Gov’t Regulators To Break Out Subsidy For EV Charging Stations

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently gave Southern California Edison (SCE) authorization to begin installing a treasure trove of government-funded electric vehicle charging stations throughout Southern California.

SCE will absorb the $22 million cost of installing the 1,500 stations through its Charge Ready Program, a publicly funded program seeking to expand EV charging stations throughout Southern California. SCE will offer rebates to customers to incentivize the use of the charging stations.

Administrators believe the program will give the electric vehicle market the kick-start it needs to become competitive.

“A major barrier to electric vehicle ownership is that there aren’t enough charging stations where people normally park their cars,” Caroline Choi, SCE vice president, said in a statement on the SCE website. “We believe that by giving electric vehicle owners more options to charge their vehicles, this program can actually help to accelerate the market in Southern California.”

According to Choi, SCE will install the charging stations along areas where Californians typically park their cars – such as in commonly used parking lots and on college campuses.

“As an incentive to participate in the program, SCE will offer rebates of 25% to 100% of the base cost of the charging stations and their installation, depending on location and market segment. At least 10% of the charging stations will be installed in disadvantaged communities,” SCE noted.

The program calls for a chunk of the charging stations – 10 percent, according to energy information website Renewable Energy World – to be placed in disadvantaged areas controlled by the CPUC.

The SCE initially wanted a 100 percent rebate for all multi-unit complexes, but the CPUC, in its ruling authorizing the Charge Ready Program, stated that a full rebate should go only to disadvantaged areas. The utility company wagered that giving a full rebate to advantaged areas would not be appropriate.

There is some doubt as to whether electric vehicle owners will congregate in high poverty areas, as the average owner of Tesla’s electric vehicles, according to a study by business analytics group Strategic Vision, earns nearly $300,000 a year.

At any rate, the CPUC insists the rebate is crucial for the program to work.

“With a consistent rebate, SCE will be able to evaluate whether and to what degree the rebate level improves the rate of installations across the different market segments,” the CPUC said in its ruling.

CPUC recommended a 25 percent rebate in all areas, except in disadvantaged areas where a full rebate will apply, and a 50 percent rebate rate for places with multi-dwelling buildings.

The SCE said it plans on requesting the CPUC add more charging stations to its grid, which would inevitably raise the number of stations to 30,000 at a cost of $355 million.

“While electric vehicles currently cut carbon emissions by 70 percent, they will only get cleaner and cleaner because the grid is getting cleaner as the result of state clean air policies,” Choi said.

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