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April 18, 2024

Eversource to suspend new electric vehicle charging rebates, citing ‘uncertain regulatory treatment’

HBJ PHOTO | ANDREW LARSON Regional utility company Eversource operates this Hartford substation.

Eversource Energy announced Thursday that it is suspending its new electric vehicle charging rebates due to “uncertain regulatory treatment” in Connecticut.

According to the power company, recent regulatory decisions “call into question the stability of the state’s support for EV funding.”

This week, Eversource filed a motion with the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority informing PURA that it will suspend its upfront funding of incentives for residential, Commercial Level 2 and DC Fast charging programs until PURA establishes “a secure, timely and adequate funding mechanism to provide the revenues necessary to support these programs.”

Eversource will stop processing new applications on May 22, and DC Fast applications will not be awarded in 2024.

Doug Horton, vice president of distribution rates and regulatory requirements at Eversource, said the energy company has traditionally provided funding upfront for these types of programs, but PURA has “made it clear the agency does not see it as necessary to support state policy with its ratemaking policies.”

“Continued participation in these programs could place critically needed capital resources at risk, as well as our ability to support electric operations that our customers rely on every day,” he said.

The announcement came a day after PURA approved a 12% rate adjustment increase for UI, which will lead to a $26 increase per month for the average residential customer, the utilities said.

Also, PURA approved an 18.7% rate hike for Eversource, which would increase the average residential customer’s bill by about $38 per month, the utilities said.

The increases were approved 2-1, with PURA Chair Marissa Gillett voting in opposition. Vice Chairman Jack Betkoski III and Commissioner Michael Caron voted in favor.

The increases will take effect July 1.

But Eversource says regulatory treatment for the continued build-up of deferred program costs is creating uncertainty and risk for further investment in EV programs. 

Recently, the state's other main main power company, United Illuminating, said in a filing with PURA that the regulatory agency’s August 2023 rate decision, which reduced UI’s proposed rate increase, left funding for core programs in jeopardy.

As part of the case, UI sought to recover millions of dollars in costs to install 900 electric vehicle charging stations, which UI said would help the state meet its clean-energy goals.

PURA disallowed cost recovery for the program, noting in its decision that “the capital expenses sought for recovery have not yet occurred.”

Eversource said it hopes to resume the EV charging program soon and supports the state’s emissions reduction targets, redevelopment of the State Pier in New London and the offshore wind industry. The state has committed to getting all of its energy from zero carbon sources by 2040.

“We are eager to resume our EV programs once PURA establishes a rate treatment that is supportive of these continued program outlays,” Horton said. “In the meantime, we are conducting proactive outreach to collaborate on worthwhile initiatives we can proceed with.”

Last year, a proposed regulation that set a 2035 deadline for ending sales of new gas-powered vehicles in Connecticut failed after a push by Republican lawmakers to scuttle the mandated shift to EVs.

A PURA spokesman, Joe Cooper, said that because the motion is pending before PURA, the agency cannot comment on the substance of the issues, but noted that "Eversource’s stated decision to suspend compliance under the EV Charging Program as of May 22 unless the Authority meets its demands constitutes a potential violation of the company’s obligations established pursuant to the decision issued in Docket No. 17-12-03RE04."

"The existing cost recovery component of the EV Charging Program has been in effect since 2021 and requires Eversource to file a distribution rate amendment application," Cooper said. "Due to its own voluntary decision to defer filing a distribution rate amendment application, Eversource has not yet received cost recovery (because it has not asked for it through a rate amendment application). Instead, Eversource, through its motion, now seeks to modify this long-standing EV cost recovery mechanism to secure cost recovery through an alternative method."

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