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How utilities are planning electric-vehicle infrastructure in California and beyond

silvio maracci | greentech media | 25 february 2016 

To read the full article in Greentech Media, click here.

Utilities are facing some difficult decisions about how to invest in electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure.

Alex Pischalnikov said: Both IOUs have done a good job in framing justification with the need to meet Governor Brown’s 2025 target and demand for new charging infrastructure.  If you look at current projections and progress, it’s just not going to be achieved by the private sector. This underpins their proposals.”

Jon Jacobs said: The commission wants to see a pilot, wants it to be a learning experience, and wants to see how people will react before committing a lot of money.  Before they take a leap, they want to dip their toes in the water.  In this case, Edison has opened up a larger space to independent enterprise than the other utilities have. “The space for private enterprise has to be created, and this is the beginning of creating it.”

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Faced with so many options, what will regulators and utilities do in California?

Alex added: I think they’ll take some lessons learned and apply them to future programs.  It would make sense to see PG&E potentially adopt a proposal similar to the two parts that were viewed favorably by the CPUC.

What can utilities realistically expect when the staff issues recommendations in late February?

Alex said: States with established retail electric choice programs will be more apt to support a competitive electric supplier model.  Vertically integrated states will likely continue allowing utilities to rate-base programs where utilities can do this most cost-effectively and provide the lowest rate.

Jon concluded: Utilities have to find new customers to serve in order to drive innovation.  Electrification of the transportation system is the new field to be conquered by electricity in America.  We expect EVs to be one of the drivers of innovation now and in the future.

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