What's Happening In South Carolina

South Carolina SB 684 will ensure that electric utilities can only compete in the EV charging market under the same conditions as any private business, without accessing ratepayer funds. This will lay the groundwork for an EV charging network that protects South Carolina ratepayers and best meets the needs of EV drivers.

Charge Ahead Partnership is advocating for a competitive and level playing field for all retailers who want to provide publicly available electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in South Carolina. We believe that the fastest and most economical way to build out a robust charging network in South Carolina is through a competitive, market-based approach which removes the barriers that are disincentivizing private investment in EV charging infrastructure. We aim to work collaboratively with all stakeholders to find commonsense solutions that will unlock the market’s full potential without unfairly shifting the cost burden to non-EV users – particularly those in low- and fixed-income communities. We believe that improving public policy will help to accomplish these goals in South Carolina.

Manufacturing has long played an important role in South Carolina’s electric vehicle story. Companies such as BMW and Mercedes-Benz have invested in EV manufacturing in recent years, and the United States Postal Service’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicles will be made in Spartanburg. Despite this investment in manufacturing, EV charging infrastructure in the state is lagging behind the needs of the consumers of today and tomorrow, especially in rural areas.

One of the major obstacles to expanding EV charging in South Carolina is the lack of a pathway for private investment and participation in growing the network. Power companies who participate in the EV charging market can use rate-basing to cover the up-front cost of EV charging stations. Rate-basing allows for power companies to spread their costs for building charging stations to all of their electric utility consumers, the vast majority of whom do not currently drive an EV and will not benefit from EV charging stations. Rate-basing also allows utility companies to sell electricity for EV charging at unprofitable rates and spread the cost of this loss to all of their customers. Not only is this not fair to consumers, it gives power companies a tremendous advantage over private companies who want to make similar investments in the EV charging business without the ability to rate-base.

South Carolinians deserve access to a reliable, convenient and efficient charging network that works to meet both the needs of consumers and the market. Legislative action is required by the South Carolina General Assembly to overcome these hurdles to private investment and make this network a reality.

Charge Ahead Partnership is supporting legislation that will:

  1. Prohibit public utilities from using ratepayer funds to subsidize EV charging stations. When power companies raise the power bills for all monthly customers and use that revenue to build EV charging stations, it results in higher costs for consumers and discourages private investment in EV charging.

  2. Create a pathway for electric utilities that want to get into the EV charging business to do so through a separate, unregulated subsidiary that operates under the same rates, terms and conditions as any other business. As such, they can compete with other private businesses in the free market on a fair and level playing field.

2023 South Carolina Legislative Session Update:

South Carolina Senate Bill 684 sponsored by Senator Lawrence K. “Larry” Grooms, would have allowed private businesses to rationally invest in EV charging stations in the Palmetto State. This legislation would have laid the groundwork for a competitive EV charging market in South Carolina by prohibiting electric utilities from using ratepayer funds to subsidize EV charging stations. If it had passed, the legislation would still allow electric utilities to compete in this market if they want to, but only through a separate, unregulated subsidiary that operates under the same rates, terms and conditions as any other competitor in the market. SB 684 did not receive a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. Charge Ahead Partnership remains excited to advocate for policy change in South Carolina that will encourage private investment in the state's EV charging network, leading to a network that best meets the needs of EV drivers.


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