.

$2.7 billion will be placed in an Environmental Mitigation Trust and will be allocated to states, tribes, and certain territories, based on the number of impacted VW vehicles in their jurisdictions.

The State of Missouri’s potential allocation is more than $41 million. Up to 15 percent of its allocation of Trust Funds may be used on the costs to acquire, install, operate and maintain new light duty Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) supply equipment, including Level 1, Level 2, and/or Level 3 DC Fast Chargers located in a public place, workplace or multi-unit dwelling. Hydrogen fuel cell supply equipment, including hydrogen dispensing equipment located in public places, are also eligible projects for the Trust Funds.

In February, the Missouri PSC issued a ruling allowing Ameren Missouri utility company to spend $4.4 million to develop charging stations along St. Louis area highways. Ameren had presented an $18 million proposal to put charging stations in businesses, apartments buildings and workplaces throughout its service territory.

Commissioners suggested Ameren should integrate its $4.4 million investment with $6 million in Volkswagen settlement money that the state plans to spend on charging stations across the state.

The federal government and some states offer financial incentives, including tax credits, for lowering the up-front costs of plug-in EVs. The federal IRS tax credit is for $2,500 to $7,500 per new EV purchased for use in the U.S., the amount of the tax credit depending on the vehicle size and its battery capacity. This tax credit will be available until 200,000 qualified EVs have been sold in the U.S. by each manufacturer, at which point the credit begins to phase out for that manufacturer. Currently, no manufacturers have been phased out.

In Missouri, a state incentive is offered in statute: Vehicles powered exclusively by electricity, including low-speed vehicles, hydrogen, or fuels other than gasoline that are exempt from motor vehicle emissions inspection under federal regulations, are exempt from state emissions inspection requirements. (Section 643.315, RSMo.)

During the 2019 session of the Missouri General Assembly, legislators passed and Governor Mike Parson (R) signed, House Bill 355 with language affecting Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCS). The new law takes effect Aug. 28, 2019.

HB 355 as signed into law includes the following:

1. The bill clarifies a recent Missouri Appeals Court (Western District) decision to make sure sellers of EVCS (gas stations, hotels, electric co-ops and municipal utilities) remain unregulated by the Missouri PSC if they offer EVCS.

The Appeals Court had sided with Kansas City Power & Light, ruling that charging stations are part of an Investor-Owned Utility (IOU) company’s plant, and that such utilities may earn a return on investments in the stations. It said Missouri utility commissioners were wrong to say that they had no jurisdiction over questions involving charging stations.

2. The bill addresses a unique/obscure service territory issue under existing law for electric co-ops and municipal utilities that choose to provide EVCS.

Without this, co-ops serving inside of cities of more than 1,500 population could not provide EVCS for their existing co-op members or their own headquarters buildings; cities could not serve their existing customers just outside municipal boundaries.

HB 355 has nothing to do with Investor-Owned Utilities. The Missouri PSC still fully regulates IOU EVCS.

Statistics from Dec. 31, 2017 said there were 20,178 EV public and private charging locations (sites) in the U.S. with 17,526 (87 percent) being available to the public. With 48,472 total public charging sites, each location had an average of 2.75 stations/outlets.

In March, a spokesman for Kansas City Power & Light told the Missouri Public Service Commission that KCP&L has installed 2,100 public charging ports in the Kansas City area.

Websites such as www.plugshare.com offer directories of charging station locations throughout Missouri and the U.S.

Globally, the number of electric vehicle networks is increasing to provide a system of publicly accessible charging stations for EV recharging. Governments, automakers and charging infrastructure providers have forged agreements to create these networks.

The landscape of Electric Vehicle Charging is changing quickly in the U.S. with much happening with the dynamics. Electric battery prices are coming down, and research is moving toward batteries with longer mileage ranges. Electric Vehicle sales are increasing: fewer than 200,000 were sold in 2017, while more than 360,000 were sold in 2018. More and more passenger EVs are being introduced, including pickup trucks and SUVs.

And don’t overlook electric buses and even electric freightliner trucks, which will require more, quicker, heavy-duty charging stations and lots of electricity. Those vehicles are coming soon to a roadway near you. The charging stations may have to run to catch up.