William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


Electric vehicles are merging into the mainstream of transportation. Although the technology still comprises a small fraction of the current market, it ismorewidely available due to competitivepricing, technological improvements, and available state and federal incentives. The benefits of electric vehicles include reduced fossil fuel emissions and associated climate change mitigation, new independence from oil-driven policies in foreignmarkets and international relations, and potential opportunities for increasing and complementing renewable energy electric resources. The risks of widespread electric vehicle deployment are largely thought to involve potential impacts on existingutility generation,distribution, and transmission systems and how the costs of any needed changes to these resources should be allocated among customers, including those not utilizing the technology. This Article argues that the potential risks of increased electric vehicle deployment can be tempered by targeted involvement of the state agencies tasked with regulating electricity, for example in requiring utilities to take the lead on public education and in mandating certain rate structures that minimize load impacts. It provides a road map for state agencies to answer the novel legal and policy questions posed by traveling vehicles as electric load, and also examines how state involvement can actually mitigate the barriers to further growth in this nascent sector by allowing increased opportunities for competition, information gathering and dissemination, andminimization of unnecessary regulatory burdens, particularly at this early stage of deployment. This Article makes the case that, given the scope of potential environmental and social benefits, state agencies can and should actively explore and develop policy mechanisms to integrate electric vehicle growth into the electric regulation space.