Plug-In Electric

$1Equivalent cost of a gallon of gasoline for customers who charge their electric vehicle during off-peak hours

Large-scale transportation electrification offers significant opportunities for our energy future. As PG&E goes electric with our own fleet, more and more customers are doing the same by transitioning to plug-in electric vehicles (EVs). In fact, about 18 percent of all EVs in the U.S. operate in our service area. We continue to work with customers to help make ownership easy and affordable, while also proactively communicating with local communities about the benefits of going electric.

Our Approach

We are working to advance the adoption of EVs by providing customers with access to information, programs and resources to help them make informed choices. While owning an electric vehicle is becoming increasingly affordable, we recognize that buying an EV is a significant purchase and we want to do all we can to help customers make a smooth transition.

Some examples of our efforts include:

  • Conducting workshops and outreach to help current and potential EV owners understand the benefits of the vehicles and the steps that can help them save money, such as charging their vehicle on rates designed for EVs. Estimates show that charging off-peak on PG&E’s EV rate can save an average of $1,300 annually, as electricity costs are significantly lower than gasoline.
  • Providing an online calculator to help customers understand the potential costs and savings of EV ownership. Customers can enter information such as their choice of vehicle, predicted average monthly usage, and the time they charge and then see the projected electricity costs and gasoline savings. The calculator also shows the potential reduction of their carbon footprint.
  • Helping commercial customers with large fleets navigate their choices as they move to electric transportation and install EV chargers at their businesses. For example, in 2013, PG&E worked with a Fortune 500 company on a project to understand the implications of electrifying a depot of more than 50 vehicles.

2013 Milestones

Key steps PG&E has taken to help customers transition to electric vehicles include:

Bay Area Drivers Get Behind the Wheel

(Photo by David Kligman)

A three-city, five-day series of events that put the focus on electric vehicles came to the Bay Area in September 2013. EV Week 2013 engaged Bay Area drivers on the benefits, ease and accessibility of driving all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. Drivers took free test drives and saw the largest selection of vehicles, charging technologies and car-sharing services.

  • Launched a new, simpler rate option that allows EV owners to charge off-peak at the equivalent of $1 per gallon of gasoline. This non-tiered, time-of-use rate is easier for customers to understand and allows them to save money by charging off-peak when energy demand is low, helping to prevent costly outages or the need for PG&E to make local circuit upgrades.
  • Developed rate analysis tools. EV owners can call PG&E and receive a customized rate analysis based on their actual usage or go online for a rate analysis estimate. Both tools are designed to identify the most affordable options.
  • Advanced plans for a battery rebate program to reduce the upfront costs of purchasing an EV. Once operational, this program will allow PG&E to put used batteries to work in grid storage applications, giving them a “second life.”
  • Engaged customers locally. In partnership with the California EV Collaborative, California Electric Transportation Coalition and others, PG&E supported eight ride-and-drive events throughout our service area, which attracted approximately 5,000 customers and facilitated more than 1,700 vehicle test drives. We also conducted other outreach, such as attending EV owner group meetings.

Measuring Progress

The advanced planning by PG&E, California’s other utilities and regulators is paying off with relatively trouble-free adoption of electric vehicles, as confirmed by a joint utility report. Of the 41,100 plug-in vehicles on California’s roads through the end of October 2013, only 69, or 0.2 percent, required a service line and/or distribution system upgrade. About half of those electrified vehicles were in PG&E’s service area.

The number of plug-in electric vehicles in our service area continues to climb. PG&E predicts that by 2021, our customers will own and operate more than 500,000 plug-in vehicles.

Plug-In Electric Vehicles in PG&E’s Service Area
  • 1 Approximate figures

PG&E Quick Charge Partnership

PG&E partnered with Mitsubishi Motors, Eaton Corporation and the city of Vacaville on the installation of a new 50-kilowatt Quick Charger, replacing an earlier prototype. Electric vehicle owners say this quick charger eliminates much of the anxiety of not being able to drive long distances.

(Photo by James Green)

The number of charging stations in our service area continues to grow.

Looking Ahead

As EV ownership takes off, PG&E is actively designing programs to meet customer needs.

Getting a Charge at the Office

PG&E employees can now charge their personal EVs at several locations, including our corporate headquarters in San Francisco. The systems will fully charge a Chevy Volt in about four hours, or longer for an all-electric vehicle. Employees pay market rates for the service. If the pilot is successful, we plan to increase the number of locations, and share lessons learned with other employers to help stimulate broader adoption of EVs.

For example, we are helping to support the availability of charging stations by identifying optimal locations for direct current (DC) fast chargers across our service area. PG&E will select potential sites based on vehicle travel patterns and available capacity on grid infrastructure. Prescreening optimal sites for DC fast charging locations will reduce costs and streamline the installation process.

We are also partnering with car dealerships to test whether the use of online tools will improve the EV purchase experience and help sell more vehicles. The tool offers a customized rate analysis, rate enrollment and a total cost of ownership analysis on-site at the dealer to customers who are considering purchasing an EV. In addition to testing at dealerships, we are also gathering feedback from prospective buyers at local EV ride-and-drive events.

Thanks to a grant from PG&E, customers can now charge electric vehicles at Muir Woods.

(Photo by Jason King)

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Economic Vitality