State officials lauded for EV charging legislation

May 3—ATLANTA — Charge Ahead Partnership lauded Georgia lawmakers for passing Senate Bill 146, which lays the groundwork for a free and competitive electric vehicle charging marketplace. Georgia is the first state to pass legislation to open the door to private investment in this growing field, marking a major victory for businesses seeking to offer EV charging to their customers.

"We applaud Georgia lawmakers for recognizing the critical reforms needed to allow private businesses to offer EV charging without facing unfair competition from state-sanctioned monopolies," Jay Smith, executive director of Charge Ahead Partnership, a coalition of businesses, organizations and individuals working to expand access to the EV charging marketplace, said. "We applaud Sens. Steve Gooch and Randy Robertson, along with Reps. Alan Powell and Rick Jasperse, for advancing these policies that are necessary for Georgia to have a thriving and competitive market for EV charging."

Gov. Brian Kemp signed SB 146 on Tuesday. The legislation limits public utilities from using ratepayer funds to subsidize EV charging stations. Public utilities all over the country have been raising rates on electric customers to subsidize the cost of utility-owned EV charging stations. This practice creates higher power bills for consumers and discourages private business investment, drawing criticism from consumer advocacy organizations and pro-business groups.

Utility ownership of EV charging stations in Georgia is now restricted to a single program, designed for Georgia Power to provide chargers in rural and remote locations, and private retailers are offered the right of first refusal once Georgia Power has identified a potential location. This will ensure ratepayer funds only subsidize EV charging operations in areas where private industry cannot operate.

The bill also establishes that entities selling electricity for EV charging are no longer treated as utilities by the state, ensuring that all EV charging providers can operate under the same rates, terms and conditions.

"Georgia has been a leader in EV manufacturing, and this legislation makes us a leader in smart, commonsense EV charging policy," Gooch said. "As EVs become more popular in the coming decade, Georgia will be the state others look to for an example of how to spark growth in the EV charging marketplace."

"Recharging an EV should be as easy as filling your car with gas or diesel," Powell said. "This legislation will enable the gas stations, truck stops and convenience stores that already line our interstates to offer EV charging. These retailers already occupy the ideal locations for EV charging, so we need to make sure our policy allows them to take that step."

"Today Georgia sent a signal to the entire country, as states grapple with the best way to develop a reliable and expansive network of EV charging stations," Jasperse said. "Nothing is a greater incentive than free-market competition, and we believe the most forward-thinking innovators in EV charging services will soon be calling Georgia home."

The legislation incorporates recommendations from Georgia's Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Electrification of Transportation, which met throughout 2022 to discuss policy solutions to grow the EV charging marketplace. The committee heard from several entities, including utilities, existing fuel retailers, grocers and convenience stores.