Utility Watchdog in San Diego

Keep Monopolies Out of Fueling Electric Vehicles

 

Each of California’s three major regulated-monopoly electric companies has a proposal for fueling Electric Vehicles, or “EVs.” UCAN is actively involved in SDG&E’s application before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) as it will directly affect San Diego County. UCAN opposes SDG&E’s planned “pilot program” for our area because it is Too Big, Too Long, and Too Expensive.

Before we dive into the details, one of the main things to know is that all three of California’s major ratepayer advocacy groups oppose SDG&E’s current plan: In addition to UCAN, our colleagues at TURN (The Utility Reform Network) and ORA (The Office of Ratepayer Advocates at the CPUC) also say no.

Click here to ready a summary of UCAN’s objections.

We need you to make your voice heard at the CPUC by contacting their Public Advisor with a message opposing the proposed Joint Settlement to Application 14-04-014 currently before the Commission. The Public Advisor can be reached at:

 

Telephone: 866-849-8390 or 415-703-2074
Email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Postal Service: CPUC Public Advisor, 505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 2103, San Francisco, CA 94102

What is SDG&E’s Proposal?

Last year SDG&E submitted an application to the CPUC for “Authority to Implement a Pilot Program for Electric Vehicle-Grid Integration.” Following rounds of testimony and negotiations, there is now a proposed settlement agreement to which many groups have signed on. UCAN did not sign on to SDG&E’s proposed settlement and we believe the signatories are missing some BIG issues.

California has ambitious goals to increase the number of EVs on our roads to 1 million by 2020 and 1.5 million by 2025. SDG&E is claiming that this pilot will help encourage more electric vehicles to be adopted. They also want to test a pricing scheme which changes by day and hour to see if this will encourage EV drivers to charge at off peak times. To test this, SDG&E wants to charge ratepayers almost $103 Million to build and operate 5,500 charging stations at 550 locations in their service territory (mostly San Diego County). These would be installed at workplaces, condos, and apartments.

So what’s the problem?

Dive into the details and it’s clear that this “pilot” is not really a pilot: it’s Too Big, Too Long, and Too Expensive. Additionally, as UCAN’s expert pointed out in testimony the settlement relies on misleading cost effectiveness calculations, is anti-competitive, and may not even test what SDG&E says that it wants to test. What it does do is permit SDG&E to build EV charging equipment and pay for it by increasing the rates you pay for electricity. Based on testimony from the Office of Ratepayer Advocates, if SDG&E had 5,500 chargers in place today it would represent 88% of the charging market. (SDG&E claims that this will have no impact on competition because by 2025 their test program will represent “only” a 20% market share.)

Electric companies in California are regulated “monopolies”.  By law these utilities are allowed to make a “fair” rate of return but, prior to raising electric rates, the utilities need approval from the California Public Utilities Commission. In this case, SDG&E says that in order to run their pilot they must own 5,500 chargers at 550 sites, the charging equipment, and everything that goes with it down to the plug an EV owner inserts into their car to “fuel up.”

UCAN disagrees. SDG&E can conduct a much smaller and less expensive pilot and does not need to own 5,500 chargers. In the private market there are several operators for such charging stations who, unlike SDG&E, would pay for these stations through the fees they charge users rather than SDG&E’s plan to raise your electric rates to pay for charging stations you won’t be able to use unless you own an EV. UCAN believes that we should encourage the private market to develop.

Want to learn more? Follow this link for UCAN’s compete list of objections to this scheme. [URL] While we at UCAN oppose SDG&E’s proposed “pilot” program, we do support a far more limited pilot, which was included in our comments to the Proposed Settlement [URL], filed in early July.

What can you do?

Your personal input matters! Send your comments to the Commissioners’ attention via the Public Advisor, at:

Telephone: 866-849-8390 or 415-703-2074
Email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Postal Service: CPUC Public Advisor, 505 Van Ness Avenue, Room 2103, San Francisco, CA 94102

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with any questions, comments or concerns about UCAN’s position and our role in the process. You can also call us at (619) 696-6966.

To read UCAN's protest, click here.

Read San Diego County Supervisor Dianne Jacob’s letter in opposition to SDG&E’s proposal.

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