Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary Southern California Edison (SCE) has received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to begin a pilot project to support installation of as many as 1,500 electric vehicle charging stations within its service territory.
The $22m “Charge Ready” program to get more electric vehicle charging stations installed in locations where people park their cars for extended periods of time. For example, at workplaces, campuses, recreational areas and apartment and condominium complexes, SCE said in a Jan. 14 news release.
As an incentive to participate in the program, SCE will also offer rebates of between 25% and 100% of the base cost of the charging stations and their installation, depending on location and market segment. The program also calls for at least 10% of the charging stations to be installed in disadvantaged communities.
At the conclusion of the pilot, SCE will seek authority from the CPUC to expand the program to bring the total number of charging stations to about 30,000 for a total estimated cost of $355m.
The program also provides funding for education and outreach to develop awareness about the benefits of electric vehicles and charging from the power grid. SCE also received approval to offer new advisory services to help its business customers learn about transportation electrification technologies.
“A major barrier to electric vehicle ownership is that there aren’t enough charging stations where people normally park their cars,” said SCE Vice President for Energy and Environmental Policy Caroline Choi. “We believe that by giving electric vehicle owners more options to charge their vehicles, this program can actually help to accelerate the market in Southern California,” Choi said.
SCE expects to begin accepting applications from prospective participants in March.
The SCE program is just the latest sign of the ripening relationship between the electric power industry and the nascent electric vehicle or EV market.
Nevertheless, plug-in electric vehicles currently account for only a sliver of the transportation market.
Plug-in sales are a small fraction of total U.S. vehicle sales (less than 1% of the 16.5 million vehicles sold in 2014), but they are growing fast, according to the report issued ScottMadden Consulting.