Electric vehicles and electrification were the hot topics at the September 5, 2018, Go Electric! Power Lunch at the Madison Concourse Hotel. Over one hundred and twenty attendees were on hand to hear from a variety of distinguished speakers.
Public Service Commission of Wisconsin Chairman Lon Roberts kicked off the luncheon with introductory remarks focusing on the rapidly changing auto industry and the impacts of increasing electrification on the power grid; as well as drawing attention to some of the benefits of electric vehicles, such as emissions reductions and the potential to keep rates down for all customers.
The “Going Electric in Wisconsin” panel was moderated by former Department of Administration Secretary Scott Neitzel, who reminded the audience of the history and naming of the Customers First! Coalition over twenty years ago.
Maria Redmond of the Office of Energy Innovation gave an overview of the status of EVs, including several initiatives happening in other states and regions, such as EV corridors.
Debbie Branson of Madison Gas & Electric gave an overview of the utility’s offerings to customers such as the Charge @ Home program.
Lorrie Lisek of Wisconsin Clean Cities highlighted the groups work with Midwest Evolve to help educate auto dealers about electric vehicles and encouraged attendees to participate in Ride and Drive events.
Jeff Springer of Dairyland Power Cooperative spoke about a new fast charging station grand opening in Tomah, WI and the great benefits of EVs for rural drivers as well as new opportunities for farmers to turn to beneficial electrification to improve operations.
Jake Oelke of WPPI energy highlighted time of use rates and their potential to help EV drivers charge at off-peak hours.
One audience question inquired about the taxation of electricity as a fuel source. Electricity sales, including the electricity used to fuel vehicles, have always been taxed via the utility gross receipts tax, which is deposited into the state’s general fund. There is a new, additional $100 annual fee, passed as part of the 2017-2019 state budget, on all EV registrations, which is deposited into the state’s transportation fund. Other questions included whether gas stations and convenience stores will continue to be viable in an all-electric transportation sector. Panelists agreed these stations will continue to play a role despite the changing fuel mix, which will include CNG and other fuel types as well as electricity.
The policy-makers panel featured two legislators, Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), who spoke about game-changers in the energy and transportation sector; including autonomous vehicles, electric vehicles, battery storage, and renewable energy.
Folders for attendees contained materials about utility EV offerings and upcoming events, as well as a resolution passed by the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates regarding suggestions for appropriate consumer protections as EV adoption increases.