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Georgia Legislature

Georgia lawmakers push to ensure ‘free market’ in EV charging industry

(The Center Square) – As the nation prepares to meet federal goals for conversion to electric vehicles, Georgia lawmakers are trying to create regulations for the reselling of electricity.

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Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell, said he wants to prevent utility companies such as Georgia Power and Georgia Electric Membership Corporation from creating a monopoly. Powell has proposed House Bill 1322,  which sets the guidelines for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations.

“I know they want to make money, and I think everybody here that ever did possibly own stock, they want to make money, but they want it to be done fairly,” Powell told the Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications Special Subcommittee on EV Charging on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden has set the goal for 50% of new car sales to be electric vehicles by 2030. All of those cars will have to be recharged instead of refueled at gas stations. Biden’s order is paired with funding, which Rep. Mike Cheokas, R-Americus, said has made the idea of reselling electricity even more appealing.

Georgia will get $135 million over five years to support the expansion of an EV charging network from the federal government. The state also would have the opportunity to apply for the $2.5 billion in grants for EV charging.

About 3% of Georgia’s nearly 1,700 electric vehicle charging stations are owned by Georgia Power. HB 1322 would ensure there is a framework to allow the private sector to be involved in the EV charging industry and protect consumers.

Lawmakers said market analysts are considering putting charging stations at convenience stores and Waffle Houses and manufacturing precharged batteries.

The public utility companies must have their rates approved by the Georgia Public Service Commission, which also would determine what taxes to impose under the measure but not private companies.

The bill states: “An electric supplier that provides, owns, operates, and maintains electric vehicle charging equipment directly to the public shall do so through a separate, unregulated entity and must do so on the same rates, terms, and conditions offered to private providers of electric vehicle charging equipment.”

Convenient store owners took to the committee meeting Tuesday to rally for the bill. There are 6,500 convenience stores across Georgia, according to the Georgia Association of Convenience Stores.

“I think small business is truly the backbone of our economy, and I hope … we need your help to ensure that we can have a future,” said Haley Bauer, the director of marketing of wholesale fuels at Clipper Petroleum.

In addition to ensuring a free market in the EV charging industry, HB 1322 would prohibit electric suppliers from recovering any of the cost of “deploying, owning, or operating EV charging equipment from its ratepayers.”

Cheokas also has filed a bill to regulate the EV charging industry.

House Bill 1133 would require customers to pay for charging by kilowatt-hour instead of by the minute. Under the measure, private companies also would not be under the commission’s jurisdiction and would be required to remit state sales tax.

The legislative panel did not vote on the bills Tuesday. It will review the two bills before deciding how to move forward.

The Georgia Virtue
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