As more electric vehicles take to the roads, demand for convenient charging locations has increased. Indeed, advocates of electric vehicles point to the widespread availability of charging stations as a key driver in getting more electric vehicles on roads. Municipalities and private businesses alike recognize this growing demand and have responded by installing more charging stations for electric vehicles. However, recent efforts to regulate charging stations could affect their availability.
Proposed legislation under review in Wisconsin highlights this issue (see companion bills AB 588 and SB 573). As drafted, the legislation allows private parties to charge fees to charging station users and authorizes state and local governments to install and operate charging stations subject to certain approvals. However, proposed amendments to the legislation would restrict the involvement of private parties and governmental units, instead allowing public utilities to fulfill such rolls. Critics argue that these amendments would limit the availability of charging stations throughout the state and could impede the transition to electric vehicles.
The debate around the legislation in Wisconsin underscores the importance of infrastructure in the transition to electric vehicles (which we will discuss more in a post later this month). It also highlights the types of struggles that legislatures across the country may face in balancing interests between various stakeholders as private parties, utilities, and governments identify business opportunities associated with electric vehicles.