In a move which certainly shows that electric vehicles are here to stay, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission confirmed that investor owned utility companies will need to offer specific peak and off-peak rates for electric vehicle charging. This obviously shows that electric vehicles are at the forefront of new transport systems for the future and it will be interesting to see what rates are announced and which other states follow suit.
Is this a sign of things to come?
Interestingly statistics show that California investor owned utility companies have been offering electric vehicle specific rates for more than 15 years. Whether or not the Californian authorities, always leading the way with regards to environmentally friendly issues, had always planned to push electric vehicles from years ago is debatable. However it does seem that long term plans have been in place for some time now perhaps waiting for the general public and the technology to catch up?
Will this make any difference?
While the actual peak and off-peak rates have not been announced as yet it seems obvious that they will be very competitive compared to general electric charges. The idea is to encourage the use of electric vehicles and the installation of charging stations which will help in the battle against journey anxiety.
One factor which has possibly been overlooked by the general public is the fact that electric vehicles have very few moving parts compared to their traditional counterparts. Indeed we see the likes of Nissan introducing "brake software updates" with regards to the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle when the vehicles are serviced. These software updates are very useful and very efficient going forward because they will allow new technology and new systems to be introduced at a relatively modest cost.
Should the industry be more transparent?
It is evident there is a lot going on behind the scenes with regards to electric vehicles and perhaps the public would appreciate a little more in the way of communication and transparency? Everything which seems to be going on in the background looks very positive from a distance with issues such as software updates, which are highly efficient means of streamlining the efficiency of any vehicle, are not generally spoken about in public. Is it incorrect to suggest that the general public would appreciate an update on software adjustments? Surely this would give them more confidence going forward?
While the Minnesota authorities have grabbed the headlines with regards to electric vehicle specific peak and off-peak charging regulations it was interesting to see that California has had such a system in place for more than 15 years. Surely these are the type of issues which would give the general public more confidence in electric vehicles and the infrastructure required to make them successful?
It is very encouraging to see that the likes of Minnesota and California have specific off-peak and peak time electric vehicle charging regulations in place. While this obviously makes sense from a commercial point of view it also ensures that the general public can see that changes are happening to encourage the use of electric vehicles going forward. Again, as we suggested above, should the authorities be more transparent about their hopes and plans for the future? What do they have to lose?