CA Allows Utilities to “Put Down the Duckie” with EV Charging
California has done it again – moved the state closer to goals for emissions reductions. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved utility installation of 5,000 electric vehicle charging stations to help calm range anxiety. These pilot programs will go a long way in helping utilities develop new business models while giving consumers more options.
Lower priced electric vehicle (EV) options are opening up the market to the middle class. The very pricey Tesla is no longer the only option. Still, the limited number of charging stations, especially for those who live in multi-family housing, has consumers concerned that they will not be able to make long distance trips with their vehicles. This is the type of argument made to boost EV adoption by SDG&E for their Electric Vehicle Grid Integration pilot and Southern California for their Charge Ready Program pilot (see Utility Dive, CA Regulators Approve $45M EV Charger Rollout, February 1, 2016). The cost to consumers is expected to be less than $3 per year or 0.03% of the electric bill.
What is interesting about this initiative is that it also serves to alleviate energy supply imbalance for utilities. Note the expected duck curve of demand expected as SDG&E anticipates larger penetration of EVs on the grid. Demand is high in the evening as consumers plug in after work. At the same time, intermittent distributed generation from wind and solar, is be available only in the day-time hours, posing a supply demand disconnect. Storage that has more than limited power back-up is not yet available at a price most consumers can afford. In the meantime, if consumers have the ability to charge during the day along their route or at work, and if rates allow for a cheaper price for day charging, the market will be able to “put down the Duckie.” EV infrastructure then becomes a viable business model.