Utilities fear CAFE rollback will impact EV charging

Source: Maxine Joselow, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2018

Electric utilities want more time to digest the Trump administration’s proposed rollback of Obama-era clean car rules.

Associations that represent utilities across the country — including the Edison Electric Institute, American Public Power Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association — sent the administration a letter yesterday requesting an additional 60 days to comment on the cars proposal.

It may seem odd that utilities are tracking a proposal that primarily affects auto companies, but their interest stems from the potential impact on electric vehicle charging infrastructure, said EEI spokesman Brian Reil.

EPA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last month outlined a series of options for the Obama-era car rules. The preferred option was freezing fuel economy targets at 2020 levels through 2026.

A freeze could discourage automakers from introducing more EV models, which in turn could throw a wrench into utilities’ long-term planning for the build-out of more charging stations.

“The proposed SAFE Vehicles Rule contains numerous novel and complex technical and environmental impact analyses that the Associations and their members are actively evaluating,” the letter says.

“Additional time will benefit the Associations and their members in developing comments on the Rule’s highly technical and complex issues that the Agencies can utilize towards a final rulemaking. Accordingly, we believe an extension of the comment period is both warranted and reasonable.”

The letter was also signed by the Electric Drive Transportation Association, which promotes EV technology, and the National Association of Manufacturers.

EDTA President Genevieve Cullen said last month that the clean cars rollback could hurt efforts to boost EV adoption.

“Electric drive is an essential tool to boost energy security, economic growth and reduce transportation emissions,” Cullen said in a statement. “Global policies and markets are advancing to capture the opportunity, with China and European nations vying with the U.S. to lead the shift toward electric mobility.

“The rule proposed today disregards that opportunity and would leave the environmental and economic benefits of electrification on the table. Federal policy should be reinforcing the efforts of industry and the states to help the U.S. lead in electric mobility.”

Senate Democrats have also requested a longer comment period on the cars proposal (Greenwire, Sept. 11). So have Democratic attorneys general (Greenwire, Aug. 28).