State Electricity Regulator Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission’s revised energy tariff for public electric vehicle (EV) charging stations has brought relief to the charging station operators. The move is expected to accelerate investments in charging infrastructure and the adoption of battery-powered vehicles in the State.

After last week’s announcement to enable registration of battery-powered vehicles such as electric three-wheelers, e-taxis, and e-buses without permit fees, the restoration of power rates for charging stations to almost earlier levels is seen as another major step in boosting the EV ecosystem in Tamil Nadu.

In the State power regulator’s order in September 2022, rates for the EV charging stations were doubled, and they were higher than the commercial tariff.

‘Unviable to operate’

EV charging operators and the industry made representations to the State government, stating that it would be unviable to operate public charging stations at such high rates at a time when all other States were offering lower rates.

In response to the industry’s request, the State government’s new EV policy, unveiled in February 2023, indicated that it would revise demand and energy tariffs for public charging stations with due approval from the regulator.

New rates

Now, the regulator (Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission) has, in its order, pronounced new rates for EV charging stations in the State. Under the latest order, energy charges per kWh have been fixed at ₹6, ₹7.50, and ₹9, depending on peak and off-peak hours.

The peak hour rate has been reduced to ₹9 kWh from ₹12 kWh. Also, fixed charges have been reduced to ₹75 per kW from ₹300 (for 51–112 kW connections) per month and ₹138 (for above 112 kW) per month. For 0–50 kW connections, it will be ₹25 per kW (down from ₹100).

“Earlier revisions of rates made our operations unviable in Tamil Nadu. We, therefore, put our expansion on hold. Now TNERC’s revision of tariffs for public charging stations has come as a relief for operators like us. Overall, this will make owning and driving an electric car a hassle-free affair in the state, said KP Karthikeyan, CEO and Co-Founder of Zeon Electric Pvt. Ltd, a leading charging infra (DC fast charger) operator in south India.

He added that Zeon is encouraged by the rate revision move and would aggressively expand in the State to set up more charging stations.

Utilisation level

As the State government has already paved the way for commercial passenger vehicle electrification, charging operators believe that utilisation levels at charging stations will go up gradually.

Welcoming the move, Awadhesh Jha, Chairman, the Indian Charge Point Operators Association, said that restoring the input tariff for Public EV charging stations prior to September 2022 levels is a relief to CPOs who are operating and who intend to set up their operations in the State.

“Though the tariff is still steeper compared to Karnataka, Delhi, Gujarat, or Telangana, we expect the State government to keep this tariff stable for a longer time as policy stability is crucial for attracting private investments,” he added.

Electricity consumed (excluding heavy-duty vehicles) at EV charging stations in Tamil Nadu between April 2022 and November 2022 was 427,985 kWh (0.42 million units), according to data provided by the Central Electricity Authority.