Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced Monday its first supplier of utility-owned electric vehicle (EV) charging stations will be EVBox. The manufacturer will supply up to 2,560 charging stations that will be owned by the utility, as part of PG&E's EV Charge Network program.
PG&E's program will include 7,500 new stations in their service area, of which 35% will be utility-owned stations in disadvantaged communities and multifamily residences.
- The EV Charge Network is one of three infrastructure programs from investor-owned utilities that the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) approved in 2016.
The state's other large investor-owned utilities, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE), also have partnership programs to install EV infrastructure.
SDG&E received approval to own 3,5000 charging stations, and has partnered with Greenlots and Charge Point. SCE's Charge Ready program will not include utility-owned charging stations, but the utility lists EVBox among the approved vendors for charging stations in its service territory.
PG&E will not require charging stations to participate in demand response programs yet. SCE's program allows for charging equipment capable of supporting a demand response program, but one hasn't been put in place yet.
PG&E and SCE have previously implemented electric vehicle demand response pilot programs.
Other states, such as Maryland and New York, have set EV targets, but California’s target is the most ambitious in the country. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown set a goal at the beginning of the year to have 5 million zero-emissions vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2030.
The California Energy Commission (CEC) reported in March that the state will need a quarter of a million new electric vehicle chargers in public locations and multiunit residences by 2025 to support ZEV goals.
The CPUC-approved pilot programs will add 12,500 new chargers.
The CEC report estimates that EV chargers could add 1 GW of peak demand to the grid. The authors outlined an expected bump in workplace charging demand during weekday mornings and a steep increase in evening power demand from residential charging.
One barrier to greater EV adoption has been the limited battery range of vehicles. The CPUC has collaborated with other state agencies to develop policies that support vehicle-grid integration.
For instance, EV charger penetration has been slow to develop in lower income areas and multiunit residences. The CPUC-approved plans take these zones into account — PG&E is allowed to own the charging ports that they develop in those areas.
EVBox advocates for open access and creates charging stations that do not require continued investments in proprietary technology. Therefore, "PG&E ratepayers are not on the hook for stranded assets if a hardware or software provider ceases business," Megha Lakhchaura, EVBOx director of policy and utility programs for the company's North American division, wrote in an email.
In addition to the three CPUC-approved charging pilots that will require the three large investor-owned utilities to spend $197 million, some $1 billion of additional investments are currently under review.
EV infrastructure penetration is set to continue under the authority of the state's Assembly bills 1082 and 1083, which authorized utilities to propose pilot charging programs at school facilities and other educational institutions. Those proposals are expected in July, according to EVBox's Lakhchaura.
EVBox is "very interested in participating" in the state's initiatives and working "closely with the IOUs in developing a charging infrastructure for California," Lakhchaura said