California Regulators Give Utilities Green Light to Invest Heavily in EVs

One of the nation's leading champions of greenhouse gas reductions has taken another stride toward a future powered by clean energy technology.

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently approved proposals from the state's three major utilities to make an eye-popping investment in electric vehicles (EVs). On May 31, the PUC approved a combined package from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric (SD&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE) totaling $738 million.

The proposals will stimulate growth in the state's EV industry by supporting the development of an expanded charging infrastructure and new rebate programs. They are unique because they will encourage commercial vehicle electrification and target disadvantaged communities that are disproportionately affected by emissions.

As part of the plan approved by the PUC, Pacific Gas & Electric will invest up to $236 million in infrastructure and rebates for up to 6,500 medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as trucks, cranes and forklifts, across 700 commercial and industrial sites. It will also receive $22 million to add 234 DC fast-charging stations for passenger vehicles at 52 sites.

San Diego Gas & Electric will get $137 million to offer rebates and installation services for up to 60,000 customers for charging at home and at small multi-unit dwellings.

Southern California Edison was awarded an upper limit of $343 million for up to 8,500 medium- and heavy-duty vehicle infrastructure investments at 870 sites. The utility will also experiment with time-of-use rates for charging all types of vehicles.

California has a well-established reputation as a pioneer and a leader among states in the national movement to adopt renewable technology and ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. Plentiful sun and wind resources have aided its rapid adoption of renewable power.

At the same time, a history of extreme smog and a passion for cars have added a level of urgency to the state's mission. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the Golden State is home to approximately 14.5 million registered vehicles, more than any other state in the country and almost double the number of registrations in the two states with the next highest totals, Florida and Texas.

The proposals approved last month fall under the umbrella of state legislation, SB-350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act, which passed in 2015. The act requires California to get half of its energy from renewables by the year 2030. To that end, it also requires the PUC to direct the utilities to undertake electrification of the transportation industry.

About the Author

Rick Laezman

Freelance Writer

Rick Laezman is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer who has been covering renewable power for more than 10 years. He may be reached at richardlaezman@msn.com.

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