After a failed attempt and months of delays, Ameren Missouri has received approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission to install electric-vehicle charging stations along highways in Missouri.
The utility’s $4.4 million pilot program, which will run for five years, aims to install fast-charging stations at rest stops and businesses near highway entrances. The company also will offer financial incentives to businesses that want to help install charging stations.
The effort could ease the “range anxiety” that motorists feel when they’re worried that their electric vehicle will run out of power before they reach a charging station.
The Chevrolet Bolt, for example, has a range of 238 miles. Making charging stations more available will encourage people to drive electric cars that pollute much less than gas-fueled vehicles and could lower costs for Ameren’s customers, said Steve Wills, Ameren’s director of rates and analysis.
“Adding electric vehicles provides the type of new usage that helps spread the fixed costs of our system across a wider usage base, and that can drive down rates for everyone,” Wills said.
The Public Service Commission, however, rejected the other portion of Ameren’s proposal, which the utility filed in February 2018. The company wanted to install 1,200 charging plugs in its service territory and provide incentives to businesses that would install them at places such as apartment complexes and coffee shops.
Last summer, while the commission was still considering Ameren’s proposal, Judge Alok Ahuja from the Western District of the Missouri Court of Appeals ruled that the definition of “electric plant” could extend to electric-vehicle charging stations.
The commission had previously rejected Ameren’s 2016 proposal to build stations along highways, because members did not consider them as “electric plants” and therefore did not think it had the authority to regulate them.
The commission wants Ameren to rework its plan to provide financial incentives for businesses to make sure it’s in the best interest of ratepayers, said Chairman Ryan Silvey.
“The commission was not saying that we won’t ultimately approve something like [Ameren’s proposal],” Silvey said. “What we’re saying is we think that those areas should be weighed against other options in light of the Western District ruling.”
The company will soon seek proposals from businesses that want to help install charging stations at 10 locations along highways, including Jefferson City and Cape Girardeau.
Ameren also is a part of the Missouri Electric Vehicle Collaborative, a group of utility companies and environmental organizations that aspire to build charging stations in approximately 40 locations in the state.
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