The Bulletin Board

How much should it cost to charge an electric vehicle? Vendor approved to find out

By: - August 5, 2021 12:11 pm
State House dome

The House voted on several bills related to reproductive health and access to abortion. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

The Executive Council approved $292,950 in spending on Wednesday for a contract with The Brattle Group Inc., a Boston-based consulting firm, to study time-of-use rates for charging electric vehicles.

Consultants at the firm will be paid up to $575 per hour to conduct work that the new Department of Energy is outsourcing.

They will look at what’s called time-of-use rates for charging electric vehicles. Energy is more expensive when it’s in high demand – in the afternoon and evening when people are home from work and using lights. Time-of-use rates are a way of signaling to consumers that it is cheaper to charge an electric vehicle overnight. It costs less for a utility to procure power overnight because the demand is lower, and a time-of-use rate would mean a consumer pays less to charge at night, too, when the lights are off.   

While the commission sought bids for the contract, The Brattle Group was the only company to respond in what is meant to be a competitive bid process. The contract was not classified as a sole source contract.

The cost of the study won’t affect the state’s general fund, rather the three electric utilities involved would foot the bill. The costs that utilities incur in dockets like this are typically passed on to ratepayers.

The contract will run through Feb. 4, 2023, with the option to continue for another term if approved. The hourly rate for the work will range from $295 for research analysts, up to $575 for a Brattle consultant named Agustin Ros. “Out-of-pocket costs and expenses, including travel, will be invoiced at cost,” according to the contract.

Clifton Below, the assistant mayor of Lebanon and an energy policy expert, has been involved in studying time-of-use rates in the dockets that the study will address.

“I would gather that for whatever reason that the Department of Energy staff, interim commissioner has concluded that, you know, they don’t feel like they have the in-house expertise to evaluate, in particular, the Eversource and Unitil proposals,” he said.  

During Wednesday’s meeting, Republican Councilor Joseph Kenney questioned why Volkswagen settlement funds weren’t being used to pay for the study.

“There are only certain things that we can use the Volkswagen settlement funds for,” said Jared Chicoine, interim commissioner of the Department of Energy. A study isn’t one of them, he said, but building charging infrastructure is.

The $4.6 million in Volkswagen funds that were set aside for building out electric vehicle charging infrastructure have languished. The state, which finalized a mitigation plan in October 2017, has yet to spend the money, to the frustration of clean energy advocates in the state.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.