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Fossil Lobby Wins Two-Year Delay in Massachusetts EV Program

The Union of Concerned Scientists is calling out the American Petroleum Institute (API) as one of the entities that exerted inappropriate influence in a recent decision by Massachusetts regulators to reject National Grid’s Phase II electric vehicle proposal.

The decision by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) to delay the ambitious, US$116.5-million EV plan for two years of study means the utility won’t be able to reapply to install 17,700 Level 2 chargers and 300 direct current fast-charging ports until 2021, Utility Dive reports.

The DPU allowed a small part of National Grid’s plan, “including a residential off-peak charging rebate, a fleet advisory services plan, and co-location of fast charging with solar and/or energy storage, estimated to cost around $9 million,” the publication adds. In a statement, DPU Chair Matthew Nelson said the decision was a matter of being conscious “of what every dollar means to customers.”

“We are not persuaded that something less than a full approval of National Grid’s proposal will negatively impact” the utility’s goals, the DPU added. “As the company gains experience from its Phase I EV Program and the limited portion of the Phase EV II Program granted in this proceeding, National Grid may file future EV proposals under the umbrella of the grid modernization proceeding.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists says it is unclear how much influence API had on the DPU’s decision, but were not surprised by API’s comments. “The oil industry was in the mix, and it is important to note they have a broader strategic disinformation campaign,” said analyst Samantha Houston with the UCS’ clean vehicles program. “They are clearly threatened that EVs could undermine their market share.”

Houston added that the fossil lobby used “nonsensical metrics” to compare National Grid’s EV proposal with other utilities, putting forward an analysis that “glossed over numerous factors about those cost metrics that render the comparisons meaningless.”