Customers and Communities

Plug-In Electric Vehicles


The per-gallon gasoline price equivalent of PG&E’s new electric vehicle rate option

Each year, more customers are transitioning to plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs). In fact, our service area is among the automakers’ initial target markets for many of these vehicles. We continue to work with our customers to make ownership easier and more affordable and to proactively communicate the benefits of going electric.

Reducing Barriers for Customers

PG&E customers face a number of considerations as they transition to PEVs, so we continue to work to understand their needs, provide education and resources, manage costs and help them make informed choices.

Examples include:

  • Conducting workshops and outreach to help current and potential PEV owners understand the benefits of PEVs and the steps—such as charging during off-peak hours—that can help save money.
  • Offering an online calculator to help customers understand the potential costs and savings of PEV ownership. Customers can enter their choice of vehicle, predicted average monthly usage, charging schedule and other information, and then see the projected electricity costs and gasoline savings.
  • Launching a new, simpler rate option that allows PEV owners to charge at a rate that’s equivalent to $1 per gallon of gasoline and that doesn’t increase as their usage increases.
  • Piloting a battery rebate program to reduce upfront costs and allow us to put used batteries to work in grid storage applications, giving them a “second life.”
  • Helping commercial customers navigate their choices as they install PEV chargers at their businesses.

Exploring “Smart Charging” Technologies

When charging, a PEV has the potential to draw about three times as much power as a typical San Francisco house, presenting unique challenges to the local distribution grid.

For most PEV owners, a Level 1 charger using a 120-volt circuit—like those found in most homes—is sufficient. A Level 2 charger using a 240-volt circuit can cut charging time nearly in half but requires wiring upgrades. Depending on what a customer chooses, it may be necessary for PG&E to upgrade the infrastructure that delivers electricity to a property.

Part of our efforts to prepare for more electric vehicle owners is managing the impact these cars may have on existing infrastructure. This may involve service upgrades in neighborhoods where multiple electric vehicles are being charged. We also continue to encourage off-peak charging.

Looking forward, we have piloted and tested various “smart charging” technologies that will make it easier for PEV customers to charge their vehicles at off-peak times. These pilots have included technology demonstrations and collaborations, such as PG&E’s own smart charging pilot and a collaboration with IBM and Honda to help demonstrate the ability to optimize the charge schedule for each customer’s EV battery so that the needs of customers and the electric grid are satisfied on an ongoing basis.

Collaborating With Others

We continue to collaborate with others to promote electric vehicles, including participating in San Francisco’s first-ever Electric Vehicle Week in 2012.

Electric Vehicle Week event

Dave Meisel, PG&E’s senior director of transportation services, speaks at the first Electric Vehicle Week in San Francisco.

Additionally, to help ensure a consistent electric vehicle strategy across the state, we continue to participate in the California PEV Collaborative and the California Electric Transportation Coalition. We are also working with local officials and service providers on electric vehicle permitting, equipment and infrastructure issues.

And on a national level, we are working with organizations such as the Electrification Coalition and Electric Drive Transportation Association to develop smart policies and incentives to encourage broader adoption of alternative fuel vehicles.