Kansas Energy Regulators Approve Evergy Electric Vehicle Plan


Government utility regulators authorized a plan to promote electric vehicles in Kansas, but did not give Evergy prior approval to expand its network of charging stations at the expense of taxpayers.

The Kansas Corporation Commission unanimously supported an order made on Monday, which followed a non-unanimous settlement agreement.

Evergy’s transportation electrification portfolio is highlighted by a series of charging station discount programs, but also includes charging service tariffs, consumer education, administrative budgeting, and monitoring. program costs.

A related expansion of Evergy’s Clean Charge Network was hailed by regulators, but did not receive the level of commission the company had requested.

“Evergy’s proposal was designed to encourage investment in the infrastructure needed to support wider adoption of electric vehicles,” company spokeswoman Gina Penzig said in an email. “Electric transmission with tariff structures that encourage off-peak charging has the potential to make the electricity grid more efficient by increasing usage during periods of low demand. This helps to reduce costs for all customers. “

The company estimates the benefits to customers in metro Kansas at $ 72.3 million and $ 46.9 million for the central Kansas region through 2040, according to documents filed with KCC.

“Long-term recharging of electric vehicles has the potential to reduce costs for all customers by spreading the fixed costs of the utility among more users,” commission staff said in a press release. “Evergy will be authorized to submit the costs of rebates, customer education and program administration for the consideration of the Commission in its next rate case.

Following:Evergy Wants Approval to Promote Electric Vehicles in Kansas: “Transportation Electrification Happens Now”

Discounts and network of chargers

Discounts include hundreds of dollars in incentives for owners to install a Level 2 charging, which uses 240-volt outlets to charge vehicles faster than traditional 120-volt outlets.

Developers are said to be awaiting further discounts to install such chargers in newly built homes, while third parties may get discounts for commercial charging infrastructure. Large fleet operators, such as utility vehicles and city buses, could benefit from lower rates for off-peak charging.

Evergy gets $ 10 million budget for its commercial charger rebate program.

Evergy owns and operates the shareholder-funded Clean Charge Network, which has more than 900 electric vehicle charging stations. Evergy says he’s making the Kansas City area the country’s “leader in electric vehicle infrastructure”.

Evergy’s proposed $ 13.5 million expansion would target underserved areas, more than quadruple the number of charging stations in the central Kansas region.

The company had asked the commission to find that CCN’s expansion is “prudent from a decision-making point of view.” The commission denied the request.

“Evergy has requested pre-approval to expand the network and seek to recoup these investments from taxpayers in future tariff cases,” KCC staff said. “The Commission rejected the request for prior approval as premature.”

Staff noted that the Federal Infrastructure Law provided funds for electric vehicle charging stations. Kansas could see $ 40 million over five years, as well as the possibility of applying for the $ 2.5 billion grant fund for electric vehicle charging.

It is not clear whether the investment will be made without KCC’s approval. Evergy spokesperson Penzig said the company is still reviewing this part of the commission’s order.

Commissioners said Evergy could proceed with its plan and try to recover costs in future tariff cases, but would shoulder its traditional burden of showing those costs to be prudent.

Their order says Evergy would need to show that an expansion was targeting an underserved area, the company looked for other funding opportunities, and it gave federal funds the ability to meet customer needs before building its own. infrastructure.

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Proactive response and “big benefits”

“I would like to thank Evergy and thank them for their proactivity in studying and supporting this potential transition to electric vehicles,” said KCC President Andrew French. “If we manage this properly, all customers will reap big benefits. “

While Evergy argued the plan would benefit all consumers and was a proactive response to major automakers moving towards electric vehicles, the company encountered opposition.

The settlement agreement was negotiated by staff from KCC, Evergy and the Citizens Utility Ratepayer Board. The Natural Resources Defense Council, American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers, and ChargePoint participated in the discussions but opposed the settlement.

The fuel group argued that the plan “will unfairly benefit Evergy at the expense of gasoline and diesel fuel makers” and that electric vehicle chargers are an “optional luxury,” not an “essential utility,” according to the company. the prescription. They argued that Evergy was trying to drive demand, rather than meeting the needs of existing customers.

While the use of electric vehicles could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions from petroleum combustion engines, some have questioned whether a utility should stimulate demand for the electricity it sells.

“This allows the inhabitants of the Evergy territory to consider purchasing an electric vehicle, because I am sure that the prices will drop and the availability will increase, to benefit from an additional discount when they make this purchase” , said Commissioner Susan Duffy.

The consumer group was generally in favor of promoting cleaner energy, but was not convinced that the company had demonstrated a customer need for its charging network and that the expansion would be anti-competitive.

“We also believe that the public service should not determine public policies,” said a representative at a previous evidence hearing. “This should be left to our duly elected representatives of this state.”

KCC staff sought to “protect a growing competitive market from the monopoly power of Evergy.”

Commissioner Dwight Keen said the order is intended to create a more competitive market.

“Competition between providers generally leads to better service at lower or competitive prices, and it also gives consumers more choice,” he said.

Jason Tidd is a state reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. He can be contacted by email at [email protected] Follow him on twitter @Jason_Tidd.

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