Utility proposes 25,000 EV charging stations on ratepayers’ dime 

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The switch to electric vehicles could get a boost in California if the state’s utility regulator accepts a new proposal from Pacific Gas and Electric Corp.

PG&E said today it’s asking the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for permission to build about 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations across northern and central California. If approved, the program would be the country’s largest deployment of EV charging stations, the utility said.

The utility said the move is aimed at fixing the chicken-egg dilemma blocking EV adoption: Motorists won’t buy EVs because of the lack of charging stations, and private companies won’t build the stations because there are too few EVs.

“Our proposed build-out of EV charging infrastructure aims to accelerate customer adoption of clean, quiet, and efficient plug-in vehicles,” said Tony Earley, chairman, president and CEO of PG&E, in a statement. “By supporting market acceptance of electric vehicles, it should create tremendous new opportunities for other infrastructure and technology companies.”

PG&E’s customers would foot the bill for the stations. A typical residential customer would pay about 70 cents more per month from 2018 to 2022, the utility said.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has called for 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs, by 2025. The Golden State wants to shrink greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Industry models suggest PG&E’s service area will need about 100,000 Level 2 chargers by 2020 to meet that goal, the company said. Level 2 chargers provide up to 25 miles of range for every hour of charging.

About one-fifth of all electric vehicles in the country are registered in PG&E’s service area, the utility said. There are about 60,000 plug-in EVs total in the northern and central California region.