California is the first state in the nation to allow electric vehicle owners, residential and commercial, to avoid installing costly separate meters to measure their cars’ power use and to measure it with less expensive submetering equipment instead.
The California Public Utilities Commission approved the submetering proposal on a 4-0 vote cast Aug. 4
Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen called the submetering decision “very significant” because it will drive down the cost of EV ownership. It also will enable increased integration of EVs into the grid, including having bidirectional car batteries charge from, and discharge into, the system. “It’s a practical solution to one of the important barriers to widespread EV adoption,” he said of the EV submetering decision.
California added over 250,000 EVs last year, reaching more than one million. Earlier this year, EVs represented 16% percent of car sales. The state hopes to reach 8 million EVs by 2030 and will prohibit the sale of new gas powered vehicles as of 2035.
Requiring a separate utility meter for electric cars and light duty vehicles has slowed their uptake because it interferes with owners’ ability to take advantage of specific EV rates that significantly lower the total cost of ownership, among other reasons. EV rates are “often inappropriate for the entire home or commercial facility where the EVs are located,” according to the CPUC.
The decision requires Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, PacifiCorp and two smaller utilities to adopt submetering protocol for all customers with plug-in electric vehicles and customer-owned submeters. The companies have two years to incorporate submetering into their billing systems.
CPUC also adopted communication protocols to enable EV owners to optimize charging and participate in compensation programs that help grid reliability, such as demand response, said CPUC President Alice Reynolds. Data communication standards aim to ensure a submeter reliably transfers energy usage data to the utility.
Reynolds pointed out that the decision, which goes into effect next July, reflects more than a decade of work at the CPUC, including approved utility pilots.