California Utilities Push to Expand ZEV Adoption, Infrastructure

Three investor-owned California utilities – Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) – have submitted applications to the California Public Utilities Commission outlining programs and investments aimed at achieving multiple clean transportation and emission-reduction goals set by the governor and state agencies.

“SDG&E has spent more than a decade reducing our carbon footprint through the rapid expansion of clean energy. We all want to breathe cleaner air, which means slowing down the impacts of climate change will require an increased focus on the areas that produce the most harmful emissions,” says Caroline Winn, chief operating officer of SDG&E.

Specifically, these three utilities are aiming to help move California closer to its zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) goals, increasing access to electric vehicle (EV) charging and raising consumer awareness about ZEVs.

“California continues to lead the nation in the fight against climate change, and electrifying our transportation sector is the next game-changer. By expanding the state’s electric vehicle infrastructure, PG&E is continuing to help California meet its climate goals, while making it more convenient for our customers to choose clean, affordable electricity to fuel their vehicles,” says Geisha Williams, PG&E president, electric.

As reported, the programs and investments proposed in the filed applications are essential to meeting the ambitious clean air goals in California and demonstrate the utilities’ commitment to a zero-emission transportation future.

“Southern California Edison’s filing lays out a clear plan to accelerate the adoption of electric transportation, which is critical to California achieving its climate change and environmental goals,” says Ron Nichols, president of SCE. “The benefits of electric vehicles are growing, but barriers to their adoption still exist – and utilities and other market participants have a clear role to play in overcoming those barriers.”

According to the California Electric Transportation Commission, the applications demonstrate the utilities’ support of the objectives in S.B.350 (De León), which called upon utilities “to file applications for programs and investments to accelerate widespread transportation electrification to reduce dependence on petroleum, meet air quality standards, achieve the goals set forth in the Charge Ahead California Initiative, and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.”

“California’s three investor-owned utilities are committed to electric vehicles and the environmental and economic benefits of shifting to electricity as a transportation fuel,” comments Eileen Wenger Tutt, executive director of the California Electric Transportation Coalition. “This commitment is essential to the state’s efforts to protect public health and economic prosperity.”

According to the filing from SDG&E, the San Diego utility is proposing to install tens of thousands of EV charging stations in new, key areas to help accelerate the transition to electric transportation. If the proposals are approved, charging stations would be installed at the San Diego International Airport and the Port of San Diego, for delivery fleets, for taxis/ridesharing, at Park-and-Rides, and at 90,000 residences in an effort to reduce air pollution. The proposal also includes a special rate that incentivizes EV owners to charge their cars at off-peak times of day when energy is plentiful and prices are low.

PG&E’s proposal is aimed at accelerating widespread EV adoption and combating climate change by reducing greenhouse-gas emissions related to transportation. For the seven proposed projects, PG&E is requesting a total budget of approximately $253 million. PG&E addresses three specific areas: expanding electrification for fleets with medium- and heavy-duty vehicles; responding to consumer demand for fast-charging stations; and exploring new uses for vehicle electrification through five, one-year projects.

SCE is proposing a portfolio of projects tailored to meet the needs of its customers. In addition to new programs for passenger vehicle adoption, SCE is proposing to install charging infrastructure for heavy commercial and industrial vehicles at ports, at warehouses and along its freeways. These projects will benefit all SCE customers, with a particular focus on disadvantaged communities, often located along transportation corridors, that are disproportionately affected by pollution and economic hardship.

“Utilities’ support of the zero-emission vehicle market is essential to meeting California’s environmental and economic goals. Utility support ensures that the transition to electric transportation results in efficient management of the grid and renewable resources, as well as safe, reliable and affordable electricity for all,” adds Tutt.

Gov. Brown and the legislature recognize that utilities’ involvement is necessary to achieve the goal of Executive Order B-16-2012, which calls for 1.5 million ZEVs on California roads by 2025 and ZEV infrastructure to be able to support 1 million vehicles by 2020.

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