PG&E’s Risky Business Reined in on TURN’s Recommendation

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TURN won a crucial victory on December 16, 2016, when the CPUC authorized only a fraction of the 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations that PG&E wants to build on customers’ dime. The proposal before the Commission adopts several key TURN recommendations to limit the risk to customers that PG&E will be unsuccessful and end up wasting the ratepayer money on a scheme with no quantifiable benefits.

PG&E, with its poor track record on safety, reliability and customer service, wants to expand into the new business of electric vehicle charging stations. But PG&E won’t finance the experiment out of corporate profits; it wants to risk customers’ money instead.

TURN convinced the CPUC to reject PG&E’s initial proposal to build 25,000 experimental EV charging stations with a whopping $650 million price tag. But PG&E kept lobbying the Commission to allow it to build big. All five million PG&E households from Fresno to Yreka would subsidize charging stations to serve about 75,000 EV owners, the majority of whom live in the Bay Area.

“PG&E’s vague claims about the benefits to customers are insufficient justification for the costs,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “PG&E should not be spending ratepayers’ hard earned dollars to finance a risky business experiment that won’t improve anything for most consumers.”

The CPUC decision slated for approval tomorrow allows P&GE to build experimental charging stations, but only up to 7,500 ports. Additional limits won by TURN:

Deny the 100 “fast chargers” PG&E wanted, which would have cost customers $25 million.
Require site hosts to contribute to charging station costs
Deny bridge funding which could have increased costs by up to 50%.
“TURN supports utility programs that cost-effectively reduce GHG’s and provide benefits to all customers, not just EV drivers.” said Toney, “But there’s a risk that the $130 million customers will pay for the charging stations the CPUC decision authorizes won’t accomplish anything. We think the burden to justify any future ratepayer expenditures should be higher. If PG&E wants to expand further into the EV market, it should do so on shareholder’s dime, not customers.”