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EV Vehicles Showcase Value of Competitive Markets, Billing Reforms

Imagine owning an electric vehicle and being able to drive for free, all year long, while using 100% renewable energy to recharge daily.

Sounds too good to be true, right? It’s not.

Vistra Corp., one of the largest competitive electricity providers in the country, recently launched a new, innovative product that uses electric vehicle data to allow free home charging --- every day --- and provides power backed by 100% renewable sources for all home energy needs.

It’s a first-of-its-kind solution for electric vehicle owners, allowing customers to manage their EVs separate from whole home energy consumption.

Under the Energy Free EV Miles plan, customers get to drive more miles for less money with a 100% discount on all home EV charging every evening from 7 p.m. through 1 p.m. the next day --- 125 hours each week for free. Customers will see their free charging usage and free miles on each monthly billing statement. If an owner needs to charge outside of the free hours, they will pay a simple, fixed rate --- the same as the rest of their home.

It's a great idea --- and one that could be popular among drivers, given the high demand for electric vehicles these days.

Unfortunately, it’s not available in the commonwealth.

That’s because Pennsylvania, which has a competitive electricity market, still permits utilities to own the billing relationship with customers. But Texas, where Vistra launched its product, has supplier consolidated billing, which allows the retail supplier to consolidate all electricity costs into one bill (including utility costs) and invoice the customer directly.

It makes more sense.

When the customer has the power to choose suppliers, suppliers seek innovative ways to win and retain them --- like the Energy Free EV Miles plan. Suppliers also provide increased data to consumers on their electricity consumption and help them use less, or they offer alternative green energy solutions --- again, like the Energy Free EV Miles plan.

Right now, Pennsylvania is ramping up efforts to encourage people to switch to electric vehicles, offering bigger consumer rebates for EV purchases and helping to finance the installation fast chargers at locations in major traffic corridors.

Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced that Pennsylvania was awarded $25.4 million in federal funds for EV infrastructure deployment. It’s part of the more than $170 million the state will invest over the next five years to support EV infrastructure.

So, while the state moves ahead, consumers are left with a billing practice stuck in the past, unable to pick a retail electricity supplier that offers the best value for their charging needs.

Until Pennsylvania moves the customer billing relationship to where it should be, with the customer’s supplier of service, the commonwealth will continue to lose out on innovation on consumers will continue to pay the price.


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