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ChargePoint calls PG&E’s proposed 25,000-station charging network a bad idea

PG&E proposes major build-out of 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations in California

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has filed an application with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to build an estimated 25,000 electric vehicle (EV) chargers at sites across its service area in Northern and Central California—8 times the number currently installed. If approved, this program would be the largest deployment of EV charging stations in the country, PG&E said.

The cost of the plan would be shared by all electric customers as a contribution to helping the state meet its clean air and climate goals. The total impact on system average bundled rates would be minimal in 2016 and 2017 and would average only a tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour over the next five years of the program. A typical residential customer would pay about 70 cents more per month over the period 2018 to 2022, according to PG&E.

The chargers would be located at commercial and public locations, including multi-family dwellings, retail centers, and workplaces. Approximately 10% of the chargers would be installed to support disadvantaged communities. PG&E would also provide tools and educational materials for site hosts and customers to learn about the benefits of electric vehicles.

More than 60,000 plug-in electric vehicles are currently registered in PG&E’s service area, which represents more than a fifth of all EVs in the United States. The Governor’s Office has called for 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles in California by 2025 to help meet the state’s ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. To support that plan, industry models suggest that PG&E’s service area will need about 100,000 Level 2 chargers in public locations by 2020.

All of the 25,000 stations PG&E proposes to build would have Level 2 chargers, which provide up to 25 miles of range for every hour of charging. To support travel between metropolitan areas, PG&E would also install at key locations 100 DC fast chargers, which can recharge an EV’s battery in only 30 minutes. A growing number of DC fast charging stations are being deployed along the “West Coast Electric Highway,” which serves drivers from British Columbia to Baja California.

The chargers would be provided at no cost to the site host. PG&E proposes to own all of the infrastructure, but contract with third parties to build, install and maintain the chargers and manage customer billing. The utility expects that the program will take about five years to complete following approval by the CPUC.

PG&E has more than 1,200 electric-base vehicles in its fleet, and is a leader in introducing new electric technology into its vehicles. It was one of the first utilities in the country to offer money-saving rate plans for EV customer charging. It recently announced a major smart-charging pilot program with automaker BMW.



Apparent good news but slow charging Level II units do not have enough charging capabilities for public charging stations.

Level II chargers are OK for private residences, work places, shopping centers and other places where typical users normally stay for 2 to 8 hours.

However, more quick DC chargers will help.


What better company to supply charger stations than the power company...they got poles everywhere. How about a charge card that charges the home monthly power bill for the electricity.


I guess AC level II would be good for a restaurant or hotel type setting...

If the power company could make DC Level II available at a location in the same fashion of a Supercharger... They could utilize the high tension DC lines that they already have... simply funnel it to the Charge stations. Without an inverter they could see some great efficiencies.


Very astute observation Harvey. I wondered when I first heard the rumor whether they would be installing chargers for today's EVs or the 200 mile EVs that will be commonplace in just a few years. Only 100 fast chargers are planned. Hope they get the numbers adjusted as it goes through approvals.


SCE has a ripoff EV plan that does not really save any money because day rates are so much higher. Is PG&E any better?

The real reason this is happening is providing power to charging EV's is so profitable. Selling kWh for roughly 5 to 10 times production cost, and the more you sell the lower the delivery cost. $0.20/kWh is equivalent to $7/gallon of gasoline. EV's are so efficient that it's accepted. But this is really not encouraging EV's and zero emissions unless you go solar, not possible for everyone.

The ICE fuel business has so much smaller profit margins due to competition.


@GdB, we pay e0.17 for domestic electricity in Ireland (+ a bunch of other charges), so o$0.20 / KwH doesn't sound so bad.

This may be a sign of competition beginning in the EV charging space, which can only be a good thing.
As Harvey says, an 8Kw charge isn't much use unless you can park for about 2 hours, but it is better than nothing, and competition might cause people to put in 50Kw fast chargers which would be a lot more use for the stop and go crowd.

Also, you can't really do a smart grid thing if you have people getting quick charges - people need the power NOW, not when it suits the utility - you need overnight or workday charging to get that.

Still, 25,000 extra chargers can hardly be a bad thing.

My view is that "they"* should subsidise 8kw chargers for people who buy EVs and place them in their place of work or home, at least until each place of work has one.

*whoever "they" are.

Bob Wallace

I'm glad to see utilities getting into the charging business. Their initial entries may be flawed but they will evolve.

Getting level II chargers into places where people park all day will give people with no place to plug in at night an option.

And because 8-hour-parkers can charge off high supply periods the utility can give them a better price than just the daily average. They can become the utility's first move into using EVs as dispatchable loads.

Later on, as rapid chargers mature, I can see utilities leasing spaces from highway restaurants and setting put 'superchargers'. The highway businesses should welcome them, perhaps even lease out the space for nothing due to the extra business they would bring. I'm sure restaurants would rather not have to deal with installing chargers on their own.


"..permission to build.."
The CPUC needs to make sure there is no monopoly. The decision needs to allow other companies to enter the market and compete.


They want to raise $655 million from their customers.

That's $26000 for a level-2 charger! That is BS.


It's good for the hotel/motel business. You need an over-nighter to charge up.

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