The electric industry in the 21st century is evolving in different ways from the power sector and traditional regulation of the preceding century. More recently, advances in technology and new customer expectations are shifting the landscape. Customers are producing their own energy; electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming a new class of end use, and utility distribution systems are becoming more active and flexible by utilizing advanced metering and data systems.
While this evolution is a broad topic, this paper focuses on the opportunities provided by increasing penetrations of EVs, and various regulatory principles that they raise. It is difficult to gauge what the pace of transportation electrification in the U.S. is going to be in the coming years, but changes to the electric sector will pose new challenges for regulators and utility companies. Regulatory policy, like the utility landscape, will likewise have to evolve.
Currently, there are relatively low penetrations of EVs, which makes this an ideal time for decision-makers to put processes in place. This is an opportune moment for regulators to evaluate utility services in ways that promote alignment with the public interest (reflecting cost, risk, and environmental management) and to consider the application of some consumer protection guardrails to inform and safeguard newly assertive customers.