The Real Reason California’s Biggest Utility Opposes Trump’s Agenda? Money

Jason Hopkins | Energy Investigator

There is one major reason Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is standing against the Trump administration’s proposed freeze on vehicle emission standards: hundreds of millions in electrical vehicle infrastructure investments.

Established during the Obama era, federal rules require manufacturers to increase vehicle fuel efficiency to 47 miles per gallon by 2025, an increase from their current goal of 37 miles per gallon by 2020. In response to heavy pushback from the auto industry, the White House has considered freezing requirements at their 2020 levels. This proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has also set up a battle with California, a progressive state that is allowed to set its own higher emission standards.

PG&E — the largest electric utility in California, according to Bloomberg — has expressed notable opposition to the White House’s proposal. A utility spokeswoman explained Monday the reasoning behind the company’s desire to see standards become more stringent. (RELATED: Hundreds Of Thousands Of Californians Who Blew Money On Electric Cars Are Losing Their Carpool Lane Privileges)

During a hearing in Fresno, California, Anna Brooks — the senior manager for local public affairs for PG&E — said the company will be investing $360 million in electric vehicle charging infrastructure and “we want a stable environment for our investors and customers,” Bloomberg reported.

“Transportation electrification is a key element of PG&E business strategy,” Brooks said.

The Obama-era standards, according to PG&E, need to kept in place in order to foment more demand for electric vehicles and give the utility satisfactory returns on its investments.

Beyond phasing out fossil fuels in the state’s generation industry, California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown has actively sought to electrify the state’s transportation system. California’s ratepayer-funded charging stations will be a major revenue opportunity for utility companies.

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