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$107.4 Million Approved For Heavy & Medium-Duty EV Chargers In San Diego Area

The California Public Utilities Commission approved San Diego Gas & Electric’s plan to add many more EV charging stations for medium and heavy-duty vehicles like trucks, buses, and forklifts. Larissa Koehler, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy program, answered some questions about the new EV chargers for CleanTechnica.

Image: Kyle Field |

The California Public Utilities Commission approved San Diego Gas & Electric’s plan to add many more EV charging stations for medium and heavy-duty vehicles like trucks, buses, and forklifts. US$107 million will be invested in the new charging infrastructure in the next five years. Currently, most of the San Diego area charging technology is for passenger EVs. By installing more chargers for commercial vehicles, local government agencies and businesses will be supported. There are a little over 100,000 commercial vehicles operating in San Diego Gas & Electric’s service area.

Larissa Koehler, Senior Attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy program, answered some questions about the new EV chargers for CleanTechnica.

How many medium and heavy-duty vehicles will be served by the new chargers once they have been installed?

With the approved budget of $107.4 million, the SDG&E program will be used to support a deployment minimum of 3,000, with authorization up to approximately 6,000 medium and heavy-duty vehicles. In addition, under the vehicle-to-grid pilot, ten electric school buses capable of V2G as distributed energy resources to bid into the California Independent System Operator market.  

What qualifies as a medium or heavy-duty vehicle in this case, and how many will be served by the chargers?

As defined in the application, medium or heavy-duty vehicles includes Class 2-8 on-road electric vehicles and off-road support vehicles such as forklifts and transport refrigeration units. It is expected that up to approximately 6,000 vehicles will be supported by the infrastructure installed through this program. 

When will the new chargers be installed?

Implementation of the program – i.e. when the program is open for sign-ups – is planned to begin next year. Installations will occur during the 5-year sign up period, though some installations may occur after the 5-year sign-up period has ended. Spending up to SDG&E’s authorized budget will be deemed reasonable provided that a minimum of 300 make-ready installations are fully contracted for after 5 years of program deployment and 3,000 additional vehicles are electrified that are directly attributable to the authorized program (which, according to the proposed decision is “achieved by site hosts procuring at least two electric vehicles or converting at least two diesel fueled vehicles to electric”). 

What are the medium and heavy duty vehicles used for?

The program will include medium and heavy-duty vehicles that provide transit services (including school buses and airport shuttle buses), delivery services (last-mile delivery and long-haul transport), etc..

What transit hubs will get the new chargers?

No specific transit hubs have been identified yet, but it is worth noting that SDG&E plans to work with transit agencies to support their conversion to electric buses.  To that end, SDG&E plans to install on-route chargers at transit hubs where bus routes intersect with other forms of public transportation.

What service area will the EV chargers cover? Is it San Diego County?

Chargers will be installed in the SDG&E service territory. It should also be noted that installation of chargers in disadvantaged communities will be a priority. 30% of the infrastructure budget will be focused to ensure benefits are seen in the communities that suffer disproportionately from harmful emissions. 

What benefits will adding EV chargers for this type of vehicle provide to the service area?

SDG&E’s plan to target important sources of harmful emissions among medium- and heavy-duty applications via electrification – including school buses, fleet vehicles, trucks, and supporting equipment at the Port of San Diego and the San Diego Airport – will not only reduce harmful pollution but provide lessons learned that can be valuable to deploy similar, potentially larger efforts in the future, both in California and across the nation. Similarly, their infrastructure program and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) pilot are well-placed to clean up the most polluting sector in California by replacing toxic diesel with electricity. With load management that ensures the energy powering these vehicles is as clean as possible, SDG&E’s program has the potential to make significant, positive impact in the achievement of climate and clean energy goals, while also ensuring that the communities that suffer from the worst air pollution inure equitable benefits.

How much might the owners and operators of the medium and heavy duty vehicles save by using electricity instead of gasoline?

SDG&E has recently submitted a separate application (A. 19-07-006) that floats a new rate design to ensure medium and heavy-duty vehicle operators see fuel cost savings relative to diesel. Within that proceeding, SDG&E has estimated bill savings for different kinds of customers for example, an average summer monthly bill for a medium duty EV depot of a large size will be approximately $7,000 while expenditure for diesel would be just over $10,000. A small medium EV depot would see savings of approximately $400 relative to diesel on the new rate. School buses will see savings on their average monthly bill of a few thousand dollars relative to diesel. Of course, realization of these savings will depend on customer behavior and response to the rate.

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