California on Thursday approved a $437 million utility-based program that will add 38,000 new electric-car charging stations over five years.
Approval from the California Public Utilities Commission gives Southern California Edison (SCE) the green light to start installing those stations, increasing charging infrastructure in the state that is by far the leader in electric-car adoption.
This constitutes the nation's largest light-duty electric vehicle charging program run by an investor-owned utility, an SCE press release said.
The program, called Charge Ready 2, also sets a target to locate 50% of the chargers in state-designated disadvantaged communities, or economically impacted communities that suffer most from the effects of air pollution. In addition, 30% of charging stations must serve multi-family dwellings.
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California is targeting 5 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) by 2030, encompassing both battery-electric and hydrogen fuel-cell powertrains. That is in itself a step back from some policymakers' original plan to go all-ZEV by 2030.
California played a major role in the diesel settlement with Volkswagen and has negotiated charging-infrastructure plans with Electrify America, the entity created to invest VW emissions penalties in ZEV infrastructure.
With regulators, utilities, and private charging networks like Electrify America all looking to build stations, California has no shortage of enthusiasm for charging infrastructure.
The state has also sought to streamline the permitting process for new charging stations, first with a law passed in 2015, then with a bill introduced earlier this year. More legislation is needed, Electrify America said in a February statement endorsing the new bill, because most California cities and counties don't follow the 2015 law. The permitting process can take up to 70% longer in California than in other states, Electrify America said.