As you may have seen, California Governor Jerry Brown announced a $120 million settlement last week with utility company NRG. The funds will be used to develop a large scale infrastructure effort for electric vehicles. This statewide charging network will include at least 200 fast-charging stations and another 10,000 plug-in units at 1,000 locations across the state.
This not only puts California at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution, it also will encourage these cars to range widely across the state, beyond the limitations of their batteries. This lays significant groundwork for the stated goal of 1.5 million zero emission vehicles on the road by 2025. Even though the primary usage will likely be for commuting, this infrastructure will also make an electric vehicle purchase possible for individuals such as renters who may not be able to charge the cars at home.
According to the press release, “The settlement announced today resolves ten-year-old claims against a subsidiary of Dynegy Inc., then a co-owner with NRG of the portfolio of power generating plants currently owned by NRG in California, for costs of long-term power contracts signed in March 2001. NRG assumed full responsibility for resolving this matter in 2006 when NRG acquired Dynegy’s 50% interest in the assets.”
This means that this new EV infrastructure won’t cost taxpayers a dime.
I’d like reiterate what I said in a previous post about EVs. The widespread adaption of electric vehicles will benefit everyone through improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, increased national security, and lower gasoline prices.
California Public Utilities Commission President Michael R. Peevey said, “The settlement will launch a virtuous circle in which ever more Californians will feel comfortable driving EVs, and growing EV sales will in turn attract ever more investment in charging infrastructure to our state. It will create jobs in California, help clean our air, and support attainment of our greenhouse gas reduction goals.”
Brown’s executive order sets the following targets for EV infrastructure deployment.
- By 2015, all major cities in California will have adequate infrastructure and be “zero-emission vehicle ready”;
- By 2020, the state will have established adequate infrastructure to support 1 million zero-emission vehicles in California;
- By 2025, there will be 1.5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road in California; and
- By 2050, virtually all personal transportation in the State will be based on zero-emission vehicles, and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector will be reduced by 80 percent below 1990 levels.
Strange to think that auto-makers, long chided for their lack of risk-taking and innovation, are actually ahead of the curve on this one and that it takes a bold move such as this one for the public sector to catch up.
The private sector was quick to respond, however. We received this statement from Mike Calise, Director, Electric Vehicles, Power Business, Schneider Electric, shortly after Governor Brown’s announcement came through.
“Schneider Electric applauds California State leader’s decision to appropriate recent settlement funds to invest in the State’s increased deployment of widespread Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure. Schneider Electric is strongly committed to helping people make the most of their energy and this decision will significantly reduce California’s energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. This unprecedented action between NRG and the State of California will rapidly increase the amount of available charging stations within key public, private, fleet and residential segments and make it easy to charge practically everywhere.
This deployment will also remove EV adoption barriers by supporting California’s city residents who may live in multi-unit dwellings by promoting charging options at work or in new public parking locations. A project of this magnitude will not only educate California’s driving community, but will serve as a global model of what’s possible to manage energy in smart Cities, States and Nations in the future.”
RP Siegel, PE, is the President of Rain Mountain LLC. He is also the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor Trails, the first in a series covering the human side of various sustainability issues including energy, food, and water. Now available on Kindle.
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