RCA takes more time in reviewing AEL&P's electric car rate

Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has extended by two weeks the deadline for review of Alaska Electric Light & Power’s proposal for an special experimental rate for electric vehicles.

The Juneau electric utility in November proposed a new temporary rate to test the possibility of providing cheap, off-peak power to recharge batteries in electric vehicles. The rate had been scheduled to take effect Monday, but the RCA, which regulates utilities, requested a two-week delay for further study. Unless the agency objects, it is now scheduled to take effect Jan. 25.

AEL&P spokeswoman Gayle Wood said the delay is unlikely to be an issue for anyone as the company is simply trying to get the new rate in place in the event it is needed in the future when electric vehicles come to Juneau.

“We want to be ready for when our customers are,” she said.

Wood said since the possibility of the rate became public, AEL&P has been contacted by a few people interested in using it, but it may be until 2013 when the vehicles are expected to be in wide production.

“These cars are manufactured in fairly small quantities for the first few years and getting your hands on one is going to be a big deal,” she said.

Juneau’s limited road system could make the community a good place for electric vehicles to operate as they will never be very far from a charging station, even if there is only a single charging station in town.

The rate AEL&P is proposing would provide power for recharging electric vehicle batteries at about half the regular price during the low-demand period from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. AEL&P’s new Lake Dorothy Hydroelectric Project has giving the utility a surplus of power. The electric vehicle rate is to be temporary, and will last up to six years to judge Juneau demand. There is also a limit on the number of customers that can obtain the experimental rate. AEL&P is also offering a subsidy for installation of the charging system as well.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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