Domestic Fuel
by Joanna Schroeder

A broad coalition has submitted a proposed settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission in an effort to speed up the deployment of smart electric vehicle charging stations in San Diego. The proposal calls for San Diego Gas and Electric (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.

“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 who is part of the groups supporting the initiative. “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 goal of the proposal is to enable all communities access to electric vehicle charging stations and the corresponding benefits from EV on the road – less fossil fuel use and less emissions. The plan calls for SDG&E to install at least 10 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, another participating coalition member. “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.