Utility companies find themselves caught between converging trends that are depressing their revenue: increasing energy efficiency that cuts usage, the rapid growth of renewable energy sources bought at premium prices, and new EPA regulations to limit output from their legacy, coal-fired power plants. The result? Sinking sales, rising costs, and a flat-lining bottom line. Reinventing a decades-old business model in the energy sector will not be not easy. But one thing is clear: the traditional practice of pay-for-volume of use is on the way out.
In search of new revenue streams, some electricity companies are looking to the expanding need for electric-car power, according to the Wall Street Journal. In San Diego, Sempra Energy plans to install 5,000 EV car-charging stations at hundreds of office parks, apartment buildings, and condo complexes at a cost of one hundred million dollars. The company is asking energy regulatory agencies for permission to add a forty-cent a month surcharge on its customers’ bills to support this investment. Sempra’s argument is that convenient, easy-to-use charging stations will encourage more Californians to adopt electric cars, thereby improving air quality for everyone. And, not incidentally, tapping a new market for electricity sales for the utility. Sounds like good business all around.
Article by John Howell.