By The Star Staff
LUMA Energy, the private operator of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) transmission and distribution system, is presenting plans to the island’s energy regulator to create the infrastructure for the use of electric vehicles (EV).
LUMA has already submitted to the Puerto Rico Energy Bureau (PREB) a draft electric vehicle rate design proposal as a first step. A compliance hearing on the proposed infrastructure is scheduled for today.
According to the document submitted recently, a key component to moving forward on EV infrastructure is providing rate options that can help drivers save money on fuel.
The rate design draft document contains a proposal for three EV rate pilots that LUMA says are the most attractive and viable for Puerto Rico. These are a residential EV separate meter time of use rate pilot; a residential EV subscription rate with managed charging pilot, and a public EV charging rate pilot.
The rate pilots will help LUMA determine which rate designs fit best and are suitable for EV drivers as well as provide insights into customer preferences and behaviors.
LUMA said the EV infrastructure is needed because Puerto Rico’s transportation system is a significant contributor to the territory’s pollution because of the high level of gasoline and diesel combustion. Shifting to EV offers the opportunity for cleaner transportation because as time goes by, drivers replace their cars with newer ones.
The proposed EV rates have already received some feedback. For instance, the Colegio de Peritos Electricistas de Puerto Rico (Electricians Association) supports and promotes the integration and deployment of EV charging stations. Electric car maker Tesla, meanwhile, believes that the best and fairest way to charge EV drivers for charging services is on a dollar per kilowatt-hour basis. Tesla also suggested a short peak period of four hours and to establish a price differential between peak and off peak periods to incentivize customers to charge their vehicles during off-peak times. Chris Nelder, an author of reports on charging infrastructure, said EV infrastructure should be profitable to be sustainable and cheaper than the cost of gasoline. He also said EV charges should be on dedicated fees and on separate meters.
While EV adoption is currently low, it is expected to go up because of rising gasoline prices, supportive federal policies for increased EV adoption and general market dynamics with respect to technological advances. In 2021, the number of reported EV registrations in Puerto Rico was 3,210 and the EV penetration rate was at 0.12%, according to the document.
The PREB ordered LUMA Energy to submit by Sept. 1, a document establishing the first phase of an EV charging infrastructure deployment plan.
The charging infrastructure deployment will be sequenced by sector starting with residential and low-income sectors and primarily on home EV charging infrastructure, according to the LUMA document.