One obstacle to the widespread availability of publicly accessible, convenient EV Level 2 charging equipment and DC fast chargers is the inadequate interoperability that currently exists among the various charging networks. Such equipment is provided by “electric vehicle service providers” (EVSPs) operating under a variety of business models that rely on proprietary software and subscriber service arrangements. As a result, charging services are provided under different pricing structures and terms of service for subscribers versus non-subscribers. The various networks operate independently and are not well integrated with each other, causing confusion and inconvenience to drivers seeking to charge their vehicles on longer trips.
In addition, electric vehicle charging equipment purchased from EVSPs comes with proprietary software that may not be capable of communicating with other networks. Thus, where the EVSP goes out of business or is otherwise not providing adequate service the host may be unable to switch over to another EVSP, and may in the worst-case wind up with stranded assets.
The attached language would address these issues by directing the Secretary administering the federal funding program to establish by regulation minimum interoperability criteria for Level 2 charging equipment and DC fast charging equipment receiving incentives under the program. Those criteria would require that commercial Level 2 and DC fast charging equipment be: accessible to the general public without any membership or subscription requirement (allowing, however, differing monetary charges for members and non-members); and capable of accepting payment: (i) by credit card; (ii) through “universal roaming,” whereby a payment through one provider is processed by the exchange of billing data with another service provider; or (iii) by some other means determined by the Secretary to facilitate the convenient use of the commercial Level 2 and DC fast charging equipment by the general public. The statute would also mandate that the regulations require all Level 2 and DC fast charging equipment be equipped with an open communications protocol allowing “back end” network interoperability, so that electric vehicle charging equipment hosts are not locked into dealing with only one EVSP.
The statutory language would provide the Secretary with the discretion to identify and address other issues relating to the interoperability of commercial DC fast charging equipment through the establishment of alternative and additional criteria.
It should be noted that much of the language in the model statute attached to this memorandum is based upon model procurement agreement provisions prepared by Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (“NESCAUM”).