CPUC approves SDG&E pilot EV grid integration project; 3,500 charging stations at 350 sites, dynamic pricing
Almost two years after SDG&E proposed its Electric Vehicle Grid-Integration (VGI) pilot project (April 2014), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved a modified version of the program, enabling the utility to own and to install 3,500 charging stations at 350 sites—businesses and multi-family communities, including in underserved neighborhoods, throughout San Diego and south Orange Counties.
The program features dynamic pricing—a time-variant rate—that creates incentives for charging when renewable energy is most available. The CPUC decision comes two weeks after a separate CPUC decision to approve a proposal from Southern California Edison to deploy 1,500 charging stations across its territory. (Earlier post.)
To meet just 10% of California Governor Brown’s target of 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on state roads by 2025, the San Diego region would need 150,000 EVs on its roads. Currently, the San Diego region has only around 19,000 EVs. Fifty percent of SDG&E’s customers live in multi-family communities, without easy access to vehicle charging. SDG&E’s initiative is intended to help address gaps such as this in the market and ensure charging is accessible to all customers.
SDG&E will install at least 10% of the chargers in disadvantaged communities. With rates encouraging off-peak charging, vehicles will be efficiently integrated onto the grid, helping to avoid on-peak charging that drives the need to build more power plants and other electric infrastructure.
Background. SDG&E originally filed its VGI proposal in April 2014, seeking authorization for up to 5,500 charging stations at up to 550 sites. A number of issues were raised during the hearings, some from the community of charging network operators. SDG&E and 16 other parties eventually entered into a Proposed Settlement, based on the original proposal, with a number of modifications agreed to by all. The cost of the original proposal and the PS was about the same, about $103 million.
However, based on his review of all of the evidence that was presented in the evidentiary hearings, the Proposed Settlement, the various pleadings of the parties, and a careful weighing and balancing of all the considerations set forth in the Governor’s Executive Order and in various statutes, California Administrative Law Judge John S. Wong issued a decision in December 2015 denying the motion of the settling parties to adopt the Proposed Settlement, and also rejecting SDG&E’s original VGI proposal due to their cost and size.
Wong proposed an alternative VGI program—essentially a scaled down version of SDG&E’s VGI proposal, as modified by the Proposed Settlement, with the additional modifications. This is what the CPUC approved.
The 2016 VGI Pilot Program will have a total budget of $45 million instead of $103 million, and will allow SDG&E to deploy and own up to 350 EV site installations, and up to 3500 EV charging stations, during a sign-up period of three years.
Under the alternative VGI terms, Wong estimated that a typical residential ratepayer of SDG&E using 500 kWh per month in the inland and coastal zones would experience an increase of about 18 cents over the first year, or about a 0.02% increase. With the full rollout of 350 site installations and 3,500 charging stations at the end of three years, the increase relative to current rates would be about $2.75 on an annual basis.
Under the VGI pilot program, customers would enter preferences for energy price and quantity (hours) into a mobile phone application or on a website. These preferences would then be used by SDG&E’s VGI Service Pricing and Billing system to determine the parameters of the VGI rate, such as the maximum hourly price the EV customer is willing to pay, the duration of time the customer plans to be at the VGI charging facility, and how much energy the EV customer needs. SDG&E would then provide the EV customer with hourly pricing on a day-ahead basis (“day-ahead hourly VGI rates”).
SDG&E is a regulated public utility that provides energy service to 3.5 million consumers through 1.4 million electric meters and 881,000 natural gas meters in San Diego and southern Orange counties. The utility’s area spans 4,100 square miles.