California Set to Get Another 25,000 EV Charging Stations

Mon, 3/12/2018 - 7:07 pm by Kirsten Rincon

The EV charging infrastructure in California just keeps expanding. Already at the forefront of EV adoption, thanks in large part to the fact that it has the most extensive charging station network in the country, California is bound to extend its lead over all other states in terms of electric vehicle ownership, if the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approves a plan proposed by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), involving installation of 25,000 charging stations in several regions across the state.

PG&E, a utility company that supplies a large part of California with natural gas and electricity, has requested permission from the CPUC to use ratepayer money to build 25,000 EV charging stations in northern and central California, in areas that it already services. The company plans to invest $654 million in a program that would start in 2018 and will last through 2022. If this proposal is approved, it will increase the number of stations in California by 8 times. According to PG&E, there are over 60,000 electric vehicles in the areas it services currently, which is about one-fifth of the total number of EVs in the country.

The majority of the stations will employ Level 2 chargers, which can add an extra 25 miles of range with a 1-hour charge. At selected charging sites, PG&E will install DC fast chargers, as well, in order to allow EV owners to complete longer trips between cities. These fast chargers can fully recharge an electric-car battery in only 30 minutes. Most stations will be installed at commercial locations, as well as residential areas and about 10% of them will be located in disadvantaged communities.

While PG&E’s proposal can definitely bring a lot of benefits to California residents, as it will help put more electric vehicles on the road, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and improved air quality, it will also add an extra financial burden on all of its customers, regardless of whether they own an electric car or not. The company said that in order to be able to pay for this project, it will have to raise electricity rates by 70 cent between 2018 and 2022, which might seem unfair to customers who don’t drive electric vehicles, as they will not be using the charging stations that they helped finance.

But, PG&E argues that its plan would help accelerate EV adoption, as it addresses one of the key issues that is holding it back – the lack of supporting infrastructure. Also, it could help California meet its target of putting 1.5 million EVs on the streets by 2025, and reduce carbon emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.

“Our proposed build-out of EV charging infrastructure aims to accelerate customer adoption of clean, quiet, and efficient plug-in vehicles by reducing lingering range anxiety. It reflects our commitment to helping the state of California meet its critical clean air and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by promoting cleaner transportation,” said Tony Earley, chairman, president, and CEO of PG&E Corporation, in a press release.

According to the company itself, the state will need about 100,000 charging stations by 2020 if it wants to meet these goals, that at the moment seem to be overly ambitious.