PG&E Unveils Largest Utility-sponsored EV Charging Network
The Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), California's largest utility company, is preparing to launch a massive EV charging network across the state. A total of 7,500 Level 2 EV charging stations will be installed between 2018 and 2020.
PG&E's service territory caters to 20 percent (1:5) of registered EVs in the US, which is why the company has made a firm commitment to streamline the development of the highly anticipated network. The program was approved by the California Public Utilities in 2016. This would also help meet the state's goal of having 1.5 million EVs on local roads by 2025.
Costs and Limitations
A massive EV charging network this size comes with a price tag of $130 million, which is the set budget for the EV Charge Network program. To ensure a smooth flow of funds, customers of the utility company will be billed an additional 22 cents per month. This extra cost is very reasonable for California residents with access to the EV charging stations.
Interestingly, around 15 percent of infrastructure will be installed in low-income communities within the state. The program is also designed to expand EV use in locations outside of major cities.
"If we want to move electrified transportation to a broad base, we need to make sure that there's equitable access to the infrastructure," said Greenlots CEO Brett Hauser. "If it's left to competition alone, you're going to see clustering of charging stations in certain places. We think utilities have to play a role."
Qualified building owners must adhere to a set of guidelines that standardize operations across the state. Such individuals are required to allot a minimum of 10 parking spaces for the EV charging hubs. Buildings, both residential and commercial, that do not have 10 parking spaces or cannot observe the parking lot allocation amount are not allowed to participate in the program.
This aspect of the program is controversial, as numerous apartments and residential buildings in cities cannot meet this requirement. According to the utility company, the spacing standard is a cost-effective measure.
Businesses and Vendors
Local, California-based businesses that meet the above spacing requirements can seek qualification to participate in the charging network. So far, over 500 establishments and owners intend on becoming a part of the EV infrastructure program. Merced College, the first customer of the network, will install its first charging unit in the coming months.
"If utilities don't have visibility into these assets and how they're being utilized, they can't properly plan for their investments. The more visibility and control they have from a system-networking perspective, the better off their customers and ratepayers will be," explained Hauser.
PG&E welcomes vendors as key participants in the program. Qualified vendors provide hardware and network-related services and products. The utility company allows bundled solutions for a comprehensive approach to vendor services.
Vendors are responsible for installation (depending on the package selected) and billing users of the EV stations. At the moment, the charging hubs are not compatible with solar panel systems.
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