PG&E's EV charging stations plan

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ByDavid Louie KGO logo
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
PG&E charging station plan
PG&E is floating a plan to install 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations in its Northern & Central California service area by 2022.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- California bets its future on conserving energy. On Tuesday, lawmakers introduced sweeping new changes that will affect everyone.

One big area targeted by legislators is cutting gas use by 50 percent. To do that, lawmakers are counting on people using electric cars.

PG&E wants to install 25,000 electric car charging stations across the state and have customers foot the bill. There is already opposition to this plan.

Charging stations can be found in many places -- on the street, in public garages, and even in company parking lots. PG&E wants to add 25,000 more by getting state approval, paid in part by ratepayers.

"We're trying to increase the number of electric vehicles on the roads from about 100,000 today in California to about a million across California by 2020. Very ambitious goal that the state has set, and we and other utilities are stepping up to try to make that happen." said PG&E Spokesman Jonathan Marshall.

The benefit would be zero emissions, leading to cleaner air. The charging stations would be located at businesses, multi-family buildings, retail stores, and garages.

It would put PG&E or a contractor it chooses in direct competition with companies like Campbell based ChargePoint.

"If you create too controlled a program by a regulated monopoly that can't move quickly and adapt to the way users really want to use this stuff, I think you will slow it down. So this is where I think life has more imagination than we do. You have to let the market evolve," said Pasquale Romano, Chargepoint President & CEO.

All of PG&E's stations would be what's called level 2, providing a car with 20 to 25 miles of range with a one-hour charge. Some will be fast chargers, similar to Tesla's supercharger, that tops off an electric car's range in 30 minutes.

Auto dealers think the plan will address the range anxiety some prospective buyers suffer, wondering where they will re-charge their cars.

"It makes it easier for people to think that if they do have availability of chargers, therefore they don't worry about if they want to go longer distance, shorter distance," said Randy Sabba, Sales Product Specialist.

State regulators will have to study and approve the plan, a process expected to take a year. The first of the proposed stations could be built in two years.