The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Monday issued a proposed decision that would authorize Southern California Edison (SCE) to invest $442 million to, among other things, deploy approximately 40,600 electric vehicle charge ports in its service area.
If approved, the proposal will enable SCE to meet its portion of California's broader need for electric vehicle charging infrastructure, Miles Muller, an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate and clean energy program, told Utility Dive. "This will help with about one-third of the estimated [number of] ports needed in their service territory — so it's a good start," he said
SCE is reviewing the proposed decision and will be filing comments on it by Aug. 17, utility spokesperson Paul Griffo told Utility Dive. The commission can vote on the proposal at its Aug. 27 meeting at the earliest.
The proposal, which would approve investments of around $427.5 million for charging infrastructure, including Level 1, Level 2 and direct current fast chargers, as well as $14.5 million for marketing and outreach programs, is "another step toward" California's goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, according to the CPUC. It would also be the largest charging infrastructure program approved for any utility in the state, Muller said.
The agency previously approved transportation electrification projects worth a combined $738 million for SCE, Pacific Gas & Electric and San Diego Gas & Electric. The most recent round of proposed investments, for SCE's Charge Ready 2 program, is the evolution of a much smaller pilot approved several years ago, Muller said. Now, the utility is pursuing full-scale investment for the next few years.
Earlier this month, the New York Public Service Commission gave utilities the green light to move forward with a $701 million EV infrastructure program to deploy 50,000 Level 2 charging plugs, along with 1,500 direct current fast charging stations. That program will provide an estimated $2.6 billion in benefits to consumers over the next 10 years, state officials found.
While this proposal isn't as large, "this would be pretty significant for SCE, for a single utility," Muller said.
SCE is "encouraged that the CPUC proposed decision regarding SCE's Charge Ready 2 program recognizes that increasing the availability of electric vehicle charging stations and raising the awareness of the infrastructure programs are important steps in bringing the state closer to achieving its climate goals," Griffo said.
The utility's proposal, filed with the commission in 2018, had requested a $760.1 million budget over four years for more than 50,000 ports, based on a forecasted 790,127 EVs in its service territory by 2023. California is aiming to put 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030, and deploy 250,000 charging stations by 2025. However, SCE in 2017 issued a paper outlining its own proposal to achieve the state's greenhouse gas reduction goals, which includes 7 million light-duty EVs by the end of the decade, 2.6 million of which would be in its service area.
The proposed decision reduces the scope of SCE's proposal by about 10,000 ports as well as the expected cost per port, Muller said. It also includes cuts to market, education and outreach proposals. However, it still represents a critical and significant investment for SCE.
"Ultimately, the 40,000 ports for SCE over the next four years is significant. It's really going to help them meet their portion of the state's 2025 transportation electrification goals, so all in all it's good news," he said.