Plug-in Electric Vehicles

With major car manufacturers introducing mass production plug-in electric vehicles (PEV), 2010 was a milestone year for the electric car. Because PG&E’s service area is among the initial target markets for these vehicles, our customers have been and will continue to be among the first to purchase them. In fact, some experts predict our customers will buy up to 800,000 electric vehicles by 2020.

PG&E is focused on working with customers and others to facilitate a smooth transition to this next generation of vehicles.

Engaging With Customers

PG&E customers can download a step-by-step guide to prepare their home for charging an electric vehicle.

At PG&E, we recognize that owning a PEV is a significant purchase, requiring a variety of decisions—from choosing a charging level to potentially upgrading a home’s wiring to charge the electric vehicle. PG&E is helping customers with this important transition by improving and simplifying the home charging setup and PEV rate process. PG&E has been actively working with various regional planning agencies, electrical contractors and city and county inspectors to help them prepare their regions to be plug-in ready. We also continue to proactively reach out to customers on the benefits of these vehicles, as well as key issues such as the best time to charge them.

Additionally, we continue to offer customers two electric vehicle rates to manage their monthly energy bill and charging costs. PG&E’s E-9 rates offer significantly lower off-peak rates, which are a good fit for customers who are able to charge their vehicle during off-peak hours (12 am to 7 am).

Our online calculator also helps customers understand the potential costs and savings of PEV ownership. Customers can enter personalized information, such as their choice of vehicle, their average monthly usage and their charging schedule, and then see the projected electricity costs and gasoline savings.

We are also developing strategies to leverage the embedded technologies within the SmartMeter™ devices we are currently installing throughout our system. We are piloting and testing various “smart charging” technologies that will make it easy for PEV customers to charge at off-peak times, using technologies such as the Home Area Network to interact with SmartMeter™ devices.

Enhancing Internal Operations

When charging, a PEV has the potential to draw about three times as much power as a typical house in San Francisco. To prepare to meet this additional customer demand, PG&E analyzed the potential impact of vehicle charging on our local distribution grid, identifying cities and neighborhoods where service upgrades might be necessary to accommodate an influx of PEVs.

We are working closely with automakers during the PEV purchase process to help ensure a smooth experience when the customer returns home with their vehicle. This includes work by our engineering and service planning teams to assess, and if necessary upgrade, the capacity of the neighborhood distribution system to accommodate the vehicles. We also continue to enhance our customer service operations, ranging from training customer call centers to streamlining processes with our field personnel.

Advancing Smart Standards and Policies

Ensuring that all electric vehicles charge and communicate in similar ways will reduce costs for utilities, car companies and ultimately, consumers. PG&E is playing an active role in this area, working with national and international organizations to help develop codes and standards for electric vehicles and the necessary charging infrastructure.

This includes actively supporting the development of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ J2847 standard of communications between PEVs and the grid. With SmartMeter™ technology as a key component, this standard will ultimately facilitate “smart charging” and PEV load management programs, which will help customers safely and efficiently charge their electric vehicles during off-peak hours.

To ensure a consistent electric vehicle strategy across the state, we also continue to actively participate in the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative and the California Electric Transportation Coalition. And we are working closely with local officials and service providers on electric vehicle permitting, equipment and infrastructure issues.

Additionally, we are working with federal, state and local stakeholders such as the Electric Drive Transportation Association and the Electrification Coalition to develop beneficial policies and incentives, such as the location and timing of public infrastructure charging stations, to encourage broader adoption of alternative fuel vehicles.

We also continue to support the implementation of California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, a rule that calls for at least a 10 percent reduction in the carbon intensity of California's transportation fuels by 2020.


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