Natural Resources Defense Council
by Christine Keeves

SAN FRANCISCO (June 4, 2015) – A diverse set of public interest groups, automakers, labor unions, and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) submitted a proposed settlement yesterday to the California Public Utilities Commission to accelerate the deployment of smart electric vehicle (EV) charging stations that would support the utility grid in San Diego. If adopted by the Commission later this year, the program would make electricity a low cost, clean transportation fuel, available to more drivers, helping the state comply with federal air quality standards and achieve Governor Brown’s greenhouse gas emission reduction goals.

“This proposal would increase access to electric cars and trucks and leverage those clean vehicles to cost-effectively integrate wind and solar energy to the benefit of all utility customers,” said Max Baumhefner, Attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “If the Public Utilities Commission adopts this carefully negotiated settlement, it would confirm California’s leadership in moving both the transportation sector and the electric industry to a future free of fossil fuels.”

The proposed program calls for SDG&E to install smart charging infrastructure at up to 550 multi-family housing sites and workplace locations throughout its service territory, with an average of ten chargers at each location for a total of 5,500 separate chargers. Customers would have a choice of rate options and equipment to ensure drivers charge in a manner that maximizes fuel cost savings and supports the electrical grid and to promote competition and market growth in the charging service industry.

The proposal aims to ensure that all communities benefit from electric vehicles, alleviating the disproportionate impact of pollution borne by low income communities and communities of color. SDG&E would install at least ten percent of the charging stations in such communities and facilitate the expansion of electric car sharing to expand access to zero emission vehicles. As noted in The Greenlining Institute’s 2011 report, “Electric Vehicles; Who’s Left Stranded?” communities of color are more concerned about air pollution, making them a natural, but largely untapped market for clean vehicles.

“We commend SDG&E and all involved for putting together a proposed pilot program that, if adopted, would mean more EV charging stations in disadvantaged communities while helping create a diverse workforce and supplier network to get the job done,” said Sekita Grant, Environmental Equity Legal Counsel at The Greenlining Institute. “We need to make clean electric cars and trucks a reality for Californians of all income levels, and look forward to working with SDG&E to push beyond the settlement targets to make that happen.”

The pilot program would feature price signals that encourage drivers of electric cars to save money by charging their vehicles when renewable energy is plentiful and energy prices are low.  This will help avoid the need to build more power plants and other electrical infrastructure.

“We are pleased to be part of an agreement that, if adopted, would help make charging an electric car convenient and cheaper than gasoline, while ensuring that charging infrastructure is built and maintained safely with highly skilled union electricians,” said John Hunter, Business Manager of IBEW Local 465, which represents employees of SDG&E.

The proposed settlement was negotiated and signed by SDG&E, the Natural Resources Defense Council, The Greenlining Institute, California Coalition of Utility Employees, Plug In America, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Sierra Club, the Center for Sustainable Energy, the Green Power Institute, ChargePoint Inc., NRG EV Services LLC, Smart Grid Services Siemens AG, KN Grid, CALSTART, General Motors, Honda Motors, and the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.

“The proposed settlement filed yesterday successfully balances the interest of many diverse parties. EDF believes that it moves SDG&E’s pilot forward in a way that helps meet important clean energy and environmental goals, while preserving a competitive charging market,” said Larissa Koehler, EDF Attorney.

“We are extremely pleased to have been able to work with this broad and unique coalition to help come to a settlement with SDG&E which, if adopted, would accelerate the deployment of critical infrastructure for plug-in vehicles,” said Jay Friedland, Senior Policy Advisor for Plug In America. “This would in turn help the rapidly expanding number of EV drivers gain more access to electricity and see the benefits of the cleanest and lowest cost transportation fuel.”

“This proposed settlement reflects the outcome of a broad coalition working together to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure and reduce the public health and climate change impacts of our transportation network while aiming to improve the grid and protect a competitive marketplace, utility customers, and disadvantaged communities” said Gina Coplon-Newfield, director of the Sierra Club electric vehicles initiative. “We are very pleased to work together to these ends.”

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The full settlement agreement can be viewed at the following link:

https://www.sdge.com/sites/default/files/documents/regulatory/VGI%20Motion%20for%20Adoption%20of%20Settlement%20FINAL.PDF

The full text of Greenlining Institute’s 2011 report, “Electric Vehicles; Who’s Left Stranded?” can be found here:

http://greenlining.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ElectricVehiclesReport.pdf