PG&E Looks To Quadruple California’s EV Charging Stations. Cost? $654 Million (Video)

FEB 9 2015 BY JAY COLE 62

On Monday, Pacific Gas and Electric Company asked California state regulators for permission to build 25,000+ electric vehicle charging stations in its service area in Central and Northern California.

A PG&E Mitsubishi i-MiEV Gets A Boost

A PG&E Mitsubishi i-MiEV Gets A Boost

These 25,100 EV charging stations would basically quadruple the existing infrastructure in Californa and also be the largest program in the United States to date.

The San Francisco-based utility says that the chargers would be located at both commercial and public locations, which includes (but not withstanding to) multi-family dwellings, retail shopping centers, and populated workplaces.

“Our proposed build-out of EV charging infrastructure aims to accelerate customer adoption of clean, quiet, and efficient plug-in vehicles by reducing lingering range anxiety. It reflects our commitment to helping the state of California meet its critical clean air and greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals by promoting cleaner transportation,” said Tony Earley, chairman, president, and CEO of PG&E Corporation.

All of the 25,000+ stations would be of the level 2 variety, except for about 100 DC fast chargers.

The utility company says that inside their service area there are now more than 60,000 plug-in electric vehicles registered – or “more than a fifth of all EVs in the United States.”  PG&E itself employs over 1,200 electrified vehicles themselves.

“By supporting market acceptance of electric vehicles, it should create tremendous new opportunities for other infrastructure and technology companies, help keep California in the forefront of EV innovation, and create new jobs in local communities across Northern and Central California,” Earley said.

VIA Motors' VTRUX, Extended Range Truck Is Part Of PG&E's 1,200 Strong Electrified Force

VIA Motors’ VTRUX, Extended Range Truck Is Part Of PG&E’s 1,200 Strong Electrified Force

Total cost on the program if approved won’t be available until it is filed with the SEC shortly, but PG&E says that they will provide the charging units at no cost to property owners.

Update: Details on the program are now out.  25,100 charging stations and installations are expect to cost PG&E rate payers $654 million, of that $551 million would be in capital costs.

“The total impact on system average bundled rates would be minimal in 2016 and 2017 and would average only a tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour over the next five years of the program. A typical residential customer would pay about 70 cents more per month over the period 2018 to 2022. “

Naturally, some advocacy groups, such as The  Utility Reform Network (TURN) is a little concerned with the gross amount being invested into charging infrastructure.

“We are very skeptical about the value of investing so much ratepayer money and betting it all on electric vehicles,” said TURN’s executive director . “We want to minimize the amount of ratepayer money that goes into the electricity vehicle infrastructure.”

Additionally, ChargePoint – who has the most to lose if PG&E goes ahead, also made a statement about the proposal Monday evening, saying the deal was “…bad for ratepayers, drivers and EV industry”

“ChargePoint believes strongly that utilities should play an expanded role in the EV industry and the infrastructure that supports it. However, the proposal PG&E filed today creates a monopoly in EV charging equipment and services that will stifle growth and innovation in the market. – Pasquale Romano, CEO of ChargePoint 

“Allowing one monopoly utility to define the EV charging hardware, network, pricing, features and everything in between, will reduce competition and innovation. Removing station owner choice will leave little incentive to innovate or provide better or more affordable services to consumers. ChargePoint has been successful because it supports flexibility for the site owner to decide what pricing and features are best for them to attract the EV driving public.  Additionally, ChargePoint prides itself in providing the features required by EV drivers for a seamless driving and charging experience.

Once installed, the PG&E would retain ownership of the25,100 units but sell the maintenance and the management of the billing of the EVSEs to 3rd party companies.  In this way users of the stations would not receive bills from PG&E, but from the 3rd party.  Those partners would, in turn, be buying their electricity from PG&E before reselling to the end user.

If approved by the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission), PG&E figures it will take about five years to complete the massive project, while noting the impact on its customers would be negligible.

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62 Comments on "PG&E Looks To Quadruple California’s EV Charging Stations. Cost? $654 Million (Video)"

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We need more fast chargers, install those first so apartment dwellers can adopt ev’s.

This is excellent idea for PG&E. They can tap into the high voltage overhead wires, and provide 480V or 240V charging very easily.

Apartment dwellers don’t need fast chargers. They need L2 chargers wherever they park their cars.

I hope that’s a focus point for PG&E.

Or even L1 for apartment dwellers, for overnight charging. We are trying to get some L1 installed on city property so that nearby apartment residents can use them for overnight charging.


Telefonix makes an L1 with faster charging than a 8 or 12 amp wall socket. Its 16 AMPs and can deliver 5-7 miles of charge per hour.

Very interesting…
I’m curious what their projection is of the amount of EVs (and AER distribution) and extra demand this will suppor
Does PG&E have the extra generation capacity to support this?

This electric company has one of the highest number of users of solar power as far as electric companies go. This means homes are using less and less of their power as they buy solar planners. Luckily for the power company Ev’s love drinking down juice while on the go. This makes building a huge system of level 2 chargers and 100 DC Fast chargers a very good idea. I hope though that they expand the number of quick chargers to 500 or 5000 over the next five to ten years which could happen.

But building up EV power demand is a great away to off set a major loss of business due to people buying solar power for their homes.

Go, PG&E, Go. This will give them another way to sell electricity, they’ll get more people to buy EVs who then use lots of power at night, and perhaps they can even start looking into V2G.

Pretty much every utility has the generation capacity for lots of EVs since they are mainly charged up at night when they have excess capacity. Occasionally they might need to upgrade a transformer when a cluster of people buy EVs in close proximity. But that can be paid for with the increased electricity sales.

If someone can figure out how to help the utilities stay afloat when everyone is putting in solar and battery storage then that is a good thing.

We will see increases in our base rate from all the utilities as more and more solar customers come aboard.

My gut feeling is that the utilities are rooing the day they provided lots of incentives for home owners to install pv.

I have a sinking feeling that low electricity prices, as we know it, are ending. There’s just too much gap between the low, low, price of electricity and gasoline.

Whether for profit, or “demand response”, or “efficiencies”, there are powerful forces looking to raise electric rates. It will achieve all kinds of things, other than saving the money it once did. I hope I’m wrong.

Using gasoline you have no alternatives, only the oil companies; With EVs if the price is too high, you can bypass the power company using solar panels and local battery storage. In effect the power company competes with home power systems.

Solar PV will keep the costs down. It’s not like oil, we can do without them. 😉

Rising electricity rates is a boogeyman, one which EV bashers wave around in a desperate attempt to scare people from buying into the EV revolution.

But in the real world: It’s said that even if everyone converted their gas guzzler to an EV, this would raise the demand for electricity no more than the installation of central air conditioning did a couple of generations ago. Did that cause electric rates to shoot up? It did not.

Now, I can understand why for example residents of California might be afraid of what will happen as demand on the electrical grid increases, but the sharp price rise in California a decade or two ago happened because of poor planning and self-destructive State regulations, not because it suddenly became more expensive to build more power plants.

Electricity is -not- a resource which is dwindling even as demand rises, like oil. There is no reason for prices of electricity to rise substantially just because demand increases. Now as in the past, electric utilities will build out new power plants to meet demand.

If planned properly, an increase in solar by both the utility provider and the user could prevent the need to add more plants while EV usage could sustain the existing ones.

Do you work 3rd shift, and charge your car off-grid?

What I am suggesting has nothing to do with supply and demand, or the ability to generate and distribute watts cheaply. It’s market control, in part through smart meters, but also people who regulate. Some, for profit, some to clean things up, some to redistribute economies within the grid (tiered rates).

If you have solar, you depend on rate plans that are out of your control. They’re changing. If your long-term plan is going off-grid, be prepared for just how many panels and batteries that will mean.

I’m not saying solar isn’t the way to go. It will stay ahead for some more years, with net-metering rules, SRECS, etc., but when the ITC fades (in 2017) and more rate-bases adjust rate plans for fixed grid costs, you will see lower economies as an attached solar user.

You’re not wrong. For one thing, in or around 2017, California will be switching to time of use rates (and more states will likely follow). For another, with the increasing push for energy efficiency, renewables and zero net energy homes, utilities are basically running scared that their bottom line will be adversely effected (at least the private utilities, public utilities like mine don’t give a rip).

PG&E has attempted to “counter” this by jacking up their service fee, the monthly service charge that is supposed to be for “infrastructure investment.” I also expect rates will go up, but this would have happened anyway and is not related to this charger push.

If it will take 5 years for their build-out, they need to re-think their L2/DCFC ratio. By 2020, there will be a ton of of 200-mile EV’s with DCFC ports on the road.

By 2020, none of the existing CHAdeMO or CCS DC chargers will cut it. It would be a colossal waste of money to deploy anything less than 100 kW DC EVSE’s.

For that matter, no 30A J1772’s either… 40A – 80A J1772’s will be required in order to overnight charge 60+ kWh battery packs.

That is indeed a very significant problem. Tesla could not use the J1772 plug for the Model S, nor any other existing charging protocol, because none of them could handle the high current needed for their SuperCharger system. Other auto makers will have the same problem as they start making plug-in EVs carrying significantly more kWh of batteries.

A “charge standard” is, unfortunately, going to continue being a moving target for some years, as each new generation of PEVs is built for longer ranges and faster charging.

That situation will continue until at least we get PEVs that can be charged (to, say, 90%) in 10 minutes or less. And it make take even longer than that for things settle down sufficiency to make it possible to establish a charging standard which will actually “stick” for awhile.

But just as with buying new computers: We can’t wait until things settle down to start installing EV chargers. If we wait until things settle down, we’ll probably be waiting 15-20 years, and clearly we need more public EV chargers every year. Just as with a computer, the best you can do is get something built with the capacity of being upgraded later.

In two years of electric car ownership, I’ve needed a quick charger a total of three times. They just don’t make sense. For the money, it’s better to deploy more L1 and L2s. The pittance of people who need fast refueling can buy fuel cell cars.

I completely disagree. I have used public quick chargers around 4 times as much as public L2 chargers in the last 10 months of owning an EV. And the quick chargers allowed me to do long-distance travel that I never would have attempted using L2.

It varies by use, but I’ve done only 3 long distance trips in my EV since I bought it. Used level 2’s twice and CHAdeMO once. Very nice, but since +90% of my miles, and +99% of my trips are within 45 miles of my home, L1 & L2 allow me to use the car more than a smaller number of L3 chargers…

With my Volt, I’m more of an opportunist. I never *need* to charge, but if there’s one available I do, because I’d rather run in EV mode vs. hybrid mode.

My vote would to line our expressways with DCFC and put L2 in all the places cars are parked for 2+ hours.

The real question about public charging is what the cost will be. As many actual EV owners have pointed out, many for-profit EV chargers charge outrageous prices, far above market rates for electricity. Some even charge as much or more, on a per-mile basis, than a gas station charges!

If I understand what this article is saying, these chargers from PG&E will be charging only a fraction of a cent per kWh for charging. That is a surprisingly low markup, and I hope it turns out to be true. If so, this will be a great boon to EV adoption.

On the other hand, the discussion of third-party billing makes me suspect that it’s the third parties, the retailers, who will be charged only a fraction of a cent per kWh by PG&E, and it will be up to the retailer to set the actual price for the customer. In that case, we might be right back to price gouging at the EV charger.

In the right circumstances, I have no problem with paying more than I would for gasoline.

When I’m paying to use a charger, I’m not really paying much for the electricity . . . that is trivially cheap. What I am paying for is the cost of the charger, the cost to pull the permits, the cost of the parking spot, and the cost to install the charger.

That makes one of us.

I agree — I don’t use public chargers more than a few times a month. Initially I was really pissed off with some of them charging as much as 49 cents per kWh. But in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. Yes, it costs a bit more than gas would, but that is sort of irrelevant — I don’t use gas anymore. And it’s only for a tiny fraction of the kWhs my car consumes. Almost all our charging is done at home, and the cost is sunk because we have PV solar.

If it’s only a very occasional use of a public charger, and almost all of your charging is done at home (or at work, if you’re not overcharged there), then of course it’s not a big deal. As they say: “Convenience is worth paying for.”

It will be different when people who don’t own their own parking space will have to depend on chargers installed by their apartment manager, or by the city. I think there is an opportunity there for entrepreneurs to make money installing public chargers and making a small profit. I hope that can become the norm, and I hope the sort of over-charging for charging that (for example) Blink does or did, will be driven out of business by competition. Blink has already gone bankrupt, and I hope that’s because they priced themselves out of the market.

Exactly. 95+% of my charging is done at home. But on those rare occasions that I charge up elsewhere, what I am paying for is the access to a charger not the electricity.

Perhaps when there are far more EVs and there are chargers all over, the prices will come down. But I don’t mind paying a bit more now to fund the deployment of these chargers.

As one of those “many EV owners”, myself, would like to point out, most charging will continue to happen at night, at home, making public charging pricing somewhere between negligible and irrelevant.

Worded differently: 98% of the time, I spend close to nothing per mile, so on those rare occasions I need a boost somewhere else, I really don’t give a flying anything about paying 5$, 10$, 20$ for a charge.

It doesn’t matter at all — it’s still dirt cheap compared to driving an ICEV. And so much more pleasant too…

Nobody (other than maybe Comcast) does price gouging better than PG&E. Their standard home rates are set with very thin tiers and rise to painfully high per kW cost quite quickly.

Any plan presented by PG&E should be treated as just another way to extort $$ from the public.

PG&E= Private Greed and Extortion

I was a 38 year customer of a local public owned utility (SMUD) here in the Sacramento area and moved for 7 years to where PG&E was the only source for both gas and electric. I am SO glad that I was able to move back to SMUD coverage this past year.

Jeez, dude. Bitter much? Life is too short to have an angry grudge against a faceless corporate utility.

Nope. The man is correct. PG&E is one of the worst of the power generators. They:

– Opposed home solar generation grid hookups until basically forced to do so.

– Aided greatly in the “greyout” in california.

– During their bankruptcy issues, let their infrastructure decay until widespread blackouts occurred (we were out for 2 weeks, just like a third world country).

– Blew up an entire neighborhood because of shoddy repair and inspection practices. PG&E claimed it was because they weren’t allowed to charge enough to perform the required inspection and maintenance until it was later found that they had, in fact, misspent the money previously earmarked for that purpose.

– Forced people to use “smart metering”, then fumbled the use of them with several cases of completely bogus bill calculations, and PG&E still refuses to let people use the information their own meters collect — and that they paid extra for.

I could go on…

I’m not even from CA, and “I know, right?”.

CA leads in what other states need to watch out for. Complexity, to drive what you want, frequently opens the door to what you don’t (demand charges, for example). I still hold that if you drive a car, you will eventually be treated as “able to afford” your electric energy more than the next guy. Then, you will be made to pay that rate which is only marginally lower than gasoline. It may take 10 years, but just wait.

At least Californians have power demand (a/c) that mirrors their solar generation fairly well. To be off-grid, I’d need more than 50% more panels than would fit on my two story house. Seasonal variation radically ups the battery need, if you can’t size up those panels.

I’m thinking I sound like a mouthpiece for the utilities, but I say it because I believe I’m close enough to the industry to know they are basically saying “bring it”. While they underestimate the damage their model will see, with PV-battery, they are accurate in assessing that most rate-payers will remain captive.

I’ve got the popcorn on.

Well, the positive thing about PG&E is they are such a rippoff outfit that many homeowners are dying to get solar and get RID of PG&E. Unfortunately, getting a standard solar array does not do (anything like) that. You need batteries to get rid of PG&E, which is why they are dragging people into court who try it.

I’m not here to defend PG&E. I just don’t think it is worth the high blood pressure and stress to get all worked up over some heavily regulated business.

It is what it is. If you don’t like then I guess you can go talk to the PUC. No one likes high prices but the tiered pricing system has been very effective at keeping California’s electricity consumption to be one of the lowest in the nation.

Yep, SMUD pretty much spoils their customers, I can imagine the distress.

EV off-peak rates of $0.06 per kWh. Six cents people! In California!

I’ve been seriously tempted to move to Sacramento for that reason alone. Air quality’s not too great though.

Will be until they invent an electric cow.

Yep. If I ever move into PG&E service territory, I’ll be going off-grid. I don’t want to have anything to do with them.

My family has both also. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that PG&E is as bad as Comcast (or AT&T) as CPUC does a decent job of keeping any rate increases (unlike the telecom and cable industries). And in terms of price gouging I think garbage, water, and sewer services are a lot worst. So I would rate PG&E as okay.

I do agree however, that SMUD is way better.

They are outright thieves. However, PG&E consumes an order of magnitude more cash than any of those utilities.

All of the government run or regulated monopolies, especially here in silicon valley, deliver poor services at high cost. This is what government does.

You do know that most of CPUC’s commissioners are former execs from PG&E as well as SCE and SDG&E right? Michael Peevey, the CPUC president, is among the worst!

And in case some of you think that is “too slanted:”

He may be lenient, but according to your articles, CPUC under his leadership only had rate increase of about 28% over a decade (2000/2001 to 2011) and that’s with adding a lot more renewables.

Contrast this to AT&T which raised their rates 272% in just 8 years from $5.70 in 2006 to $21.25 in 2014 for exactly the same service.

Similarly Comcast raise their rates 73% in 9 years (from $39.04 in 2003 to $67.49 in 2012) for exactly the same service.

The cost for this is $653.8 MILLION, or $26000 per EVSE.

Even as an EV owner, I think that is way to much.

Are you sure about that? That sounds way too much for a bunch of level 2 chargers (even granted they do have 100 DC chargers).

The numbers are correct $654 million, $551 million in capital costs.

We actually had the story up before the SEC filing was made know.

Details, and market/competitor reactions added now to the story.


Yeah, ignoring rounding, I get the same numbers as “ggpa”: $26,227 per charger.

For comparison: You can buy a pedestal-style, indoor/outdoor GE Wattstation for $5,499 at the Home Depot website; and that’s certainly not the cheapest solution available. Of course that doesn’t include the installation cost, but still.

I guess PG&E is doing a great job of fleecing the state, huh?

Not that I (or the site) is saying the financial numbers represent a value, but I can say from some experience that the bulk of the expense in setting up a networked public/commercial EVSE system is not in the hardware.

That being said, given the volume numbers being touted by PG&E, it does seem more than a little steep on the face of it.

Right. Most people assume that the $1,000 to buy and install a charger in their home and run some wire is the norm.

As soon as you get into the commercial world, you’re typically digging holes and running much more wire. And that adds up quickly.

My company installed eight L2 stations, which I believe ran about $30,000 with the wire and conduit runs. The 4 dual-pedestal stations were about $10k of that $30k total.

ggpa – did I miss that in some part of the story as presented,? If not, then – source on those figures/prices please!

Who needs 25,000 Level 2 chargers — NO ONE.

What we EV drivers need is more DC fast chargers. WAY more than the 100 included in PG&E’s.

This proposal from PG&E is inane and insane.

Apartment dwellers need public chargers.

I wouldn’t really call them public chargers. They need private chargers at their apartments. A guaranteed spot, just for them each night.

OMGWTF?! How do you install 25,000 L2s for $650M? That’s $26,000 per L2, or about twice the cost of an L3 inverter. Of course, a lot of the cost of an L3 is the apportioning of the power and the heftier drop from a main backbone. But L2s cost NOTHING to install. It’s just running a line. Really. It’s just running the line to the parking spot.

It’s not just running a line (which I think you’re underestimating the cost of). It’s also land use for the spot.

So you mean they take a parking spot an make it a parking spot?

I’m not really upset. I’m totally not surprised. It’s every utility’s right to overspend and overhype. This isn’t unusual. But it makes charge station networks look super expensive and promotes mostly L2 networks when we need L3s. L3 networks aren’t expensive and L2 networks are downright cheap.

L3 (DC) chargers remain ill suited for mass adoption as only J1772 is universal on vehicles. No single DC format (Tesla, CHaDEMO, Combo2) serves more than about 12% of the vehicles.

For this reason alone L2 at full rate (80 amps per the standard) is the best choice for a network deployment. That will encourage car makers to keep costs low by having a single charge format yet be able to get a higher rate of charge at the same time.

The drop from the main is not cheap. Installs I’ve seen cost between $10,000 and $102,000 from PG&E for a single 200Amp 240VAC circuit from an existing pole or underground vault.

The costs here are NOT very compressible as they are primarily labor.

I’m happy that PGE is kicking in some chargers… Nice to see that. I also agree that increasing to 10x the dcfc would make a lot of sense as they are the most useful during daily driving. The issue about 30 and 40 amps being insufficient is bunk… Mostly evs don’t come home completely empty so they don’t take a full chg everytime. Plus in 8 hours you can easily recharge your 60kW Tesla… If you are plugged into a 7.2kW (40 amp outlet) It will be about 57kW… If you have less than 8 hours and a car whose charger can handle 10kW you could get a 9.6kW and do it in about 6 hours. Also… Teslas can take advantage of J1772 Ac standard plugs… They come with an adapter for them. You will soon be able to carry a CHAdeMO adapter for 400 bucks in your Tesla trunk for the most prevalent and popular quick charger out there. Most at least 50kw which will 90% fill your 60kW Tesla… In an hour. These CHAdeMO DC Fast charger are able to go to 100kW as shown by the KIA Soul EV. So… Let’s hope PG&E gets the go ahead… Read more »

More chargers are always good news, I’m hoping other CA and state utilities join us in this leadership.

In Austin, we the ratepayers owned the utilities. I’d love to see CA utilities go public to take out the profit motive for more solar and ev potential.