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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Energy Bureau to host conference on deployment of infrastructure for electric cars

Rep. José Aponte Hernández

By The Star Staff

The Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) has scheduled a hybrid technical conference for Feb. 1 to discuss the deployment of electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure and transportation electrification at a time when there are few incentives for the population, especially the low-income sector, to purchase EVs.

Recently, LUMA Energy, the private operator of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s transmission and distribution system, filed a summary of its collaboration with low-income community leaders and a public transportation company, and its attendance at community meetings and industry events as part of its efforts to support EV adoption. LUMA gathered insights into customer opinions of electric vehicles and transportation, including challenges, through online and J.D Power surveys.

The PREB ordered LUMA to make available all relevant representatives with all pertinent documents for the Hybrid Technical Conference, and to ensure that those representatives be ready to answer any questions that PREB staff and/or commissioners may have during the conference. Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) approved a grant of $51.48 million for the development of charging and alternative fuel supply areas for EVs in Puerto Rico.

However, incentives that can promote the adoption of EVs are few. Next week, the island House of Representatives is expected to approve a concurrent resolution filed by New Progressive Party Reps. José Aponte Hernández and Víctor Parés Otero to demand that Congress include Puerto Rico in the federal tax credit on EV purchases.

Surveys from LUMA Energy recently reported on by the STAR noted that most low-income customers in Puerto Rico are not interested or have not considered buying an EV, but cited electrical system reliability as a reason for not buying an EV.

LUMA Energy noted that only 1% of the surveyed low-income customers own a fully electric vehicle, and about 0.2% own a plug-in hybrid vehicle.

About 41% said they have not considered buying an electric vehicle, and 38% said they have no interest in obtaining an EV. Only 1.7% said they plan to buy an electric car for their next vehicle.

About 23% of the low-income people surveyed said electrical system reliability was a big concern in their not buying an EV; 19% cited the prices of EVs and 17% cited electricity rates. About 3% cited the availability of public charging stations and 25% said they did not know enough to decide about buying an EV.

The survey showed education on EVs was needed among low-income customers. Seventy-four percent said they had heard about electric vehicles but did not know much about them. In contrast, 19% said they knew quite a lot about electric cars, and only 7% said they knew a lot about them.

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