CPUC Approves Utility EV Infrastructure Programs

California regulators last week authorized the state’s investor-owned utilities to recover $738 million for electric vehicle charging infrastructure to help meet the state’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The California Public Utilities Commission’s Thursday order stemmed from its 2016 directive ordering the IOUs to propose projects that would advance the electrification of transportation. During the proceeding, the state’s Office of Ratepayer Advocates and The Utility Reform Network negotiated aspects of the program, originally proposed at $1 billion by the utilities.

CPUC electric vehicles charging infrastructure EV

Peterman | © RTO Insider

“The only way to get to a largely carbon-free California is by substantially electrifying the state’s vast transportation system,” Commissioner Carla Peterman said. “The decision made today aims to balance costs with benefits for all ratepayers, considers impacts on competition, and directs significant portions of the utility programs to disadvantaged communities often hit hardest by traffic and air pollution.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council supported the CPUC’s decision, saying it “marks the nation’s single largest investment by the electric industry to eat away at Big Oil’s longtime monopoly over transportation fuels.”

Each IOU had its own package approved by the commission.

  • San Diego Gas & Electric: A $137 million rebate program for 60,000 Level 2 home-based charging stations, and an EV-only variable hourly energy rate.
  • Pacific Gas and Electric: $22 million for a “Direct Current Fast Charging Make-Ready Program” supporting 234 fast-charging stations at 52 sites. Also approved was make-ready infrastructure at a minimum of 700 sites to support the electrification of at least 6,500 medium- or heavy-duty vehicles.
  • Southern California Edison: $343 million to install the make-ready infrastructure at a minimum of 870 sites to support the electrification of at least 8,490 medium- or heavy-duty vehicles, and three new time-of-use rates for commercial customers with electric vehicles.

Make-ready infrastructure includes service connection and supply infrastructure to support EV charging. It is composed of the electrical infrastructure from the distribution circuit to the stub of the EV charging station and can include equipment on the utility side, such as a transformer, or on the customer side, such as electrical paneling or wiring of the meter, the CPUC said.

The commission modified some of the budgets and terms of the program. For example, it rejected SDG&E’s proposal to include existing EV customers in its program. TURN had argued that existing EV customers would be free riders, pointing to a survey that indicated 76% of California EV drivers have income of $100,000 or more. The commission included provisions for disadvantaged communities, setting rebates and adoption targets for EVs in those areas.

California’s Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015 set new greenhouse gas reduction goals and directed the CPUC to work with other agencies to advance the electrification of transportation.

The CPUC began the proceeding in July 2017 and conducted 11 days of hearings last fall. Other parties included environmental groups, the California Transit Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, EV infrastructure companies and consumer groups.

The decision came just after the California Energy Commission issued a report saying the state will need between 229,000 and 279,000 EV chargers at locations other than single-family homes by 2025 to meet the state’s goals for adoption of zero-emission vehicles. (See California to Require Sharp EV Charger Growth by 2025.)