CUB Marks Earth Month With First-ever Electric Vehicle Report

33-page Guide Argues That State Regulators, Consumer Advocates Have Crucial Role in Creating EV Policies that Spark Lower Electric Rates for all Consumers

Contact:
Jim Chilsen, chilsen@citizensutilityboard.org, (312) 513-1784

CHICAGO, April 27, 2017—The growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) will bring major changes in electricity consumption. But EVs could be a key to creating a more efficient electricity system and lower rates for all consumers—if state regulators, public utilities and consumer advocates work together to develop the right policies, according to a first-ever report released by the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) on Thursday.

“The ABCs of EVs: A Guide for Policy Makers and Consumer Advocates” can be downloaded at CitizensUtilityBoard.org. The lead author of the 33-page report is Martin R. Cohen, an energy policy expert. Cohen’s experience includes serving as CUB’s executive director for 15 years, briefly chairing the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) and facilitating Illinois’ Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative.

“This guide is the first of its kind in the country,” CUB Executive Director David Kolata said.  “CUB as well as policy makers don’t usually concern themselves with end-use electricity. But we argue that the right public policy can use EVs to create a more efficient and affordable power grid.”

EVs are becoming a familiar sight on American roads, and over the next decade they are forecast to become a serious competitor to gas-powered cars. More than 25 models of EVs are set to be introduced to the U.S. market, and EV maker Tesla just saw its market value draw equal with General Motors.

While an EV dramatically reduces driving costs, the charging requirements could increase a typical household’s electricity usage by 40 percent. However, CUB’s report argues that managing EVs and EV infrastructure as distributed energy resources would assure that the rise of transportation electrification lead to “lower—not higher—electric rates for all consumers”—even those who don’t drive EVs.

Cohen said the report is intended to help all stakeholders, including state regulators and consumer advocates, forge local and regional strategies that will lead to EV-related polices that not only protect electric customers, but provide social and system benefits.

“EVs provide an opportunity for tremendous benefit for the electrical system,” Cohen said. “But there are also pitfalls if public policy doesn’t keep pace with the new technology.”

CUB is Illinois’ leading nonprofit utility watchdog. Created by the Illinois Legislature, CUB opened its doors in 1984 to represent the interests of residential and small-business utility customers. Since then, it has saved consumers more than $20 billion by helping to block rate hikes and secure refunds. For more information, call CUB’s Consumer Hotline, 1-800-669-5556, or visit its award-winning website, www.CitizensUtilityBoard.org.