Southern California pilot program to install 1,500 car charging stations

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A pilot program introduced by Southern California Edison hopes to make owning an electric car a little less stressful.

The $22 million "Charge Ready" program was approved on Jan. 14 by the California Public Utilities Commission. The plan is to build the infrastructure for 1,500 car charging stations across the SoCal region.

“We hope that by having more accessibility to charging, people would then feel more comfortable and buy electric vehicles,” said Caroline Choi, Southern California Edison's vice president for energy and environmental policy.

One of the biggest turn-offs for consumers when it comes to electric vehicles, Choi said, is referred to as "range anxiety" — the fear that they will not be able to get from one place to another without running out of battery power.

The 1,500 charging stations will be installed at locations like college campuses, workplaces and parks where people are expected to park for longer than four hours.

Choi told KPCC that the pilot program is currently getting off the ground as SoCal Edison began working with charging providers this week. She said that they are hoping to get the pilot program running quickly with the 1,500 stations appearing in the next 12 to 18 months.

"We're not owning any of the charging stations under this program," Choi said. "Our program enables us to build infrastructure up to what we called the 'stub,' and then the site host — the participating customer — would own and operate those charging stations."

A SoCal Edison press release states that 10 percent of the stations are to be set up in disadvantaged communities, and rebates between 25 and 100 percent of the base cost of the station will be offered to the program's participants.

As for the cost to consumers charging their cars? It will be up to the discretion of the station owners, Choi said.

Following the pilot program, SoCal Edison is hoping to get the go-ahead for a larger-scale charging-station program. The larger $355 million program would roll out 30,000 charging stations and would be funded by what they said would be small increases on ratepayer bills. Choi said increases would be 0.1 cent per kilowatt hour used.

The programs are in part a response to the climate change bill, SB 350, which calls for widespread electrification of transportation in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 numbers by 2030. 

SoCal Edison's press release also mentions California's goal of putting 1.5 million zero-emission cars on the road by 2025. 

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