Pacific Gas and Electric launches two pilot programs to accelerate electric vehicle adoption among underserved

Published on July 20, 2023 by Chris Galford

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Low income areas are the target of two new programs launched by Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) in California this week, meant to deploy charging infrastructure more broadly and with no cost to users as a way to increase electric vehicle adoption.

Citing a study from the California Energy Commission, the company pointed to high upfront vehicle costs, lack of chargers for renters and inadequate access to public charging stations in low-income and rural communities as restrictive to EV expansion among low and moderate-income communities. By installing chargers at single-family homes, multifamily housing units, nonprofit organizations and small businesses in the region, PG&E believes its Empower EV and Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger programs could help counteract some of those issues.

“At PG&E, we value our role as an active partner in helping make EVs an option for millions of Californians, because reducing vehicle emissions is good for our hometowns, our state and our planet,” Jason Glickman, PG&E executive vice president, engineering, planning and strategy, said. “We serve a diverse population and want to ensure all of our customers have the resources they need to make EV ownership an attainable goal. These new programs align with our core focus to support EV adoption, proactively prepare the grid for the future and increase access to charging infrastructure.”

The programs approach the issue in different ways, though. Empower EV provides income-eligible customers up to $2,500 in incentives to address the costs of installing EV-charging equipment at single-family residences. Further, Level 2 chargers will be provided free to approximately 2,000 eligible customers and up to $2,000 in panel upgrades will be offered per eligible household, up to 800 homes. Applicants would need to show they have purchased or leased an EV within the six months prior to applying.

Separately, the Multifamily Housing and Small Business EV Charger Program will see approximately 2,000 Level 1 and Level 2 EV chargers deployed to 450 multifamily housing units, nonprofit organizations and small businesses. These will be provided at no cost to property owners and PG&E will cover two years of networking and software fees as well. Priority will be given to those eligible properties within low-income, rural, tribal and other priority populations defined by the California Public Utilities Commission and California Air Resources Board.

To date, PG&E reports that nearly 500,000 EVs have been sold in its service area. However, much work remains if the state is to commit to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s executive order that all new passenger cars, trucks and SUVs sold in the state would have to be zero-emissions vehicles as of 2035.