Wisconsin Senate OKs utility overhaul aimed at EV charging network

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(The Center Square) – It could soon be much easier to find an EV charger in Wisconsin.

The State Senate overwhelmingly passed a plan that will allow gas stations and other businesses to build their own chargers.

The proposed law changes Wisconsin’s utility regulations that currently stop anyone who isn’t a utility from selling electricity by the hour. The hope, lawmakers say, is to allow gas stations to add EV chargers and build a network across the state.

Wisconsin’s largest business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, said the proposal is the kind of free market solution that the EV market needs.

“This bill allows private businesses to offer electric vehicle charging to customers for a fee, a concept supported by nearly 9 in 10 employers according to a recent Wisconsin Employer Survey,” WMC Senior Director of Environmental & Energy Policy Craig Summerfield said in a statement.

Wisconsin’s largest gas stations chain, Kwik Trip, is also backing the plan.

In addition to allowing gas stations and other businesses to build and/or install EV chargers, the proposal clarifies the tax situation around selling power for electric cars and trucks.

The legislation creates a .3 cent-per-kilowatt hour excise tax on power sales at the private EV chargers. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation stated that tax could generate more than $27,000 annually in revenue, while the state’s Department of Revenue said the haul could be as much as $930,000.

People who buy electricity at the private EV charges would not have to pay Wisconsin’s 5% sales tax.

Senators also set rules to stop city, county or state-owned EV chargers from charging less.

“Additionally, the bill includes safeguards to prevent government-owned EV charging stations from undercutting the private sector,” Summerfield said. “[This] passage is a welcome first step in supporting private businesses while protecting them from unfair competition.”

Senators also approved a nearly $80 million federal grant that will cover up to 80% of the costs to build new EV chargers across Wisconsin.

The proposals now head to the Wisconsin Assembly for another vote before they can head to Gov. Tony Evers’ desk.

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