Here Come The Utilities On EV Charging

Pacific Gas & Electric is raring to go in California to install, operate, and maintain electric vehicle charging infrastructure, at ratepayer expense [PDF]:

PG&E proposes to deploy up to 25,000 level 2 charging stations and 100 DC fast chargers (DCFCs) at workplaces, multi-unit dwellings (MUDs), and at public or retail locations, which will help accelerate EV adoption and attainment of the state’s transportation and clean air goals.

electric-vehicle-charging-station-houston-engadgetThe utility’s effort is now supported by state law, with SB 350 (De Leon, 2015) specifically encouraging Big Utilities to take on Big Oil when it comes to transportation fueling.

I’m generally in favor of allowing utilities to enter this space, given the strong and growing need for more infrastructure for the increasing number of plug-in vehicles. But I’m most heartened by this mention in the proposal:

PG&E is currently leading an EPIC-funded [California Energy Commission/Public Utilities Commission] project regarding DCFC [fast-charging] siting in collaboration with UC Davis, E3, and PlugShare. The research findings will develop a public tool to help site DCFC deployments based on forecast traffic demand and lowest utility distribution costs.

The state is long overdue for a better methodology on where to site fast chargers. Current locations are suboptimal, and there are still major corridors in the state that lack adequate chargers for short-range electric vehicle travel (for example, good luck driving your LEAF from San Jose to Monterey).

I’m pleased to see PG&E is part of this grant-funded effort, and hopefully their involvement in EV infrastructure will benefit the state’s EV, environmental, economic and equity goals.


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