Southern California Edison plugging into electric-vehicle charging market

ROSEMEAD >> Southern California Edison is looking to increase the number of public electric vehicle charging stations in California by 16 percent.

The investor-owned utility received approval in January from the California Public Utilities Commission to spend $22 million to offset the cost of installing 1,500 public charging stations at workplaces and multi-unit apartment and condominium complexes within its 50,000-square-mile service area.

If the program is successful, the agency will have increased the number of EV charging stations in California to 11,114. There are now 9,614 public stations in the state, including 654 Level 1 (120-volt plugs), 8,097 Level 2 (240-volt plugs) and 863 fast-chargers, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

The utility has signed up 100 potential customers who will be attending its launch on Wednesday at its technology center in Irwindale. Interested participants include hospitals, colleges, city halls, private employers and real estate developers, said Paul Griffo, SCE spokesman.

“Employers are very interested,” said Caroline Choi, SCE vice president of energy and environmental policy. “A lot of their employees are going electric and they would really like to charge their cars at work.”

Choi said some employers want to install the chargers as a way to brand themselves as progressive or to fulfill corporate sustainability plans. Others are doing it to retain employees.

If all goes well, Edison hopes to expand the program by adding 30,000 charging stations at a total cost of $355 million, Griffo said. SCE is supportive of the state’s effort to put 1.5-million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2025 for an 80 percent reduction in carbon pollution from the transportation sector by 2050. Carbon pollution from the burning of gasoline in vehicles is the main contributor to global climate change, which an overwhelming majority of scientists say is warming the Earth, causing rising sea levels and catastrophic storms, floods and droughts. Electric cars are recommended as a way to cut air pollution and greenhouse gases.

With only about 150,000 electric vehicles in the state on the road out of 13 million registered automobiles, the goal is still very far off.

Edison, which will earn revenue from the electricity used, says it wants to add charging stations as a solution to the “range anxiety” problem stopping more car-shoppers from buying electric or plug-in hybrid electric cars. EV car owners can get between 40 and 265 miles per charge; those on the lower end worry about being stranded without a charger in sight, while others drive plug-in electric with extended ranges.

“[Drivers] are concerned about the car getting them to where they want to go,” Choi said. “So there is a critical need for more publicly available charging stations.”

Here’s how the program works:

Employers or owners of apartments, condos or townhomes fill out an application. Each is required to purchase 10 charging stations per location. Each station would have two plugs. A station can offer a 120-volt plug that provides a trickle charge or a 240-volt plug for a faster charge.

SCE would install the infrastructure for the charging stations at no cost. The employer would choose a vendor and buy the charging station apparatus at a cost of about $1,958 per station, according to SCE. Edison would supply rebates of 25 percent for most employers, 50 percent for multi-unit dwellings and 100 percent for any installation in an economically disadvantaged community, Griffo said.

Edison seems to be asking a lot of each employer or developer. Yet 10 chargers per location will be used quickly, as California experiences sustained growth in the EV and plug-in hybrid market, said Mark Duvall, director of energy utilization for the Electric Power Research Institute in Palo Alto.

“This is not really a build-it-and-they-will-come project,” Duvall said. “EVs are here and have already come to California.”

The owners would pick the charging plan and type of charging stations, Choi said. Generally, charging an electric car costs less than the equivalent of $1 of gasoline.

The event will be held from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the SCE Energy Education Center, 6090 N. Irwindale Ave., Irwindale.

“We are hoping we get a lot of companies to sign up.,” Griffo said.

 

Original Story: