Monday, March 21, San Francisco–PG&E, already under fire for its safety failures, high rates and unwieldy size, is demanding preferred access to the nascent EV charging market, on customers’ dime. In doing so the company is ignoring a CPUC order and consumer objections to the rate hikes PG&E is demanding to cover the costs of the unnecessary project.
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. As per TURN’s recommendation PG&E was allowed to re-submit a much smaller pilot project, in order to determine if PG&E could do the job correctly and whether sufficient ratepayer benefits materialized to justify costs. But PG&E refused to take no for an answer and prevailed on parties that were already supporting its application, including General Motors, NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and Honda, to jam another inflated proposal through the CPUC in the form of a “settlement”.
Instead of simply complying with CPUC Commissioner Peterman’s order to scale back the scheme and utilize a phased approach, PG&E has been lobbying the Commission to allow it to build more charging stations. If PG&E and General Motors are successful, over 5 million households from Fresno to Yreka would subsidize these charging stations for the approximately 75,000 EV owners in PG&E’s territory, the majority of whom live in the Bay Area.
“PG&E continues to act as if it is above the law,” said TURN executive director Mark Toney. “The CPUC did the right thing by ordering PG&E to submit a much smaller pilot proposal, but PG&E is more concerned with profits than results.” Toney said the settlement, which none of the EV charging station providers or ratepayer advocates have signed on to, will cost customers too much, and provide few benefits in return.
TURN is urging the Commission to provide real subsidies to help low- income customers purchase electric vehicles with carbon reduction funds; otherwise, the charging stations PG&E proposes to build in low-income communities are only likely to gather dust.
Toney said customers “don’t want PG&E to be bigger, they want it to be better.” Even CPUC President Picker has said that PG&E is too big,” he added. “That’s why TURN is urging the Commission to require PG&E to comply with the CPUC’s original order, scale its pilot project back and focus on safe and reliable service.”