Lawmakers Concerned About EV Charging Proposal

21 Apr 2016

Nearly two dozen lawmakers are calling on the California Public Utilities Commission to ensure that Pacific Gas & Electric’s proposed electric vehicle charging station plan does not give the utility an unfair market advantage.

Concerns were raised by 14 state Democrats and eight Republican legislators in an April 6 letter to CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman regarding a $160 million ratepayer-funded PG&E proposal. It would result in the utility building and owning 7,500 charging stations in the first phase.

The legislators requested that the PG&E proceeding before the commission help “stimulate innovation,” “protect customer choice” and “support competition.”

“Allow new vendors and new innovative products to qualify into the utility program more frequently than annually, as currently proposed by PG&E,” says the letter. “Do not allow PG&E to block competition on direct current fast charging technology by restricting customer choice.”

Under the PG&E proposal, presented in late March, ratepayers would share in the cost by paying about $2.75 per year to cover the cost of the investment, or about 23 cents per month.

The legislators saluted the approvals in recent months of EV charging station proposals by Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, saying that they represented a commitment to innovation, competition and customer choice.

They’re concerned that PG&E’s proposal doesn’t do the same.

The letter also requests that EV charging site hosts have the ability to choose their own equipment and services and set the pricing to drivers without limitation.

The CPUC is responsible for ensuring market competition and innovation can flourish “and that property owners can choose the EV charging equipment and services best suited for their individual site,” said Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) one of the lawmakers who signed the letter.

The letter was also signed by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation & Housing; Sen. Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo), chair of the Senate subcommittee on Gas, Electric & Transportation Safety; Sen. Robert Wieckowski (D-Fremont), chair of the Senate Environmental Quality Committee; and Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D-Santa Monica), chair of the Assembly Resources & Transportation subcommittee.

This is PG&E’s second attempt to get an EV charging infrastructure plan approved. Its previous proposal was rejected by state regulators in September 2015, in part because it had asked for more money and larger ownership of electric vehicle charging assets than Edison and SDG&E.

Previously, PG&E wanted $654 million to build 25,100 electric-vehicle charging stations; a typical residential customer would have paid an additional 70 cents per month to cover the costs of the program between 2018 and 2022.

Currently, there are more than 60,000 plug-in electric vehicles in PG&E’s service territory, according to the utility.

—Mark Edward Nero

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