California Approves Pilot Project to Build 1500 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Electric cars charging with solar
Image courtesy of U.S. DOE.

Southern California Edison received the green light today from state regulators to begin a pilot project to support installation of as many as 1,500 electric vehicle charging stations within its service territory.

The California Public Utilities Commission’s approval clears the way for SCE to begin implementing its $22 million “Charge Ready” program to get more electric vehicle charging stations installed in locations where people park their cars for extended periods of time. For example, at workplaces, campuses, recreational areas and apartment and condominium complexes.

“A major barrier to electric vehicle ownership is that there aren’t enough charging stations where people normally park their cars,” said Caroline Choi, SCE vice president for energy and environmental policy. “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.”

Choi described the Charge Ready program as a partnership in which the utility will install and maintain the supporting electrical infrastructure, the cost of which will be covered by the program, while participants will own, operate and maintain qualified charging stations.

As an incentive to participate in the program, SCE will also offer rebates of between 25 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.

At the conclusion of the pilot, SCE will seek authority from the CPUC to expand the program to bring the total number of charging stations to about 30,000 for a total estimated cost of $355 million. The program also provides funding for education and outreach to develop awareness about the benefits of electric vehicles and charging from the power grid. SCE also received approval to offer new advisory services to help its business customers learn about transportation electrification technologies.

Choi said the program will help move California closer to its objective of putting 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025, which will in turn support the state’s goal to reduce greenhouse gases and meet deadlines for federal clean air standards.

“Electricity has a benefit that few other alternative fuels can claim,” Choi said. “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.”

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

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