SDG&E Gets Approval To Install Thousands of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

FEB 2 2016 BY MARK KANE 25

SDG&E to Install Thousands of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

SDG&E to Install Thousands of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

Charging point at SDG&E territory

Charging point at SDG&E territory

San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is preparing a new large-scale charging infrastructure project and recently received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC).

In general, it reminds us of the Southern California Edison project announced recently. We bet that a growing number of utilities will join a wider policy to install charging points at work places and multi-family communities.

“Today, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved San Diego Gas & Electric’s (SDG&E) Electric Vehicle Grid-Integration pilot project, signaling the “green light” for the company to own and install thousands of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at businesses and multi-family communities, including in underserved neighborhoods, throughout San Diego and south Orange Counties.  An important program benefit is that it should maximize the use of renewable energy to charge electric vehicles and minimize the need for new fossil-fuel power plants.”

In the case of SDG&E, there is plan for:

  • 3,500 charging points
  • at 350 sites (10 points at every site)
  • at least 10% of the chargers in disadvantaged communities
  • special rates to promote renewable energy usage and off-peak charging

According to the SDG&E, there are approximately 19,000 EVs in the San Diego region. Around fifty percent of SDG&E’s customers live in multi-family communities, which makes the new project especially important.

“Without access to vehicle charging, there is virtually no way for these residents to ever become part of the solution to significantly reduce air pollution or to create real personal savings by eliminating gasoline bills. SDG&E’s initiative will help address gaps like this in the market and ensure charging is accessible to all customers.

The company will install charging stations at up to 350 businesses and multi-family communities throughout the region, with 10 chargers at each location for a total of 3,500 separate chargers. SDG&E will install at least 10 percent of the chargers in disadvantaged communities.  SDG&E’s project will overcome many current obstacles to EV growth and reassure local EV drivers that they will have a place to charge their vehicles.

In addition to expanding access to EVs, the pilot features special rates that encourage EV drivers to charge their cars when electricity supply, including renewable energy, is plentiful and energy prices are low.  With rates encouraging off-peak charging, vehicles will be efficiently integrated onto the grid, helping to avoid on-peak charging that drives the need to build more power plants and other electric infrastructure.

California has led the way to de-carbonizing electricity over the last several decades, helping to pave the way for the modernization of the transportation sector.  With SDG&E’s energy portfolio being made up of 33 percent renewable energy and no coal, drivers will be plugging into one of the cleanest electric grids in the country.  Furthermore, with the pilot’s special rate encouraging drivers to charge exactly at the times of day when solar power is at its height, customers will literally be driving on sunshine.

SDG&E has an extensive track record of promoting electric vehicles, both in the community and for its employees. Last year, the company launched the “Race to 500,” an innovative clean transportation program that targets SDG&E becoming one of the first Southern California businesses to have 500 employees driving EVs as their primary form of transportation. To date, 200 employees have purchased or leased an EV, with the company offering incentives paid for by shareholders and easy access to workplace charging to encourage the shift. SDG&E has installed more than 158 electric charging stations at company facilities, which is the most of any location in San Diego. SDG&E also is adding 163 more plug-in EVs to its fleet as part of a five-year purchase plan.”

Jim Avery, chief development officer of SDG&E said:

“Today’s decision not only creates an exciting new opportunity for us to better serve our customers, it also delivers a real solution to achieving California’s ambitious climate goals. This pilot program will provide us with a unique opportunity to support the increased adoption of zero-emission vehicles to reduce smog and other pollutants created by the transportation sector in California.”

More about SDG&E offer for electric vehicle owners here.

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25 Comments on "SDG&E Gets Approval To Install Thousands of Electric Vehicle Charging Stations"

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I’m a little uncomfortable with them rate-basing this public charger expansion. There is going to be a backlash from non-EV owners complaining about the fact that they have to pay for the expansion of the public charger infrastructure.

But . . . they will get to breathe the cleaner air too. And they can buy an EV to access the public charger infrastructure. This also keeps more money in the local economy instead of to far off oil producers. And besides . . . the amount of money they will pay is tiny.

So I approve.

“I’m a little uncomfortable with them rate-basing this public charger expansion”

I should have guessed. I wondered why these CA utilities seemed so progressive. Turns out they were acting in their own interest, but as you point out the public interest benefits.

This is the way to sell the idea to utilities in other states: pad your rate base!

Finally Utility Companies are realizing they are the automotive fuel companies of the future.


Yeah, I’m really happy with utilities pushing to get into the transport fuel market. It will help them make up for their declining electricity sales due to rooftop solar PV.

If that were the case, they’d be installing DC fast-charge units instead of the slow-charge 240V ones. 150kW CCS chargers that would allow people to recharge 160 miles in 20 minutes. I think they’re just installing 40A/240V chargers which is only 25 miles per hour of charge.

Well, utilities love L2 240V chargers more than DC fast-chargers.

DC fast-chargers are expensive and have heavy bursty power draws that are more difficult for the grid to handle.

L2 240V chargers are a slow draw and often used at night when they have massive amounts of extra generation capacity.

The utilities should really focus on installing lots of 240V chargers at apartment buildings. That is where they really want to help EVs.


L2 should be installed nearly all multiple family complex and commercial mall/office build area.

I believe this program is for businesses and multi-family housing. 40A charging would be very appropriate because employees are on site 8 – 10 hours a day while residents of apartments would have 12 – 16 hours for charging just like those of us who live in single family housing. Jack

What with the huge residual costs from the SONGS botched up-rating fiasco, and the ridiculous rates Californians in general pay, My guess is, seeing as you have to be RICH to live in San Diego anyway ($million houses, etc.), that they won’t complain paying a few $hundreds for their electric bills. What is perplexing to me is why Californians in general allow themselves to be scammed. They tried 20 cents / kwh in Buffalo, NY in January, 2014, and almost EVERYONE called the Utility and the State Capital. The next month the rates were down to 8 cents/kwh. Just a coincidence of course. THey blamed it on high natural gas prices, but, at the time, the swing in output was taken up by greatly increased coal usage, and, since I have 8 gas appliances, I’m a much heavier user of gas than electricity, and my bill for gas only slightly went up. So the utility fraudulently raised the rates (from 11-12 to 20 ) when little of the juice here came from natural gas anyway, whose price in this area didn’t rise much besides. So why didn’t Californians scream when ENRON was screwing them. The dirty secret to anyone who… Read more »

Ever read “Animal Farm”?

Californians are using too much “herbal medicine” to notice the rate gouging. Cpuc is hardly the benchmark for an effective regulator, just look at the “regulated” electricity rates.

There are any number of private companies happy to install public EVSEs, but they can’t tap ratepayer wallets to fund them.

Bill, you’re right. FERC kept the fraudulent debts to Enron alive, even through (example) PGEs own bankruptcy.

Scammed? Electricity is more expensive here but the Electric companies have to deal with a lot more costs. They have higher land costs. They have higher labor costs. They have higher emissions requirements. And we have a high renewable portfolio standard target. And we proudly don’t burn much coal (if any at all). We also have high legacy costs from various lawsuits (Erin Brockovich, San Bruno gas explosion, etc.)

But the higher prices have made us more efficient than most of the nation. And we make pretty good wages so we can afford it.

“But the higher prices have made us more efficient than most of the nation. And we make pretty good wages so we can afford it.”

But it won’t help EV adoption if gas price stays relatively low while electricity is relatively high…

PG&E baseline rate is $0.17/kWh
Costco Gas is $2.39/gallon.

3 miles/kWh is $0.057/mile.
40 mpg is $0.0597/miles.

Prius is cheaper at 50mpg.

Offpeak EV rate is roughly $0.10 / kWh
Average CA gas price is over $2.50 for regular.
Average CA car does not get 40 MPG.

eGallon is close to $1.00 vs > $2.50 for gas

An EV is still very cost effective in CA, and with solar the higher OnPeak rates work even more to our advantage.

Modest 7kw solar system, 22k EV miles per year, PG&E owes ME money every year.

Joe wrote: “Offpeak EV rate is roughly $0.10 / kWh” On peak or partial off peak is around $0.43/kWh and $0.234/kWh. So good job at providing partial information. On peak is between 2pm to 9pm and partial off peak is between 9pm to 11pm and 7am to 2pm. So, your car charging is cheaper but your regular household electricity rate just skyrocketed at “peak” usage time. “Average” rate are still higher than the $0.17/kWh base rate if you average them all unless you have majority of your usage “off peak”. Maybe you are an owl… “Average CA gas price is over $2.50 for regular. Average CA car does not get 40 MPG.” Nobody pays “an average” price or buys an “average” car since EVs aren’t average cars and neither is your “off peak” rate an “average rate”.. “eGallon is close to $1.00 vs > $2.50 for gas” Typical home uses 1,000kWh/month in the US. You don’t pay higher rate per gallon for gasoline but you do for electricity in California. Baseline rate is $0.17/kWh and Average rate is around $0.20/kWh. 33.7kWh = 1 gallon of energy content according to EPA, that is $5.73/gallon or $6.74/gallon. Thankfully, EVs are far more… Read more »

Wow. I’m impressed. I was going to write just about the same. Too often EV folks paint extremely rosy picture when the reality for most people will be far worse.

PG&E does have a special EV rate. But yeah, the higher price of electricity and low price of gas is slowing EVs a bit right now. However, the main aspect of that change has been the lower gas prices. I don’t think that will last more than a couple years.

And the high electricity rate also helps incentivize people to install solar PV. And when you install solar PV, then you have lots of cheap electricity to charge up your car.

Yes, the $0.10936/kWh off peak rate sounds promising. But the $0.43757/kWh at on peak rate that comes with the EV rate plan doesn’t sound all that great…

Sure, solar panels help. But what if you can’t install solar panels due to your tree shading or your neighbor’s tree? What if you can’t install enough to cover your peak usage? (on peak rate covers 2pm to 9pm. Most solar are useless after 5-6pm which is the start of heavy household usage)?

If gas is $4/gallon or more, then it is a no brainer. Until then, it will be very questionable for many people.

I forget the link, but there was either a $7 or $17 bILLION Smart Meter Scandal at PG&E. The only people whose bill they’d adjust was the regulator’s own home overcharge.

The ‘analog meter fine’, for people who wanted to ‘buy their own meter and call in the reading’, was adjusted to prevent the poor people from being able to afford switching out the meter because, given the choice, they estimated more than half of the entire residential population would switch without the ‘retarding’ fine. There was audio testimony that PG&E officials set the fine, not to any supposed added cost, but to the amount that would prevent the poor from switching period.

7 is very different from 17.000.000 😉

Read ‘Western energy crisis’ on Wikipedia.

I would think that 700 locations with at least 5 at each might be better than 350 locations with 10 at each, but what do I know….

These are to be L2. If these are for Volt (ie, charging optional), they’re fine. But if they’re for BEV, they are pretty much two chargers per car. People charge at night when they get home, leaving work chargers empty, vice versa.

One can argue there could be night crew, or people who charge at home may not charge at work. But even the best case if for 3500 EV, probably less.

Far better would be DCFC, maybe 1000 of them, or even 600 of them. Even just 6 DCFC sessions (3 hours) per day would support 6000 EV (or 3600 at 600 units). More likely, there will be more use. That will have far higher utilization than L2 as well as helping people drive for longer distance.

Needs of the few (apartment dwellers using L2) outweight the needs of the many (all EV drivers), but in this case, even apartment dwellers benefit.

I’ll be a big user of those L2s in disadvantaged areas to charge my Tesla X.

Actually, any part of CA under IOU (big 3 utilities) control is disadvantaged.