California Public Utilities Commission approves PG&E EV charging program for 7,500 charging stations in NorCal
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously voted to approve Charge Smart and Save, a program initiated by Pacific Gas & Electric to deploy 7,500 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations across Northern California. Under the approved program, PG&E will primarily deploy stations at multi-family dwellings and workplaces, with electricity price based on time-of-use to encourage drivers to fill up during off-peak hours or when renewable energy is abundant.
The approval for PG&E’s $130-million program builds on vehicle infrastructure programs approved for Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric earlier this year, which combined will result in a total of 5,000 charging stations deployed in Southern California. (Earlier post.) Each program has a goal of using lessons learned to improve future, larger scale deployments in the state.
California Governor Brown’s 2012 Executive Order B-16-2012 directed the CPUC and other state agencies to establish benchmarks to help achieve the build-out of Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) infrastructure capable of supporting up to one million vehicles, and to integrate Plug-in Electric Vehicle (PEV) charging into the state’s electricity grid by 2020.
In February 2015, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) sought approval of its proposed Electric Vehicle Infrastructure and Education Program (EV Program) proposing to deploy, own, and manage approximately 25% of the charging stations it deems necessary to support its share of the Executive Order B-16-2012 goals.
PG&E originally proposed to deploy, own and maintain approximately 25,000 Level 2 EV charging stations and approximately 100 Direct Current Fast Chargers (DCFCs) and supporting infrastructure. PG&E’s original proposal targeted public facilities, workplaces and multi-unit dwellings and with a goal of installing approximately 10% of the charging infrastructure in disadvantaged communities. This proposal used time-variant pricing and offered education and outreach materials to drive EV adoption. PG&E requested $551,151,000 in capital costs and $102,695,000 in expense costs, for a total of $653,846,000, to fund the EV program it originally proposed.
Responses and protests were filed in March 2015; by May, the stakeholders were involved in negotiations and hearings. Over the course of this proceeding, those involved submitted a total of five different EV charging proposals. These proposals differ in terms of size, cost, duration, target segments, load management strategies, and other factors.
The approved Charge Smart and Save program is a modified version of a settlement agreement supported by the Sierra Club, Pacific Gas & Electric, and a diverse group of stakeholders. The parties, which represent environmentalists, environmental justice advocates, automakers, labor unions, and representatives of community choice aggregators and EV-charging companies, submitted their settlement to the Commission in March.
The settlement signatories included Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Honda, Center for Sustainable Energy, Coalition of California Utility Employees, General Motors, Greenlining, Greenlots, Marin Clean Energy, Natural Resources Defense Council, Pacific Gas & Electric, Plug In America, the Sierra Club, and Sonoma Clean Power.
The CPUC decision did not adopt the proposed settlement wholesale, but approves a program built upon it, with a reduced budget ($130 million in lieu of the proposed $160 million) that combines elements of both the SCE and SDG&E EV charging station programs also approved with modifications by the commission earlier this year.
Under this hybrid-model, PG&E will own and maintain charging stations installed by qualifying third-party vendors in the most underserved markets: multi-unit dwellings (apartment complexes and other non-single family homes) throughout PG&E territory and workplaces located in disadvantaged communities (identified by California’s “Enviroscreen” mapping tool). At workplaces located outside of disadvantaged communities, PG&E will not own or maintain the charging stations, but will provide supporting electrical infrastructure (from the power line to the charging station) and will offer rebates for employers to purchase charging stations from a list of pre-qualified vendors.
As specified in the settlement agreement upon which the commission’s decision is based, PG&E is obligated to deploy at least 20% of charging stations at multi-unit dwellings and will aim to deploy at least half of all stations at such locations. Likewise, PG&E will deploy at least 15% of charging stations in disadvantaged communities, and will aim to deploy an additional 5% in low income communities.