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Oklahoma Considers Establishing EV Charging Station Standards

Regulators are exploring what kinds of regulations are needed for electric vehicle charging stations ahead of the nationwide expansion of electric vehicle infrastructure. Currently, only California has charging station standards.

(TNS) — As electric vehicle usage explodes across the country, Oklahoma regulators are beginning to explore adopting rules to govern the operation of electric vehicle chargers in the state.

The task is underway as major electric utilities across the nation band together to spend billions to build out networks of fast chargers for the vehicles.

Questions regulators aim to address with station owner/operators' help include ones as simple as how the state should require operators to accurately identify locations where the charging units are located and ones as complex as how frequently the units should be inspected and/or calibrated to ensure they are operating safely and correctly.

The questions become even more complex when considering issues like what specific type of standards should be used to establish operating parameters for the chargers.

There are also questions being raised about what types of fees the state should collect for overseeing compliance programs.

Currently, only one state has adopted a set of standards ( California), and installers predict those likely will be modified in coming years as newer, smarter versions of the equipment are introduced by manufacturers.

Renee Samson, FreeWire Technologies' chief operating officer, recently said her company's biggest concerns revolve around both the record-keeping and charger testing requirements that are proposed as part of Oklahoma's rules.

"Meter testing for fast-charging DC stations is not widely available and is not available in the field at all that we are aware of," Samson said. "As more and more DC fast-charging stations are installed, that issue will only be compounded and greatly increase costs to EV charging manufacturers and to site hosts that own and operate the equipment."

Interstate Charging Network Announced

While Oklahoma and other states evaluate what types of charger rules to develop, numerous investor-owned utilities belonging to the Edison Electric Institute — including Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. — and companies belonging to other organizations recently unveiled plans to spend billions of dollars to create system of charging stations to serve EVs traversing the nation's interstate system by 2023.

The institute said they banded together to form the National Electric Highway Coalition. As EV sales continue to grow, the organization estimates that more than 100,000 EV fast-charging ports, a more than tenfold increase over today, are needed to support the nearly 22 million EVs projected to be on U.S. roads in 2030

"We are committed to investing in and providing the charging infrastructure necessary to facilitate electric vehicle growth and to helping alleviate any remaining customer range anxiety," said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute.

"To date, EEI's member companies have invested more than $3 billion in customer programs and projects to deploy EV charging infrastructure and to accelerate electric transportation. As EV sales continue to grow, EEI estimates that more than 100,000 EV fast-charging ports will be needed to support the projected 22 million EVs that will be on U.S. roads in 2030," Kuhn said.

Philip B. Jones, executive director of the Alliance for Transportation Electrification, agreed.

"EV owners want to charge conveniently and quickly without a fear of running out of electric fuel," Jones said. "With scores of new battery-electric vehicles coming to market over the next couple of years, we need to get the charging infrastructure sited, built and funded. The federal infrastructure funding will help a great deal in this effort, but this is only a down payment of a much larger effort.

"Electric companies regulated by state commissions can help leverage all funding sources, help fill the infrastructure gaps, and help manage the deployment of these chargers with a long-term view." Jones said.

A Charged Future

Oklahoma's Corporation Commission is tasked by the state's DRIVE Act of 2021 to develop rules for governing EV chargers.

Initially, the commission's Public Utility Division sought to adopt emergency rules that officials felt were needed to make sure the equipment was safe to operate and wouldn't overcharge consumers for the power they took.

But elected members of Oklahoma's Corporation Commission opted to instruct the staff to take more time to develop the proposed rules.

"It just seemed like more time was needed because of the complexities involved," Chairman Dana Murphy said.

Additional technical conferences on the proposed rules are planned in January and February, with a plan to bring final proposed rules before elected commissioners on Feb. 23.

Eric Pollard, the air quality and clean cities coordinator for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments, said he believes regulators aim to create a similar regulatory scheme like that used by the state to oversee gasoline fueling operations.

"In some ways for the consumer, it needs to match what happens on a gasoline fueling side of things. Looking at this big picture-wise, how could these rules match up, and should they?

"What we need to hear from the charging station company owners is what that charging station experience is going to be like, not just for our current EV drivers who are early adopters, but as we move to a larger group of users."

(c)2021 The Oklahoman. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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