Oregon regulators adopt stipulation regarding PGE transportation electrification pilot programs

The Public Utility Commission of Oregon, in an order entered on Feb. 16, adopted a stipulation that authorizes Portland General Electric (PGE) to undertake three pilot programs designed to accelerate transportation electrification.

Those programs include a pilot with TriMet, an education and outreach program, and a proposal to build up to six additional utility-owned charging stations, the commission added.

The commission said that while it also adopts the agreement for PGE to propose two additional pilots for the commission’s later consideration, the commission modifies provisions in the stipulation addressing future meetings and processes related to developing specific learnings from PGE’s pilot programs.

The commission noted that as part of Senate Bill (SB) 1547, the 2016 Oregon Legislature adopted a state goal to increase the use of electricity for transportation. The commission said that the Legislature found that transportation electrification was necessary “to reduce petroleum use, achieve optimum levels of energy efficiency and carbon reduction, meet federal and state air quality standards, meet this state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals” and improve the public health and safety.

To help achieve that goal, the Legislature identified specific roles for electric companies, the commission said, adding that the commission implemented provisions of SB 1547 relating to transportation electrification in docket AR 599. PGE in December 2016 filed an application proposing four programs to accelerate transportation electrification. The commission noted that along with its staff, other intervenors participated in the docket, including the Oregon Department of Energy. In June 2017, PGE, staff, and intervenors submitted the stipulation and supporting joint testimony; the stipulation seeks approval of three pilot programs, with two additional pilots to be proposed for the commission’s later consideration.

The commission added that the three pilots are:

  • TriMet Electric Mass Transit Pilot Program – PGE will begin a pilot to install, own, and manage six electric bus charging stations for use by TriMet. PGE’s participation will allow TriMet to use grant funding from the Federal Transit Administration to purchase enough electric buses to cover an entire bus route. In the stipulation, PGE agrees that the pilot is not a model to allow utility ownership of transit charging infrastructure beyond the pilot’s term and scope. The stipulating parties agree to a maximum allowable cost for the program of $800,000 (10-year net present value)
  • Education and Outreach Pilot Program – PGE will begin to increase awareness of electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure, in order to stimulate consumer consideration and subsequent adoption of EVs. PGE identifies lack of awareness as the single largest barrier to EV adoption. The components of the pilot include providing opportunities for potential buyers of EVs to test them out and learn about them. The stipulating parties agree to a maximum allowable cost for the program of $400,000 (10-year net present value)
  • Electric Avenue Pilot Program – PGE will expand its Electric Avenue project by installing and owning six new charging stations in its service territory that will each contain up to four DC fast chargers and one level 2 charger. The parties believe that the pilot will, for instance, provide valuable information about the impact of the presence of visible, reliable, and accessible charging infrastructure on a customers’ willingness to purchase and use an EV. The parties agree to a maximum allowable cost for the program of $2.6m (10-year net present value)

Of the future pilot programs, the commission said that PGE agrees to propose a residential home charging pilot, which includes rebates for customers installing a connected level 2 charger and going on a time-of-use rate schedule. Also, the stipulation includes an allocation of about $1m for a workplace charging and/or fleet charging program.

ChargePoint Inc., and the Electric Vehicle Charging Association (EVCA) object to the Electric Avenue pilot portion of the stipulation, the commission added, noting that the parties oppose PGE’s ownership and operation of public charging stations, and argue that the stipulating parties have failed to show that the pilot meets the requirements of SB 1547 and that it is in the public interest.

“We are not persuaded by the objections raised by ChargePoint and EVCA to the Electric Avenue pilot,” the commission said. “Although we agree that the provision of public EV charging is not a traditional utility service, we agree with the stipulating parties that additional investment in EV infrastructure is necessary in order to achieve widespread transportation electrification. With its Electric Avenue pilot, PGE will help contribute to that needed investment and make reliable charging infrastructure available to the growing number of EV users. The additional Electric Avenue charging stations will also serve to increase awareness ofEVs and provide confidence to potential EV users that chargers will be available to them should they decide to make such a purchase.”  

Of its clarifications and amendments to the stipulation regarding future activities, the commission said, in part, that it adopts “these pilots to produce learnings for EV development, and conclude that efforts to identify those specific learnings would benefit from a transparent and open forum that allows the participation, expertise, and insight from all parties. … We direct the stipulating parties to lead an expedited effort with all parties to finalize the specific learnings, and to report results at a public meeting before April 10, 2018.”

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3063 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.