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CA Wants To Raise Rates To Pay For Electric Car Charging Stations

Californians already face some of the highest electricity rates in the U.S., and now millions of residents could see their utility bills go up even higher if state regulators approve a plan to build new electric vehicle charging stations.

To meet California’s green energy plans, Pacific Gas and Electric Corp. is asking state utility regulators for permissions to build 25,000 electric vehicle charging stations across northern and central California. If approved it would be the largest string of electric car charging stations, but at a cost to ratepayers.

PG&E says the costs would be “minimal” in 2016 and 2017, adding only an average of one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt hour to customers’ bills. Costs would go up in the years after that, says PG&E, as the average customer would see a 70 cent increase in their monthly bill from 2018 to 2022. The costs would be spread out to customers who don’t even own electric cars or use the recharging station.

Only about 60,000 electric cars — one-fifth of the country’s electric car fleet — are registered in PG&E’s service area, and the utility says that owners of sites where charging stations are located will not have to pay for them.

“Our proposed build-out of [electric vehicle] charging infrastructure aims to accelerate customer adoption of clean, quiet, and efficient plug-in vehicles by reducing lingering range anxiety,” PG&E CEO Tony Earley said in a statement.

The utility is ramping its electric car infrastructure to help meet Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to have 1.5 “zero-emissions” vehicles on the road by 2025 to help the state reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050.

In 2012, Brown announced a $120 million settlement with NRG Energy to get the company to build 10,000 charging stations across the state. The same day Brown issued an executive order boosting electric car use in the state.

“This executive order strengthens California’s position as a national leader in zero-emission vehicles,” Brown said in 2012. “And the settlement will dramatically expand California’s electric vehicle infrastructure, helping to clean our air and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

Last September, Brown signed a bill that would hand out more subsidies to people who buy electric cars. The bill also provided extra subsidies to low-income areas so they too can have electric cars and charging stations. The bill is funded with some $200 million taken from the state’s cap-and-trade program.

The state has a long way to go to meet Brown’s goal as only 100,000 electric cars have been sold in the state in the last four years. PG&E also said they would need 100,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2020 to meet Brown’s global warming goals. Did someone say higher utility bills?

“By supporting market acceptance of electric vehicles, it should create tremendous new opportunities for other infrastructure and technology companies, help keep California in the forefront of EV innovation, and create new jobs in local communities across Northern and Central California,” Earley said.

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