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Amenen Missouri wants to charge your car

FILE PHOTO: Srividya Nandakumar, an IT developer at Ameren Missouri, prepares to plug a car charger into her new Tesla Model 3 on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018. Ameren supplies charging stations for its employees and wants to add charging stations across Missouri as demand for electric cars grows. Photo by J.B. Forbes,

Ameren’s goals to help facilitate the expansion of electric vehicle charging stations received a push forward this week, thanks to state approval of $6 million in related investments.

The move means that, starting in 2020, places ranging from businesses to apartment complexes will be able to apply for incentives that offset costs of building on-site charging stations for electric vehicles, or EVs.

“More and more electric vehicles are revving up on roads across Missouri. Now is the time to invest in the critical infrastructure to support this trend,” said Pat Justis, the Ameren Missouri manager of efficient electrification development, in a statement issued after the state approved the plan Thursday.

Besides winning over electric monopoly regulators, Ameren’s proposal found support from companies within the charging station industry, such as ChargePoint, which said the investment will come “at a critical time in the market’s growth.”

“The $6.6 million program will provide for hundreds of Level 2 and DC fast-charging spots at workplaces, apartments and condominiums, and retail outlets throughout Ameren’s service territory,” the California-based company said in a statement. “The rebates support competition by attracting private investment in EV charging to the Missouri market.”

Ameren has said that typical charging stations — with plugs for two cars — cost approximately $20,000 each, with commercial fast-charging units for single cars bearing price tags of around $50,000.

For years, the power company and its state-level regulators have sought to figure out their roles in ushering in emerging electric vehicle technology. That process has featured its share of uncertainty and changes of direction.

For instance, the state initially backed away from regulating the technology in 2017, reasoning that the charging station industry was not monopolized like electricity generation. That position was later reversed after an appeals court ruled in 2018 that the state should assume oversight of the new domain.

This week’s approval is tied to Ameren’s 2018 proposal to establish a program dubbed Charge Ahead — an effort that sought to extend incentives for EV charging stations to main travel corridors, multi-family housing, workplaces and other public spaces. Earlier this year, though, the state only gave partial approval to the plan — saying that Ameren would only be able to lean on its customer base to cover costs tied to the proposed travel corridor charging stations.

But regulators kept discussions open about how to allow Ameren to pursue multi-family, workplace, and public charging options. Those three “sub-programs” are the designated recipients of the newly announced $6 million in additional charging station investment approved this week. The new ruling covers 2020 through 2022, and can be renewed “for an additional two years if Ameren Missouri demonstrates positive results from the sub-programs’ implementations.”

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