Plugging in

Massachusetts Asks If Electricity Should Be Treated, Regulated Like Any Other Vehicle Fuel

Regardless of where you live, the storage, use and taxation of liquid vehicular fuels like gasoline, diesel and compressed natural gas, is governed by some pretty strict regulations. They cover things like who can sell fuel, how much they can charge for it, and how much tax is levied on it to help pay for things like road maintenance.

Should electricity be regulated like any other vehicular fuel?

Should electricity be regulated like any other vehicular fuel?

Currently, the electricity used to refuel electric cars is treated just like the electricity used to power your home — but should electricity be regulated and treated like every other vehicular fuel? Should charging stations be treated the same as gas stations, and the rule they dispense taxed in the same way?

That’s the question being asked by the state of Massachusetts, whose Department of Public Utilities has started investigating the possibility of regulating electricity used to charge an electric car as if it were any other vehicular type.

As the Boston Herald reports, Massachusetts DPU officials say while supporting electric car adoption is of paramount importance to the state, it also needs to understand what the potential impact electric cars will have on the state’s power grid.

“If you had a whole lot of electric vehicles charging at once, then you’d have questions about whether the electric grid at the moment can accommodate that,” said Massachusetts DPU spokeswoman Ann Berwick. “There are all kinds of questions related to how they charge, when they charge, what they pay for charging and whether they have special rates.”

Massachusetts DPU will take into consideration how existing plug-in owners use their electric cars, paying special attention to their charging habits and preferences. Then, when it has completed its investigation, it will use its findings to influence policy. 

One of the questions it hopes to answer will be if public venues that offer electric vehicle charging — either free or on a pay-per-use basis — should be regulated in some way.  This could result in a mandated level of service that providers would have to maintain in order to be licensed to sell charging time, or perhaps a pave the way for utility companies to sell electricity to consumers directly through public charging stations by associating their charging patterns with their domestic power account.

EV charging stations could become regulated if the study recommends regulation.

EV charging stations could become regulated if the study recommends regulation.

Here at Transport Evolved we see another potential: a tiered taxation level for electric car charging versus domestic power consumption.  Mandating EV owners have a separate utility meter for just their home charging station, for example, would allow the state to collect higher taxes on plug-in vehicle electricity than domestic power, recovering some of the taxes lost as plug-in owners make the switch from gasoline (which is heavily taxed) to electricity.

Whatever Massachusetts does as a consequence of this investigation however, we suspect it won’t be the first state to answer the tough question of how — and even if — the supply of electricity to plug-in cars needs to be regulated and taxed like any other fuel.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • Richard Glover

    A lot of government money has been spent on charging points and regulations to the supply of electricity for evu2019s will take more and if this means in the future we pay for away from home charging and get a good rapid charging network I am for it.nnWhat is the plug and socket picture info please.nnPs instead of saying I am for, I should have said u201csocket to me!u201d

    • MEroller

      @Richard: That is the CCS-plug, stands for Combined Charging System, as it combines the “Classic” Mennekes Plug at the top with two DC-fast charging pins at the bottom. The top bit can also be used on it’s own for three-phase AC charging.nnAs for separate electricity taxation for mobilty, I am ALL against it. Here in Germany we already have pretty high (and yearly rising!) electricity taxation due to the renewable energy law. I currently pay around u20ac0.24/kWh, which includes a premium for theoretically 100% renewable electricity sources.nnThere are other ways to get taxes from electric cars: Here In Germany we must pay a yearly vehcile tax depending on the engine displacement, the engine type and as a novelty now also a CO2 premium, rising pretty steeply with the CO2 emsissions rating of the vehicle. Electric cars, for just a wee bit of incentive, are currently exempt from paying a yearly vehcile tax, but that will change once the electrics catch on.nnFor charging at public charging stations whoever operates them is free to charge the users a higher rate than the electrity bill they rack up, and the state could add their bit of taxes to that too. But for home charging I am absolutely and most definitely opposed to additional electricity taxation!

  • Matt Beard

    This is an absolutely amazing idea! I can’t think of a better way to kill EVs. This is what they’re aiming for isn’t it?

  • Arnold Offner

    Many thanks for using the @PhoenixContact CCS Type 2 EV Connector. nPrey, why should states regulate the electricity used in EV Charging?

  • Jeff Moore

    “Regardless of where you live, the storage, use and taxation of liquid vehicular fuels like gasoline, diesel and compressed natural gas, is governed by some pretty strict regulations.”nnnThose are all explosives. Also, getting those things out of the ground requires some effort.nnnI can make my own electricity fairly easily, via solar panels or whatever other means. If states want to somehow detect and differentiate which electrons are being used to recharge my vehicle and which are being used to recharge my cell phone, they’re going to have a pretty serious problem.

  • just someone old

    Petrol, diesel & other liquids & gasses for cars are explosive, but also dangerous when spilled at the gasstation. That is why they need to be regulated.ndouble skinned tanks, spillover gutters & others are regulated because else stationholders will just do the bare nececesety.nDo not forget these taxes levied on these liquids & gasses are also used to pay for healthcarecosts, related to these fuels in EuropennMy version for getting taxes from ev’s is simpler to controlenA roadtax based on the weight (& co2) of the car, + toll on the highways.nnTaxing ev’s via a “special” chargingstation is just stupid! Anyone knows (with some knowledge from ev’s) that an ev just needs a basic plug. So “fraud” would be easy! nnBy the way electric utilities must be carefull! Because when they get too expencive, and with the decline of battery- and renuwable- cost, getting off-grid gets more & more attractive!

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