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USA: California Officials Would Not Regulate Electric Car Charging Firms


California officials have indicated they are not inclined to regulate electric car infrastructure companies that plan to sell electricity to drivers through networks of charging stations.

Whether to treat such companies as quasi-utilities has been a contentious issue. The state’s three big utilities have split on the topic, while battery charging startups Better Place and Coulomb Technologies have warned that regulation could stifle innovation and scare off investors.

Now the president of the California Public Utilities Commission, Michael R. Peevey, has signaled he is siding with the companies as the commission moves to put electric car regulations in place.

“Facilities that are solely used to provide electricity as a transportation fuel do not constitute ‘electric plant,’” wrote Mr. Peevey in a recent ruling. “As such, the commission would not have regulatory authority regarding the price that an electric vehicle charging facility operator charges for charging services or other aspects of the operation of such facilities.”

That is not likely to be the final word on the subject. Mr. Peevey, who is overseeing the electric car rule-making process, invited utilities, automakers and charging station companies to file briefs on his proposed interpretation of the law.

With several mass-market electric cars set to hit showrooms by the end of the year, the utilities commission is moving unusually swiftly to resolve a variety of outstanding issues. In his ruling, Mr. Peevey set an April deadline to issue a preliminary decision on the most of them.

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Source: nytimes.com

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