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PG&E gets approval for utility-owned electric vehicle charging stations

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PG&E gets approval for utility-owned electric vehicle charging stations

The California Public Utilities Commission gave Pacific Gas and Electric Co. permission to deploy infrastructure to support up to 7,500 electric vehicle charging ports in workplaces, disadvantaged communities and multi-unit dwellings.

The PUC on Dec. 15 authorized the PG&E Corp. subsidiary to spend up to $130 million for the first phase of what has been a much more ambitious proposal. The decision allows PG&E to own up to 35%, or up to 2,625, of the charging ports in multi-unit dwellings and disadvantaged communities.

The commission also approved a time-of-use charging rate that site hosts may choose to use.

"This program provides a hybrid ownership model whereby the site host has flexibility to choose to own the electric vehicle charging equipment or have PG&E install, own and operate all the equipment," PUC Commissioner Carla Peterman, who presided over the proceedings leading up to the decision, said in a news release. "Our decision today strikes a good balance between consumer benefits and the promotion of competition in the electric vehicle infrastructure marketplace."

Commissioner Catherine Sandoval noted during the PUC's Dec. 15 meeting that the program will provide electric vehicle charging in multifamily neighborhoods, where residents with limited incomes will be able to achieve savings because electricity is much cheaper than gasoline as a transportation fuel. The program will ensure broad access in diverse communities to cleaner transportation options, she said. The commissioners did not mention that electric vehicles still generally carry a higher price tag than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Commissioner Liane Randolph said PG&E's pilot program will help California toward its greenhouse gas reduction goals. "With approximately 40% of the state's greenhouse gas emissions coming from the transportation sector, transportation electrification is an essential strategy to achieve our long-term greenhouse gas emission reduction goals," she said in the news release.

However, the program is considerably smaller than PG&E's initial application nearly two years ago for a $654 million program to install more than 25,000 charging stations.

Since then, California's two other major utilities have obtained approval to launch their own EV charging station programs.

PG&E must work with local planning agencies and meet a number of site selection criteria when choosing and developing sites, the PUC said. An advisory committee was established to assist. (PUC Docket No. A.15-02-009)