Controversial CPUC Vote Approves $80M to Each Utility to Increase EV Chargers

By Published On: July 15, 2021

On a rare split vote, state utility regulators narrowly approved expediting the three investor-owned utilities ability to spend more ratepayer money on electric transportation infrastructure, this time a total $240 million to ensure there are enough chargers to alleviate the concerns of would-be EV drivers. The state is falling well short of its 2030 goal of 1.2 million chargers for up to 8 million light duty electric vehicles and another 157,000 for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

This item had been pulled from the agenda but put back on during the July 15 meeting, over the objections of Commissioners Martha Guzman and Darcie Houck, who wanted more time to review new revisions. The switch also generated considerable confusion over the proper voting protocol.

Guzman also objected to ratepayers being on the hook for $80 million for accelerated projects by each Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric. She pointed to the huge increase in the state budget, just approved, which includes $1.8 billion to advance EV charging stations. Guzman Aceves said she’s a big supporter of using ratepayer funds to increase installations of chargers for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles. She added that earlier the Commission approved more than $1.5 billion of utility ratepayer funding for that purpose but the utilities have fallen behind on their spending for large vehicle chargers.

“We have time to step back, look at the state appropriations, and where precious ratepayer funds should be spent,” Guzman Aceves said.

“We need investments from all quarters” to ensure there is a seven-fold increase in installed chargers, Commissioner Cliff Rechtschaffen replied.

On Monday, SCE launched its $437 million EV charging program approved almost a year ago.

Calls for accounting transparency

Houck called for more transparency in utility EV infrastructure accounting. She pointed to the California Energy Commission’s funding of transportation electrification, including under its Electric Program Incentive Program, as an example of how it can be handled.

Half of this new funding for chargers must go to disadvantaged communities. To avoid utilities dominating the EV market, the decision allows them to own no more than half of the charging infrastructure.

The utilities are permitted to use the accelerated Tier 3 Advice Letter process to apply for approval for up to $20 million per submission, with an $80 million cap for each utility. Funding also is to be dedicated to necessary home electric panel upgrades for EV chargers.

Earlier, the CPUC authorized the three investor-owned utilities to spend more than $720 million for light duty vehicle charging infrastructure.

Share this story

Not a member yet?

Subscribe Now