Utility Applies for New EV Rate Class

A privately-owned power utility has applied for new electric vehicle charging rates to be introduced, which it claims could boost adoption of EVs.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has proposed the rates to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). It claims the proposals would “make EV charging simpler and more affordable for fleet vehicles and charging stations … in Central and Northern California”. It says this in turn would boost “progress toward California’s shared climate goals and result in cleaner air for all”.

The utility professes to have been inspired to make these proposals by the existing rates regime, which it argues disincentivizes EV ownership among average consumers and unfairly favors adoption of the vehicles by big businesses, causing a lower overall rate of EV adoption. PG&E senior vice-president of energy supply and policy Steve Malnight claimed: “EV charging will be simpler, more affordable, and more consistent under this proposed plan”.

Its plan is for the “demand charges” currently factored into bills for public chargers subject to business rates to be replaced with “subscription” charges that would allow charging station owners to plan and pay for the amount of charge they are going to need in advance. The utility collaborated with ChargePoint on the proposals, and has received support for them from electric bus maker Proterra and the San Joaquin Regional Transit District (SJRTD).

Proterra CEO Ryan Popple claimed PG&E’s proposals would simplify “EV charging rate structures … to lower electricity prices for all Californians, as EV batteries can provide a variety of grid services, including storage for renewable solar and wind power”. SJRTD CEO Donna DeMartino said they would assist her authority’s “progress toward a zero-emission fleet”, ignoring recent evidence about the counter-productive effects incorrectly-sized EV batteries can have upon a vehicle’s emissions levels.

While California is known for being highly politically amenable to EVs, it remains to be seen whether the state’s politicians will accept the criticisms being made of their charging rates regime by a power utility, or if PG&E’s proposed reforms are implemented, whether they will result in the increased EV adoption the utility claims they will.


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