GOP lawmaker’s bill could yield competition for Louisiana EV charging stations

By Victor Skinner | The Center Square contributor

A bill designed to ensure competition among electric vehicle charging stations has cleared the Louisiana Senate with near unanimous support.

The Senate voted 36-1 on Thursday to approve Senate Bill 460, sponsored by Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen.

The bill is designed to “put in place for (the Louisiana Public Service Commission) some guidelines for them to work towards in terms of putting the rules and regulations in place necessary to have a competitive market when it comes to charging stations,” Ward said.

The bill calls for the commission “to establish an electric vehicle charging rate structure that promotes long-term alternative fuel market competition by encouraging transparent pricing, more stable electricity costs, expanded investment opportunity in charging infrastructure, innovation, and a widespread implementation of publicly available fast charging, electric vehicle charging technology and equipment.”

SB460 also urges the commission to “explore excluding persons or corporations from the definition of public utility” if they purchase electricity from a public utility, furnish electricity exclusively for electric vehicles for public compensation, and do not otherwise operate a public utility.

Lawmakers did not discuss or debate the bill on Thursday, though it was vetted in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection and International Affairs earlier this month.

“Right now, unless you’re an electric company you cannot sell power,” Ward said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to adapt to that and I think the PSC right now is the proper forum to try and work those things out, so we’re going to give them the first shot at doing that and hopefully they can get it done in a pretty expedited fashion.”

“Once that is done and they have finished their job, then everything will be set and all the retailers and fuel stations and truck stops, all that, will be able to participate and do what they need to do to start building out the infrastructure,” Ward said.

Louisiana is set to receive $75 million in federal funding over the next five years to install a network of electric vehicle charging stations along the state’s highways.

The funding is part of a $5 billion program included in the infrastructure law approved by Congress that is expected to result in $14.1 million allocated to Louisiana for this fiscal year, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced in February.

The Biden administration has set a goal of installing electric charging stations every 50 miles along highways to encourage more drivers to purchase electric vehicles. Louisiana has about 141 public electric charging stations for 1,950 registered electric vehicles, according to 2020 data from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the same year shows a total of 3.8 million registered vehicles in the state.

The funding announced in February is in addition to $1.7 million for 82 electric vehicle charging stations made available through a settlement between Volkswagen and the U.S. Justice Department over violations of the Clean Air Act.

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