Utilities want to pump kilowatt-hours into cars

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  By Rick Nelson, August 30, 2014

Electric utilities are looking pushing the adoption of electric vehicles in order to sell more kilowatt-hours, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. The companies are looking to roll out electric-vehicle charging stations, although they are creating controversy in their proposed method of funding charging-station projects.

As reported earlier, electricity sales are no longer keeping pace with GDP growth, in part because energy-intensive industries have moved overseas and in part because of the demand destruction that occurs when, for instance, you replace a 30-year-old air conditioner with a new, more efficient model.

Now, in an August 29 article in the Journal Cassandra Sweet describes utilities' efforts to fund EV charging station pilot projects by adding fees to customers' bills, whether or not they own electric vehicles. Critics say shareholders, not customers, should pay for new business ventures. Sempra Energy, which wants to fund a charging station project in San Diego through customer surcharges, responds that conveniently located stations will encourage the adoption of electric vehicles, resulting in cleaner air for everyone.

Sweet quotes Dave McCreadie, head of electric-vehicle infrastructure at Ford as saying of a comprehensive charging infrastructure, "It helps allay people's fears that, 'If I get an electric car I'm going to get stranded.'" He adds, "If employers added workplace chargers, it would help fill the gap."

Sweet notes that further complicating the picture are estimates that fuel costs for conventional vehicles will fall because of federally mandated fuel efficiency improvements.

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