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Utility Dive: Minnesota Shuts Down Oil, Manufacturing Groups' Attempt to Derail Xcel EV Pilot

Posted by Catherine Morehouse on Oct 9, 2019

Utility Dive reported Minnesota regulators pushed back on petroleum groups' attempt to reverse approval of Xcel Energy's $25 million electric vehicle pilot program, quoting  AEE's Matt Stanberry and AEE member Greenlots. Read excerpts below and the entire UD piece here

Minnesota regulators on Monday stamped out manufacturing and petroleum groups' attempt to reverse approval of Xcel Energy's $25 million electric vehicle pilot program. The state's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the program in July, and five large industrial groups, including oil groups Marathon Petroleum and Flint Hills Resources, filed a petition with the commission on Aug. 6 asking regulators to reconsider the decision...

As electric vehicles strengthen in range and cheapen in price, some market watchers expect the fight to heat up between gas and electric power interests.

"We haven't really seen that [kind of complaint] in the market," Thomas Ashley, vice president of policy at Greenlots told Utility Dive, referring to the Minnesota intervention. "We may see more of that as more organizations that are not supportive of transportation electrification engage in the regulatory process, but that's really the first time we've seen it in a significant way like this."

The industrial groups maintain the concern was entirely ratepayer based, and independent of the groups' fuel interests...

The commission noted in its response to the group that it has "full rights" to regulate Xcel's behind-the-meter charging infrastructure as a utility, verging from the regulatory norm in other states.

Additionally, the commission said increased electric demand and time-of-use rates to encourage off-peak charging are considerations under Xcel's pilot that will ensure minimal costs to ratepayers within this pilot and beyond. 

Large industrial customers have intervened in other Minnesota cases involving rates, including to oppose Xcel's Mankato natural gas plant purchase. But in that instance a number of other groups shared those concerns, including the state's attorney general's office and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Minnesota. In this proceeding, the industrial groups were alone in their arguments...

Other clean energy groups also noted it was out of place for large industrial groups to make these arguments, but that the trend would likely not slow down as electric vehicles increase their share in the market.

"I think what we're seeing is primarily a rise of opposition that's generated out of the oil industry. We certainly saw that in Minnesota. And we're seeing it in other parts of the country," managing director at Advanced Energy Economy Matt Stanberry told Utility Dive. That opposition by "nontraditional actors" in these proceedings is primarily driven by the fact that the oil industry is beginning to see rapid EV adoption as "an existential threat to their business," he said.

Electric vehicles operating at 4 miles per kWh are 78% cheaper to fuel than the average gasoline-powered vehicle in the U.S., according to the Idaho National Laboratory... 

Read the entire UD piece here

Topics: AEE In The News