California Regulators Approve Pilot EV Charging Program for Southern California Edison

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Jan. 14 said it has authorized Southern California Edison (SCE) to develop a pilot program to incentivize the deployment of approximately 1,500 electric vehicle charging stations in the utility’s service territory.

“This decision takes bold action in support of transportation electrification, while simultaneously preserving competition and exercising prudence on behalf of ratepayers,” CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman said in a statement.

SCE received authorization to spend $22 million on implementation of the first phase of its Charge Ready and market education programs under a settlement agreement among parties that was modified and approved by the CPUC.

A major barrier to electric vehicle ownership is that there aren’t enough charging stations where people normally park their cars,” Caroline Choi, SCE vice president for energy and environmental policy, said in a Jan. 14 statement. “We believe that by giving electric vehicle owners more options to charge their vehicles, this program can actually help to accelerate the market in Southern California.”

According to Choi, SCE will install and maintain supporting electrical infrastructure in places where people park their cars for extended periods of time, such as workplaces, campuses, recreational areas and apartment complexes. The cost of the supporting infrastructure will be covered by the Charge Ready program, while participants will own, operate and maintain qualified charging stations.

As an incentive to participate in the program, SCE will offer rebates of between 25 percent and 100 percent of the base cost of the charging stations and their installation, depending on location and market segment. The program also calls for at least 10 percent of the charging stations to be installed in disadvantaged communities.

In its ruling, the CPUC said that “the rebate issue is critical.” SCE, in a proposed settlement for its October 2014 application for the Charge Ready program, suggested rebates of 100 percent for multi-unit dwellings, but the CPUC found that a 100 percent rebate was not appropriate except in disadvantages communities.

The CPUC approved a recommendation for a rebate of 25 percent for all market segments except disadvantaged communities, and a 50 percent rebate for multi-dwelling units in non-disadvantaged communities.

“With a consistent rebate, SCE will be able to evaluate whether and to what degree the rebate level improves the rate of installations across the different market segments,” the CPUC said.

For the second phase of the program, SCE said it will seek authority from the CPUC to bring the total number of charging stations to about 30,000 for a total estimated cost of $355 million. The CPUC also approved funding for education and outreach to develop awareness about the benefits of electric vehicles and charging from the power grid.

“While electric vehicles currently cut carbon emissions by 70 percent, they will only get cleaner and cleaner because the grid is getting cleaner as the result of state clean air policies,” Choi said.

SCE said it expects to begin accepting applications from prospective participants in March.

Lead image: Sign pointing to an area for electric vehicle parking. Credit: Shutterstock.

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