California On Verge of Rolling Out 7,600 Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, wants to have 1.5 million battery electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles on the roads by 2025, and the state’s largest utility thinks it can help reach that goal.

Pacific Gas & Electric is proposing to install 7,600 electric vehicle-charging stations over the next three years, the single biggest deployment of plug-in spots in the country.

The utility says the charge station placements would encourage those who don’t own houses to buy EVs, since it would prioritize placements at workplaces and multifamily housing.

The proposal, 7,500 level two (240 volts), and 100 DC fast EV charging stations, was submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which could release its decision this week and formally vote an approval by September 29.

PG&E’s ratepayers would pay the $160 million cost, with monthly electric rates increased to $2.64 in the first year, and dropping afterward.

While consumers are weary about the size and cost, private EV charging companies are concerned that the network is so large it will prevent competition.

Currently there are 5,000 chargers in the PG&E territory that covers Northern California to the Central Valley mostly owned by private firms.

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The proposal has won support from environmental groups, carmakers, labor unions and some in the charging industry.

Max Baumhefner, an attorney for clean vehicles and fuels at the Natural Resources Defense Council said, “It would help move the electric vehicle market beyond the suburbs,” Right now, he added, “if you can’t plug in at home, you’re not going to buy a plug-in car.”

Groups opposed to the plan, because of cost and size, want a smaller initial pilot program: 2,500 Level two chargers and 10 DC fast chargers at a cost not to exceed $87.4 million.

The CPUC has already approved EV charging plans from two other large utility companies.

San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E) will place 10 EV chargers at each of 350 locations at a cost of $45 million, while Los Angeles-based Southern California Edison’s (SCE) customers will cover the $22 million cost to develop the infrastructure for 1,500 chargers, allowing private firms to build and operate the stations.

The CPUC could accept PG&E’s plan, choose a dissenting parties’ proposal or reject it entirely.

Whichever way the commission decides, the choice is likely to affect similar proposals across the country.

Scientific American