The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved new temporary experimental rates for plug-in electric vehicles (PIEVs) for San Diego Gas and Electric Co. (SDG&E) customers as part of the utility's pricing and technology study.
The study, which will research how electric vehicles interact with the grid, will be performed by SDG&E, in collaboration with ECOtality Inc. and Nissan. The experimental rate schedules will begin Jan. 1, 2011, and will remain in effect until Nov. 30, 2012 (or until the study is completed). ECOtality was the recipient of a U.S. Department of Energy stimulus grant to fund the deployment of electric vehicles and charging systems in five U.S. cities, including San Diego.
Through the ECOtality project, the first 1,000 purchasers of Nissan LEAF electric vehicles in San Diego will receive free home charging equipment. Each Nissan car owner will also become a participant in SDG&E's pricing and technology study. The study's working hypothesis is that greater variations in time-varying pricing, together with the use of accommodative vehicle technology, will shift more charging activity to off-peak periods.
“The study will help the state better understand the impacts of different rate structures on how and when customers charge electric vehicles,” says CPUC President Michael R. Peevey. “This information is critically important as we contemplate a future with widespread electric vehicle usage, given the additional electricity demand these vehicles create and the associated impacts on the grid. Studies like this can help facilitate a smooth transition as increasing numbers of electric vehicles enter the market.”
The CPUC opened a proceeding on Aug. 24, 2009, to develop policies to prepare the state's utilities for a greater number of electric and natural-gas vehicles. Also in 2009, Senate Bill 626 directed the CPUC to evaluate policies to develop infrastructure sufficient to overcome any barriers to the widespread deployment and use of PIEVs, and to adopt rules by July 1, 2011, on specified matters, including infrastructure upgrades necessary for the widespread use of PIEVs, among other topics.