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Legislation to upgrade power grid for EV charging may increase utility bills


(The Center Square) – Legislation to fast track an upgrade of the power grid in Illinois to accommodate the charging of electric vehicles is facing resistance.

The Powering Up Illinois Act in House Bill 5610 provides that an electrical corporation that operates in Illinois shall upgrade the state’s electrical distribution systems in order to achieve the state’s decarbonization standards.

“Fast charging stations for passenger vehicles often sit idle waiting for power,” said Muhammed Patel, a member of the Clean Vehicles and Fuels team at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The act assures that we can address these delays in the short term while giving us the long term framework to plan and invest adequately.”

State Rep. Dan Ugaste, R-Geneva, said all electric ratepayers will be forced to pick up the tab whether they own an EV or not.

“The 70-year-old couple who are on a fixed income are going to pay for the upgrades now whether they use or see it or not,” said Ugaste.

The measure advanced out of committee but with several lawmakers voting no. It now heads to the House floor for consideration.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has said his goal is to have 1 million electric vehicles on Illinois roads by the year 2030. As of July of last year, only 76,000 EVs were registered in Illinois.

Americans have been slow to give up their gas-powered vehicles for EVs. EV manufacturers, including Tesla and Ford, have been slashing prices to pick up sales, and General Motors is talking about bringing back plug-in hybrids, possibly taking a step back from the company’s earlier commitment to shifting straight to pure EVs.

The American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers said federal and state governments are fast tracking policies to limit consumer choice and end the availability of new gas cars.

“The fact that consumers in a couple years are literally going to be robbed of their ability to choose the cars that are most popular and most meet their needs, that is not something that people are happy about,” said AFPM President and CEO Chet Thompson.