Utilities Take Charge In Deploying Charging Stations In Southern California


Charging Stations

SDG&E Charging Stations

Charging Stations

Charging Stations at the workplace

Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) have been granted permission to install EV charging stations within the areas that they service.

This is a huge change to the charging market in California, and will boost station counts drastically. It will be among the first utility-controlled charging initiative.

California has certainly enjoyed a history of positive growth in regards to vehicle charging stations.

In 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) offered two programs to increase charging stations. The EV Project and ChargePoint America added 6,300 stations, a third of which were installed in California.

Additionally, a settlement between the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and NRG energy added 200 DC fast chargers in California between 2012 and 2014.

The focus for the new, utility-led stations will be primarily at workplaces and multi-residential complexes. Navigant Research estimates that there are approximately 9,000 workplace charging stations currently in the U.S.

Utility companies will need to be diligent to assure that stations are in the best locations, company partners are secure and committed, and funds are applied efficiently.

Source: Navigant Research

Categories: Charging

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35 Comments on "Utilities Take Charge In Deploying Charging Stations In Southern California"

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“Charging Stations at the workplace” photo shows what looks to be blink. If these new chargers cost as much as Blink ($0.49/kWh L2, $0.69/kWh DCFC without membership), they’ll sit empty like most of Blink chargers.

+ 100
Yup, Blink and eVgo rates are silly. More expensive than gas essentially.

Wow. At $0.69/kWh, public fast charging a Spark EV that gets 4 miles per kWh would cost as much as driving an 11.4 mpg ICE vehicle like a behemoth Hummer H2 on $2.00 gasoline. A less efficient EV like the Tesla would cost as much as driving a single digit mpg ICE vehicle on $2 gasoline. And people around here complain that fueling with hydrogen is too expensive!

The $/kWh to MPGe chart on your SparkEV blog is a great way to convert the cost of public charging into the cost of driving an ICE at different $/gallon costs of gasoline.


Hummer H2 fuel economy:

Fortunately, Blink doesn’t offer CCS, so SparkEV wouldn’t pay that. Unfortunately, SparkEV table is based on actual use of second most efficient EV (SparkEV, behind i3), so things are worse for other EV. For EPA rated figures, things get far worse, which are in tables for various EV in this blog post.


And if one uses time based fee like eVgo DCFC and there’s severe charge taper (eg. Leaf), that could start out reasonable (~40 MPGe$), but it could quickly escalate to 10 MPGe$ or less if they don’t unplug in timely manner. That’s why I wrote the love letter to let Leaf drivers be aware.


And here in Texas our growth has been stagnant for years.

It’s a Republican Run State. Of course it’s been technologically / environmentally stagnant for years…

FYI, Georgia (just as red as Texas) has more EVs per capita than any state not named California. And our electric utility, Georgia Power, started installing it’s own DCFC network in the state over a year ago.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Georgia had MORE EVs per capita than even California. They are a shining example of how much progress a state can make if they are serious about it (and put their money where their mouth is).

The only news here is that it took this long for it to happen. Utility companies are the perfect choice for building out public charging infrastructure they’re already in the business of selling electricity and possess eminent domain access to be able to put the units where they need to be regardless of property ownership and so forth.

Burbank Water and Power installed a bunch of curbside charging stations. I had the opportunity to park near one several weeks ago and could not for the life of me determine the cost for charging. Nowhere on it did it give the rate charge. Later I checked their website and found the rates:

Off Peak Hours:

$0.1744 per kWh for Level 1 & 2.

Peak Hours:

Summer charging costs between 4pm and 7pm is $0.3053 per kWh for Level 1 & 2.

My observation driving around is that most stations are empty most of the time.

Cost seem reasonable.

And yet they still go mostly unused…

It amazes me that people think that EVSEs will immediately be used 24/7 the moment they are installed. You do realize that all plug-ins combined account for <1% of new car sales, right? We need more chargers to enable more people to go electric, especially in multi-unit housing. The infrastructure needs to stay a step ahead of the cars.

Look at California – the above-referenced EV project started in 2009. Which EV was for sale then? Pretty much only the Tesla Roadster (which of course was incompatible except for an adapter. The Volt/Leaf didn't even show up until the very end of 2010.

More natural gas powered EVSEs.

And as the grid cleans up, so are the EVSEs.

The natural gas turbines also don’t sit idling outside schools and hospitals in rush hour traffic.

And they are far far cleaner than idling ICE vehicles AND idling diesel vehicles.

Finally! It makes perfect sense for utilities to run the charging networks, what took them so long?

Sometimes, Reality is a bitter pill to swallow. They just realized they can make money and stay relevant while everyone is putting solar on their roofs.

Not everyone owns a roof. There will be a market for utilities for a long time still.

I own a roof. But there is no way I’m going to install enough battery capacity to get me through the winter, when my production drops to near zero. I need the utility has my “battery”, and I’m ok with that. The $17/month they charge me is a whole lot cheaper than any Power Wall big enough.

Perhaps not, But “Every Roof” is owned by somebody or somebodies.

Because I don’t think that they felt they were able to do it at a profit and I’m pretty sure they can’t it’s going to be a heavy lift and it’s going to take incentive money and grant money and a lot of money from their current customers some of whom may not even drive electric vehicles who might get a little chapped. That said I still think they’re the right choice because that’s what they do is distribute electricity but at some point they’re going to have to make money doing it

What took them so long is that there was a law prohibiting them from entering the EV charging business, which had been lobbied for by charging companies, which knew they couldn’t compete with the utlities. It was only after the continued failure of charging companies to be profitable that it was possible to change the law, which will eliminate one layer of middlemen and thus reduce costs. Such laws still exist in many states.

Yup. GRA is spot on. Private companies lobbied the government to keep the utilities out. In California this dates back to 2011. Fast forward to today, and we have the wisdom of hindsight. Private investment didn’t work out so well as far as widespread charging goes; now the government folks are considering a broader set of options.

I think anything but fast charging stations along long-distance routes are losers. Cars with >100 mile ranges will kill local charging. Better for utilities to focus on working with apartment complexes and installing home chargers (and spreading it out over a 2 year spa on their bill).

James said:
“I think anything but fast charging stations along long-distance routes are losers.”

Truer words have never been spoken.

This has been obvious to me since the dawn of modern EVs. I saw or read about L2 charging being installed along highways, and thought to myself no one (except EV diehards) is going to take long trips in a BEV if they have to use L2 charging along the way. I knew it was only a matter of time until these L2 chargers along highways would be replaced by DCFC.

Absolutely, 100% correct. End state for all EV charging is home and maybe a bit at progressive workplaces

all _local_ charging, that is. Outside of local area, Tesla supercharger-style super-fast charging is the only way. All the current 50kW chargers will be obsolete very soon and will basically be wasted money

I agree. I was suprised to learn how pathey the rapid DC (Chademo/CCS) infrasturcture is on highways in California, given the state often being seen as a leader in EVs. Here in the UK virtually all highways have regular Chademo (and increasingly CCS) chargers at motorway services. The system isn’t perfect, but it does mean that you can pretty much drive an EV between most cities without worry.

Definitely in California, investment needs to be in the highway network, as not only does it make EVs far more usable, it also means far more combinations of journeys are made possible for EV drivers, using far fewer chargers and in a far more user friendly manner than installing banks of slow chargers at every conceivable destination.

No real surprise here. The utilities here are guaranteed a certain return on their assets. More assets that they build, even if they don’t need them, and the more $ they are guaranteed to make.

It is a big problem in CA where they just keep building and building even when there are cheaper alternatives.

We need to give automakers zev credit for every DCFC installed and maintained.

It’s about time!

If distributed solar power makes significant inroads into the income for electric utilities, they are gonna need a new income stream. For-profit EV chargers appear to be a perfect fit.

Here’s hoping they don’t price themselves out of the market, as the prices indicated by SparkEV (initial post in this comment thread) suggest. But if they do, market forces will eventually force those prices down.

I’ve been there, I’ve done that.
Here in Québec, the utility(Hydro-Québec) is the major player in the charging infrastructure deployment.
It make sense in every way, they have massive unsold capacity and nobody is buying it at a fair price, like neighbor U.S. state and else.
So it’s also a good market opportunity.
Can I add that it’s 99% renewable hydro!
They could be quicker doing it, but at least they are doing something since march 2012.
It’s well maintain and appreciate among EVer.
Just about everyone in Québec who own an EV is a member of it.
Since the beginning of this year, already 13 000 charge have been done, and it keep growing.
My advice is ALL utility should jump in the train while it’s not rolling too fast.
I hope, they will get it soon.

This is old news. I think the announcement was a month or two ago. The chargers are mostly to be installed at apartment complexes and condos, thereby providing those now owning single family homes an opportunity to own an EV. Also some workplaces. Not really for people who can charge at home looking for public charging.

Includes some DC chargers for public charging.

These are pilots. PG&E had a much more ambitious plan but it got shot down because its wasn’t a pilot.