After years of complaints of electric car charging stations billing by the minute and running up costs, California’s Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has announced that new rules prohibiting the practice will commence on January 1st.
Per minute charging and no way to tell the cost
Currently, electric car charging stations, such as Electrify America and Chargepoint, and many charging stations at gas stations currently charge by minute. Many charging stations also don’t have a display to show how much is being charged and what the cost is. Most just bill at the end.
For years this was a huge problem for consumers.
“We’d pull up to a Tesla station and charge but when we got the bill you could tell they were obviously gouging,” said Enrique Gonzalez, who had sent in numerous complaints and asked for a gas station-like display to know what the cost was over time. “You’d think that they wouldn’t do that with electricity like they do for gas. But no, they totally do.”
California’s Division of Measurement Systems got on the case earlier this year and wrote up new regulations. The new regulations, which bans per-minute charging and requires a display showing the charge amount and cost, were approved by the OAL on December 16th. Under the rules, the changes will commence January 1st. Electric charging stations given only two weeks notice are now scrambling to meet the new standards.
Big changes coming for charging stations
“Getting rid of per-minute charging is going to be a big change for most,” noted Prince Whaley-Romero, who is currently raising funding to build new charging stations in two counties in California. “We were planning on doing that in lieu of a base price and listing added fees, like a parking fee. But now we’re looking into ways to charge that aren’t time based. We’re thinking of using a model similar to Tesla’s based straight on the wattage used, but that comes with listing additional costs.
A big problem is a fully charged car just sitting there. If it’s not charging it’s costing us money from other customers who aren’t using it. People might have said the time-based model was a ‘rip off’, but for a lot of stations it was more of an incentive to get out quickly and not simply park there, especially if the station in question was outside a store. Some places have added a ‘waiting fee’ in lieu of this, but right now, we don’t know.
The displays will be more of a problem, because all pumps need to have them by 2023, so adding displays will be another set-up cost we weren’t preparing for. And for existing stations, that means upgrades too, because most don’t have them.
During the last week I’ve had to get more funding to account for all of this. You can bet all others, from corporations down to people making independent stations like me, are going through this headache too.”
Currently the only stations that don’t have to comply are utility and military owned electric charging stations. All other electric charging stations in California will not be exempt and will have by January 1st to stop billing per minute and by 2023 to begin displaying the amount of electricity charged as well as the cost.